Voices of War brings together first-hand accounts from different perspectives on the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945,  drawing on IWM’s extensive sound archive.

The voices belong to those who were there, including a Japanese school mistress who was living and working in Hiroshima, a Japanese Methodist minister and a German churchman.

‘I went up to the hillside and took a panorama view of the city and found the whole city on fire.’ Kiyoshi Tanimoto, Japanese Methodist minister.

Click on the audio player below to listen to our three minute soundscape.

Take a moment to reflect on what happened in Hiroshima

Kiyoshi Tanimoto: “It was a thoroughly unexpected disaster which fell upon us...beyond our comprehension.”

Hugo Lassalle: “On the morning of the 6th of August 1945, when the first atomic bomb dropped upon Hiroshima, I had just finished prayers and had gone to my room which was roughly 1,000 yards from the centre of the explosion. It was a warm, calm morning and one could not have imagined that an event was about to take place which had altered and will alter the course of our lives.”

Taza Shibama: “At that time I was eating my breakfast in the kitchen all by myself. It was 08:15, of course. I was expected to go to school at 08:30.”

Hugo Lassalle: “I heard the drone of the plane overhead. I was about to go out and look for it and suddenly there was a blinding yellow light.”

Taza Shibama: “I had my chopsticks in my right hand and rice bowl in my left hand, but suddenly I saw a yellowish flash. Next moment I was buried in the darkness. It was so dark, I did not hear any sound at all. I did not know what happened. The two-story wooden building that was my house with eight rooms in it was blown down to pieces and covered me up.”

Kiyoshi Tanimoto: “I found that the house behind me was completely demolished and I saw a few people coming out of debris here and there. I took one of them for the first aid station, which was a primary school. There I saw so many injured people and I began to wonder what happened. I went up to the hillside and took a panorama view of the city and found whole city on fire.”

Hugo Lassalle: “Those who had barely survived the terrific blast had received terrible burns on the face and wounds from crashing timber and glass and masonry. In dazed confusion they did not even know what to do to save their own lives.”

Kiyoshi Tanimoto: “I encountered a long line of escapees, and yet, without any expression. In deep silence, they were escaping. I thought it was a procession of ghosts.”  

Who am I listening to?

Discover more about the voices in the soundscape by exploring their profiles. 

  • Hugo Lassalle

    A German Jesuit priest who was one of the foremost teachers to embrace both Roman Catholicism and Zen Buddhism. 

    He went on to be involved in the construction of a cathedral in Hiroshima, which is now described as “a memorial to the victims of the atomic bomb and war and a Christian church built with a wish for world peace.”

  • Taza Shibama

    A Japanese school mistress, living and working in Hiroshima. After the bomb, she escaped from the ruin of her family home with the help of a neighbour, She walked to her father's home in the country, having to cross a burning bridge on her journey. 

  • Kiyoshi Tanimoto

    A Japanese methodist minister when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He studied at the Candler School of Theology in the United States and was ordained in 1940. He served in churches in California, Okinawa and then Hiroshima. After the war, he went on extensive speaking tours of the US, raising funds for his project of a Hiroshima peace centre, and for the ‘Hiroshima Maidens’, Japanese school girls scarred by the explosion. He appeared on the popular television program This Is Your Life, where he and his family were placed in the uncomfortable position of meeting with Captain Robert A. Lewis, co-pilot of the Enola Gay, which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

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