Keiko Ogura was eight when atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima

Keiko Ogura was eight when atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima

Sevil Erkuş – HIROSHIMA
Keiko Ogura was eight when atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima

An American B-29 bomber named Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, hastening the end of World War Two.

Keiko Ogura was an eight-year-old school pupil, at home, when the U.S. Air Force dropped the bomb on its target. She saw a flash and was knocked over by the subsequent blast.

“When I opened my eyes everywhere was just dark. I thought it was night. Hiroshima city became so dark. All I was seeing was a small burning cottage over there,” she told Hürriyet Daily News at the museum near the hypocenter of the Hiroshima A-bomb.

“Everything started to burn in the center of the city. With burning clothes, people were like ghosts or zombies. Their skin was peeled off. They had severe burns, many people died at the moment of the blast,” Ogura said, recalling the horrifying memories of that day.

“Towards the evening many wounded people rushed, my house was full of people. I stepped out and black rain started. Only a short time heavy black rain fell. I saw my blouses got dirty and got into the home. It was contaminated. People did not know it. It caused serious diseases,” she said.

She was on a street near her house 2.4 km away from ground zero at the time bombing. They moved from the city to this house on the other side of the hill several months before the bombing, because her father was saying Hiroshima would be destroyed because until the time the Americans skipped the city despite several airstrikes to the nearby cities. Ogura was supposed to be at school in the city, but she was lucky that her father said she should not go to school because he had a strange feeling that day something will happen.

At that time 350,000 people were living in the city and around 60,000 people died at the time of the bombing. Ogura said those bodies were cremated. “Many people came to the city to work there. There was a very bad smell. Rivers were full of bodies floating.”

But the consequences of horrific damage were not limited to the time of the bombing. Survivors faced horrifying aftermath in the cities, including radiation poisoning and psychological trauma.

Junior high school students at the age of 13-15 worked to stop the fire and some 6,000 students died after that. Some 140,000 people died till the end of that year, she said and added, “But actually we do not know the accurate number of dead people due to diseases. One-third of them died within six months.”

Ten years after the bomb, many children were dying with diseases like leukemia and different types of cancer.

“When mothers were pregnant at the time, babies had smaller heads and born handicapped. There was no information about radiation. People were surprised to get sick. No scars or no burns people suddenly started to die. Doctors were not able to give answers,” she said.

Ogura is now 82 years old, and for the past 40 years, she been working, first as an interpreter for Robert Jungk, a journalist who wrote about A-bombed cities. She then established Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace.

“At first I was reluctant to talk about myself. Because soon after the bomb there was a kind of discrimination,” she said. People were hesitant to marry with the bomb survivors over the fear of radiation effects.

“I was eight years old and I did not pay much attention. But my classmates stopped to talk about where we were,” Ogura said.

“Ten years after the bombing, young men outside the city asked me first where I am from and how far from the hypocenter. Even still people do not want to tell about this.

Ogura said the military government did not want to unveil fear of nuclear weapon, therefore, people had a lack of information.

She had several traumas after the incident. “We should not give water to the wounded people. If we give water they will die. But I did not know. Many people came and asked for water. So I gave water and two persons died in front of me. That became my trauma. Keiko you killed them. I was a little girl. I started to blame myself. So many years I saw nightmares. I could not sleep well. I was crying in my dreams.”

Her son was living in Tokyo and even he did not say his mother was a survivor. His friend was surprised to see her interview on the evening news. He asked Ogura’s son if he is O.K.

“He was suspicious. He asked ‘Are you hiding something. You have bad DNA or gens?” Even younger generations, they kept silent. Because did not know what would happen to even the third generation.”

Many survivors were in guilty feelings because they lost their relatives and friends, she said. Lonely survivors wanted to die and some committed to suicide.

She is not angry with the American citizens, but the American government.

“There was some kind of aid from American citizens, not from the American government. American citizens tried to become parents, they raised money and sent for the orphans here. Some of the girls were sent to America and they found American families. They were so kind. I hated the American government, President Truman and the scientists that ordered the bomb. But not American citizens.”

World must never repeat Hiroshima: Turkish president 

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima at the end of World War II should bolster the world’s determination not to repeat mistakes, Turkey’s president said in a message to a memorial service marking the 75th anniversary of the bombing of the Japanese city.

The service took place in Tokyo's Peace Memorial Park.

"I share my condolences with the Japanese people, and specifically those trying to stem their pain for 75 years, having lost loved ones," said Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, calling the bombing one of the darkest days in history.

"We have to learn lessons from this heinous event. As it is engraved on the plaque in the memorial park, this day should mark our decisiveness to not repeat past mistakes," he added.

Representing Turkey and President Erdoğan at the ceremony were Hasan Murat Mercan, Turkish ambassador to Tokyo, and a Turkish delegation.