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Helen describes her visit to post-war Japan

The following passages are from a letter Helen wrote on the train from Hiroshima to Fukuoka, October 14, 1948:

"...Now I simply must tell you about our visit to Hiroshima yesterday. We are still aching all over from that piteous experience -- it exceeds in horror and anguish the accounts I have read. Polly and I went to Hiroshima with Takeo Twahashi to give our usual appeal meeting, but no sooner had we arrived there than the bitter irony of it all gripped us overpoweringly, and it cost us a supreme effort to speak. As you know, the city was literally levelled by the atomic bomb, but, Nella, its desolation, irreplaceable loss and mourning can be realized only by those who are on the spot....

Jolting over what had once been paved streets, we visited the one grave -- all ashes -- where about 8:30, August 6th, 1945, ninety thousand men, women and children were instantly killed, and a hundred and fifty thousand were injured, and the rest of the population did not know at the moment what an orcan [sic] of disaster was upon them. They thought that the two planes -- when they bombed, they always came in numbers -- were reconnoitering planes; so they were not prepared for the flash of light that brought mass death.

As a result of that inferno two hundred thousand persons are now dead, and the suffering caused by atomic burns and other wounds is incalculable. Polly saw burns on the face of the welfare officer -- a shocking sight. He let me touch his face, and the rest is silence -- the people struggle on and say nothing about their lifelong hurts."


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