Hiroshima: Passing on History

広島における原爆投下の歴史をどのように継承するのか?

Abstract: Passing on the history of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima has been complicated by political, social and economic circumstances. The article presents five different periods of this history inheritance and describes the different tools and media with which the remembrance of the bombing is being upheld today.
DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2022-19618
Languages: English, Japanese

1945年8月6日広島に原子爆弾が投下された。ウラン235を用いたこの爆弾は小型であったことから「リトルボーイ」を名づけられた。その3か日後に長崎に投下された原子爆弾はプルトニウム型原子爆弾であり、その姿から「ファットマン」と呼ばれた。原子爆弾は、熱線と爆風と放射線という三重の破壊力を有する兵器であるが、特に建造物を通過して人体に襲ってくる放射線の威力は、それまでの人類が経験したことのない殺戮方法であった。

「リトルボーイ」と「ファットマン」が引き起こしたカタストロフィは、ナチスによるユダヤ人の大虐殺と並ぶ人類史上類を見ないものである。広島市の公式ホームページでは、原爆が投下された1945年8月6日から12月末までに約14万人が死亡したとされる。[1] しかし被害はそれにとどまらず、厚生労働省のホームページでは、現在でも生存する被爆者は約13万人に及び、今でも後遺症に苦しんでいる人も多い。[2] 原爆投下自体は過去のことであったとしても、その後遺症や原爆二世・三世への遺伝的影響を考えると現在の問題でもあるところに世代を超えて持続する悲劇と発がんへの恐怖がある。

前例のない原爆被害の甚大さと負の持続性のために、家族を失ったり、経済的に苦しい状況に置かれたり、結婚への差別に繋がったりした被爆者にとり被爆体験を証言することは辛く、耐えがたい負担であった。そして、占領統治、冷戦体制、冷戦体制の崩壊といった目まぐるしく変化する時代背景が、原爆投下の歴史の継承をさらに複雑で困難なものにした。本稿では、第1章で原爆投下の歴史の継承がその時代背景のもとでどのように展開されたのを示し、第2章でこれまでの原爆投下の歴史を継承する取り組みを紹介し、第3章で近年の新しい取り組みを検討することで、原爆投下の歴史を継承するための今後の方向性を考察する。

1.原爆投下の歴史の継承の展開

原爆投下の歴史の継承に関しては、(1)占領期(1945~1952年)、(2)冷戦激化期(1952~1960年代後半)、(3)世代交代期(1960年代後半~1980年代後半)、(4)冷戦崩壊期(1980年代後半~2000年頃)、(5)グローバル期(2000年以降)という5つの時期に分けて、展開をみていく。

(1) 占領期における継承

当時の日本はGHQ(連合国総司令部)占領下にあり、原爆投下は第二次世界大戦を終結させ、平和をもたらしたというアメリカのプロパガンダによる原爆観のもとでアメリカの原爆投下の責任を不問に付すことを余儀なくされていた。原爆を扱った文学作品は発表の際にGHQの検閲で大幅な改変や削除が要求され、言論弾圧といえるものであったが、一部は秘密(地下)出版という形式で出版されることもあった。[3] 被爆者が原爆体験を証言する際には、なによりも占領軍の検閲を意識しなくてはならなかったのである。占領期とは、GHQの占領下において、原爆投下を平和をもたらしたものとして肯定的に捉えなければならず、その見方を甘んじて受け入れることは被爆者の苦悩や嘆きを公的に無視するものであった。私的な語りの中でのみ原爆投下の歴史が継承された時期であった。

(2) 冷戦激化期

1952年にサンフランシスコ講和条約が発効すると、日本はGHQの占領統治から解放された。この解放以降、小説、写真集、絵画、映画など多様なメディアを通して、原爆の惨禍がありありと広く国民に伝えられ、大きな衝撃を与えた。1950年の朝鮮戦争の勃発により、日本の再軍備や核兵器使用の懸念など冷戦体制下で世界情勢の不穏な変化が生じた。さらに、1954年の第五福竜丸事件(日本の漁船が、マーシャル諸島ビキニ環礁でアメリカがおこなった水爆実験の降灰を浴び、多くの乗組員が被爆した事件)をきっかけに原水爆禁止運動が盛んになると、1955年に原水爆禁止日本協議会、1956年に日本原水爆被害者団体協議会といった組織が結成されるなど、原水爆禁止や原爆被害者援護法制定を求める団体が組織化される。その後、米ソの核軍拡競争を受けて、原水爆禁止運動がイデオロギー対立の場となったことで、原水爆禁止日本協議会が分裂するなど運動自体は停滞し、原爆投下の歴史の継承にもイデオロギー対立が生じた。冷戦激化期とは、占領統治から解放されたことで、原爆投下を批判的に捉え、その惨禍を伝えたりすることが可能となる一方で、冷戦下のイデオロギー対立という国際的な背景のもとで、原爆投下の歴史の継承が大きく変化した時期であった。

(3) 世代交代期

1960年代後半には、被爆者の体験記が多く出版され、広島と長崎の被爆者が共同で取り組んだ証言集『広島・長崎30年の証言』が出版されるなど原爆投下の歴史の継承が活発に進められるようになる。[4] その背景に、戦争を体験している世代(戦中派)としていない世代(戦後派)との交代があり、戦中派にとり継承の必要性が切実となったからであった。それは、単なる世代交代ではなく、アジアとの戦争における戦争責任に向き合わない戦中派に対する戦後派の若者の批判といった世代間の断絶や対立でもあった。例えば、沖縄戦に関しては、日本軍とともに祖国のために戦ったという沖縄の人々に対する従来の語りから、本土決戦準備の時間稼ぎのために犠牲となった沖縄(1972年までアメリカの支配地域)の人々に対する日本の加害責任を問う語りへと語り直された。被爆体験に関しても、1970年前後の学生運動や反戦運動に傾倒する若者は、体験を継承することを否定し、その時々の運動や信条に即して体験を読み替えることを求めた。[5] しかし、広島や長崎の若者にはこの世代間の対立や断絶はあまりみられなかった。それは、広島や長崎の若者にとり、後遺症や体内被爆者、被爆二世といった問題は現在の問題であり、被爆者の証言は当事者たちの生活改善や医療支援を考えること、この事態を招いたものに対する責任追及であったからである。[6] そのため、戦争を体験していない世代が証言を収集する活動に積極的に参加し、1980年代に至っても被爆者の直接的な体験記が刊行された。世代交代期は、戦争責任論から戦争の語り直しがなされる時期であったが、被爆者の証言に関してはその問題の現在性のために、従来通りの悲惨な被害を伝える語りが継承された時期であった。

(4) 冷戦崩壊期以降

冷戦終結後の1990年代になると、それまでは親や親族の戦争体験を日常生活の語りの中で聞くことができた世代から、学校教育やメディアを通して戦争体験を捉える世代へという戦後派の中での世代交代が進んだ。冷戦終結によるイデオロギー対立の解消が、人権という普遍的価値の意識化をもたらし、戦争責任としてのアジアの国々に対する補償問題が中国や韓国のナショナリズム、それに対抗する日本のナショナリズムを高揚させ、対立を生み出した。[7] 結果として、原爆の悲惨さや残酷さばかりを教える平和教育を否定する言説の登場、冷戦後の世界各地での紛争の勃発による平和教育の動揺、平和教育研究運動の低迷といった状況が生じた。この時期は、さらなる世代交代の進展やナショナリズムの高揚によって平和教育が停滞することで、原爆投下の歴史の継承が困難となった時期であった。

(5) グローバル期

21世紀になると、日韓の対立、日本国内での左派と右派の対立が深刻化し、日韓の戦争責任問題は国際的な人権レジームの拡大の中でグローバル化し、戦争体験を巡る議論や継承はさらに厳しい状況となる。[8] 広島においては、被爆者の高齢化、平和記念資料館の入館者の減少、原爆ドームへの落書きや平和の折り鶴への放火などの事件の増加といった理由から、原爆投下の歴史の継承が危機に陥っていることが切実な問題となった。世代交代がさらに進む中で、証言や記憶から直接的に具体化された従来の戦争体験は、その体験がどのように語られ、どのような意味を持つのかを探るという戦争体験の歴史化(historicization)がめざされるようになる。この時期は、ポスト戦争体験の時代となり、原爆投下の歴史の継承が困難となる中で、戦争を体験していない世代による原爆投下の歴史を歴史化するという新たな試みが図られる時期である。

時期区分を概観すると、国際情勢や社会の変遷、世代交代の影響を受け、原爆投下の歴史の継承には紆余曲折があり、継承は非常に多くの困難を抱えた課題であることが明らかとなる。

2.原爆投下の歴史を継承する取り組み

本章では、原爆投下の歴史を継承するという困難な課題に対して、前章の(1)~(4)の時期においてどのような取り組みがなされてきたかを具体的に紹介する。

(1) 広島市行政の取り組み

原爆投下の歴史を継承する取り組みを公的な立場から継続的に実施しているのは、広島市である。広島市は、原爆・平和、被爆の実相・復興・被爆者援護等、平和記念式典・平和宣言等、平和への取組・平和学習等という4つの柱で一貫して取り組みを進めてきた[9]。原爆・平和は、被爆体験を原点に核兵器廃絶と世界恒久平和の実現を訴える取り組みで、例えば、国際条約の締結といった核兵器を巡る国際情勢に対する市長のコメントや、核実験など核廃絶を困難にする事態に対する抗議文の掲載といったものがある。被爆の実相・復興・被爆者援護等は、被爆体験の継承、被爆建物の保存、被爆者援護、死没者の慰霊、広島復興の都市計画といった取り組みである。例えば、被爆体験継承プログラム、原爆ドームの保存整備計画、被爆者に対する助成、復興に向けた法整備がある。平和記念式典・平和宣言等は、平和記念式典の挙行、毎年の市長による平和宣言のことである。平和への取組・平和学習等とは、核兵器廃絶をめざす取り組み、核実験への抗議、平和学習のための教材の提供、平和関連法令の制定、平和記念施設の整備を意味する。

(2) メディアを通した取り組み

原爆投下の歴史を継承する取り組みは、占領解放後、多くのメディアを通して盛んに行われている。小説、詩集、歌集、朗読劇、絵本、手記、写真集、絵画、ドキュメンタリー、映画、テレビドラマ、音楽など、ヒロシマをテーマにした作品が現在まで数多く公開されている。1950・60年代には被爆体験者による直接の証言に基づく真実を忠実に伝えることが主流であったが、1980年代以降、被爆体験を語る実践に聞き手を参加させることで、被爆体験の再構築が図られるようになる。

(3) 被爆者調査

被爆者に対する調査は、医学的観点から原爆投下直後より実施されていたが、アメリカ軍も核政策に向けて調査をしたため、日本による調査は公表が禁止され、研究内容がゆがめられた。[10] 占領統治解放後、被爆者の被爆直後の行動と心理の調査、原爆の生存者の心の傷に関する心理学的な研究や、原爆被害の実相を科学的、総合的に調査研究する学際的研究の先駆的試みがなされた。1965年の厚生省原子爆弾被害者実態調査以降、一橋大学や慶応義塾大学や広島大学などの大学を中心とした社会的・医学的調査も実施された。1970年代から1980年代にかけては日本被団協によって最大の原爆被害者調査が実施された。被爆者調査は、1960年代に主流であった医療や貧困や困難などの項目で調査票を使って原爆の事実や体験を調査する量的調査から、被爆者の人生を聞き取って記述する質的な生活史調査へ、さらに、1980年代以降には被爆者の記憶や言説を収集し、再構成する社会調査、間接的な二次史料やメディアを分析対象とする調査へと多様化していく。[11]

(4) 市民参加の取り組み

市民も参加した取り組みとして、1967年に爆心地の復元地図の作成という被爆者調査が実施された。これは、そこに生きている人の生活をリアルに再現するという被爆の全体像を把握する取り組みであった。[12] 広島大学原爆放射能医学研究所とNHK広島放送局が爆心地復元を呼びかけるキャンペーンを実施し、予想をはるかに超える情報が市民から寄せられた。被爆者と協働して当時住んでいた人の消息を訪ね、記憶と証言を重ね、被爆関係者の参加による集団的な討議と評価をすりあわせて事実を再構築し、被爆直前の爆心地の街並みの復元地図を作成した。これは、原爆の瞬間を一人一人の経験として捉え直すことで、原爆がヒロシマという抽象的な都市の上ではなく、一軒一軒の軒先で炸裂したことを訴えるものであった。従来の被爆者が被爆体験を一方向的に伝達し、それを調査者が聞くというのではなく、原爆により破壊された人間関係を回復する連鎖のダイナミズムの中で新たな証言や語りが掘り起こされ、それを記述するという新しい原爆投下の歴史を継承する取り組みであった。そして、1974・75年にはNHK広島放送局が被爆直後の惨状を絵で残すよう呼びかけ、約750名の被爆者による2200枚余の絵が収集された。[13] それから30年後にこの内の50名に対する聞き取り調査が実施された。原爆の絵、描いた被爆者、調査者の相互作用で、被爆体験の追体験から新たな表現を生み出していくことが図られた。

1950・60年代の(2)メディアを通した取り組みは、被爆体験を忠実に継承し、核廃絶をめざす平和を希求する取り組みであり、広島市は行政的に一貫して現在に至るまでそれに取り組んでいる。この取り組みは、被爆者が直接的な主体でありえる限りにおいて可能である。しかし、世代交代が進み、被爆を体験していない世代が被爆体験を継承する時代になると、被爆体験は風化するとともに、原爆は使用してはならず、平和を維持しなくてはならないという常套句で形骸化していく。その風化や形骸化を回避しようとする取り組みは既に1960年代からなされていたことは復元地図や原爆の絵の作成から読み取ることができ、1980年代以降の取り組みはその延長線上に位置づくのである。

3.近年の新たな取り組み

原爆投下の歴史を継承する取り組みは、近年ではますます困難になっている。原爆は使用してはならず、平和を維持しなくてはならないという反核平和を訴えるメディアの報道や広島市行政の言説によって形成されるマスター・ナラティブが意味を持たなくなっていることは、原爆ドーム付近での事件からも明白である。ここでは第1章の(5)グローバル期における原爆投下の歴史を継承する取り組みを検討することで、原爆投下の歴史を継承する新たな試みを検討する。

(1) VRを使った原爆投下前の爆心地の街並みを再現する取り組み

これは、広島県福山市の高校生が部活動で実施した2016年から現在まで継続する取り組みである。高校生が、被爆者の森富茂雄さんが描いた爆心地の原爆投下以前の街並みを参考にしたり、約100名の被爆者から話を聞いたり、当時の写真や産業奨励館(被爆前の原爆ドームの名称)の設計図などを収集したりして、戦前の広島の爆心地周辺の再現を試みている。生徒たちは、原爆を抽象的に捉えていたが、再現する中で、広島市に住んでいた人々が多く亡くなり、生活が失われたことを実感することで、原爆に対する意識が変化していく。再現する際に色々な疑問が生じ、証言者と語り合い、昔から住んでいる町の話をお互いに確認し合いながら、証言者はどんどん嬉しそうに、楽しそうに思い出を語り、打てば響くような反応が生徒から返ってきたと取材した記者は書いている。[14] 生徒は単に被爆者が描いた街並みを忠実に再現するのではなく、当時の街並みを知る人々と協働で記憶を再構築することで、新たな再現を形成しているのである。被爆体験のない高校生が主体となり、被爆者と協働して原爆投下の歴史を語る試みであるといえる。

(2) 原爆の絵を描く取り組み

これは、広島市の高校の部活動で2007年から継続している取り組みである。[15] 広島平和記念資料館の毎年の依頼に応じて、被爆者の証言に出てくる場面を高校生が半年から1年かけて描く試みである。高校生は担当する被爆者と時には20回以上にわたって話を聞きながら、絵を描く。高校生は被爆者と話す中で、その場所でその情景を見ているような追体験をし、自らの想像力を越える他者の経験を能動的に受動する。彼らは被爆者との対話的な相互作用の中で、原爆のことを知っているつもりであったが、何も知らず、分かった気になっていただけだと気づき、描く中で新たな経験をする。そして、被爆者の記憶が高校生との対話の中で引き出されていくことで、高校生は被爆者とともに被爆者の記憶を描いている気になるという。ここには、描くという体験を通した相互的なコミュニケーションに基づく協働的な生成がある。原爆の絵を描くことで、未知なる他者の経験を能動的に引き受けようとする格闘が、知ろうとする主体、関係しようとする主体を生み出し、原爆体験の現在性が明確になっていく。この取り組みにも、被爆体験のない世代と被爆者との相互作用が存在し、両者が協働することで、原爆の絵が再構築されていく。記憶は再現されるのではなく、新たに構築されていくのである。

(3) 原爆投下前の人々の日常を描く映画の製作

原爆投下前後の広島市や呉市を描いたアニメ映画『この世界の片隅に』は、2016~2019年まで世界60カ国以上で上映された。この映画の監督が参考にしたのも、森富茂雄さんのスケッチや当時の暮らしの様子などを伝えた被爆者であり、非常にリアルに当時の街並みが再現されたことが大きな話題となった。この映画が多くの反響を得た理由として、クラウドファンディングでの製作が話題となったこと、多くの支援者によるSNSでの発信というメディアの効果的な活用、手の込んだ作画手法、リアリティなどが挙げられる。最大の理由は、かけがえのない日常生活という普遍的なテーマが扱われていることである。この映画の基調は、ささやかな生活を送る主人公の日常であり、戦争はその継続する日常の中で起きた出来事という後景として描かれる。この描写は、原爆の悲惨さを強調し、平和の尊さを訴える従来のマスター・ナラティブとは異なり、柔らかく穏やかに原爆の悲惨さ、日常が奪われる残酷さを伝える描写であり、それが人々に強く訴えかけるのである。この取り組みは、(1)や(2)と同様に、被爆体験のない世代と被爆者との相互作用がみられるとともに、マスター・ナラティブとは異なる原爆投下の歴史の語りの可能性と有効性を示す新たな試みといえる。

近年の取り組みを見ると、原爆投下の歴史の継承は大きく変化していることが分かる。近年の取り組みの特徴は、①被爆者の証言とそれを聞く非被爆者という一方向の関係性による記憶の伝達から被爆者と非被爆者との相互作用による記憶の再構築への変化、②マスター・ナラティブから新しい原爆投下の歴史の多様な語りへの変化である。この2つの特徴が原爆投下の歴史の継承を可能にする鍵となっている。

これらの取り組みから、原爆投下の歴史の継承は2000年代前後の停滞から脱却した新しい局面を迎えているように思われる。しかし、現在では原爆投下時に既に成人であった被爆者は90歳以上となり、被爆者と非被爆者の相互作用という試みは近日には不可能となる。原爆投下の歴史の証言者が全くいなくなる今後において、原爆投下の歴史の継承はさらなる新たな局面に立たされることになるのは必須である。原爆投下の歴史を被害と加害という二分法で捉えるのではなく、国際的な文脈のもとで相対化し、その新たな意味を探るという歴史化、それに基づく多様な記憶の再構築が、原爆投下の歴史を継承する今後の方向性として考えられるのではないであろうか。

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参考文献

  • ・米山リサ著、小沢弘明・小澤祥子・小田島勝浩訳『広島 記憶のポリティクス』岩波書店、2005年
  • 浜日出夫・有末賢・武村英樹『被爆者調査を読む-ヒロシマ・ナガサキの継承-』慶応義塾大学出版会、2013年
  • 蘭信三・小倉康嗣・今野日出晴編『なぜ戦争体験を継承するのか-ポスト体験時代の歴史実践』みずき書林、2021年

参考となるWebサイト

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[1]https://www.city.hiroshima.lg.jp/soshiki/48/9400.html
[2]https://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/newpage_13411.html
[3]福間良明『焦土の記憶』新曜社、2011年、pp.224-225を参照。
[4]同上書、pp.375-376。
[5]同上書、pp.384-390を参照。
[6]同上書、pp.390-394。
[7]蘭信三・小倉康嗣・今野日出晴編『なぜ戦争体験を継承するのか-ポスト体験時代の歴史実践』みずき書林、2021年、p.22。
[8]同上書、pp.22-23。
[9]https://www.city.hiroshima.lg.jp/site/atomicbomb-peace/
[10]浜日出夫・有末賢・武村英樹『被爆者調査を読む-ヒロシマ・ナガサキの継承-』慶応義塾大学出版会、2013年、p.5
[11]同上書、pp.6-12。
[12]この取り組みに関する以下の説明は、同上書、pp.220-224を参照した。
[13]この取り組みに関する以下の説明は、同上書、pp.229-232を参照した。
[14]https://www.nhk.or.jp/gendai/comment/0015/topic006.html
[15]この取り組みに関しては、前掲書10)、pp.46-105を参照した。

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Image Credits

Blast Location Hiroshima © 2007  Micha L. Rieser.

Recommended Citation

Utsunomiya, Akiko, Nobuyuki Harada: 広島における原爆投下の歴史をどのように継承するのか? In: Public History Weekly 10 (2022) 3, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2022-19618.

Editorial Responsibility

Peter Gautschi / Moritz Hoffmann 

An atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. This bomb, which used uranium-235, was named “Little Boy” because of its small size. Three days later, another atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, this time a plutonium-based bomb called “Fat Man”, also because of its appearance. The atomic bomb is a weapon with a trio of destructive powers – heat, blast waves and radiation. The radiation, passing through walls and devastating the human body, was a means of killing never before experienced by the human race.

The Catastrophe

The catastrophe of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” is an unprecedented event in human history. Around 140,000 people died between August 6, 1945, when the bomb was dropped, and the end of December 1945.[1] However, this was not the end of the suffering – around 130,000 survivors are still alive today,[2] with many suffering from the after-effects even now. While the atomic bombing itself may now be in the past, there remains the tragic possibility of genetic damage being passed through the generations and the associated fear of cancer.

Given the scale of unprecedented bomb damage and sustained nature of the suffering, survivors who may have lost their families, been in financial difficulty or been discriminated against in marriage, found it hard to talk of their experience and have carried a heavy burden. In rapidly changing times, as occupation rule was followed by the Cold War and then the collapse of the communist regimes, the passing on of the history of the atomic bombing has been complicated and difficult. In this paper we first look at how the history of the atomic bombing has been passed on through different periods, then introduce some of the work done to ensure the history of the atomic bombing is transmitted, and lastly examine some of the new initiatives in recent years and consider the inheritance of this history in the future.

How History has been Passed On

The inheritance of the history of the atomic bombing can be broken down into the following periods:

  1. Period of occupation (1945-1952),
  2. Period of intensification of the Cold War (1952-1960s),
  3. Period of generational change (late 1960s to late 1980s),
  4. Period of Cold War collapse (late 1980s to around 2000), and
  5. Period of globalization (2000 and later).

Inheritance During the Period of Occupation

During this period, Japan was forced to take responsibility for the dropping of the atomic bomb by the United States. The US command in Japan, known as General Headquarters (GHQ), employed censors who demanded that literary works dealing with the atomic bomb be significantly modified or redacted before publication to fit this narrative, though some works were still published in the form of secret (underground) publications.[3] When the survivors testified about their experiences, they had to be aware of the censorship of the occupying forces. So, during the period of occupation under GHQ, the atomic bombing tended to be portrayed in a positive light as the harbinger of peace, and the acceptance of this point of view meant that the suffering and grief of the A-bomb survivors were publicly ignored. This was therefore a time when the history of the atomic bombing was being passed on only in the form of private narratives.

Cold War Intensification Period

Occupation under GHQ ended when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into force in 1952. After this, the devastation caused by the atomic bomb was widely communicated to the public in Japan through diverse media, including novels, photo books, paintings and movies, to great effect. The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 brought about disquieting changes in world affairs as countries took sides in the Cold War, and this raised questions about whether Japan should ever re-arm or use nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the Daigo Fukuryu Maru Incident in 1954, an incident in which a Japanese fishing boat was exposed to the falling ash and radiation from a hydrogen bomb test conducted by the United States at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, strengthened the movement to ban the bomb.

1955 saw the establishment of the Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb (Gensuikyo), while 1956 saw the establishment of The Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Nihon Hidankyo), bodies which sought to ban nuclear weapons and campaigned for the enactment of an Atomic Bomb Victims’ Relief Law. Subsequently, in the heat of the US-Soviet nuclear arms race, the Gensuikyo, driven by ideological conflict, broke up, and this led to stagnation of the antinuclear movement in Japan. Ideological conflict also arose in relation to the way the history of the atomic bombing should be passed down.

Thus, while in the period of Cold War intensification, liberation from occupation meant it was possible to criticize the dropping of the atomic bomb and convey its tragedy, the ideological conflicts of Cold War also exerted an influence. Thus, it was a period which saw significant changes in the way the history of the atomic bombing was being passed on.

Generational Change

In the latter half of the 1960s, vigorous efforts were made to pass on the history of the atomic bombing. A number of stories of the experiences of atomic bomb survivors were published, and “The Testimony of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 30 Years”, a collection of testimonies of the atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, was published for the first time.[4] A changeover was taking place in the society as the generation who had experienced the war themselves (the wartime generation) handed over to the generation who had not (the post-war generation), and this change pressed the wartime generation to pass on their stories.

However, it was not simply a period of generational change. There was discontinuity and inter-generational antagonism, as the youthful post-war generation criticized their elders for failing to face up to their responsibility for the war in Asia. There were other changes too. In regard to the Battle of Okinawa, for example, the conventional narrative was that the people of Okinawa had fought for their homeland together with the Japanese army, but this narrative was recast as one in which Japan had sacrificed Okinawa in order to gain time to prepare for a decisive battle on the mainland, and questions were asked about the responsibility of the Japanese government for the damage sustained by the people of Okinawa (which remained under US control until 1972).

In relation to the experience of the atomic bombing, some young people who were active in the student and anti-war movement around 1970 refused to inherit the experiences as they were, demanding that they be re-interpreted according to the movement and beliefs of the times.[5] On the other hand, young people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not see much conflict or discontinuity between the generations. They were facing problems such as the after-effects of radiation, internal exposure, second-generation exposure, and, with the testimony of survivors, were considering ways to improve the lives and provide medical support for those affected, as well as seeking to attribute responsibility to those who had invited these circumstances.[6]

Thus, the generation who had not themselves experienced the war were actively participating in collecting testimony, and records of the personal experiences of the survivors continued to be published into the 1980s. Hence, although the period of generational change was a time when the narrative of responsibility for the war was re-told, due to the ongoing nature of the problems of the survivors, there was little change in the way the experience was passeatod on, with first-person testimonies telling of the devastating damage being told in the same way as they were before.

Cold War Collapse and Thereafter

After the end of the Cold War, there was a shift within the post-war generations. Rather than hearing about war experiences directly from parents and relatives in everyday life, many people were now only hearing about them at school and in the media. At the same time, the resolution of the ideological conflict brought about by the end of the Cold War had made people more aware of the universal values of human rights. Meanwhile, the issue of whether Japan should pay compensation to Asian countries to acknowledge responsibility for the war in Asia boosted anti-Japanese nationalism in China and South Korea, and in Japan itself encouraged nationalism among those who opposed such ideas, creating more antagonism.[7]

All of these things were factors in creating circumstances for the emergence of discourse against the so-called peace education, which had taught only of the misery and cruelty of the atomic bomb, for the wavering of peace education as conflicts broke out around the world in the wake of the Cold War, and for the stagnation of the peace education research movement. In short, during this period, the stagnation in peace education caused by generational change and rising nationalism made it more difficult to pass on history of the atomic bombing.

Globalization

In the 21st century, the antagonism between Japan and South Korea and the conflict between the left and right in Japan became more serious. As globalization proceeded, the issue of war responsibility between Japan and South Korea became a global one, and the discussion and inheritance of war experiences became even more difficult.[8] In Hiroshima, meanwhile, the inheritance of the history of the atomic bombing was in jeopardy due to the aging of the atomic bomb survivors, a decrease in the number of visitors to the Peace Memorial Museum, and an increasing number of incidents such as the defacing of the Atomic Bomb Dome and burning of the origami cranes of peace.

Thus, as generations change, we believe that the aim for the war experiences embodied from testimony and memory must be historicization, which is to say a process of exploration of how the experience is conveyed and what meaning it holds. As we are now in the so-called post-war experience era and the passing on of the history of the atomic bombing has become more difficult, the generations who have not experienced war must make new attempts to historicize the atomic bombing.

When we look at the different periods, it is clear that, due to the influence of international affairs, social changes, and generational changeover, there have been twists and turns in how the history of the atomic bombing is interpreted, and that the passing on of this history encompasses a host of difficulties.

Efforts to Pass on the History

Multiple efforts have been made during the aforementioned periods (excluding the globalization) to address the difficult task of passing on the history of the atomic bombing.

Hiroshima City Local Government Initiatives

One entity that is continuously making efforts to pass on the history of the atomic bombing from an official standpoint is Hiroshima City. Hiroshima City has consistently worked on a four-stranded approach, the strands being matters relating to “the atomic bomb and peace”, matters relating to “the reality of the bomb, reconstruction, and support for survivors”, matters relating to the Memorial Ceremony and Peace Declaration, and matters such as “peace efforts and peace learning”.[9]

Here, “the atomic bomb and peace” refers to efforts to appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of permanent nuclear-free world peace born out of Hiroshima’s experience of the atomic bombing. This includes, for instance, the mayor’s comments on the international situation surrounding nuclear weapons, such as on the signing of international treaties, and the issue of protests against situations that make it more difficult to abolish nuclear weapons, such as nuclear tests.

The expression “the reality of the bomb, reconstruction and support for survivors” refers to efforts to ensure the experience of the atomic bombing is remembered, to preserve bombed buildings, to assist the survivors, to memorialize the dead, and to plan out the reconstruction of Hiroshima. More specifically, these include initiatives to pass on the experience of the atomic bombing, plans to preserve and maintain the Atomic Bomb Dome, subsidies for atomic bomb survivors, and legislation relating to reconstruction.

“Peace Memorial Ceremony and Peace Declaration” refers to the holding of the Peace Memorial Ceremony and the annual peace declaration by the mayor. “Peace efforts and peace learning” refers to work aiming to eliminate nuclear weapons, protests against nuclear testing, provision of teaching materials for peace learning, enactment of peace-related laws and regulations, and establishment of peace memorial facilities.

Initiatives Through the Media

Enormous efforts to pass on the history of the atomic bombing have been made across many media since the end of occupation. To date, a large body of Hiroshima-themed work has been released, including novels, poetry collections, song collections, plays, picture books, memoirs, photo books, paintings, documentaries, movies, TV dramas and music. In the 1950s and 1960s, the main focus of this work was to faithfully convey the truth based on the direct testimony of the atomic bomb survivors, but since the 1980s, the atomic bomb experience has been reconstructed by having listeners participate in the relation of the stories.

Survivor Research

A medically-focused survey of survivors was carried out immediately after the atomic bomb was dropped, but as the US military was using this for its nuclear policies, publication of research by Japan was prohibited and its contents were distorted.[10] After liberation from occupation rule, studies were conducted on the behaviour and psychology of survivors immediately after the bombing and on the trauma experienced by the survivors, and pioneering interdisciplinary research was conducted to establish the realities of bomb damage scientifically and comprehensively.

Since the Ministry of Health and Welfare Study of Atomic Bomb Victims in 1965, social and medical surveys have also been conducted by universities such as Hitotsubashi University, Keio University, and Hiroshima University. From the 1970s to the 1980s, the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations conducted the most extensive surveys of atomic bomb survivors. The majority of these survivor surveys in the 1960s were quantitative surveys, which utilized questionnaires to investigate the facts and experiences of the atomic bomb in relation to matters such as medical care, poverty, and other difficulties. Later on, these would become qualitative lifestyle surveys, which involved listening to and recording the lives of A-bomb survivors. From the 1980s, the Confederation’s work diversified further to incorporate social surveys, which involved collecting and reconstructing the memories and discourses of A-bomb survivors, and investigations that analyzed secondary historical materials and media.[11]

Citizen Participation

One initiative that relied on participation of the citizens was a survivor survey that was conducted to create a restored map of the “ground zero” in 1967. The aim was to realistically recreate the lives of the people living in the city and gain an understanding of the whole picture of the atomic bombing.[12] The Hiroshima University Atomic Bomb Radiological Research Institute and the TV station, NHK Hiroshima, conducted a campaign calling for the restoration of ground zero, and the response of people of the city went far beyond expectations. In cooperation with the survivors, visits were made to people who were living in the city at the time of the bombing. Then, by gathering memories and testimonies of the survivors and others involved and holding collective discussions and assessments, facts were established, and a map of the cityscape at ground zero immediately prior to the blast was created.

By reconsidering the moment of the atomic bomb as the experience of individuals, it was emphasized that the atomic bomb did not explode over some abstract city called Hiroshima but rather over each and every home. Instead of the conventional pattern of survivors unidirectionally telling of their A-bomb experience and the investigators listening, the dynamism brought about by the rekindled human relationships that had been destroyed by the bomb allowed the investigators to unearth of new testimony and stories, which could be recorded as new history of the atomic bombing, and which could then be passed on.

Subsequently, in 1974 and 1975, NHK Hiroshima called for people to submit drawings of the tragic scenes immediately after the bombing, and in response, more than 2,200 paintings by about 750 survivors were collected.[13] Some thirty years later, 50 of these survivors were interviewed. Through the interaction of survivors who had drawn the pictures and the investigators, new stories were created as the survivors referred back to their pictures and went through their experience of the bomb.

The point of all the work conducted through the media in the 1950s and 1960s was to ensure that the experience of the atomic bombing would be faithfully passed on and to seek peace in a world free from nuclear weapons, and Hiroshima City continues its work on these issues to this day. Similar efforts will be possible for as long as there are survivors who are still alive. However, as generations change, and those who have not experienced the bomb inherit the experience of the survivors, the sharp definition of those experiences becomes blurred, and the statement that “nuclear weapons must never be used and peace free from nuclear weapons must be maintained” begins to sound clichéd. Initiatives aiming to avoid this blurring and slump into cliché have been implemented since the 1960s, as can be seen from the creation of restoration maps and pictures of the atomic bombing, and the efforts of the 1980s and subsequent decades have been extensions of these.

New Initiatives

Efforts to pass on the history of the atomic bombing have become increasingly difficult in recent years. The feeling that the overriding narrative formed by media reports and the statement of Hiroshima City – “Nuclear weapons must never be used and peace free from nuclear weapons must be maintained” – has become meaningless is growing from the kind of incidents happening in the vicinity of the Atomic Bomb Dome. Nevertheless, new efforts are being made to pass on the history of the atomic bombing in the period of globalization.

VR Cityscape

This is an ongoing project being implemented by high school students in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture as a club activity, starting in 2016. The high school students use the ground zero cityscape before the atomic bombing drawn by survivor Shigeo Moritomi as a reference, listen to around 100 survivors about the ground zero cityscape before the atomic bombing, collect contemporary photos and design drawings of the Industrial Promotion Center (Name of the Atomic Bomb Dome before the bombing), all in an attempt to recreate pre-war Hiroshima in the vicinity of ground zero.

The students begin with an abstract view of the atomic bomb, but as they recreate the cityscape, they come to realize how many people in Hiroshima died or lost everything, and the way they think about the atomic bomb changes. One journalist covering this project has written about what happens when questions arise during the reproduction process, describing how the students would talk with witnesses who lived in the town before the bombing. On seeing what the students had created, the witnesses would happily share their memories of the places, and, in turn, get a great response from the students.[14]

The students were not simply faithfully reproducing the cityscape drawn by the A-bomb survivors, but rather collaborating with people who knew the city as it was and creating something new by their reconstructing memories of it. So, one could say that this project is an attempt to talk about the history of the atomic bombing in collaboration with bomb survivors, but this time, with high school students with no experience the atomic bombing taking the main role.

Drawing Pictures

This is a high school club activity in Hiroshima City, which has been ongoing since 2007.[15] At the annual invitation of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, high school students spend a period of six months to a year drawing the scenes that appear in the testimonies of the atomic bomb survivors. In 20 or more sessions overseen by survivors, the students draw while listening to the stories of the bombing.

As they talk to the survivors, the students relive the scenes and actively take on the experiences in a way that goes beyond their own imagination. Through these talks and interactions, students who thought that they already knew about the atomic bombing, come to realize that actually, they know nothing, and, through drawing, they are able to have a new experience. As they tease out the memories of the survivors through conversation, the students get the feeling that they are working together with the survivors to depict those memories. It is an act of collaborative creation based on mutual communication, made possible through drawing.

In this way, the difficult matter of actively taking on the experience of another person is reframed in the form of a subject who wants to know something and a subject who wants to relate, and the atomic bomb experience becomes vividly clear. And so, with this program, there is an interaction between a generation with no experience of the atomic bombing and the survivors, with the pictures of the bombing being reconstructed by cooperation between the generations. Rather than saying that memories are being reproduced, one might say they are being reconstructed.

Filming Daily Lives

The animated film In This Corner of the World, which depicts Hiroshima and the city of Kure before and after the atomic bombing, was screened in more than 60 countries around the world from 2016 to 2019. In the making of the film, the director referred to the sketches of Shigeo Moritomi and talked with survivors who told him about their way of life at the time, and consequently, the realistic portrayal the cityscape became a major talking point.

There are several reasons that the movie got such a big response. These include the story about crowd funding used to make it, the effective use of posts on social media by its many supporters and the care taken with the animation and the realism of the portrayal. But perhaps the main reason is that it deals with the universal theme of irreplaceable daily life. The keynote of this movie is the modest daily life of the heroine, with the war in the background to the continuing everyday events. Unlike the conventional master narrative that appeals for the preciousness of peace, the movie is a depiction that purposely limits itself to softly and gently conveying the misery of the atomic bomb and the cruelty that deprives people of their daily lives. This has the effect of emphasizing the tragedy of the atomic bombing.

In the same way as the other efforts, this work draws on the interaction between A-bomb survivors and the generations who have not experienced the bombing, and can be seen as a new effort to show the possibilities and effectiveness of retelling the history of the atomic bombing in a way that differs from the master narrative.

Looking to the Future

Looking at these recent efforts, we see that the way the history of the atomic bombing is being passed down has changed significantly. If we attempt to characterize these efforts, we might say that they are characterized by (1) the change from unidirectional communication of memories where the survivors testify and others listen, to reconstruction of memories through interaction with survivors, and (2) the change from a master narrative to diverse narratives of the history of the atomic bombing. These two characteristics may be key to effectively enabling the inheritance of the history of the atomic bombing.

On seeing the efforts, we can hope that inheritance of the history of the atomic bombing has moved beyond the stagnation of the 2000s and entered a new phase. However, now that survivors who were already adults at the time of bombing are over 90 years old, interaction with survivors will soon be impossible. So, in the future, when there are no more eyewitnesses, it is vital that a new phase in the inheritance of the history of the atomic bombing is in place. As we look to the future, rather than viewing the history of the atomic bombings in terms of a dichotomy of victim and aggressor, one possible approach is to relativize these events in an international context, historicizing them, to keep searching for new significance, and based on this historicization, to reconstruct diverse memories.

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Further Reading

  • Yoneyama, Lisa. Hiroshima Traces. Time, Space, and the Dialectics of Memory. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.
  • Hama, Hideo, Ken Arisue, and Hideki Takemura. Reading the A-bomb Survivor Survey. The Inheritence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Tokyo: Keio University Press, 2013.
  • Araragi, Shinzo, Yasutsugu Ogura, and Hideharu Konno. Why Inherit the Experience of War Experience. Historical Practice in the Post-Experience Age. Mizuki Shorin, 2021.

Web Resources

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[1] http://www.city.hiroshima.lg.jp/soshiki/48/9400.html (last accessed 22 April 2022).
[2] http://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/newpage_13411.html (last accessed 22 April 2022).
[3] Yoshiaki Fukuma, Memories of Burnt Earth. Postwar Reflections on Okinawa, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki (Shin-yo-sha, 2011), 224-225.
[4] Ibid., 375-376.
[5] Ibid., 384-390.
[6] Ibid., 390-394.
[7] Shinzo Araragi, Yasutsugu Ogura, and Hideharu Konno, Why Inherit the Experience of War Experience. Historical Practice in the Post-Experience Age (Mizuki Shorin, 2021), 22.
[8] See ibid., 22-23.
[9] http://www.city.hiroshima.lg.jp/site/atomicbomb-peace/ (last accessed 22 April 2022).
[10] Hideo Hama, Ken Arisue, and Hideki Takemura, Reading the A-bomb Survivor Survey. The Inheritence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Tokyo: Keio University Press, 2013), 5.
[11] See ibid., 6-12.
[12] For an explanation of this initiative, see ibid., 220-224.
[13] For an explanation of this initiative, ibid., 229-232.
[14] http://www.nhk.or.jp/gendai/comment/0015/topic006.html (last accessed 22 April 2022).
[15] For an explanation of this initiative, ibid., 46-105. 

_____________________

Image Credits

Blast Location Hiroshima © 2007  Micha L. Rieser.

Recommended Citation

Utsunomiya, Akiko, Nobuyuki Harada: Hiroshima: Passing on History. In: Public History Weekly 10 (2022) 3, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2022-19618.

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Categories: 10 (2022) 3
DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2022-19618

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2 replies »

  1. German version below. To all readers we recommend the automatic DeepL-Translator for 22 languages. Just copy and paste.

    OPEN PEER REVIEW

    Controlled Narratives

    The paper by Akiko Utsunomiya and Nobuyuki Harada addresses two key points that are often forgotten in the discourse on public history, and that I would like to discuss briefly.

    First, Narratives can be consistently controlled and adjusted as needed. This is by no means a new insight, but in relation to public history it is nevertheless one that is not always sufficiently received. I became very aware of it again while reading this article – and it is, of course, relevant in our time. The Russian Federation rigorously controls coverage of its war of aggression on Ukraine in its own country. So did the American occupation forces in Japan while they were in control of that country. In relation to the topic of History at the Original Site, the question generally arises as to which narratives are being passed on, for example in tourist tours or events at historical sites. Are they always multi-perspective? Do they allow for controversy? And above all, are they communicated in accordance with the state of scientific knowledge? Josef Memminger and Ruth Sandner write insightfully about this:

    “The understanding of ‘learning history’ is therefore inevitably characterized by rather affirmative, sometimes uncritical, and in some cases romanticizing or ‘kitschy’ approaches. (…) A reflective-critical approach to history is sometimes urged and sometimes cautiously realized. For nowadays, a (good) guided tour of the city or quality information boards also include critical views on certain aspects or address controversies and uncertainties. However, the mostly benevolent overall narrative tends to remain relatively unaffected by this”.[1]

    This may sound harmless in the case of medieval sites such as castles or monasteries – evoking the romance of chivalry and contemplative piety seems less problematic to us. And yet, here too, multi-perspectivity must at least be urged. Moreover, narratives can sometimes change quickly under the pressure of new knowledge. Today, for example, we have to ask ourselves how we address traditions of the colonialist past on the ground – for example, monuments and residential palaces of slaveholders in various Swiss cities. The research discourse forces us to radically question the narrative of early industrialized Switzerland as a counterpart to England, which was just perceived as innovative.

    And so to the second point: central to on-site historical learning is the involvement of the learners themselves. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki we see how learners engage themselves in the discourse with contemporary witnesses. They ask questions, develop, construct and publish their own reflective narratives that include their interest and motivation to engage with the past. We are making or will make similar experiences in Europe with the culture of remembrance of the age of catastrophes and the Holocaust. Central to this is indeed the careful “historicization”, the integration into the historical context, which Akiko Utsunomiya and Nobuyuki Harada call for and which Anne Schillig also demands in her OPR on Joanna Woidon’s text.

    The developments in Japan in commemoration of the two devastating bombings show that we must and will find new ways of working with contemporary witnesses. We must not lose their testimony, but we must also not preserve it as an unquestioned narrative. We have to connect them reflectively and self-reflexively with the contemporary issues we have to deal with today and in the future.

    _____

    [1] Memminger, Joseph, Sandner Ruth, ‘Touristisch aufbereitete historische Stätten und (Re)Konstruktionen’, in: Geschichtskultur-Public History-Angewandte Geschichte, hg. von Felix Hinz und Andreas Körber. (Göttingen, 2020), S. 304–325.

    __________

    Kontrollierte Narrative

    Der Beitrag von Akiko Utsunomiya and Nobuyuki Harada thematisiert zwei zentrale Punkte, die im Diskurs zu Public History gerne vergessen gehen und die ich gerne kurz diskutieren möchte.

    Erstens: Narrative können konsequent kontrolliert und nach Bedarf angepasst werden. Die russische Föderation kontrolliert die Berichterstattung über ihren Angriffskrieg auf die Ukraine im eigenen Land rigoros. Ebenso tat dies die amerikanische Besatzungsmacht in Japan, solange sie die Kontrolle über das Land innehatte. Es stellt sich – in Bezug auf das Thema History at the Original Site – generell die Frage, welche Narrative da weitergegeben werden, zum Beispiel in touristisch aufbereiteten Führungen oder Events an historischen Orten. Sind sie immer multiperspektivisch? Lassen sie Kontroversität zu? Und vor allem: wird auf dem Stand der wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnis kommuniziert? Josef Memminger und Ruth Sandner schreiben dazu aufschlussreich:

    «Das Verständnis von ,Geschichtslernen’ ist daher zwangsläufig geprägt von eher affirmativen, bisweilen unkritischen und in manchen Fällen auch romantisierenden oder ,verkitschten’ Zugängen. (…) Ein reflektiert-kritischer Umgang mit der Geschichte wird teilweise angemahnt und mitunter behutsam realisiert. Denn heutzutage werden bei einer (guten) Stadtführung oder auf qualitätsvollen Informationstafeln auch kritische Sichtweisen auf bestimmte Aspekte einfließen oder Kontroversen und Unsicherheiten angesprochen. Die meist wohlwollende Gesamterzählung bleibt in ihrer Tendenz davon aber relativ unberührt» (Memminger/Sandner 2020, 313).[1]

    Das mag bei mittelalterlichen Anlagen wie Burgen oder Klöstern harmlos klingen – die Evozierung von Ritterromantik und beschaulicher Frömmigkeit erscheint uns wenig problematisch. Und dennoch muss auch hier mindestens Mehrperspektivität angemahnt werden. Zudem können sich Narrative unter dem Druck neuer Erkenntnisse mitunter schnell ändern. So müssen wir uns heute die Frage stellen, wie wir Überlieferungen kolonialistischer Vergangenheit vor Ort thematisieren – zum Beispiel Denkmäler und Wohnpaläste von Sklavenhaltern in verschiedenen Schweizer Städten. Der Forschungsdiskurs zwingt uns, die eben noch als innovativ empfundene Erzählung von der früh industrialisierten Schweiz als Pendant zu England radikal zu hinterfragen.

    Und damit zum zweiten Punkt: Zentral für das historische Lernen vor Ort ist der Einbezug der Lernenden selber. In Hiroshima und Nagasaki sehen wir, wie Lernende sich selber einbringen in den Diskurs mit Zeitzeug*innen. Sie stellen Fragen, erschliessen, konstruieren und publizieren eigene reflektierte Narrationen, die ihr Interesse und ihre Motivation, sich mit der Vergangenheit auseinanderzusetzen, einschliessen. Ähnliche Erfahrungen machen wir oder werden wir auch in Europa bei der Erinnerungskultur zum Zeitalter der Katastrophen und zum Holocaust machen. Zentral ist dabei tatsächlich die sorgsame «Historisierung», das Einbinden in den historischen Zusammenhang, die Akiko Utsunomiya and Nobuyuki Harada anmahnen und die auch Anne Schillig in ihrem OPR zum Text von Joanna Woidon fordert.

    Die Entwicklungen in Japan im Gedenken an die beiden verheerenden Bombenabwürfe zeigen, dass wir in Bezug auf die Arbeit mit Zeitzeug*innen neue Wege finden müssen und werden. Wir dürfen ihre Zeugenschaft nicht verlieren, wir dürfen sie aber auch nicht als unhinterfragtes Narrativ konservieren. Wir müssen sie mit den Zeitfragen, mit denen wir uns heute und in Zukunft auseinandersetzen müssen, reflektiert und selbstreflexiv verbinden.

    _____

    [1] Memminger, Joseph, Sandner Ruth, ‘Touristisch aufbereitete historische Stätten und (Re)Konstruktionen’, in: Geschichtskultur-Public History-Angewandte Geschichte, hg. von Felix Hinz und Andreas Körber. (Göttingen, 2020), S. 304–325.

  2. German version below. To all readers we recommend the automatic DeepL-Translator for 22 languages. Just copy and paste.

    OPEN PEER REVIEW

    Imagination and Knowledge

    Recently I was at the Hiroshima Hain in Hannover. It is a beautiful and peaceful place. Right now, the 110 cherry trees, which are meant to commemorate those 110,000 people who died instantly after the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945, are in their most beautiful bloom, a group of children were romping around the area, and from a distance it was impossible to tell that it was a memorial site. It is only on the grounds that signs, memorial stones and installations point to the terrible event that is commemorated here.

    Not only in the distant twin city of Hanover, but also at the original historical site, the reappraisal of the first atomic bombing relies on imagination and knowledge. The destroyed inner city of Hiroshima was and is subject to permanent changes and overformations. In their article, Akiko Utsunomiya and Nobuyuki Harada describe how the media and public authorities have so far relied primarily on conversations and interactions with survivors, who often literally recorded their memories, to reconstruct and reappraise the event. If there are no survivors left, only the historical site and the objects, whose importance in this function seems to increase, remain as testimonies of this mass death and its reappraisal.[1]  Despite and precisely because of their multiple brokenness and overformedness, they can provide immediate access to the past via “the path of deconstruction and contextualization”.[2]

    The fact that the deconstruction and contextualization of historical places and objects not only offers access to the past, but can also stimulate references to the present,[3] can be seen at the Hiroshima Grove in Hanover. Here is an object that allows both approaches. The stele, which at the time of the event was located as a street pavement near the explosion point and (according to the information plaque) is said to have heard “the horror of the victims as a witness to this fruitful event […],” not only brings the “longing for the direct experience of history”[4] into view, but also the “primal themes” of peace and war in their frightening topicality. This is because the image of the goddess Kannon, who is regarded in Japan as a symbol of the longing for everlasting peace, was carved into the stele. Under the portrait the following text is written: “A world without war is the highest request: the “Ursehnsucht” of humans. May these granite stones from Hiroshima, dedicated as a gift to all peoples, be a constant memorial of peace. This is our fervent request.”

    A few candles burned in front of the object. Were they for the past or the present? Rightly, Akiko Utsunomiya and Nobuyuki Harada point out the risk that outdated narratives and appeals aimed at maintaining a nuclear-weapon-free peace could slip into cliché. In my view, however, this risk should not lead us to abandon these contexts of meaning and appeals.

    Further Reading

    Axel Drecoll, Thoma Schaarschmidt and Irmgard Zündorf (ed.), Authentizität als Kapital historischer Orte? Die Sehnsucht nach dem unmittelbaren Erleben von Geschichte. Göttingen: Wallstein, 2019.

    Gabriele Hammermann and Dirk Riedel (ed), Sanierung – Rekonstruktion – Neugestaltung. Zum Umgang mit historischen Bauten in Gedenkstätten, Göttingen: Wallstein, 2014.

    _____

    [1] Axel Drecoll, Thoma Schaarschmidt and Irmgard Zündorf,  Authentizität als Kapital historischer Orte, in Axel Drecoll, Thoma Schaarschmidt and Irmgard Zündorf (ed.), Authentizität als Kapital historischer Orte? Die Sehnsucht nach dem unmittelbaren Erleben von Geschichte (Göttingen:Wallstein 2019), p. 7-14, here p. 7.
    [2] Habbo Knoch, “Ferienlager“ und „gefoltertes Leben“. Periphere Räume in ehemaligen Konzentrationslagern, in Gabriele Hammermann and Dirk Riedel (ed), Sanierung – Rekonstruktion – Neugestaltung. Zum Umgang mit historischen Bauten in Gedenkstätten, (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2014) p. 32-45, here p. 32.
    [3] Christian Kuchler, Historische Orte im Geschichtsunterricht. (Schwalbach Ts: Wochenschau, 2012), p. 38.
    [4] Axel Drecoll, Thoma Schaarschmidt and Irmgard Zündorf (ed.), Authentizität als Kapital historischer Orte? Die Sehnsucht nach dem unmittelbaren Erleben von Geschichte, (Göttingen:Wallstein 2019).

    ___________

    Imagination und Wissen

    Kürzlich war ich am Hiroshima-Hain in Hannover. Es ist ein schöner und friedlicher Ort. Zur Zeit stehen die 110 Kirschbäume, mit denen an jene 110 000 Menschen erinnert werden soll, die nach dem Atombombenabwurf am 6. August 1945 sofort tot waren, in ihrer schönsten Blütenpracht, eine Gruppe Kinder tollte über das Areal und von Weitem war nicht zu erkennen, dass es sich um einen Gedenkort handelt. Erst auf dem Gelände verweisen Schilder, Gedenksteine und Installationen auf das furchtbare Ereignis, das hier erinnert wird.

    Nicht nur in der fernen Partnerstadt Hannover, sondern auch am originalen historischen Schauplatz ist die Aufarbeitung des ersten Atombombenabwurfs auf Imagination und Wissen angewiesen. Die zerstörte Innenstadt Hiroshimas war und ist permanenten Veränderungen und Überformungen unterworfen. Akiko Utsunomiya und Nobuyuki Harada beschreiben in ihrem Beitrag, dass Medien und öffentliche Hand bei der Rekonstruktion und Aufarbeitung des Ereignisses bislang vor allem auf Gespräche und Interaktionen mit Überlebenden setzten, die ihre Erinnerungen häufig buchstäblich aufzeichneten. Wenn es keine Überlebenden mehr gibt, bleiben als Zeugnisse dieses Massensterbens und seiner Aufarbeitung nur der historische Ort und die Objekte, deren Bedeutung in dieser Funktion zuzunehmen scheint.[1] Trotz und gerade wegen ihrer vielfachen Gebrochenheit und Überformtheit können sie über „den Weg der Dekonstruktion und Kontextualisierung“ einen unmittelbaren Zugang zur Vergangenheit ermöglichen.[2]

    Dass die Dekonstruktion und Kontextualisierung historischer Orte und Objekte nicht nur einen Zugang zur Vergangenheit bietet, sondern auch Gegenwartsbezüge anregen kann,[3]  zeigt sich auf dem Hiroshima-Hain in Hannover. Hier befindet sich ein Objekt, das beide Zugänge ermöglicht. Die Stele, die sich zum Zeitpunkt des Geschehens als Straßenpflaster in der Nähe des Explosionspunkts befand und (laut Informationstafel) „als Zeuge dieses fruchtbaren Ereignisses [..] das Entsetzen der Opfer“ vernommen haben soll, rückt nicht nur die „Sehnsucht nach dem unmittelbaren Erleben von Geschichte“[4] in den Blick, sondern auch die „Urthemen“ Frieden und Krieg in ihrer erschreckenden Aktualität. Denn in die Stele wurde das Bildnis der Göttin Kannon eingemeißelt, die in Japan als Symbol der Sehnsucht nach immerwährendem Frieden gilt. Unter dem Bildnis steht folgender Text: „Eine Welt ohne Krieg ist das höchste Anliegen: die „Ursehnsucht“ der Menschen. Mögen diese Granitsteine aus Hiroshima, die als Geschenk allen Völkern gewidmet sind, ein stetes Mahnmal des Friedens sein. Dies ist unsere inständige Bitte.“

    Vor dem Objekt brannten ein paar Kerzen. Galten sie der Vergangenheit oder der Gegenwart? Zu Recht weisen Akiko Utsunomiya und Nobuyuki Harada auf das Risiko, dass überkommene Narrative und Appelle, die auf den Erhalt eines atomwaffenfreien Friedens ausgerichtet sind, ins Klischeehafte abgleiten könnten. Meiner Meinung nach sollte dieses Risiko aber nicht dazu führen, auf diese Sinnzusammenhänge und Appelle zu verzichten.

    Literaturhinweise

    Axel Drecoll, Thoma Schaarschmidt and Irmgard Zündorf (ed.), Authentizität als Kapital historischer Orte? Die Sehnsucht nach dem unmittelbaren Erleben von Geschichte. Göttingen: Wallstein, 2019.

    Gabriele Hammermann and Dirk Riedel (ed), Sanierung – Rekonstruktion – Neugestaltung. Zum Umgang mit historischen Bauten in Gedenkstätten, Göttingen: Wallstein, 2014.

    _____

    [1] Axel Drecoll, Thoma Schaarschmidt and Irmgard Zündorf,  Authentizität als Kapital historischer Orte, in Axel Drecoll, Thoma Schaarschmidt and Irmgard Zündorf (ed.), Authentizität als Kapital historischer Orte? Die Sehnsucht nach dem unmittelbaren Erleben von Geschichte (Göttingen:Wallstein 2019), S. 7-14, hier S. 7.
    [2] Habbo Knoch, “Ferienlager“ und „gefoltertes Leben“. Periphere Räume in ehemaligen Konzentrationslagern, in Gabriele Hammermann and Dirk Riedel (ed), Sanierung – Rekonstruktion – Neugestaltung. Zum Umgang mit historischen Bauten in Gedenkstätten, (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2014) S. 32-45, hier S. 32.
    [3]  Christian Kuchler, Historische Orte im Geschichtsunterricht. (Schwalbach Ts: Wochenschau, 2012), S. 38.
    [4] Axel Drecoll, Thoma Schaarschmidt and Irmgard Zündorf (ed.), Authentizität als Kapital historischer Orte? Die Sehnsucht nach dem unmittelbaren Erleben von Geschichte, (Göttingen:Wallstein 2019).

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