Mitsuyoshi Toge: ‘How Could I Ever Forget That Flash’

Mitsuyoshi Toge: ‘How Could I Ever Forget That Flash’

Mitsuyoshi Toge, born in Hiroshima in 1917, was a Catholic and a poet. He was in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped on the city on August 6, 1945, when he was 24 years old. Toge died at age 36. His firsthand experience of the bomb, his passion for peace, and his realistic insight into the event made him a leading poet in Hiroshima. This poem is from Hiroshima-Nagasaki: A Pictorial Record of the Atomic Destruction (1978).

 

How could I ever forget that flash of light!
In a moment, thirty thousand people ceased to be,
The cries of fifty thousand killed
At the bottom of crushing darkness;

Through yellow smoke whirling into light,
Buildings split, bridges collapsed,
Crowded trams burnt as they rolled about
Hiroshima, all full of boundless heaps of embers.
Soon after, skin dangling like rags;
With hands on breasts;
Treading upon the broken brains;
Wearing shreds of burn cloth round their loins;
There came numberless lines of the naked,
all crying.
Bodies on the parade ground, scattered like
jumbled stone images of Jizo;
Crowds in piles by the river banks,
loaded upon rafts fastened to the shore,
Turned by and by into corpses
under the scorching sun;
in the midst of flame
tossing against the evening sky,
Round about the street where mother and
brother were trapped alive under the fallen house
The fire-flood shifted on.
On beds of filth along the Armory floor,
Heaps, and God knew who they were?
Heaps of schoolgirls lying in refuse
Pot-bellied, one-eyed, with half their skin peeled
off bald.
The sun shone, and nothing moved
But the buzzing flies in the metal basins
Reeking with stagnant ordure.
How can I forget that stillness
Prevailing over the city of three hundred thousands?
Amidst that calm,
How can I forget the entreaties
Of departed wife and child
Through their orbs of eyes,
Cutting through our minds and souls?

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7 Responses to Mitsuyoshi Toge: ‘How Could I Ever Forget That Flash’

  1. str8shooter says:

    Well Mr. Mitsuyoshi Toge, I would suggest that you tell it to your government, and remind them that if they don’t start any shit, there won’t BE any shit, other than that, tell it to Jesus, because the Chaplin’s on leave, and I don’t GIVE A DAMN!

  2. verbena19 says:

    Maybe you don’t, but I do, as do many others…

  3. str8shooter says:

    OK, I’ll play your silly game for a minute, WHY? WHY do you care? Why should ANONE care about them reaping the whirlwind that THEY sewed? Why should ANYONE give a tinkers damn about how they feel about getting bombed after THEIR government started a War of aggression for the SOLE purpose of geographic expansionism, and SLAUGHTERED TENS OF MILLIONS OF INNOCENT CIVILIANS ALL OVER ASIA? Can ANYONE explain to me in any way that could pass for the most basic form of LOGIC how you weep for the aggressors and steadfastly REFUSE to even ACKNOWLEDGE the VICTIMS?

    Are you so completely devoid of historical context and knowledge that you’re totally unaware of the HORRORS that Japan visited upon EVERY culture they came in contact with for well over a decade? So yes, PLEASE explain to me WHY you give a tinkers damn about how somebody ‘feels’ about having a single percentage of the justice that they so richly deserved visited upon them?

  4. verbena19 says:

    I weep for ALL the INNOCENT VICTIMS!! The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were NOT the ones declaring war on anyone. Yes, I WEEP FOR ALL INNOCENT CIVILIANS WHO ARE CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRES OF IMPERIALIST, GREED-DRIVEN, POWER HUNGRY MADMEN ALL OVER THE WORLD!! That INCLUDES THE MADMEN OF THE U.S.!! Innocent civilians are ALWAYS THE ONES WHO PAY THE PRICE FOR WARS OF AGGRESSION, EXPANSION, IMPERIALISM, POWER, GREED!!!

  5. str8shooter says:

    V,

    OK, fine, you weep for all the victims, but here you are decrying the US for ENDING the War the Japan STARTED, would you rather we had invaded Japan? In case you’re not familiar with the estimates from the time, ALL of the estimates, based on our actual experiences, indicated that it would have cost the lives of over 1 MILLION Allied soldiers, and the complete GENOCIDE of the Japanese people, not by our choice, but by their refusal to surrender until it was made brutally clear to the entire population that they COULD NOT WIN!

    The Japanese people at that time simply weren’t willing to surrender, and this was shown in stark detail in the invasions by our troops in the islands of the Pacific Islands, and especially by the military and civilian SUICIDES at Saipan and Okinawa. Literally thousands of Japanese military and civilians jumped to their deaths at what is now known as Banzai Cliff on Saipan, despite the pleadings of our troops through Japanese translaters, rather than surrender, and as they jumped they cried out “Long live the Emperor”. What about the mass suicides on Okinawa? Over 4000 Japanese Naval personnel killed themselves rather than surrender, and this doesn’t count the unknown number of Okinawan civilians who came out with simple farm implements to confront US troops rather than allow themselves to become ‘captives’. Have you forgotten about their Kamakazi pilots? Thousands of them flew their aircraft at US ships in a vain attempt to ‘take us with them’. Once again they chose to kill themselves rather than to face the “humiliation” of defeat and surrender.

    My grandfather was a Pilot in the South Pacific during the War, and served in Japan following the War as a Provost Marshal. Ever since I was a youngster I can remember his stories of all of the preperations that had been taken in anticipation of a US invasion, including the fact that weapons had been issued to every civilian who could bear them in order to participate in the “final stand” against us. The fact is that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki SAVED LIVES, and anyone who fails to comprehend this FACT simply doesn’t know WTF THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT!

    So now, having this knowledge, exactly how do you consider our actions to be the result of “MADMEN IN THE U.S.”? It’s real easy to sit back, over 60 years AFTER the fact, and especially when operating from the standpoint of COMPLETE IGNORANCE OF THE FACTS, and condemn peoples decisions, but perhaps in the future you’ll bother to actually research the real history of events before drawing unfounded conclusions.

  6. verbena19 says:

    Please read these when you have time:

    Unlike many other bombing raids, the goal for this raid had not been a military installation but rather an entire city. The atomic bomb that exploded over Hiroshima killed civilian women and children in addition to soldiers. Hiroshima’s population has been estimated at 350,000; approximately 70,000 died immediately from the explosion and another 70,000 died from radiation within five years.

    A survivor described the damage to people:

    The appearance of people was . . . well, they all had skin blackened by burns. . . . They had no hair because their hair was burned, and at a glance you couldn’t tell whether you were looking at them from in front or in back. . . . They held their arms bent [forward] like this . . . and their skin – not only on their hands, but on their faces and bodies too – hung down. . . . If there had been only one or two such people . . . perhaps I would not have had such a strong impression. But wherever I walked I met these people. . . . Many of them died along the road – I can still picture them in my mind — like walking ghosts.6
    […] Read more
    http://history1900s.about.com/od/worldwarii/a/hiroshima.htm

    And:

    History Learning Site > World War Two > The bombing of Nagasaki

    Nagasaki suffered the same fate as Hiroshima in August 1945. The bombing of Nagasaki on August 9th was the last major act of World War Two and within days the Japanese had surrendered.

    Two senior American military figures – General Groves and Admiral Purnell – were convinced that two atomic bombs dropped within days of the other would have such an overwhelming impact on the Japanese government that it would surrender. Scientists at Los Alamos were also intrigued as to which type of bomb was the better – a uranium or plutonium based bomb. ‘Little Boy’ showed its effectiveness at Hiroshima but another bombing mission was needed to see what damage a uranium bomb could do.

    Nagasaki was not America’s primary target. This was Kokura. The three potential targets for a second bomb were Kokura, Kyoto and Niigata. Nagasaki was only added to a list of potential targets when Kyoto was withdrawn (it had been the secondary target for a second bomb) because of its religious associations. The third potential target was Niigata – but this was withdrawn from the list as the distance to it was considered to be too great. Therefore, the Americans were left with just two targets – Kokura and Nagasaki.
    […] Read more… http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/bombing_of_nagasaki.htm

    And:

    http://www.atomicarchive.com/Docs/MED/index.shtml

    And this: http://www.dannen.com/decision/ – I draw your attention to this paragraph: Truman Diary, July 25, 1945 – President Truman told his diary that he had ordered the bomb dropped on a “purely military” target, so that “military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children.”

    On August 6 and 9, 1945, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by the first atomic bombs used in warfare.

    Documents on the decision to use the atomic bomb are reproduced here in full-text form. In most cases, the originals are in the U.S. National Archives. Other aspects of the decision are shown from accounts by the participants. This page was new May 29, 1995, and it was last updated August 9, 2003.

    International Law – Bombing of Civilians – At the beginning of World War II, the bombing of civilians was regarded as a barbaric act. As the war continued, however, all sides abandoned previous restraints. But international law has always distinguished between civilians and combatants. Legal context to the decision, from a variety of international treaties and the 1996 World Court opinion.
    * Target Committee, Los Alamos, May 10-11, 1945 – Minutes of the Target Committee, meeting in the office of J. Robert Oppenheimer, as they decided the best use of the “gadget.”
    * The Franck Report, June 11, 1945 – The Franck Report, written by a seven-man panel of scientists at the University of Chicago, urged that the bomb be demonstrated “before the eyes of representatives of all United Nations, on the desert or a barren island.”
    * Scientific Panel, June 16, 1945 – Despite the arguments against using the bomb made by the Franck Report, a panel composed of Oppenheimer, Fermi, Compton, and Lawrence found “no acceptable alternative to direct military use.”
    * Bard Memorandum, June 27, 1945 – Undersecretary of the Navy Ralph A. Bard wrote that use of the bomb without warning was contrary to “the position of the United States as a great humanitarian nation,” especially since Japan seemed close to surrender.
    * Setting the Test Date, July 2, 1945 – President Truman had delayed his meeting with Stalin until the atomic bomb could be tested. On July 2, General Groves told Robert Oppenheimer that the test date was being set by “the upper crust.”
    * Szilard Petition, first version, July 3, 1945 – The first version of Leo Szilard’s petition called atomic bombs “a means for the ruthless annihilation of cities.” It asked the President “to rule that the United States shall not, in the present phase of the war, resort to the use of atomic bombs.”
    * Petition cover letter, July 4, 1945 – Szilard sent copies of the July 3 version of his petition to colleagues at Oak Ridge and Los Alamos. This cover letter discussed the need for scientists to take a moral stand on the use of the bomb.
    * Groves Seeks Evidence, July 4, 1945 – As Szilard circulated his petition, General Groves sought ways to take action against him. On July 4, 1945, Groves wrote to Lord Cherwell, Winston Churchill’s science advisor.
    * Oak Ridge petition, July 13, 1945 – The first version of Szilard’s petition inspired a similar petition at the Manhattan Project laboratory at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The names of the 18 signers are included.
    * Oak Ridge petition, mid-July 1945 – Another petition at Oak Ridge called for the power of the bomb to be “adequately described and demonstrated” before use. The names of the 67 signers are included.
    * Trinity Test, July 16, 1945 – Radiation Monitoring – The test of the atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert on July 16 was a spectacular success. This report by Manhattan Project Chief of Medical Section Stafford Warren shows that radioactive fallout from the test was an important concern.
    * Trinity Test, July 16, 1945 – Eyewitness Accounts – Even 32 kilometers (20 miles) away, scientists felt the heat of the explosion on exposed skin. Declassified eyewitness accounts of the Trinity test by Luis Alvarez, Enrico Fermi, Philip Morrison, Robert Serber, Victor Weisskopf, and others.
    * Szilard Petition, July 17, 1945 – Leo Szilard, and 69 co-signers at the Manhattan Project “Metallurgical Laboratory” in Chicago, petitioned the President of the United States. The names and positions of the signers are included.
    * Szilard Petition, July 17, 1945, GIF image – See Szilard’s petition. The image is only 38k, but your monitor must support at least 800×600 resolution to view it properly.
    * Truman Tells Stalin, July 24, 1945 – At the Potsdam Conference in defeated Germany, President Truman told Stalin only that the U.S. “had a new weapon of unusual destructive force.” What did Truman say, and what did Stalin understand? Seven eyewitness accounts.
    * Truman Diary, July 25, 1945 – President Truman told his diary that he had ordered the bomb dropped on a “purely military” target, so that “military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children.”
    * Official Bombing Order, July 25, 1945 – The bombing order issued to General Spaatz made no mention of targetting military objectives or sparing civilians. The cities themselves were the targets.
    * Groves-Oppenheimer transcript, August 6, 1945 – General Groves informed Robert Oppenheimer of the Hiroshima bombing. Transcript of telephone conversation.
    * Truman radio speech, August 9, 1945 (excerpt) – In his radio speech to the nation on August 9, President Truman called Hiroshima “a military base.” This is a 50k (.AU format) audio file. Hear Truman say it. Or read the full text of that paragraph.
    * Leo Szilard, Interview: “President Truman Did Not Understand” – A 1960 interview with Leo Szilard about the use of the bomb, reprinted by permission from U.S. News & World Report.
    http://www.dannen.com/decision/

  7. str8shooter says:

    V,

    And your point is? I’ve seen just about everything you presented going back to the time when I was in grade school. As I said, my Grandfather was a Pilot over there during the war, and Provost Marshal in Japan afterwards, so having first hand accounts to the War in the Pacific was a great source for reports I did all through school.

    You’re STILL ignoring however, the FACT that if we hadn’t used the Atomic Bombs, and had been forced to invade the Japanese mainland, the loss of life would have been HUNDREDS of times greater than it was by our using the bombs, and realizing this FACT, using the Atomic Bombs was one of the greatest HUMANITARIAN acts we could have engaged in. WE SAVED LIVES, American and Japanese, by dropping those bombs or perhaps you would prefer if we had continued to engage in the bombing tactics we had been using up until that time? The firebombings of Tokyo killed approx. 200,000 and destroyed over half of the city (that’s more damage and casualties than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki COMBINED), so again, you lack proper historical PERSPECTIVE!

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki were MILITARY TARGETS. Hiroshima was the Headquarters of the Imperian Japanese 5th Division, as well as the General Army’s 2nd Army Headquarters which commanded the defense for all of Southern Japan, as well as a number of other smaller bases and installations. There was also a primary Communications Center, a huge military Depot, a Naval ship building facility, military rail facilities, a military air field, and the list goes on. Also, the assertion that civilian “women and children” were targeted ignores the fact that in Japan, EVERYONE was subject to call up for military service in case of invastion, which we were well on our way to doing. One other factor made Hiroshima a good choice for a target, it was one of the few military targets that didn’t have a POW camp smack dab in the middle of it.

    Nagasaki, like Hiroshima, was also a large military target due to it’s large port facilities, it’s production facilities that made ships, ordinance, military equipment and other war materials. Simply put, it was as much of a military target as any other.

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