The atombic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 set the scene of the nuclear anxieties of the Cold War. Yet while the world would at moments come to the brink of nuclear war, the devastation wrought in Japan remains a unique tragedy.
In May 1974 an old man walked in to the Japan Broadcasting Corporation studio in Hiroshima with a picture recording his experience of the bombing. When it was shown on television the enormous interest it generated among viewers resulted in the studio receiving almost 1,000 more pictures drawn by survivors of the atomic bombings. The collection was exhibited at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum later that year.
1977 saw the publication of 104 of the illustrations in the book
Unforgettable Fire. As the quote on the front – by John Hersey, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Hiroshima – recognises, this group of drawings is “more moving than any book of photographs of the horror could be, because what is registered is what has been burned into the minds of the survivors”.
The book is now available to be viewed online and can be downloaded for free, with the aim of raising awareness of the human side of the tragedies and the ongoing need for nuclear disarmament.
Images: From Unforgettable Fire: Pictures Drawn by Atomic Bomb Survivors, ed. Nippon Hoso Shuppan Kyokai, 1977.