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Monday, 10 November 2008

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The story of tracing down the provenance of those photos is remarkable! And I'm very glad we've got them (well, I would guess there are also copies in government archives, perhaps not yet declassified).

Mike,
A great, and for me, most opportune find. I will soon giving a lecture on the "Enola Gay" exhibit debate of 1995, and the cultural/historical conflicts over the politics of memory. I was hoping to include a discussion of photographic images and their place in the debates; this article will fit right it.

Alex

What a great article. Devastating. This site is so much more interesting than most of the other photo sites which tend to be more about the latest gizmos

I met the navigator of the Enola Gay at the and Air Museum in Omaha once. He and another guy were meeting people and selling images of the crew. I bought one and its signed by him - hangs in my living room along with a piece of steel barbed wire that was part of the Iron Curtain. I like to look at them and remember what we were facing and live in gratitude.

Absolutely incredible! And two things instantly come to mind. First, one always likes to think (fantasize) how one's lifework will somehow survive and hopefully inform, educate and entertain future generations- when common sense dictates it'll end up in the hallowed files of the local dump.

Second, I grew up believing the propaganda surrounding "the absolute necessity" of the nuclear bombing of Japan. And while one could still probably make an argument for Hiroshima- even many a US general at the time concluded that Nagasaki was totally and completely unnecessary and unwarranted.

How remarkable - and how appropriate that I read this amazing story on the morning of the anniversary of Armistice day. Whether or not the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justified in military or human terms, it is so important we remember these deaths alongside those of the millions of other innocent civilians of all nations who were (and are) victims of conflicts not of their making.

Those photos are obviously not meant for obscurity - an unseen hand (along with the seen) steers them ever to the light.

Japanese photographers, working for the official propaganda agencies, were on the scene in both cities the following day. For a look at several of the collections of pictures that resulted, see http://www.firstpulseprojects.net/bombproject/Exhibitions3.html . The Japanese also held back from publications of the pictures at first, unsure whether they would put the population in the right frame of mind for defending the homeland to the last. After a few days, that wasn't an issue.

In the link I gave, notice that the 1995 Enola Gay exhibit was actually two exhibits. The first one was too strong, and got cancelled.

One of the most moving and intriguing recountings of the aftermath of Hiroshima is the journal of a doctor who recovered from his injuries sufficiently to continue to head up his hospital, located about 1500m from ground zero, during the months that followed. He documents, day after day, what happened to the survivors as well as to those who did not survive, and was one of the first to characterize and understand severe radiation poisoning. I'm afraid I don't have it with me, and can't recall the name. It's not particularly famous, but worth seeking out.

scott

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