Plans for a memorial tower in Potsdam, site of orders to drop the A-bombs

by Hiromi Morita, Staff Writer

In Potsdam, a suburb of Berlin in Germany, there is an effort to build a memorial tower for the victims of the atomic bombings. Aiko Sasaki, 73, an A-bomb survivor and a resident of Hiroshima, has become involved in this effort and is now calling for the cooperation of Hiroshima citizens in the fundraising campaign organized by Potsdam.

Plans for the memorial tower would place it in the square located in front of the residence where then U.S. President Truman stayed during the Potsdam Conference in 1945. His orders to drop the atomic bombs on Japan were issued while the Potsdam Conference was being held. Local citizens who learned this historical fact requested that the city council find a way to remember the starting point of these tragedies. As a result, the square was renamed “Hiroshima Square (Platz)” in 2005.

Since then, the citizens of Potsdam have organized a variety of related events, including an A-bomb exhibition and gatherings to listen to testimonies from survivors of the atomic bombings and the bombing of Dresden. In November 2007, they established the Association to Build Hiroshima Square (Platz) in Potsdam and initiated the fundraising campaign with the aim of completing the memorial tower in the year 2010. The Germany International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) and an A-bomb survivor living in Berlin are also offering their support to the project.

Ms. Sasaki had been invited to Potsdam to share her A-bomb experience, and through this connection, she was asked to head the Hiroshima branch of the association. “I would like the citizens of Hiroshima to know the strong desire for peace of the Potsdam people,” she said. “They are working hard so the tragedies of the atomic bombings will not be forgotten.”

(Originally published on September 4, 2008)