by Kieran August. 24, 2008 2852 views

This is the ‘Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall’ in Hiroshima, now commonly known as the Genbaku, or A-bomb Dome. As you may know at the end of world war two an atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima by the Americans. The immediate effects of the blast of the bombing killed approximately 70,000 people. It's estimated that a further 200,000 died between then and 1950 from the after effects. This is possibly one of the most powerful and impacting places that I've ever visited.

This building was one of only a very few that survived in any form from near the centre of the blast. Approximately 69% of the city's buildings were completely destroyed, and 6.6% severely damaged.

Today the structure is held up by an inner framework and is one of only several that still stands as a terrible reminder of the bombing. It's an internationally recognized world heritage site.

It seems to be a favourite resting place for herons too…

It's a very real and frightening example of the power of a weapon like this. Most buildings were completely flattened or melted in places, but just seeing this wreck of a building with warped and disfigured stone and metal is quite disturbing.

The city has been completely rebuilt now, much like several other cities that were completely destroyed by more conventional bombing at the end of the war.

Part of the reason the building survived is because the bomb exploded in the air. The hypocenter of the blast was fairly close to here so this building received most of the force of the explosion from above, which it was able to withstand with its brick construction. Other buildings that received the force of the blast from more of a sideways angle were completely swept away and pulled down.

It speaks for itself really. Frightening.

In the terrible aftermath of the bombing Hiroshima was reborn as a city dedicated to peace. This is the ‘Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum’ near the bomb dome, and again it's a very difficult place to look around. The museum contains the stories of the survivors of the bombing as well as examples of their charred clothing and posessions, cutlery and roof tiles melted by the searing heat of the blast. It's genuinely very difficult to come to terms with the degree of death and devastation that this event caused. It makes you almost ashamed to be part of a race that is capable of unleashing something of this scale. The museum and city itself are known the world over for their work on trying to persuade the nuclear powers to disarm themselves of the weapons, and one area of the museum shows copies of hundreds of letters sent to world leaders from mayors of the city pleading that nuclear testing and arms development be ceased.

It really is a hugely moving place, and it's something really that everyone should see regardless of background or nationality. There's a hugely disturbing realisation and almost responsibility though that comes with seeing something like this. It is simple, We are human. This is what we are capable of.

Near the center of the memorial park between the A-bomb dome and the museum is this concrete, saddle-shaped monument that covers a Cenotaph holding the names of all of the people killed by the bomb. The Cenotaph carries the epitaph, “Sleep in peace, for we shall not repeat this error again.” It's the responsibility of all humanity to ensure that this is upheld I think. The arch shape of the monument is supposed to represent a shelter for the souls of the victims.

Let us hope that we never live to see a weapon of this kind ever used again. Let us also hope that more modern weapons capable of even worse than this are never used in anger even once. Let us hope furthermore that one day we will realise we don't need weapons of any form.
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