maandag 26 oktober 2009

Friday 23 October, Mazda and Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima

Friday October 23 Hiroshima. Blue sky, Sunny, 24 C, no wind. Mazda Museum Hiroshima We set the alarm, because we do not want to be late for the 9:50am appointment at the Mazda Headquarters in Hiroshima. The email we sent only a few days ago, was quickly and positively answered by the Mazda head quarters. We were booked for the English tour at the Mazda plant in Hiroshima! We are very early for the appointment, as we did not want to be late. We register and enjoy the brand new model cars that are being displayed in the lobby. We need to wait until 10am. The guide is an English speaking and nice lady from Mazda. We enter the tour bus, not build by Mazda by the way and drive passed security onto the Mazda complex. Its almost a 15 minutes bus drive, this complex is huge! She explains 7km long is the complex here in Hiroshima, the largest in the world for Mazda. We see tall ships waiting to transport new cars around the world (Apparently China) and the large roads and bridges that connect all the buildings and spaces on the complex. The largest bridge on a Mazda complex is also build here, 600 meters long. We stop at the museum and get a Mazda boasting video. Than a classroom kind of explanation of the complex and Mazda in general, very informative. We are allowed to enter the brand new model cars that are being showed here. On the second floor the history of Mazda, including some of those oldies are displayed. After that we get to know the building process and design process, and see and may feel the fabrics being used (clay, plastic etc). The technical background of the rotary engine is explained and the one car in the world with such an engine wining 24 hours of Le Mans is showed. Than, as a dessert we are allowed to enter the production facility where watch the men work on the different model cars in 1 automated production line. The robots, cars, parts everything we can see. So cool. The automated transports of the cars and the elevators/robots are very cool to watch too. We head back to the head quarters to close the tour. Before leaving the Mazda complex I thank the friendly lady and give here a little gift. I knew it was for free and tipping is not done, so I thought of this gift. Its a little Dutch gift with “Dankje” written on a note, which means “Thank you”. The fact she run after wards straight to her colleagues to show this little present, showed it was indeed the gesture that made her day too. With a big smile we walk back to the train to go to the center of Hiroshima again. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park In the afternoon, we visit the part Hiroshima is known for in the world, the city which got hit by the first atomic bomb. We go to the memorial place, where the A-bomb building is, the memorial park, world peace museum and more. The A-bomb building we saw already the night before and now in daylight. I have to say, that with the sun away and night just falling in (so you still have that dark blue background) its an even more dramatic scene. But with daylight you see some more details of the building that was partly melted by the blast. You also see rocks of the building or iron frames sticking out of the walls. Just a little of 100 meters from here, 580 meters in the sky, the bomb went off. You can not imagine what that should have looked like. Later in the museum I learn, that even some kilometers away from the center buildings, trees, people and animals did not survive the heat waves it produced. As a matter of fact, some of the umbrella trees outside the city, that got burned but survived, where move to the park when they build this park. In the top of the trees you can still see the black burns of that day. 6 August 8:15 am to be precise.In the park we witness some kind of memorial service for the victims. We ask someone what it exactly is, but she does not know either.We go to the museum, which only cost 50 yen. The impact and size of the museum is bigger than I thought. In the beginning the museum shows the history of Hiroshima before the bomb. It always has been a strategic military point in multiple wars. It seems to me the people of the city at that time protested and wanted to be more a trading city than a military focused. But the force of the rulers broke them. I see the Japanese do mention briefly that Japan attacked the US on Pearl Harbor first and therefor became actively involved in World War 2. Nowhere is explained why the Japanese decided to perform this surprise attack on the US. With it the Japanese had for a while an advantage. But this disappeared in the years after.At almost the end of the world war the US had completed their Manhattan project. The project to produce an atomic bomb. In the museum you see transcripts and meeting minutes of the decisions made on what targets to analyze for the first bomb(s) to drop. The reasoning behind Hiroshima and Nagasaki is explained. I did not know how many meetings, investigation and even training was done. The US trained with dummy bombs on many cities in Japan, before releasing the real one. The potential cities for the atomic bomb, were not being targeted with the mass carpet bombing they did on all the other major cities in Japan. They wanted to know the impact on a large city, so therefor did not carpet bomb the potential cities.Even asking for capitulation, Japan refused. Because the lot of billions spent, the war needed to end and the Russians maybe moving further in Europe, the US (with coalition partner(s)) decided to use the bomb. To get Japan surrender and show Russia the power of the US.Unfortunately for Hiroshima the scout flights and the good weather made them become the first target. The impact, damage, casualties is than further explained on the second floor of the museum.Large scaled maps with models of the city before and after provide an insight of the magnitude of this bomb. In the past days we walked a lot in the city from station to the park, shops etc. So we have a feeling how big the city is. Than seeing on these scaled models/maps the impact of the bomb is shocking. Chills. All gone in a few seconds.The stories of the people seeking relatives after the bomb in the ruins of the city takes your breath away too. Artifacts, like burned cloths, melted tools, burned shoes, stopped watches etc makes you silent. The picture and pieces of the stone stairs before a bank, where someone was waiting that day the bank would open is thrilling. The heat of the bomb was so high, that concrete and stone objects (like the walls and the stairs of the bank building) the colors would whiten / brighten up. Exactly where this human being was sitting the stones remained dark. The persons remains were never found. In Hiroshima many relatives who could not find their family claimed their loved one might have been sitting on that spot.The pictures of clothing with dark colors catching fire and thus leaving burn wounds on the victims amaze me too. Especially because these people where 3 kilometers away of the center of the blast. The dark colors absorb more heat than light colors.There is much more to read and see, but the last thing I tell here is about the donors. Because of the bombings of cities, many children were evacuated to safe places out of town. So many children survived the blast, but immediately had no parents or other family anymore. Some of the people who survived (donors) started to search their relatives. Many of them never found the loved ones. The only artifacts they could use to identify them was for example the watches people were wearing. And stories like someone who found the watch of her dad, but that morning her mother was using it on her wrist, the little girl later was told. You see a couple of broken watches, some displaying a time. 8:15 The time of the blast. The time it will display, for ever to all of visitors of the museum, now and in the future.... Greetings, Marcel View Marcel De Koningh's profile on LinkedIn
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