…a memorial to all the victims, a place of contemplation and prayer for a peaceful world
In the early hours of August 6, 1945, a B-29 war plane took off from the Tinian island air base just south of Saipan in the Pacific. On board the plane was a bomb by the ill-suited name of “Little Boy”, a bomb much bigger and more powerful than any of the flight crew had ever seen before.
A few hours later the heavily loaded bomber with “Enola Gay” painted in blocky letters across the side its nose flew over the island of Shikoku, Japan. Nearing its destination, the plane climbed slowly to 30,700 feet as the people of Hiroshima was about to begin their day.
At 08:15 local time, Enola Gay had reached its target and Little Boy was dropped. 43 seconds later and from a point some 600 meters above the city, Hiroshima was hit by a flash of intense blinding light followed by a shock wave of tremendous and horrifying destructive power. 1)
70,000–80,000 people, or some 30% of the city’s population, were killed by the blast and the raging fires in its wake. Another 70,000 were injured. Japanese officials determined that close to 70% of Hiroshima’s buildings were completely destroyed by the bomb.
On August 9, only three days later, a second atomic bomb was dropped. This time on the City of Nagasaki, in response to the Japanese refusal to accept the Allied force’s demands for unconditional surrender. Then, less than a week later, on August 15 1945, the Emperor of Japan announced to his people that they had “endured the unendurable” for too long. World War II was effectively over on this day. 2)
Genbaku Dome – World Heritage
The Hiroshima Genbaku (atomic bomb) Dome and Peace Memorial was the only structure near the centre of the blast that was left standing, remaining up until this day in more or less the same condition. It stands as sad monument over that terrible day in 1945 and a stark reminder of the madness of war. It serves as an important memorial to all the victims, as well as a place of contemplation and prayer for a peaceful world.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) has been a World Heritage site since 1996.
SOURCES & CREDITS
Header photo collage: Photo of Genbaku Dome by Julia Tsuruta Pedersen & Thomas Simonsen.
Atomic_cloud_over_Hiroshima. The picture was taken by Charles Levy from one of the B-29 Superfortresses used in the attack. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
1) Acepilots – Paul Tibbets and the Enola Gay
2) The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – Wikipedia
This article was first published on August 5th 2015.