..April 2014.. ..Nagasaki..
This morning I received the sad news that Mr. Hiroshi Matsuzoe passed away at the age of 83 in Nagasaki. Mr. Matsuzoe was one the first hibakusha, atomic bomb survivor, I photographed and interviewed for From Above. He was 14 years old when the atomic bomb detonated over Nagasaki.
Mr. Matsuzoe dedicated his life to informing students about the importance of abolishing nuclear weapons. Last year he lost his voice to cancer but still spread his message when doctor’s restored his voice by installing an electronic device in his voice box.
I will always remember my brief time spent with Mr. Matsuzoe. In the hallway of the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum he showed me paintings he had made of scenes from that horrific time. He had seen two young girls badly injured in the street, one later underwent surgery without anesthesia. Mr. Matsuzoe never forgot the screams coming from the little girl at that moment. A couple of days after, he witnessed their cremation while walking in the street. “It was two girls with light makeup and wearing a beautiful Kimono. They were about to be cremated. After someone put fire on them I couldn’t watch. I ran away.”
Many years later Mr. Matsuzoe painted that painful scene onto a canvas. He never knew the identity of either girl but when the painting was shown relatives and teachers of the two girls were found. One of the mother’s sobbed when she saw the painting.
The last time I saw Mr. Matsuzoe was at the From Above exhibition in the Nagasaki Peace Museum. You can see him in this documentary shot by Community Media. He appears 8 minutes into the program.
The best tribute you can give to him is to never forget the lessons of Nagasaki and Hiroshima; and not to tolerate the excuse of war being a justifiable reason to settle differences.