To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the monstrous war crimes committed by the US capitalist class government against the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we reprint a first-hand account of the bombing of Hiroshima from a victim who lived approximately 1.5 miles from ground zero.
Our eyewitness is a man who was, on August 6 1945, the Director of the Communications Hospital in Hiroshima. He and his wife were at home when the Enola Gay dropped its savage payload on the unsuspecting citizens of Hiroshima. Both he and his wife were badly injured in the explosion. They immediately headed for the Communications Hospital for treatment and to take care of the thousands of injured people streaming towards that place of mercy.
The book, entitled “Hiroshima Diary” by Michihiko Hachiya, M.D., is possibly the best description of the horrors of the Hiroshima bombing available in print. The author’s expertise as a physician informs his descriptions of the horrifically injured people he sees day after day as his hospital – one of the few in Hiroshima to survive the nuclear blast – becomes the scene of human suffering on a scale and degree never before seen by anyone in the medical profession. Our first excerpt gives just a glimpse of the horrors that presented themselves in the immediate aftermath of the bombing. We hope that this introduction to this amazing document will encourage our readers to read the entire book and to dedicate themselves to the overthrow of the capitalist system which created World Wars I and II and which drove the human race into the nuclear slaughterhouse of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We should also point out that these monstrous war crimes were committed – against the advice of many US military leaders – by the alleged “lesser evil” party then led by Democrat Harry Truman.
From “Hiroshima Diary” by Michihiko Hachiya, M.D.; Director of Hiroshima Communications Hospital
Copyright 1955 by The University of North Carolina Press
6 August 1945
The hour was early; the morning still, warm, and beautiful.
Shimmering leaves, reflecting sunlight from a cloudless sky, made
a pleasant contrast with shadows in my garden as I gazed absently
through wide-flung doors opening to the south.
Clad in drawers and an undershirt, I was sprawled on the living
room floor exhausted because I had just spent a sleepless night on
duty as an air warden in my hospital.
Suddenly, a strong flash of light startled me — and then another.
So well does one recall little things that I remember vividly how
a stone lantern in the garden became brilliantly lit and I debated
whether this light was caused by a magnesium flare or sparks from
a passing trolley.
Garden shadows disappeared. The view where a moment before
all had been so bright and sunny was now dark and hazy. Through
swirling dust I could barely discern a wooden column that had
supported one corner of my house. It was leaning crazily and the
roof sagged dangerously.
Moving instinctively, I tried to escape, but rubble and fallen
timbers barred the way. By picking my way cautiously I managed
to reach the roka and stepped down into my garden. A profound
weakness overcame me, so I stopped to regain my strength. To my
surprise I discovered that I was completely naked. How odd!
Where were my drawers and undershirt?
What had happened?
All over the right side of my body I was cut and bleeding. A
large splinter was protruding from a mangled wound in my thigh,
and something warm trickled into my mouth. My cheek was torn,
I discovered as I felt it gingerly, with the lower lip laid wide open.
Embedded in my neck was a sizable fragment of glass which I
matter-of-factly dislodged, and with the detachment of one stunned
and shocked I studied it and my blood-stained hand.
Where was my wife?
Suddenly thoroughly alarmed I began to yell for her: “Yaeko-
san! Yaeko-san! Where are you?”
Blood began to spurt. Had my carotid artery been cut? Would
I bleed to death? Frightened and irrational I called out again:
“It’s a five-hundred-ton bomb! Yaeko-san, where are you? A five-
hundred-ton bomb has fallen!”
Yaeko-san, pale and frightened, her clothes torn and blood-
stained, emerged from the ruins of our house holding her elbow.
Seeing her, I was reassured. My own panic assuaged, I tried to
“We’ll be all right,” I exclaimed. “Only let’s get out of here as
fast as we can.”
She nodded and I motioned for her to follow me.
The shortest path to the street lay through the house next door
so through the house we went – running, stumbling, falling and
then running again until in headlong flight we tripped over some-
thing and fell sprawling into the street. Getting to my feet, I
discovered that I had tripped over a man’s head.
“Excuse me! Excuse me, please!” I cried hysterically.
There was no answer. The man was dead. The head had be-
longed to a young officer whose body was crushed beneath a
We stood in the street, uncertain and afraid, until a house across
from us began to sway and then with a rending motion fell
almost at our feet. Our own house began to sway, and in a minute
it, too, collapsed in a cloud of dust. Other buildings caved in or
toppled. Fires sprang up and whipped by a vicious wind began
It finally dawned on us that we could not stay there in the street,
so we turned our steps towards the hospital.* Our home was gone;
we were wounded and needed treatment; and after all, it was my
duty to be with my staff. This latter was an irrational thought —
what good could I be to anyone, hurt as I was.
We started out, but after twenty or thirty steps I had to stop.
My breath became short, my heart pounded, and my legs gave way
under me. An overpowering thirst seized me and I begged Yaeko-
san to find me some water. But there was no water to be found.
After a little my strength somewhat returned and we were able
to go on.
* Dr. Hachiya’s home was only a few hundred meters from the hospital.
I was still naked, and although I did not feel the least bit of
shame, I was disturbed to realize that modesty had deserted me.
On rounding a corner we came upon a soldier standing idly in the
street. He had a towel draped across his shoulder, and I asked if he
would give it to me to cover my nakedness. The soldier surren-
dered the towel quite willingly but said not a word. A little later I
lost the towel, and Yaeko-san took off her apron and tied it
around my loins.
Yaeko-san looked into my face for a moment, and then, without
saying a word, turned away and began running towards the hos-
I must have gone out of my head lying there in the road because
the next thing I recall was discovering that the clot on my thigh
had been dislodged and blood was again spurting from the wound.
I pressed my hand to the bleeding area and after a while the bleed-
ing stopped and I felt better.
I paused to rest. Gradually things around me came into focus.
There were the shadowy forms of people, some of whom looked
like walking ghosts. Others moved as though in pain, like scare-
crows, their arms held out from their bodies with forearms and
hands dangling. These people puzzled me until I suddenly realized
that they had been burned and were holding their arms out to
prevent the painful friction of raw surfaces rubbing together. A
naked woman carrying a naked baby came into view. I averted my
gaze. Perhaps they had been in the bath. But then I saw a naked
man, and it occurred to me that, like myself, some strange thing
had deprived them of their clothes. An old woman lay near me
with an expression of suffering on her face; but she made no sound.
Indeed, one thing was common to everyone I saw — complete
All who could were moving in the direction of the hospital. I
joined in the dismal pararde when my strength was somewhat
recovered, and at last reached the gates of the Communications
Familiar surroundings, familiar faces. There was Mr. Iguchi
and Mr. Yoshihiro and my old friend, Mr. Sera, the head of the
business office. They hastened to give me a hand, their expressions
of pleasure changing to alarm when they saw that I was hurt. I
was too happy to see them to share their concern.
No time was lost over greetings. They eased me onto a stretcher
and carried me into the Communications Building, ignoring my
protests that I could walk.
The hospital lay directly opposite with part of the roof and the
third floor sunroom in plain view, and as I looked up, I witnessed
a sight which made me forget my smarting wounds. Smoke was
pouring out of the sunroom windows. The hospital was afire!
[Source: “Hiroshima Diary” by Michihiko Hachiya, M.D., Director of the Communications Hospital in Hiroshima, Japan on 6 August 1945. Published by University of North Carolina Press, 1955.]