Watch Hiroshima before the city was nuked

It was on August 6, 1945, that an Atom Bomb destroyed Hiroshima. The website of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum provides a glimpse of the city, both before and after the catastrophe

Photo courtesy: International Committee of the Red Cross
Photo courtesy: International Committee of the Red Cross

Supriya Nidhi

If you ever wondered how Hiroshima, one of the two cities in Japan obliterated by the Atom Bomb in 1945, looked like, all that one needs to do is to visit the website of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Among other exhibits, a three-minute long black & white footage salvaged and put up by the museum, stands out. While the footage was donated to the museum way back in 1963, it has now been digitised and the picture quality improved.

The website informs that though initially it was believed that the footage dated from 1936, the probability of 1935 appeared higher. The city residents are seen walking and biking around the Hatchobori business district area, riding in trams, or fishing in the city canals.

The Peace Memorial Museum collects and displays belongings left by the victims, photos, and other materials that convey the horror of that event, supplemented by exhibits that describe Hiroshima before and after the bombings and others that present the current status of the nuclear age. Each of the items displayed embodies the grief, anger, or pain of real people.

The three-minute black and white video shows scenes from central Hiroshima which was a beautiful and lively city in April 1935. The city residents are seen riding in trams, fishing, crawling through the streets such as cherry blossoms, Aioi Bridge, Hatchobori, Motoyasabashi etc. There were 90,000 buildings in Hiroshima before the bomb was dropped; only 28,000 remained after the bombing.

It was a clear Monday morning on 6, August 1945 when an American plane dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. An American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, dropped the first atomic bomb given the code "Little Boy," during World War II. Within moments the cloud mushrooms reached 10 miles high in the sky. The bomb wiped out 90 per cent of the city and instantly killed an estimated 80,000 people. The bombed city was barely recognisable, it was turned into a nuclear wasteland. The city’s rivers were filled with cadavers, homes had been burnt to the ground by firestorms.

Hiroshima has been reborn as a place of peace and prosperity, but the memories of those dark days are unlikely to die. The name of the city is enough to remind the deadly attack.

The release of the video is part of the institution's conservation strategy that began in 2016. The strategy focuses on improving exhibition and storage conditions of museum objects and digitalisation of photos and video footage. The 16-mm film was created and donated by Genjiro Kawasaki in 1963.

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Published: 5 Aug 2017, 2:42 PM