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EX Hiroshimapdf

EX Hiroshimapdf

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Published by: jcbisonte on Jul 24, 2013
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08/10/2014

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 A REMEMBRANCE OF HIROSHIMA
[Pedro Arrupe, a Jesuit priest, wasSuperior General of the Jesuits from1965 to 1983. As the 37-year-oldSuperior of the Jesuit Community inNagatsuka, Japan on the outskirts of Hiroshima in 1945, he witnessed theeffects of the atomic bomb attack there.The following originally appeared in
Recollections and Reflections of Pedro Arrupe, SJ 
. (Michael Glazier, 1986) andis excerpted here from
Pedro Arrupe:Essential Writings
, selected andintroduced by Kevin Burke, SJ. OrbisBooks, Maryknoll, NY, 2004-Eds. Note]On the morning of August 6something happened to break themonotony of the previous months. Atabout 7:55 in the morning a B-29appeared. The air raid alarm did notcause us any undue worry since we hadgrown accustomed to seeing squadronsof a hundred planes flying over our heads. There seemed to be no reasonto be concerned. Ten minutes after thealarm began to sound we were sure theenemy had left the city. We thenresumed our usual activities in peace.I was in my room with another priest at 8:15 when suddenly we saw ablinding light, like a flash of magnesium.Naturally we were surprised and jumpedup to see what was happening. As Iopened the door which faced the city,we heard a formidable explosion similar to the blast of a hurricane. At the sametime doors, windows and walls fell uponus in smithereens.We threw ourselves or werethrown to the floor. I say we werethrown because a German priest, whoweighed over two hundred pounds andhad been resting against the window sillof his room, found himself sitting in thehall several yards away with a book inhis hand. The shower of roof tiles,bricks and glass rained upon us. Threeor four seconds seemed an eternitybecause when one fears that a beam isabout to crash down and flatten one’sskull, time is incredibly prolonged.When we were able to stand, wewent running through the house. I hadthe responsibility for thirty-five youngmen who were under my direction. Ifound none of them had even a scratch.We went out into the garden to seewhere the bomb had fallen since noneof us doubted that that is what hadhappened. But when we got there, welooked at one another in surprise: therewas no hole in the ground, nor sign of an explosion. the trees and flowers allseemed quite normal. We searched therice fields surrounding our house,looking for the site of the blast, but to noavail. After about fifteen minutes, wenoticed that in the direction of the citydense smoke arose. Soon we couldsee enormous flames.We climbed a hill to get a better view. From there we could see a ruinedcity: before us was a decimatedHiroshimaI shall never forget my first sightof what was the result of the atomicbomb: a group of young women,eighteen or twenty years old, clinging toone another as they draggedthemselves along the road. One had ablister that almost covered her chest;she had burns across half of her face,and a cut in her scalp caused probablyby a falling tile, while great quantities of blood coursed freely down her face. Onand on they came, a steady procession
 
numbering some 150,000. This givessome idea of the scene of horror thatwas Hiroshima.We continued looking for someway of entering the city, but it wasimpossible. We did the only thing thatcould be done in the presence of suchmass slaughter: we fell on our kneesand prayed for guidance, as we weredestitute of human help.I had studied medicine manyyears earlier, and I ran back to thehouse to find medical supplies. I foundthe medicine chest under some ruinswith the door off its hinges. I retrievedsome iodine, aspirins and bicarbonate of soda. Those were the only supplies at atime when 200,000 victims needed help.What could I do? Where to begin? Again I fell on my knees and imploredGod’s help.It was then that He helped me ina very special way, not with medicationsbut with a simple and essential idea.We quickly decided to clean the houseas best as we could and tried toaccommodate as many of the sick andwounded as we could possibly fit inside.We were able to take only 150.The first thing that had to be donewas to gather up extra food to providethose patients with sufficient energy toreact against hemorrhages, fever andinfection caused by burns. Our youngpeople, on foot or on bicycles, rushedabout the outskirts of Hiroshima.Without thinking how or from where,they came dashing back with more fish,meat, eggs, and butter than we hadseen in four years. With these we wereable to care for our patients.Some success crowned our efforts because, almost without realizingit, we were attacking from the outset theanemia and leukemia that woulddevelop in the majority of the woundedwho had been exposed to atomicradiation. We can rejoice that none of those hospitalized in our house diedexcept one child who suffered an attackof meningitis as a result of theaccumulation of fluid on thebrain and died the following day. All therest survived.While the young people werebusy gathering food, I was trying toprepare the patients in a more scientificmanner to react favorably. First of all, itwas necessary to clean the three kindsof wounds we saw.There were contusions caused bythe collapse of buildings. Theseincluded fractures and cuts produced by jagged pieces of tile from falling roofs.Dirt and sawdust were encrusted in tornmuscles and wounds. Those rawwounds had to be cleansed withoutanesthetic as we had neither chloroformnor morphine to assuage the terriblepain.Other wounds were produced byfragments of wood or glass imbeddedin the body without tearing the muscles.The third group included all kindsof burns, some very serious. Whenasked how they were burned, theanswer was often the same: they hadbeen trapped under a collapsedsmoldering building and as they tried toextricate themselves from under it, theywere burned in the process. But therewas another kind of burn whose causeno one could explain.I asked one victim: “How wereyou burnt?” I recall his answer, “I wasn’tburnt, Father.”“Then what happened to you?”“I don’t know,. I saw a flash of lightfollowed by a terrible explosion butnothing happened to me. Then, in a half hour I saw small, superficial blisters
 
forming on my skin which soon becameinfected, But there was no fire.”It was disconcerting. Today, weknow that it was the effects of theinfrared radiation which attacks thetissues and produces not only thedestruction of the epidermis and theendodermis, but also of muscular tissue.The infections that followed resulted inthe death of many and confused thosetreating the victims.To cleanse the wounds it wasnecessary to puncture and open theblisters. We had in the house 150people of whom one-third or one-half had open wounds. The work waspainful because when one pierced asmall blister, a tiny drop of water spilledout; but when one had to lance a blister that extended over half of a person’sbody, the discharge measured 150cc[over half a cup]. At first we used nickel-plated pails, but after the third patient,seeing all there was ahead of us, webegan to use all the kettles and basinswe could find in the house.The suffering was frightful, thepain excruciating and it made bodieswrithe like snakes, yet there was not aword of complaint. They all suffered insilence… After twelve hours we were ableto enter the city. As usually happensafter great fires, an enormous amount of water vapor condenses and descends intorrential showers. In this way, at least,the burning embers were extinguished…Much more terrible, however,was the tragic sight of those thousandsof injured people begging for help. Onesuch was a child who had a piece of glass imbedded in the pupil of his lefteye, and another who had a largewooden splinter protruding like a dagger from between his ribs. Sobbing, hecalled out: “Father, save me!” Another victim was caught between two beamswith his legs calcified up to the knees.Moving along, we saw a youngman running toward us half-crazed andcalling for help. For twenty minutes hehad been hearing his mother’s voice asshe lay buried under the rubble of whathad been their home. The flames werealready enveloping her body, and hisefforts to lift the large wooden beamsthat held her captive had been in vain…We were to witness more horriblescenes that night. As we approachedthe river, the spectacle was awfulbeyond words. Fleeing the flames andavailing themselves of low tide, thepeople lay across both shores, but in themiddle of the night the tide began torise, and the wounded, exhausted nowand half buried in mud, could not move.The cries of those drowning aresomething I shall never forget. At five in the morning, we finallyarrived at our destination and began our first treatments on the Fathers. In spiteof the urgency of out work, we had firststopped to celebrate our Masses. Assuredly, it was in such moments of tragedy that we felt God most near tous. It is at such moments one feels inneed of supernatural assistance… Apart from all theseunderstandable events, there was onethat disconcerted us greatly. Many whowere in the city at the moment of theexplosion and had suffered no apparentinjuries whatsoever, but who,nevertheless, after a few day felt weakand came to us saying they felt a terribleinterior heat, that, perhaps, that hadinhaled a poisonous gas, and in a shorttime they were dead.The first case occurred for mewhen I was treating an elderly man for two deep wounds on his back. A mancame to me and said: “Please, Father,

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