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Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings: Bonn students show exhibition on nuclear attacks

Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings : Bonn students show exhibition on nuclear attacks

Students from Bonn publish contemporary witness reports from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and design a poster exhibition. It can be visited in the main university building until the end of March.

It's a drawing that will stop you in your tracks. Made by a survivor. A mother carries her child on her back. In a wrapped cloth. The little one no longer lives, it is a death victim of the atomic bomb. The woman is looking for a place where she can cremate the sweetest thing she has. In her hand she wears a kind of steel helmet, perhaps to store the ashes of her child later. According to the documentation of the picture, the eyewitness Kazuo Matsumuro observed the situation one day after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The distance to Ground Zero was just 800 metres. The survivor made the drawing much later, 29 years after the catastrophe.

The impressive depiction of the horror is part of the poster exhibition currently on display in the main university building, more precisely on the walls of the corridor between the "Café unique" and the Kaiserplatz wing. It consists of donations from the National Peace Memorial Halls in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (blue background) and information posters (white background) made by Bonn students.

View of Korean atomic bomb victims

Since the summer semester of 2014, Master students of the Institute for Oriental and Asian Studies have been translating eyewitness accounts of atomic bomb victims, which they see on video, from Japanese into German on behalf of the two Peace Memorial Halls. Together with their lecturer, Dr. Naoko Tamura, they develop each year a new exhibition with a different focus. This time, for the first time, they also focus on the Korean atomic bomb victims. "There were many of them, because Korea was under Japanese rule at the time, and many Koreans lived in Japan during the Second World War," Tamura explains. How many Korean victims there were cannot be traced to this day. Often they were burnt beyond recognition and had no relatives nearby to report as missing.

Since the 2017/18 winter semester, students of the "Arabic Language and Translation" program have been translating the newly created German texts into Arabic. The organisation "Dolmetscherverbund zur weltweiten Verbreitung der Zeugnisse von Atombeombenopfern" (NET-GATS) wants to contribute to the information about the bombing and its consequences. According to Tamura, Bonn University is predestined for this. "We have here specialists for various asiatic as well as eastern languages under one roof, that makes it simpler.

Concerned ones find hearing

The survivors of the atomic bomb drops of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan are called "Hibakusha" (explosion victims). Many suffer from physical and mental late effects. At the same time, they (and even their children) are sometimes discriminated against. The reason: Many Japanese think that radiation sickness is hereditary. According to Tamura, the bomb victims have only been entitled to free medical care in Japan since 1957. This is now also true for the Korean victims, who are living in their home country again. However, they had to pay for the expensive journey to the Japanese hospitals themselves for a long time, according to Tamura. "So many of them were left without help for years. Because they raised their voices, they also receive support today. The aim of our project is to make those affected heard in many languages“.

About 250 (still unpublished) sentences have been translated from German into Arabic by students this semester. Sometimes, when the German text seemed somewhat unclear to them, they reverted to the Japanese original. In these cases, Dr. Tamura came to the aid of the translators, pointing out one or two peculiarities of the Japanese language. For example, the various forms of courtesy in her mother tongue that had been lost in German. One of the students, Nora Mohamad, sums up what impressed the young people most in their work: "I admire the victims' will to survive - despite the traumas.“

The exhibition (near the university museum, main building) is open until 31 March. Translations of the students: https://www.global-peace.go.jp/OTHER/ot_index.php

(Original text: Margit Warken-Dieke, Translation: Mareike Graepel)