This week Scottish CND group assembled at the Peace Tree beside the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow to remember the civilian men women and children who were killed 72 years ago by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On 9th August 1945 the US dropped its second atomic bomb on the Japan. We remember today the 140,000 civilian victims of the city of Nagasaki with this powerful poem by Ellen McAteer. The war in the Far East had already been won, the Japanese army defeated, its principal cities destroyed by carpet bombing. The Emperor was seeking terms for surrender. As agreed by the Allies after Nazi Germany surrendered in May, the Russian army had invaded Manchuria and were poised to overrun Japan. President Truman aware of a post war ideological confrontation with Russia, went ahead with the strategically unnecessary annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to demonstate the devastating power of his newly developed weapon.

(After an eyewitness account by Dr Tatsuichiro Akizuki)

At 10.30 the siren sounded,
at 11 o’clock the all-clear.
Sticking a needle into a patient,
I heard a drone
as the plane, lost in the cloud,
dropped her baby.

It fell silently
one and a half miles from its target.
It fell for 40 seconds,
and in that 40 seconds,
every move that people made
became a choice between life and death.

The buildings turned red.
Electricity poles bloomed like matches,
trees like torches.
Three kinds of colour,
black, yellow and scarlet,
loomed over the people,
who scattered like ants.
An ocean of fire
A sky of smoke.

Then the people started coming up the hill.
Naked, ash-white,
groaning from deep inside,
their faces like masks.
Behind these ghosts
walked corpses burned black.
Medicines, needles, and bandages burned,
as I walked on cancer, barefoot.

A mother and child, naked, drowned,
locked in each others arms, floated downstream,
still connected by the chord:
they were the lucky ones.
We saved many lives that day,
But then, one by one,
The people we had saved
Began dying.

The charred and wounded were gathered in flat carts
like fish to market.
Walking among the victims
of this mysterious plague,
I felt insensible, lifeless,
like a ghost myself.
A soldier passed the groups of dead and dying:
“Shame on you! You’re a doctor!
Why don’t you help them? Help them!”
“It is you that did this”, I replied.

Ellen McAteer

On 7th July this year United Nations agreed by a majority of members to a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. From next month the treaty will be open for signatories to confirm their nation’s support. For the first time in 72 years we have genuine hope that nuclear weapons are never used again and they are completely eliminated.