Photos discovered in the U.S. show ruins of the city center after Hiroshima A-bombing

by Kyosuke Mizukawa, Staff Writer

Nine photos of the ruins of the city center after the atomic bombing, taken in the vicinity of the Fukuya Hatchobori Main Store in Hatchobori, Naka Ward, an A-bombed building, have been found in the United States and donated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The Kamiya-cho and Hatchobori districts are currently experiencing a rise of redevelopment. These photos clearly show the damage to the Hatchobori area as a result of the atomic bomb. They will be displayed in the New Arrivals Exhibition at the museum next year.

The photos were taken by the late Earl Glotfelty who served as a U.S. medical officer at a hospital in Kure City. It is believed that Mr. Glotfelty took the photos while he was in Kure from the fall of 1945 to February 1946.

One picture was taken from the new building of the Fukuya Department Store at that time, which was about 710 meters from the hypocenter, toward the old building of the store which stood on the north side across the street. The old building had been used by the east fire station at the time of the bombing and fire personnel fell victim. From the photo, the area along the Hakushima streetcar line, which had been constructed west of the current track, is visibly burned to the ground.

Another photo taken in the same neighborhood facing east shows the devastation of people’s lives through the wreckage of a charred streetcar, as well as the damage to the Chugoku Shimbun headquarters building before its relocation, Hiroshima Nagarekawa Church, and other locations. Other pictures include a close-up view of the old building of the Fukuya Department Store, and the ruins around Noboricho National School (now Noboricho Elementary School).

The photos were kept by the family of the late Mr. Glotfelty in Pittsburgh, a city in the United States. Midori Hasegawa, 54, who is from Asakita Ward and now studies at a local university in the United States, was asked by the family to “make use of them for Hiroshima.” She brought the photos to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum when she returned home for a visit.

A curator at the museum said, “The composition of some of the photos is very unique, such as the view toward the Hakushima streetcar line from the Fukuya Department Store, and are rarely seen in the existing A-bomb photos. They will help us grasp the extent of the damage in the city center.”

(Originally published on August 5, 2019)