Messages from Overseas Visitors

Every year on the morning of August 6th, Hiroshima City holds the Peace Memorial Ceremony. This solemn event serves to commemorate the atomic bombing, honor its victims (the hibakusha), and renew the commitment to building world peace. Following the ceremony, HIP hosts a “Special A-bomb Testimony,” where three survivors share their experience in English. Many of the hundreds of foreign visitors who attend the event every year leave us encouraging messages. Here, we would like to share some of these comments with you.

Words of appreciation

  • Hearing the hibakusha’s testimonies always leaves me speechless. What kind of questions would you ask someone like Keiko Ogura? What happened to her and the other survivors is beyond words. However, their resilience and inner strength, as well as the weakness they allow us to see, is something I am deeply grateful for. Thank you for your testimonies!
  • This was the most moving experience of my life. Thanks to the survivor’s words, I can understand how important it is that we work together for world peace. Thank you all so much for sharing your stories.
  • Very touching and important. I think it’s important to listen to such stories first hand as long it’s still possible. Grateful for the opportunity.
  • I feel very thankful for the opportunity to hear these brave survivors tell their stories. It is vital that we learn about and remember this atrocity so that we can try to prevent such a thing from happening again. I’m especially grateful for the work of Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace in organizing this event and others like it. It’s one thing to read about the effects of the A-bomb, but hearing the personal stories of the survivors firsthand makes this history much more immediate, and reminded me forcefully of how urgent it is to actively advocate for peace. I greatly admire the courage of the survivors who, as Ms. Ogura eloquently expressed, were “forced to become storytellers.” They sacrifice much in reliving this event in order to educate future generations. I hope we can live up to their example.
  • I feel empathy for the plight of Hiroshima. As a Singaporean, my ancestors were also victims of the war. I’m glad to have the opportunity to hear the other side of the story.
  • This was a very intense and incredibly touching experience. And I feel that this was a privileged opportunity. These meetings should be spread out as widely as possible to reach all the people who aren’t aware of such tragedy. I appreciate the contribution of all the anonymous survivors. This kind of meeting is necessary to share the stories of ordinary individuals who make history together.

What impressed you most about these A-bomb testimonies?

  • It made me feel incredibly sad to see how these people were not only victims once (at the day of the bombing), but also late in life when they had to suffer discrimination, scars, and psychological trauma.
  • The emotions of survivors were apparent and clear. This opened my imagination to how it felt to be in the atomic hell. Much more than simple descriptions of the power, scale, character, and effects of the blast. Testimonies of silent, ongoing suffering were very powerful and emotional.
  • I was shocked by the discrimination against atomic bomb survivors and how it led to “unspeakable suffering” and “invisible scars.”
  • I’m from New Orleans, and lived through the devastation of the city in 2005 when our levees failed after Hurricane Katrina. So I feel a special kinship with the hibakusha in this regard. I recognized and admire the resilience of everyone who endured this tragedy and lived to rebuild their city and their lives.
  • It’s sad that the survivors grew up ashamed to be hibakusha.

Did hearing these testimonies change your mind about the atomic bombing?

  • Before, the idea of nuclear weapons was abstract. But today, the human cost of these weapons is clear. The speakers elegantly shared their bombing experiences with great dignity. The only comparable experience was hearing an Auschwitz survivor’s story in Europe. I hope the world never again experiences such horror.
  • It’s very hard to imagine an eight-year-old trying to save the injured by giving them water, watching them die, and then having nightmares about it for the next 20 years when she was just trying to help. The use of nuclear weapons makes me so angry. I hope the international community learns to never use them again.
  • We will have to abandon nuclear weapons for peace. I think it is correct. But I’m not sure if nuclear abolition will happen, because some countries are developing nuclear weapons even now. These countries may attack other countries with nuclear weapons. The existence of nuclear weapons on some level may maintain peace because nobody could use them. If they did, humanity might be terminated.
  • I was tremendously moved by the bravery of the hibakusha in testifying their A-bomb experience. My mother, who was 13 when the bomb was dropped, always told me it was my legacy to help her bear witness. She died this year and we have brought 1,000 cranes to recommit ourselves to her legacy. Listening to the survivors, I became aware of how vulnerable they all were. Many were just children like my mother, trying bravely to do their best in hellish surroundings.
  • Hearing these testimonies humanized the event. When I was younger, my perspective was that the bomb ended the war. Reading more about the war from a non-western (U.S.) point of view made me realize that it was an excessive force which caused more harm than good.

About the importance of learning from A-bomb survivors

  • It’s important to listen to and respect the people who experienced such terrifying experiences. We must avoid another Hiroshima. From the survivors, we can learn to become peaceful and resilient. It’s hard to put into words the horror they saw. But how else do we teach future generations to have respect, dignity, and tolerance?
  • Even now, people are suffering around the world in battles and wars. Even the wars without nuclear weapons cause pain and suffering. We need to share this message more and more until people understand, and we can achieve world peace.
  • I’m glad to have the possibility to learn about individual survivor’s stories firsthand. Hearing about what people have experienced firsthand lifts an abstract concept of the horrors of war to a relatable moment. It makes clear that this could happen to the people close to me at any time, and what that would mean, better than any textbook or movie.
  • I’m a history teacher and I’ve researched and taught the events of August 6th, 1945, many times. During the presentation, I was thinking how much I wish my students could be here to hear these stories firsthand. Living history is important. Having contact with survivors and hearing their stories firsthand removes the dull, emotionless feeling of history textbooks and makes history real and meaningful.
  • I think hibakusha have an unparalleled power in revealing the regrettable aspect of humanity manifested by nuclear weapons.

In what way will these testimonies influence your actions in the future?

  • I am a French writer, and in my next book I will speak against nuclear weapons and nuclear energy.
  • As a teacher of history, I’m particularly moved by these testimonies. I think this was really a great opportunity for me because listening to testimonies is so fascinating. I will speak of what I heard today to my students. And I will use the written testimonies given to me today.
  • It was very impressive to meet hibakusha. I read a lot of information about it. But just hearing the testimonies firsthand made a very important impact on me. I will spread the word of the testimonies because nobody should forget what happened here. I am honored to meet and speak directly to the survivors.
  • These were very moving stories. Thank you for sharing. I used to live in Japan, but now I live in the U.S. How can I help from outside of Hiroshima? I felt stories like these need to be told internationally.
  • This was the first time I heard hibakusha stories in English. I was impressed to learn that many people around the world are interested in A-bomb stories. I’m from Hiroshima and still 22, so I’d like to learn more and become a successor.
  • It was a unique experience to hear these testimonies. The reality of the Hiroshima bombing would never have been so clear to me without this event. I’ll surely share this experience with all the French people I know so that these testimonies can cross the world.
  • As a young person, I’m glad to hear the testimonies of atomic bomb survivors. When I’m an old man, there will be no more survivors who can give their testimonies for my children or grandchildren. I’ll be proud to tell future generations what I saw and heard here today.

What motivated you to participate?

  • This was a special opportunity to learn about the A-bomb from actual survivors in person.
  • My daughter is in the first year of junior high school and has started to study English. I wanted to experience this day with people from all over the world. Although I can only understand a little English, I was able to experience the atmosphere of this event. I hope my daughter will never forget this day.
  • After having visited Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust Museum, and today Hiroshima, I hope my children perceive that it is a mistake to blindly follow government intentions of war.
  • I’m Japanese. I came here to see what foreigners think about the atomic bomb.

Views on the abolition of nuclear weapons

  • As an American, this event hit me hard and filled me with empathy about the state of my brothers and sisters in Hiroshima. I want to help to establish an exchange program for Japanese school children and American school children to promote peace and understanding.
  • First of all, it’s very hard to describe one’s feelings in the face of these stories. Of course you are shocked and very touched by the survivor’s testimonies, but there is a different feeling, too. Fear. These things could happen again. Modern A-bombs have much more destructive power. All it takes is country’s greedy politician, and suddenly we have a new war and new A-bombs. This is why I appreciate these events and memorials. They have the potential to improve worldwide safety and peace.
  • It is so sad that humanity learned almost nothing after all that happened in 1945 and before. Our world is packed with atomic weapons much stronger than “Little Boy.” But things are continuing as if nothing happened. One war after another followed World War Ⅱ. The role of the U.S. and its intention toward other countries has not changed at all. I also find it depressing that no official representative of my country joined the ceremony this year.
  • I don’t know how anyone could hear testimonies like these and still believe nuclear proliferation will somehow be a positive force in the world.
  • Political leaders from countries that have nuclear weapons should listen to the survivor’s testimonies.
Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace