Drawings show haunting memories of Hiroshima

Updated 9:01 AM ET, Wed August 5, 2015
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The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum has collected thousands of drawings made by survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. The drawings document survivors' memories surrounding that horrible day. In this rendering, Hideo Kimura shows burned and screaming classmates. Some were trapped under heavy gates and houses. Others were in the river, holding onto a stone embankment. Hideo Kimura/Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
This drawing by survivor Akira Onogi shows a woman pinned under a pillar from her collapsed house as deadly flames approach. Next to the woman, a sobbing girl pleads for help from neighbors. The neighbors couldn't move the pillar. Akira Onogi/Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Chisako Sasaki drew this image of a girl at a window on the second floor of a burning house. Sasaki remembers the girl crying for help. "I can never forget," Sasaki said. Chisako Sasaki/Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Mitsuko Taguchi is haunted by this scene, depicted in her drawing, of a dead mother and child who had fallen while trying to outrun flames. "Her hair was standing on end," Taguchi said. "She still protected her child under her breast, like a living person. Her eyes were open wide. I cannot forget that shocking sight." Mitsuko Taguchi/Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Torazuchi Matsunaga remembered soldiers carrying children's corpses on stretchers to a temporary crematorium. "These children had been injured by the bomb and taken to the army hospital for treatment but had soon died," she said. "The hands and legs sticking out of the stretcher swung with the motion. My chest suddenly seized with emotion." Torazuchi Matsunaga/Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Survivor Asako Fujise drew this image of a bomb shelter that was being used as a makeshift hospital. It was "filled with moans and the smell of zinc oxide and Mercurochome mixed with sweat." Asako Fujise/Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Sueko Sumimoto remembered a mother standing on a bridge. She was screaming her child's name while the bodies of dead students floated on the river below. Sueko Sumimoto/Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Hiroharu Kono drew a picture of her search for missing family members. Three days after the bombing, she arrived at where her house once stood. "Fires were still burning here and there, and the streets were so hot I could hardly get through," she said. After digging through a foot of dirt, Kono found the bones of her older brother, older sister and a 3-day-old baby who had all died in a fire. "I put my hands together and just prayed to Namu Amida Buddha," she said. "I wept and wept." Hiroharu Kono/Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Not all the drawings depict bad memories. Masaru Shimizu remembers being given a few dozen frozen mandarin oranges by the military. "I gave some of them to relatives who were seriously injured by the atomic bomb," she said. Masaru Shimizu/Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Soldiers had been trained not to give water to burn victims, thinking it would worsen their condition. Keiji Harada remembers girls asking her for water. "While I was rushing to get them water, a military policeman yelled at me to stop. When I remember, I deeply regret that I obeyed. I should have found a way to help them." Keiji Harada/Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The memory of seeing two girls with blue-violet faces shocked Torao Izuhara so much that she never forgot it. Their faces were "swollen so badly that you couldn't tell whether their eyes were open or shut, and their skirts were ripped up right at the creases," Isuhara said. "Their faces were really even blacker than the drawing. They helped each other walk along, their shoulders joined together, their powerless legs somehow carrying them off towards the Otagawa River." Torao Izuhara/Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Like cattle, injured survivors were loaded into rail cars to escape the ruined city. "Most people were injured, and those with burns were slathered with white medicine," Kazuo Koya said. "There were so many bandaged people. With only the clothes on their backs, they waited under the blazing sun for departure." Kazuo Koya/Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Sumie Sasaki was fortunate enough to find a bit of beauty amid all the horror. "The stars were beautiful," she recalled. "My father gathered charred tin sheeting and broken planks and built us a shack over the burnt ruins of his company. One plant's tall smokestack remained standing, and it scared us at night. But the stars glittering all around the scary smokestack were so beautiful." Sumie Sasaki/Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum