On 6 August of 1945, an unthinkable and dreadful catastrophe happened. The American authorities dropped an atomic bomb on a Japanese city Hiroshima as a warning and a demand for defeat. As a result, the whole city of 250000 people was destroyed, thousands of Japanese were killed and seriously injured. As an issue of usage of an atomic bomb was being actively discussed around the world, The New Yorker sent a journalist John Hersey to Japan to find out the details of this catastrophe. Later he wrote the story about Hiroshima which can tell its readers the exact events of the bombarding through the eyes of the actual survivors, describes the reasons why Hiroshima became a target, some consequences of radiation, and why the medical and rescue efforts were useless after the blow.
American decision to drop a bomb on a Japanese city was not accidental. Hiroshima was an ideal target for an experiment of an atomic bomb. According to the book, Hiroshima was a significant military strategic object with a huge port and war ammunition. John Hersey writes in his story it had been an inviting targetmainly because it had been one of the most important military-command and communication centers in Japan, and would have become the Imperial headquarters had the islands been invaded and Tokyo been captured.(HERSEY, P.107) That is why Americans chose this city to drop the bomb considering that their purpose was to deprive the country of an opportunity to continue the war.
The book tells stories of 6 survivors who somehow got the chance to endure this catastrophe. One of the central characters is Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, a German Catholic priest, was reading a journal in his mission house when a bright white flash blew up above Hiroshima. As the fire began Father Kleinsorge, some priests and other survivors had to move to a safer place which was Asano Park. Along the way, there were lots of suffering people begging for help from under ruined parts of houses. Father Kleinsorge knew he could not save everyone, that they did not have time and had to go, but that fact did not stop him feeling guilty and ashamed. He managed to help a lot of refugees, bandaged their wounds, brought them water and rice, helped to put down fires. Before the bombing, some people openly disliked Father Kleinsorge because he was a foreigner in a country involved in a war. After the blow, they could not stop asking him for help or comfort. His sympathy was endless. Later Father Kleinsorge began to feel real sick and his wounds opened again and he went to the chapel of the Novitiate to get medical help. After his condition did not improve he had to go to a hospital in Tokyo, where he finally got well. He returned to ruined Hiroshima where he with the Jesuits restored the mission house and continued his service.
There is quite a lot of information about people’s lives before the explosion in the book. The author describes the morning routine of each character right before the bomb. He uses this special method to involve readers into these people’s tragedies, so they understand how much this bomb changed the lives of every person in Hiroshima, how much it influenced their decisions and what kind of consequences they would have to experience. his catastrophe is both a national tragedy and a personal one.
Working through the chaos of days following the blow few doctors who were available could not afford t stop for a minute to think about unusual symptoms. A lot of patients, who seemed to be getting well, suddenly died. Later, scientists and doctors came to a conclusion that radiation from an atomic bomb caused a fatal harm to people. In the story, all the characters suffered from the symptoms of radiation sickness, such as tiredness, faintness, nausea, fever, headache, diarrhea, falling hair, blood disorders, that often led to an inevitable death. As the symptoms revealed themselves, it became clear that many of them resembled the effects of overdoses of X-ray, and the doctors based their therapy on that likeness. (HERSEY, P.104) They gave victims liver extract, blood transfusions, and vitamins, especially B. (HERSEY, P.104)
With almost every building ruined and thousands of deaths, Hiroshima had to deal with consequences such as the lack of medical supplies, equipment, and doctors. The only functioning hospital was Red Cross one, where Dr.Sasaki treated patients as best as he could without necessary medicine. Lots of patients died because doctors could not know about radiation disease and their efforts brought no effect. In the story Hiroshima an army doctor answered the question why he had not come to Asano Park to help dying people: In an emergency like this, the first task is to help as many as possibleto save as many lives as possible. There is no hope for the heavily wounded. (HERSEY, P.72) Also, there was an important factor such as Japanese mentality. This nation was very proud and they preferred to live and die with honor. It meant that the most of population in the country put up with the perception that they could not change anything. There was nothing they could do about the disaster and that brought them peace. That is why the medical and rescue efforts had so little impact on the survivors’ behalf.
That day in 1945 absolutely changed the course of history. Those bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ruined not only the actual cities but the lives of several generations of Japanese. Though these events led to the defeat of Japan, they also showed the whole world the potential threat of an atomic bomb. The ethics of using this kind of weapon is still arguable.