Six Survivors and the Endurance of the Human Spirit

Average: 5 (1 vote)



Thru the stories of the 6 survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima one may be suprised that there is little talk about blame or hatred. As the book doucuments events right after the bombing honest stories of suffering, compassion, strength and numbness to the horrors are told. In the days and weeks following the blast each suffers and copes in a variety of ways: Dr. Sasaki worked to sheer exhaustion at the Red Cross Hospital where at one point there were 9 doctors for 10,000 patients, Toshiko Sasaki suffered from a leg injury that could not be given the proper medical attention and was almost amputated, Hatsuyo Nakamura perserved in difficult jobs in order to support her three children despite the continual effects of the radiation sickness which all the survivors endured to varying degrees. Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, the German Jesuit lived a life of misery from his injuries but adopted the Japanese spirit of "enryo" putting others wishes first, your own aside and eventually became a Japanese citizen. The Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto chose the path of "moving on" and preached to those who sought his guidance. Dr. Masakazu Fujii initially missing was located and within a short time continued his path enjoying life and living to the fullest. Interwoven with these stories, the book also includes facts about the atom bomb and the terrible extent of its destruction as well as the plight of all the "hibakusha" the name given to all the survivors of the blast. It is also powerful in its documentation of how others nations in addition to the U.S. continued to test hydrogen, atomic and nuclear bombs with no seeming regard to the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The author revisits all the survivors forty years after the blast to find that what they have in common is that almost all of them used this experience and the strength of their survival to help other in a variety of ways. It gives one hope as it shows the resilience of the human spirit and its depth of compassion. It also addresses the opinion that war is the problem and the atomic bomb was only the instrument, for what is needed according to Tanimoto is that, "The politicians of the world should come to Hiroshima and contemplate the world's political problems on their knees before the centaph" (151). I would recommend this book for a high school level class, I teach middle school and would use excerpts from "Hiroshima" in addition to the book "The Girl with the White Flag" by Tomiko Higa for my students.