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THE DAY THE BOMB FELL

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Comprising THE DAY THE BOMB FELL

Johannes Siemes SJ 1984

PEACE IS OUR PROBLEM

Bruce Kent 1970

CATHOLIC TRUTH SOCIETY PUBLISHERS TO THE HOLY SEE

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6 August began in a bright, clear summer morning. About seven o’clock there was an air-raid alarm …Suddenly the whole valley is filled by a garish light…

Johannes Siemes was a German Jesuit who lived in Japan for many years. Bruce Kent is a well-known peace campaigner.

CTS ONEFIFTIES Originally published as The Day the Bomb Fell, 1984; and Peace is our Problem, 1970 Published by The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society, 40-46 Harleyford Road, London SE11 5AY www.ctsbooks.org All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017 The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society.

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ISBN 978 1 78469 531 6

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THE DAY THE BOMB FELL

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Johannes Siemes SJ

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Up to 6 August occasional bombs which did no great damage had fallen on Hiroshima. Many cities round about, one after the other, were destroyed but Hiroshima itself remained protected. There were almost daily observation planes over the city, but none of them dropped a bomb. The citizens wondered why they alone had remained undisturbed for so long a time. There were fantastic rumours that the enemy had something special in mind for this city, but no one dreamed that the end would come in such a fashion as on the morning of 6 August.

The explosion 6 August began in a bright, clear summer morning. About seven o’clock there was an air raid alarm which we had heard almost every day, and a few planes appeared over the city. No one paid any attention, and at about eight o’clock the All Clear was sounded. I am sitting in my room at the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus in Nagatsuka; during the past half year the philosophical and theological section of our mission

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has been evacuated to this place from Tokyo. The Novitiate is situated approximately two kilometres from Hiroshima, half-way up the sides of a broad valley which stretches from the town at sea-level into the mountainous hinterland, and through which courses a river. From my window I have a wonderful view down the valley to the edge of the city. Suddenly – the time is approximately 8.14 – the whole valley is filled by a garish light which resembles the magnesium light used in photography, and I am conscious of a wave of heat. I jump to the window to find the cause of this remarkable phenomenon, but I see nothing more than the brilliant yellow light. As I make for the door, it doesn’t occur to me that the light might have something to do with enemy planes. On my way from the window, I hear a moderately loud explosion which seems to come from a distance, and at the same time the windows are broken with a loud crash. There has been an interval of perhaps ten seconds since the flash of light. I am sprayed by fragments of glass. The entire window frame has been forced into the room. I realise now that a bomb has burst and I am under the impression that it exploded directly over our house or in the immediate vicinity. I am bleeding from cuts about the hands and head. I attempt to get out of the door. It has been forced outward by the air pressure and has become jammed. I force an opening in the door by repeated blows with my hands and feet, and come to a broad hallway which opens to the various rooms. Everything is in 6

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a state of confusion. All the windows are broken and all the doors are forced inwards. The bookshelves in the hall-way have tumbled down. I do not hear a second explosion and the fliers seem to have gone on. Most of my colleagues have been injured by fragments of glass. A few are bleeding, but none has been seriously injured. All of us have been fortunate since it is now apparent that the wall of my room opposite the window has been lacerated by long fragments of glass. We proceed to the front of the house to see where the bomb has landed. There is no evidence, however, of a bomb crater, but the south east section of the house is severely damaged. Not a door nor a window remains. The blast of air has penetrated the entire house from the south east, but the house still stands. It is constructed in a Japanese style with a wooden framework, but it is greatly strengthened by the labour of our Brother Gropper. Only along the front of the chapel which adjoins the house have three supports given way – it has been made, in the manner of Japanese temples, entirely out of wood. Down in the valley, perhaps one kilometre towards the city from us, several peasant homes are on fire and the woods on the opposite side of the valley are aflame. A few of us go over to help control the flames. While we are attempting to put things in order, a storm comes up and it begins to rain. Over the city columns of smoke are rising and I hear a few slight explosions. I come to the conclusion that an incendiary bomb with an especially

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strong explosive action has gone off down in the valley. A few of us saw three planes at a great altitude over the city at the time of the explosion. I myself saw no aircraft whatsoever.

The procession of refugees Perhaps a half-hour after the explosion, a procession of people begins to stream up the valley from the city. The crowd thickens considerably. A few come up the road to our house. Many are bleeding or have suffered burns. We give them first aid and bring them into the chapel, which we have in the meantime cleaned and cleared of wreckage and put the rest on straw mats which constitute the floors of Japanese houses. A few display horrible wounds of the extremities and back. The small quantity of fat which we possessed during the time of war was soon used up in care of the burns. Father Rektor, who before taking orders had studied medicine, ministers to the injured, but our bandages and drugs are soon gone. We must be content with cleansing the wounds. More and more of the injured come to us. The least injured carry the more seriously wounded. There are wounded soldiers, and mothers carrying their burned children in their arms. From the houses of the farmers in the valley comes word: ‘Our houses are full of wounded and dying. Can you help at least by taking the worst cases?’ The wounded come from the sections at the edge of the city. 8

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PEACE IS OUR PROBLEM

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Bruce Kent

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PEACE IS OUR PROBLEM Mgr Bruce Kent

I TIME RUNS OUT Earl Mountbatten of Burma spoke in December 1969 to 1,200 Sixth formers in London. They were brought together by the Council for Education in World Citizenship and jointly they were examining both man’s hopes for and the dangers of the future. Earl Mountbatten referred to the ‘military menace which would have greatly increased by 2001 A.D. unless brought under control soon.’ Then he made a vital point which is really the object of this pamphlet. ‘Peace’ he said, ‘has become too important to be left to professional statesmen and politicians.’ In other words, the ordinary people – you and me – must stop looking at peace as a specialized job at which only the experts can work. If we want peace and not world destruction, all of us, and especially Christians, have got to do some hard work and some deep thinking. We live in a kind of vacuum period. In this country one has now got to be middle-aged to remember the

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sirens and the screams, the crash of glass and the broken, burnt, shredded bodies. Perhaps this is why a film like The War Game produces such a shock when those in their twenties see it. But whether we have experience of war or not, we seem now, in our vacuum, to be resigned to drifting along for the most part without effort to the next international conflict. The weapons of mass murder, nuclear, chemical or bacteriological, are becoming available to more and more nations. Means are being developed even now of exploding H-Bombs without the use of uranium. Now H-Bombs are coming ‘within the financial capacity of any nation with competent technicians’ (Guardian 5.1.70). For over twenty years the great powers have threatened each other with weapons of enormous expense and colossal destructive power. This is what we call the deterrent policy. It is a stalemate situation and not a peaceful one. The stalemate is upset everytime some nation makes a little more technical progress and as weapons are outdated. Thus, at astronomical cost, we in Great Britain bought our Polaris missiles and built our nuclear submarines. Each of these Polaris warheads has a destructive power about 35 times that of the A-Bombs used on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. And yet already they are becoming dated since the Russians are perfecting methods of detecting our submarines and of destroying our missiles when they are in the air. 34

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Winston Churchill said long ago of nuclear warfare ‘Mankind is placed in a situation both meaningless and laden with doom.’ But nuclear warfare is not the only kind of warfare. The Jews and the Arabs are so far still fighting with ‘conventional’ weapons. Korea was not fought with nuclear weapons (against the advice of General McArthur). Napalm and C.S. gas may not be conventional weapons, but the Vietnam conflict has killed hundreds of thousands without becoming a nuclear battlefield. Starvation rather than bullets has taken a toll of nearly two million lives in Africa in a non-nuclear war in which, because of arms sales, we were deeply involved. But each time there is a conflict in which the great powers are even remotely involved the situation becomes one of potential nuclear threat. U Thant, the Secretary General of the United Nations told the world in a report dated October 1968 that the weapons already exist ‘whose cumulative destructive power is certainly more than sufficient to eliminate all mankind.’ Can war, therefore, possibly solve any world issues now if ever it could in the past? In our hearts we already know the answer. Listen to the tragic and prophetic words of a Nigerian military governor in May 1967 just before that war started. ‘When it is all over and the smoke and dust have lifted and the dead are buried, we shall find as other people have found that it has all been futile, entirely futile, in solving the problems we set out to solve.’

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