Historic photographs of Hiroshima, by Yoshito Matsushige

 the American military confiscated all of the post-bomb prints, just as they seized the Japanese newsreel footage, 

Journalist Took Five Historic Pictures—That Must Never Be Repeated The Nation, Greg Mitchell on August 8, 2013    Yoshito Matsushige, a photographer for the Chugoku Shimbun, took the only pictures in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, that have surfaced since. It was these five photos Life magazine published on September 29, 1952, hailing them as the “First Pictures—Atom Blasts Through Eyes of Victims,” breaking the long media blackout on graphic images from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On August 6, 1945, Matsushige wandered around Hiroshima for ten hours, carrying one of the few cameras that survived the atomic bombing and two rolls of film with twenty-four possible exposures. This was no ordinary photo opportunity. He lined up one gripping shot after another, but he could only push the shutter seven times.When he was done he returned to his home and developed the pictures in the most primitive way, since every darkroom in the city, including his own, had been destroyed. Under a star-filled sky, with the landscape around him littered with collapsed homes and the center of Hiroshima still smoldering in the distance, he washed his film in a radiated creek and hung it out to dry on the burned branch of a tree.

Five of the seven images had survived, and they are all the world will ever know of what Hiroshima looked like on that day. Only Matsushige knows what the seventeen photos he didn’t take would have looked like. Even more graphic film footage, shot by the US military, remained hidden for decades (as I probe in my book Atomic Cover-up).

Two of his pictures have been widely reprinted in magazines and books. In one, a ragged line of bomb victims sit along the side of Miyuki Bridge, two miles from ground zero, legs folded to their chests. It’s hard to tell if it is torn clothing or skin that hangs from them in tatters. No one cries out. They simply stare at what lies across the bridge: a tornado of flame and smoke rushing toward the suburbs. The second picture is a tighter version of the first, focusing on a policeman and a few school girls standing in the center……..

When Matsushige, then retired (he has since passed away), came to meet me in an eighth-floor conference room at his old newspaper—a small man, dapper in white shoes—he explained that he could not take more photos that day because “it was so atrocious” and he was afraid burned and battered people “would be enraged if someone took their picture.” He tried to capture more images but he could not “muster the courage” to press the shutter.

A few weeks later, the American military confiscated all of the post-bomb prints, just as they seized the Japanese newsreel footage, “but they didn’t ask for the negatives,” Matsushige said, grinning like a cat. These were the pictures that caused a stir worldwide when they appeared inLife seven years later. No photographic images of Nagasaki taken on August 9 have survived.

“Sometimes I think I should have gathered my courage and taken more photos, but at other times I feel I did all I could do,” he added. “I could not endure taking any more pictures that day. It was too heartbreaking.” With that, Matsushige packed up his belongings, bowed deeply, and left the room, vibrant in straw hat, blue suit and bright white shoes, carrying in his arms a portfolio of pictures that are utterly unique, and must remain so. http://www.thenation.com/blog/175652/journalist-took-five-historic-pictures-must-never-be-repeated#

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