Nagasaki

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.

NAGASAKI 1945
(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.

Strike.
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.

Comments (9)

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  1. bringiton says:

    Westminster will never sign this agreement.
    Their nukes in the shop window are all they have left,without which they will be seen as just another medium sized country,with an oversized debt.
    The criteria for who gets to sit on the UN Security council would also change,if the present encumbents sign up (not likely to happen).
    So,I am afraid little or no change.

    1. Janet Fenton says:

      The United Nations legally binding Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons leading to their elimination, to give it its full title, has been adopted and will open for signature and ratification on 20th September. It has nothing to do with the Security Council, which cannot alter or affect it, and it will be binding on member states who sign up. There was a vote, 122 member states voted for it, one abstained and 1 voted against.
      Nuclear-armed states, including the UK, refused the request from the UN to participate in the conference that drafted the treaty. But they will be affected by it and they were not representing Scotland when they chose that path.
      Hear details from those who were there in New York when this historic decision was made, read the treaty and get some accurate information at the Glasgow Quaker Meeting House on 23rd August at 7.00 pm. All welcome

  2. Derek says:

    Totally false account of history…dropping the bomb saved thousands of allied lives…this piece was obviously written by
    Someone under 40…50 million lives lost during ww2 due to conventional weapons and quarter a million(if even that many)lost to nuclear weapons and that number hasn’t risen in 70 years American casualties fighting in the Japanese islands were horrifically high and these loses could not be sustained..it certainly sent a marker to Stalin..the war would not have ended without these events.and end it did promptly.the japs would have fought every inch to Okanama to Tokyo and for every last breath..and the lives saved in the subsequent 70 years avoiding total war are unmeasurable…I repeat 50 million deaths in 6 years against quarter of a million in the next 70.you do the maths…sure the capacity for further destruction is always in the background…but only man can do this ..nukes don’t fire themselves..and you can blame the west for being the only ones to use them thus far…but they are reluctant to use them again..North Korea saddam and other totalitarian regimes would use them in a blink of an eye..this won’t be published obviously..in this censored left wing rag..like most folk I’ve spoke to that try to post comments…

    1. Willie says:

      Funny old world Derek where nuclear weapons are only used by countries with them against countries with them.

      During the Argentinian crisis the descendent MP of the same name as the great Winston Churchill got up on his hind legs in the House of Commons to opine why we didn’t consider nuking Argentina’s capital city.

      And of course in the Korean war the late great General Douglas MacArthur was recommending a nuclear attack on North Korea.

      And so having taken the message that nuclear armed countries attack non nuclear armed countries, I think we can understand why North Korea pursues a nuclear armament policy.

      But Derek you do number so calculate this. If North Korea and the US have a nuclear war would it not be a good thing.

      Yes millions dead in North Korea and millions dead in the US.

      Might not such a slaughter by your counting act as an inoculation that will protect billions more from such slaughter.

      Yes, the logic is impeccable. A bit of pain now for maybe a few tens of million unfortunates, but good news for the other billions.

      Let’s go for it Derek. We know it makes sense.

    2. Euan McKinnon says:

      The two bombs dropped on Japan were to project US power post war to Russia, the consequent result was Russia armed too, followed France, uk and others.

      North Koera is a basket case and a creation of, and maintained by US and China, it has been told it is part of an axis of evil, it’s leadership and people believe they could be subject to attack from the US and South Korea, hence they are arming themselves to stave off such an attack.

      Ever wondered what North Korea would be like if it had been left to its own devices and not bullied by the US?

      Even a contained nuclear skirmish between the US and North Korea would see nuclear fall out hit globally with untold harm! How can any country use these weapons, e.g. If the US nukes North Krea, what prevents fall out impacting China, Japan, South Korea, etc.

      As for the uk, it’s like Pakistan, can’t care for its own people, but wants to be one of the big boys with nuclear weapons. This is the future post brexit, uk will renew trident, sell arms to anyone, meanwhile living standards of all will fall dramatically as trade with the EU flounders and there is not the investment for current and new industries.

      Scotland need not be a part of this sad mess, with independence we can give England’s dreamers back trident and carve our own future, with the pride we are not subject to a state who believes it should rule the waves by divine right!

    3. J Galt says:

      Rubbish Derek.

      The “to save allied lives” myth has been well and truly bust.

      Nagasaki and Hiroshima served the same purpose as Dresden – a warning to Stalin.

      They deliberately kept Japan in the war in order to do this.

      Animals.

  3. Willie says:

    Every few generations there is a mass slaughter greater than the last and nuclear weapons guarantee that progression.

    Man has learned nothing from the slaughters of the past and really, unless or until some of the nuclear protagonists get a touch of what they are tooled up with, there will be no inoculation.

    That’s why another conflagration bigger than the last is guaranteed.

    Maybe we are overdue another great slaughter.

  4. Willie says:

    Every few generations there is a mass slaughter greater than the last and nuclear weapons guarantee that progression.

    Man has learned nothing from the slaughters of the past and really, unless or until some of the nuclear protagonists get a touch of what they are tooled up with, there will be no inoculation.

    That’s why another conflagration bigger than the last is guaranteed.

    Maybe we are overdue another great slaughter.

  5. SleepingDog says:

    How do you decide who should and should not have nuclear weapons?

    I was watching an episode of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, where he makes the point that a natural event like the 1908 Tunguska explosion would be indistinguishable in defcon timescales from a nuclear attack and could trigger a nuclear war.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunguska_event

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