Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Hiroshima, 6th August 1945

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This was what Matsushige saw through his window

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima. Whether you agree with the decision or not, the facts were there: Hiroshima was an important army and navy base. Of about 350,000 people living there on that fateful day, the majority were women and children, since most adult men were fighting at the front.

Nuclear blast and wind destroyed buildings within its 1.5-mile radius. Yoshito Matsushige was barely out of this radius at a little over 1.6-miles from the ground zero. Heading out to the citycentre, Matsushige took the only photographs taken of Hiroshima on that calamitous day. Matsushige himself was not seriously injured by the blast, but the scenes of carnage and dying people prevented him from taking further pictures. (He had 24 possible exposures, in the 10 hours he spent wandering the devastated city, but only seven came out right).

The importance of scenes that Mr. Matsushige documented were not immediately realized in the outside world. Another bomb would follow a few days later, and the war in Far East was finally over. The tone of the Western Press, from the New York Times to Life, was almost triumphal. They would not receive the photos from Hiroshima and Nagasaki under months later, and even then, only the heavily censored ones. In addition, the radiation sickness was dismissed as a Japanese effort to undermine American morale, and the stories to that effect were frequently killed. This type of censorship was so prevalent that when MGM had a scene casting doubts on whether an atomic weapon should have been used, the White House called the studio to change the script.

In Japan, the censorship was more draconian. It was not just buildings that were annihilated in Hiroshima; an entire collective memory too was erased. For many years the sole images of the bombings in Japan were sketches and paintings by survivors. General Douglas MacArthur had declared southern Japan off-limits from the foreign press. Wilfred Burchett — who secretively sneaked on a train — had his camera stolen, photos confiscated and was expelled and banned from Japan. Live footage taken by Akira Iwasaki was seized and taken to the United States, and was not returned until 1968. For Matsushige himself, his films were so toxic that he was unable to develop them for twenty days, and even then had to do so at night and in the open, rinsing it in a stream. When he tried to publish them, they were confiscated. Under the blanket rule that “nothing shall be printed which might, directly or by inference, disturb public tranquility,” graphic photos from Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not printed until the U.S. occupation ended in Japan in April 1952. The magazine Asahi Gurafu opened the floodgates by publishing them in August 1952.

From top to bottom: first two photos showed people who escaped serious injury applying cooking oil to their burns near Miyuki bridge; in the third photo, a policeman, his head bandaged, issues certificates to civilians. The next photo shows shows the shadow of a person who was disintegrated at the moment of the blast. (These steps were cut out and now inside the Hiroshima Peace Park museum.) The last photo shows the damage to Matsushige family’s barbershop.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

August 6, 2010 at 8:37 am

Posted in Society, War

Tagged with ,

70 Responses

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  1. [...] THE ICONIC PHOTOS website presents several iconic photos taken in Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 in this post, along with stories pertinent to them. There are several more photos at the hot link on the words [...]

  2. There were also a lot of war slaves able to view the bombing – POW’s from the Allies and China forced to work in armaments factories.

    -XC

    xc

    August 6, 2010 at 12:03 pm

  3. [...] The only photographer known to have photographed in Hiroshima on the day the bomb dropped was Yoshito Matsushige (1913-2005) a 32 year-old photographer for the Chugoku Newspaper in 1945, and you can read his [...]

  4. Never has any nation fought so much of its history over the bodies of dead women and children … as the US of A.

    dunne

    August 7, 2010 at 2:22 am

    • The US role and the wars of the last century are pale compared to the wars before that… At least as far as cruelty to women and children is concerned…

      val

      August 9, 2010 at 10:34 pm

  5. The last photo are on the steps of a bank (which one I’m not sure) which shows the shadow of a person who was disintegrated at the moment of the blast. This portion of the steps was cut out and sits inside the Hiroshima Peace Park museum to this day. Google images will turn it up if you look.

    GMay

    August 7, 2010 at 2:55 am

  6. And Dunne, you clearly don’t know history very well at all.

    GMay

    August 7, 2010 at 2:59 am

    • GMay, oyu took the words out of my mouth.
      There is a term for a person, thing or event that must be taken as contra-indicator, so to speak. Can’t remember it. It means, roughly, “if X says or does Z, conclude the opposite is true”. The term is used in finance market analysis, can’t remember.

      The Left, in general, is one such indicator.

      ETat

      August 7, 2010 at 1:59 pm

  7. “nothing shall be printed which might, directly or by inference, disturb public tranquility”

    since when was there tranquility?
    glad we can see these photos today though it’s all terribly sad.

    Lucy

    August 7, 2010 at 4:02 am

  8. I took a tour of their “peace park” with some Japanese friends. The theme goes something like this;
    We were peacefully weaving baskets, and then they
    nuked us, but we still don’t know why. Now we ring
    this bell so it won’t happen again.

    What BS.

    They need to build a bigger park for their victims at Nanking.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanking_Massacre

    bob

    August 7, 2010 at 4:07 am

    • Not true Bob. I visited the park last week and was impressed by the fact that there are many references to Japan’s “misguided leadership” which led them to so much suffering. At no point, anywhere, was there any reference to a peaceful atmosphere. To the contrary, they often say that so many women and children were so close to the epicenter because they were forced into labor.
      Sad that you so completely missed the point of the whole place.

      jim

      January 8, 2011 at 5:04 pm

  9. Bob,

    Lefty morons like dunne will of course completely ignore anything the Japanese did to the people unfortunate enough to be occupied by them during WWII because to them only America is evil!

    Usefool and deluded fools!

    Mailman

    Mailman

    August 7, 2010 at 7:21 am

  10. [...] full post upon Top Stories – Google Blog Search [...]

  11. [...] Hiroshima, 6th August 1945 Posted on August 7, 2010 by jensdarup Today marks the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima. Whether you agree with the decision or not, the facts were there: Hiroshima was an important army and navy base. Of about 350,000 people living there on that fateful day, the majority were women and children, since most adult men were fi … Read More [...]

  12. That was a rare time in history of NYT when their tone was in tact with reality. By a curious, I’d say, ironic circumstance: while “fluctuating with the Party”, at that particular period party line came to coincide with good guys’ line. In 1939, at the time of Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, their tenor was completely different.

    ETat

    August 7, 2010 at 2:06 pm

  13. I went out with a women whose uncle was killed by the japanese in the philipines. they chained him in a seaside cave with others and let the tide drown them. more people were killed in the rape of Manilla than at hiroshima. the japanese of WW 2 earned their atomic bombs.

    whodat

    August 7, 2010 at 6:37 pm

  14. USA is the only nation in Earth that has used atomic weapons against civilians. What a shame.

    But of course, all the blame is to be put into that angry, ignorant leftists who doesn’t know how to exterminate hundreds of thousands of people helped to save lives. And after all they deserved it. Why? Because their soldiers and politicians decided to do bad things over other people. Perfectly clear.

    Rael Imperial Aerosol Kid

    August 8, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    • Dear “Rael…”,

      Where did the liberty you enjoy to type your comments come from? Only an ignorant fool would forget that.

      bob

      August 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm

      • To understand why we nuked Hiroshima, recall the 50,000 American casualties, 100,000 Japanese dead, and 100,000 Okinawan dead after the battle of Okinawa ten weeks earlier. Invading Japan with conventional forces would have cost at least ten times more.

        You need to educate yourself instead of just repeating leftist lies. Just because it sounds nice doesn’t make it so.

        bob

        August 8, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    • On the contrary, Aerosol Head.
      The leftists of teh world surely know how to exterminate not just hundreds of thousands but millions of people for their own vision of paradise for those who survived – actually, those they deem worthy of survival.
      See dictionary entries on “Mao”. “Lenin”. “Stalin”. Their North-Korean, Cuban, Mozambique, Baatist-Iraqi, Vietnamese, Kampuchean, Chilean, Mexican, Venesuelean &&& equivalents.

      Leftists of this world are responsible for much of the bloodshed of the past 2 centuries. All in the name of “saving lives”. It is unforgivable to be as ignorant as you are, with all the information available to educate yourself critically, based on facts, not on your liberal-arts professors’ teachings at community college.

      ETat

      August 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm

  15. Yes, two.

    ETat

    August 9, 2010 at 3:00 am

    • Well I’m not really familiar with any socialist states before 1917, I guess one could count the Paris Commune, maybe the various Shaker settlements, but where else?

      lawguy

      August 9, 2010 at 3:52 pm

  16. [...] and they appeared in the 29 September 1952 issue of Life, together with Yoshito Matsushige’s photos of Hiroshima.  The same year they also appeared in the book [...]

  17. Bob, you are ridiculous. The civilians who were peacefully weaving and who died in Hiroshima had nothing to do with Nanking.

    Unless you want me to blame you for everything your fellow countrymen have ever done in history and if you get killed, and I can say “He deserved it”

    Astonished by the idiocy

    August 9, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    • By your standard, we were wrong to shoot their individual soldiers too, unless they had previously committed some wrong which was a capital offense AND we knew about same. Obviously spoken by someone who has never fought for their country.

      You enjoy the liberty others provided for you, but you cower from the hard work required to get it. Think about what that makes you. How do you sleep at night?

      bob

      August 9, 2010 at 9:20 pm

      • Bob – you seem to begrudge people expressing their views with the very “freedom” you claim to have fought so hard to defend. So….which is it? Did you fight to defend your countrymen’s right to have an opinion you disagree with or was your service in vain?

        Soul On Ice

        August 10, 2010 at 12:18 am

  18. can some people simply feel sorry for Japanese CIVILIANS without others uttering paranoid phrases like “the left…bleeding heart liberals,,,etc. How about we respond as HUMAN BEINGS and not feel the need to nitpick everything to death on this website. Some of the regulars on this site complain about everything, put down everyone and apparently have no job or nothing better to do than to rant and rave and attempt to show their superiorty by mindlessly spouting platitudes to try to make up for their lack of intellect.

    ripley

    August 9, 2010 at 10:38 pm

  19. Dear “Soul On Ice”,

    My viciously accurate comments do not mean I begrudge others their opinion. It just means that their position is weak. I can’t help that their flawed thinking makes me look like a bully.

    Telling them the truth is a free service I am happy to provide. They are free to speak and I am free to reply. Would you prefer that I not point out their errors?

    bob

    August 10, 2010 at 1:47 am

  20. Dear “ripley”,

    Those at Hiroshima deserved their fate. Like it or not, all members of a society are responsible for its actions. They should have joined the resistance years earlier and avoided war. Losing sucks – that’s life. And death.

    bob

    August 10, 2010 at 1:52 am

  21. “bob” you’re a real charmer; I still reserve the right to have empathy for my fellow human beings, no matter where they are from. I guess if that makes me supposedly weak, I would rather be that than someone who is egocentric and selfish (no, I am NOT calling you names); I guess I feel life is way too short to hold grudges and not learn how to get along while I am still lucky enough to be on Earth. I have endured too much personal death, so I feel any death diminishes me as a human being.

    ripley

    August 10, 2010 at 2:36 am

    • Your smug passivity just makes you easier to manage, similar to those who politely stood in line while boarding the railrod cars to the Holecaust. With such intellect, you should know that others are paying your bus fare. You enjoy the liberty obtained for you at great cost by others, yet you endorse comments which criticize the methods they used to obtain it. In case you weren’t taught this, that’s rude.

      Liberty free-loaders make me puke.

      bob

      August 10, 2010 at 1:20 pm

  22. US attends Hiroshima bomb memorial for first time…

    Interesting post. I’ve added a Trackback to it :)…

    Fast Online news

    August 10, 2010 at 5:56 am

  23. Bob – I was NOT criticizing the use at all, simply saying that we need to be HUMAN in our future responses to agression. By the way genius, I AM JEWISH. Please do not insult me by aligning what I say with monsters. We are guaranteed under American law to have different opinions, so stuff it.

    ripley

    August 10, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    • There is nothing more humane than death by nuke. Most went without event awareness. More of us died hanging on a jap bayonet than they had suffer from two nukes.

      Delusional passivity usually results in extermination. The world is a cruel place. Don’t confuse the peace you enjoy here with ambient conditions. This limited bubble of liberty was very expensive.

      bob

      August 10, 2010 at 10:12 pm

      • Not those who ended up with radiation sickness. They lived in pain for quite awhile.

        lawguy

        August 12, 2010 at 3:21 pm

      • Dear “lawguy”,

        Do you know what it feels like to have an amputated limb? To live your life out in a wheelchair from wounds those merciless japs inflicted on you?

        Of course not.

        You don’t want radiation sickness? Don’t attack us.

        bob

        August 12, 2010 at 6:34 pm

  24. thank you “bob” for showing your true intelligence by referring to the Japanese people as “Japs”. I believe its usage went out of vogue a long time ago, so it is heartwarming to know that prejudice is alive and well and living in America. Most people do not use that perjorative term (you might need to look up the definition of perjorative bob). Good God, get some intelligence.

    ripley

    August 11, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    • Having lived there for a few years, I understand the meaning of “gaijin”. Their racial issues dwarf what we endure here. I also know that my usage of “jap” is perfectly consistent with “bayonet” and the time period involved. It is your ignorance of what the world was really like back then which causes you to be offended by it. Face it, you’re just another liberty free-loader who hasn’t done (and probably couldn’t do) a thing to provide for the liberty you take for granted.

      Your biggest mistake is trying to evaluate the usage of nukes back then in a modern context. It is pure delusion. Perhaps it would be best if you just humbly thanked those to whom you owe your liberty. A quiet walk among the graves in Hawaii, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Philippines, Korea, etc. might help you understand.

      You make me puke.

      bob

      August 11, 2010 at 9:03 pm

  25. Having lived there for a few years, I understand the meaning of “gaijin”. Their racial issues dwarf what we endure here. I also know that my usage of “jap” is perfectly consistent with “bayonet” and the time period involved. It is your ignorance of what the world was really like back then which causes you to be offended by it. Face it, you’re just another liberty free-loader who hasn’t done (and probably couldn’t do) a thing to provide for the liberty you take for granted.

    Your biggest mistake is trying to evaluate the usage of nukes back then in a modern context. It is pure delusion. Perhaps it would be best if you just humbly thanked those to whom you owe your liberty. A quiet walk among the graves in Hawaii, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Philippines, Korea, etc. might help you understand.

    You make me puke.

    bob

    August 11, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    • Much like Paul I was born free bob. I have “rights.” And unless you are about 80 or older you have never protected anybody’s rights you have only assisted in various colonail and neo-colonial wars (much like me by the way, except I was finally able to recognize it).

      lawguy

      August 12, 2010 at 3:24 pm

      • Any bullet fired to expand the limited bubble of freedom we enjoy is a good bullet.

        The only rights you have are the ones extended to you by the other members of the group. Better make sure they think right.

        bob

        August 12, 2010 at 5:28 pm

  26. [...] Hiroshima: 6th August, 1945 for photos and a report of the nuclear bombing of [...]

  27. Before we develop an undeserved sympathy for the Japanese of the WWII era, let’s brush up on some history and important facts. The Japanese expansionist policies were- to give an understatement- extraordinarily brutal. I had the pleasure of meeting a Korean gentleman who served as a translator during the Korean War. He remembers how the Japanese not just annexed Korea but brutalised its people and robbed them of their cultural identity. The Japanese did this wherever they went. The military government dragged its own people into a war it couldn’t win. Children and even soldiers were under-nourished. Buddhist nuns and monks were enlisted as soldiers. Resources were exhausted. Women and children were raped and butchered. Japanese citizens- even children- were encouraged to fight to the death or kill themselves (rather like jihadists today). Even after all of this, the Americans gave the militaristic Japanese a chance to quit. They did not.
    Don’t delude yourselves into thinking the Japanese were victims. Yes, the bomb was a game-changer but it was the Japanese who forced the hand. Now, Japan is a peaceful country. That would not have happened had the bombs not been dropped. Read the works of Dr. Takashi Nagai for insight into this. He said outright that Japan was the author of its destruction. And he was right.

    Osumashi Kinyobe

    August 12, 2010 at 8:40 pm

  28. Mr Kinyobe

    You sum this all up very well, real history speaks for itself. In spite of the rantings of the intellectually bankrupt armchair Generals.

    smithdblue

    August 13, 2010 at 4:32 am

  29. [...] Hiroshima, 6th August 1945 Posted on 20100807 by jensdarup Today marks the 65th anniversary of the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima. Whether you agree with the decision or not, the facts were there: Hiroshima was an important army and navy base. Of about 350,000 people living there on that fateful day, the majority were women and children, since most adult men were fi … Read More [...]

  30. [...] Hiroshima, 6th August 1945 [...]

  31. Hilarious! A laugh riot. Two thumbs way up.

    BTW, A lot more Japs would have died had we actually physically invaded their island. Also, they picked this fight in the first place by sucker punching us in Peal Harbor. Ever hear of an “eye for an eye”

    Luis Cipher

    September 20, 2010 at 4:59 pm

  32. [...] there on that fateful day, the majority were women and children, since most adult men were fi … Read More via Iconic [...]

  33. [...] of photographs taken by Yoshito Matsushige, a photographer for the Chugoku Newspaper. He took the only pictures on the day of the bombing, and he took only five of them such was the difficulty he had in viewing the harrowing scenes [...]

  34. [...] of photographs taken by Yoshito Matsushige, a photographer for the Chugoku Newspaper. He took the only pictures on the day of the bombing, and he took only five of them such was the difficulty he had in viewing the harrowing scenes [...]

    • Actually, not true that Yoshito Matsushige was the only one who took photos on the day of the bombing. Many photos exist, including Toshio Fukada’s shots taken with a Brownie-style camera only 2.7 km from ground zero in Hiroshima. He was so close to the stem of the mushroom cloud that his photos cannot capture the full width or height of the mushroom cloud. Ginochi Kimura took several others, and a series of photographs were taken by Masumi Ogi in the town of Yoshira that capture the cloud at various points as it grew. There was one other taken about 2 min after detonation from 5 km North, forgot who took that.

      RLR

      March 18, 2011 at 3:59 am

  35. [...] 2. If he’d never been born then this photo – the shadow of a person vaporised by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima – [...]

  36. [...] there on that fateful day, the majority were women and children, since most adult men were fi … Read More via Iconic [...]

  37. excellent points altogether, you simply received brand new reader. What might you suggest in regards to your submit that you made a few days ago? Any sure?

    Dion

    August 13, 2011 at 7:45 am

  38. When bulls fight, small calves suffer.
    All the particulars I have written today 6-8-2012 in our college, on notice board..
    I asked my staff members to recollect that day.
    My heartfelt condolences to the families who died in that holocaust.
    J. Hanumantha Rao,

    J Hanumantha Rao

    August 6, 2012 at 4:38 am

  39. [...] confiscated in order to squelch any trace of the atrocity. The source of these photos, the blog Iconic Photos, says: Under the blanket rule that “nothing shall be printed which might, directly or by [...]

  40. [...] back 67 Years to Hiroshima, 6th August 1945 source Iconic Photos via fstoppers In Japan, the censorship was more draconian. It was not just buildings that were [...]

  41. [...] The very first pictures taken in Hiroshima was by Yoshito Matsushige who was just outside the blastzone; he looked out of his window into a large mushroom cloud, and took the only photographs taken of Hiroshima on that calamitous day. Of his 24 possible exposures, only seven came out right. [...]

  42. To all those who have a problem with “indiscriminate killing of women and children”… why are men so disposable in your eyes? You are part of the problem. Men are equally worthy of dignity and peace.

    Wassim

    August 10, 2012 at 7:09 pm

  43. the estimates of Allied casulties for the invasion of the home islands scheduled for the fall of 1946 was 1 million. the Japanese were expected to sustain 7-10 million in a fight to the death. If they or Germany developed that bomb they wouldn’t have hesitated to use it, besides they started it, Moral to the story; don’t mess with the USA

    deimos

    August 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm

  44. [...] confiscated in order to squelch any trace of the atrocity. The source of these photos, the blog Iconic Photos, says: Under the blanket rule that “nothing shall be printed which might, directly or by [...]

  45. [...] prove to be enduring. Censorship and self-censorship continued with the pictures from Dresden, Hiroshima, and even Auschwitz. The rule not to show faces of the American dead existed until the Korean War, [...]

  46. […] scopribile con tre secondi di consultazione di Wikipedia in inglese, e ce ne sono anche altre di Yoshito Matsushige e Toshio Fukada. Non è vero che c’era “soltanto un’altra foto aerea”, perché ce […]

  47. […] (Fonte foto: Getty Images / Iconicphotos.wordpress.com) […]

  48. The Japs started the war, and after Pearl Harbor they are lucky we didn’t nuke the whole damn country.

    Yes we had embargoed The Japs before Pearl harbor, but they deserved that to due to their “actions”.

    CDM

    August 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm

  49. […] “Hiroshima, 6th August 1945,” Iconic Photo (blog), http://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2010/08/06/hiroshima-6th-august-1945/.  Mastuhige Yoshito’s Five Photographs of Hiroshima after the […]

  50. […] This picture has never ceased to amaze me. Taken just a little over 1.6 miles away from the bomb’s blast point, it is the only known photo taken from the ground just after detonation. The blast itself destroyed everything within a 1.5 mile radius, and it’s practically a miracle that someone was able to take a picture of it just outside that radius of destruction. More on the picture here. […]


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