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tv   Reel America A Thousand Cranes - The Children of Hiroshima - 1962  CSPAN  August 10, 2020 2:03pm-2:29pm EDT

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congressional gold medal, its highest civilian honor. watch tonight beginning at 8:00 eastern, and enjoy american history tv this week and every weekend on c-span3. >> next on reel america, a thousand cranes, the children of hiroshima. betty jean lifton was inspired to make this 20-minute film while living in hiroshima, japan, and in the summer of 1962 and learning cancer from radiation was continuing to affect atomic bomb survivors and their children. narrated by ms. lifton, it documented the origins of hiroshima's peace park and tells the story of how handmade paper cranes became a symbol of peace and remembrance of the victims of the atomic bombing of the city.
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in japan, there is an old belief that a crane can move for 1,000 years. if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, they will protect you from illness. after the bomb fell on hiroshima, august 6th, 1945, the people folded paper cranes. today in hiroshima, men, women, and children are still folding paper cranes.
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especially children. for they are still suffering from radiation effects of the bomb. what's it like to be a child in hiroshima so many years after the war? these children look like children anywhere. but the park they are playing in is called the peace park. the monument is behind them is the cenotaph dedicated to the 70,000 people known to have died from the bomb. although estimates go as high as 200,000 or more. it was 8:15 on a hot summer morning much like this one when that first bomb flashed through the sky and destroyed the city. in its flaming heat. now children play in front of the peace museum which bears grim testimony of what the bomb did to the first city that
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experienced it. when they walk home from school from the park, the children can see the atomic dome in the distance. it was once an exhibition hall. now, it is the only shell left standing from the atomic blast. but all children make their way all to children's monument in the park. it was erected after the death of a man who died from leukemia at the age of 12. ten years after the bomb fell. now, children bring paper cranes as offerings to the monument. this young woman was a friend of sudako's. they would have been the same age if sudako had lived. but sudako has already become a
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legend in japan. he is the anne frank of hiroshima, remembered for her tragic death from radiation effects. she was just one of hundreds of young people to suffer such a fate, but she became the symbol of them all. in her outstretched arms, she holds a golden crane. who was sudako suzaki? she might have been just an ordinary girl, gossiping on the river bank, if she had lived. she was just 2 years old when the bomb fell a mile from her home, and uninjured. she was the fastest runner in her sixth grade class, a good swimmer, but suddenly she developed the signs of leukemia. she laughed and sang bravely
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when her classmates came to visit her in the hospital, and she folded paper cranes. she wanted to make 1,000, but she reached only 964 when she died. no more summer hiking. no more swimming. and then, as if the death of suddako symbolized all of their deaths, the children of hiroshima rose up together to do something about it. they rose money for this monument to remind the grown-up world what a bomb can do to the young. every morning, the crane looks down over the city on its children. it sees this little nursery school, the first to be rebuilt after the war. it seemed like such a normal thing. but the teacher reports on her
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days off to the hospital for blood transfusions. round and round the terrible memory of that day of the bomb must still go in her head, yet she tells the children nothing. the crane knows that this popular teacher has anemia. she was at home, a little over a mile from the explosion, and uninjured. when she was in the sixth grade, her gums began to bleed. but the symptoms went away. from third grade to junior high school, she became weak. it was diagnosed as anemia. for the past five years, she's been in and out of hospitals. she doesn't talk about the past. her father was wounded in the post office when the bomb fell
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and died a year later. one of her sisters was never found. she doesn't talk about the future either. she knows that other japanese do not like to marry the survivors. they consider them tainted. they weren't women in the family who will produce healthy family. other people's children may be all she will ever have in her uncertain life. the crane looks down over this little girl. three years ago, her mother suddenly became ill. and then she died of leukemia. a word she could not understand. this is her picture, taken just before she died at the age of 27. and this is the buddhist alter
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for her. her mother was only 13 when the bomb fell. she was not hurt at the time. she did not suspect that the radiation effects lodging in her body would someday separate her from her beloved child. doctors do not know if this is inherited. this is fumiko. her brother was only 16 when he died of leukemia six years ago. her family became poor paying his medical expenses. now her father makes glass cases for dolls. he wishes he and his family could live in the protected world of dolls, but he cannot forget his lost son. fumiko was born three years after the war. her dearest dream was to have an organ, which her family saved to
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get her. she says she often thinks about her brother when she plays. fumiko's brother entered the city a week after the bomb fell. he ate canned goods from an exposed army supply depot. after that, he was never well. no one diagnosed radio effects until he got the symptoms of leukemia. then the doctor said it might have been from exposed canned food. fumiko's mother, who also ate the food, is also weak. weakness is one of the symptoms most survivors seem to have. but her body is also foreign, and she complains of internal pain. fumiko likes to make cranes with her mother in memory of her brother.
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if only his suffering has not been in vain, she says. paper cranes, i shall write peace on the wings. and you shall fly all over the world. fumiko has joined a group of hiroshima children dedicated to peace. they call themselves the folded crane club. until recently, in this shack behind the atomic dome, it belongs to a day laborer and his wife, both bomb survivors. the folded crane club. some men are meant to be the conscience of their time. ichiro wearing the white hat is one of them.
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he's like a pied piper to the children of hiroshima. the tune he plays is everyone must work for peace in the world. each week, he and the children print a newspaper on their peace activities for the survivors in the hospital. they also write letters to the heads of state and to the united nations, pleading for universal disarmament. she earns money sewing. they met in a bible class where they struggled to find some meaning in the disaster that had befallen their city. her leg was permanently crippled but the impact of the blast left her unconscious outside her home. like fumiko's mother, she often
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feels weak. she loved children, but they have none of their own. she fears having them because of the two deformed babies born to her sister. i cannot take the risk of producing monstrosities, she says. kowamoto himself was outside the city when the bomb fell, but he came in immediately with a rescue team and was exposed to the radiation. the children know that he is weak, but they cannot persuade him to rest. he keeps thinking, perhaps this pamphlet will be the one to convince the world that there must never be another nuclear war. the kowamotos have nothing for themselves. ragged bedding, scrapbooks on the folded crane club, the school picture.
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portraits of other children who have died since the war. this dark, unheated shack they built out of the rubble of their city has become the children's spiritual home. and always, the atomic dome is their backdrop. a reminder what a city looks like after a nuclear attack. are the survivors of the nuclear attack luckier than the dead? the atomic bomb hospital is still filled with survivors needed checkups or treatments. the children of the folded crane club come here regularly to distribute their newspapers and cranes.
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but are the children of hiroshima really children? with the legacy of death which the bomb has left them. no. an atomic bomb wipes out childhood and innocence. when it wipes out a city. to these children, a hospital is a familiar place. mr. miamoto was stationed in the hiroshima in the army when the bomb fell. at the time, he was not harmed, but seven years ago, he began to feel dizzy and experience internal pain. he receives blood now twice a week. he has been here for three years, but the doctors do not tell him when he can go home. in the meantime, he makes boats, which he gives to visitors.
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he tells the children to stay pure in their motives. as they work for peace. 35-year-old tokita has been in the hospital for the past two years. her leg was injured in the bombing, but now she has kid -- kidney trouble and frequent bouts of jaundice. her husband died of cancer, had to be due to radiation effects. her children are living in an orphanage until she can care for them, but when will that be? tell the other countries what a bomb can do, she says. tell them to work for peace. her children keep their dolls with them in the orphanage. the oldest girl, age 13, always reads her mother's letters to her younger sister.
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dear children, i hope you're well and enjoying yourselves. she is always thinking of the two days a month she can visit her mother. the little one likes to talk of the day they will live together in a house of their own. she doesn't say anything then. she understands that her mother will be too weak to work, even if she gets out of the hospital. they have many more years at this orphanage. she can look out to the inland sea, to the island. it was the largest orphanage after the war. it was founded in 1946, when a teacher noticed thousands of
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vagrant orphans hanging around the railroad station, taking part in black marketeering and prostitution. one september night, he went out with a truck and literally abducted 60 orphans at the station. when he got to the pier, he had only 43 boys left, but they were the original ones to come to boys island. only one of those boys is still on the island. sato, teaching woodworking on the left. he was 10 years old when he arrived that dramatic first night. now he's 27. sato's mother, a widow, was killed on her way to work in the building that is now the atomic dome. he became separated from his brother and sister in the confusion of the chaotic weeks. he still doesn't know if they are alive.
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he has many memories as he helps orphans do what he did as a child. his group have all gone back to hiroshima to make their way. only sato seems held to the island by ties of the past. and yet he says he feels apart from these children. they had never known the nightmares of children who have lived through an atomic blast. sato likes to climb the hill to visit 34r mo -- mr. mori's grave and report what's happening. he took off his hat on request. he asked if his hair looked all right from the back. he was really asking if it was
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long enough to hide the scars he's still so ashamed of. half of his body was burned. he forces himself to believe he had no radiation damage, but he admits the fear of it is always there. just as a city that has been burned can be rebuilt, so can a man's skin build scar tissue, but his mind cannot get rid of that fear. this has become as much an emotional condition as a physical one. over the years, sato has looked out at the mainland, how he would like to forget hiroshima. on the surface, it would be so easy to forget.
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most of its population of 450,000 is made up of outsiders who rushed in to take advantage of the frontier conditions. there was the rumor that for 75 years, trees and flowers would never grow again in hiroshima. they are growing, but in the shadow of fear that still hangs over the 90,000 survivors. fear of leukemia. fear of cancer. fear of genetic effects. fear of liver and blood diseases. the people of hiroshima walk the streets of their city carrying these fears. and every day, they pass the bank. on the front steps, there's still the shadow of the man who sought refuge there. he was caught in the bomb's explosion as if he had been photographed for posterity. a reminder that after a nuclear blast, only the shadow of man
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remains. a shadow and a stone. the crane on top of the children's monument knows all these things, but he wants people in other countries to know about hiroshima and the bomb. tell everyone to work for peace, he says. tell them to make certain there will be no more hiroshima. tell them about sudako. the children's monument. tell them to fold paper cranes together, to write peace on their wings, and they shall fly all over the world. tell them they can form their own clubs for peace, like the children of the folded crane club. that they, too, can wash away the world's ills. tell them it is up to the children of the world to sweep
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away the nuclear ashes of the past. to sweep out war, to sweep in peace. tell them on the night of august 6th, the anniversary of the bombs, to think of hiroshima. on that night, the members of the folded crane group walk with lanterns from the city and then placed them down the river to control the spirits of the children who have died. on each lantern, they write a child's name. they send them out with a
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personal prayer that they, the living, shall keep their memory alive. sometimes they lead them in a song by one of hiroshima's poets. give back my father, give back my mother. give grandpa back, grandma back. give me my son and daughter back. give me back myself. give mankind back. give us back to each other. so long this life lasts. give peace back to us. peace that will never end.
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you're watching american history tv. every weekend on c-span3, explore our nation's past. c-span3 created by america's cable companies as a public service and brought to you today by your television provider. >> weeknights this month, we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. tonight a look at uss indianapolis. on july 30th, 1945, two japanese torpedos sunk the uss indianapolis in shark infested waters. only 216 out of 300 survived.
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they were not rescued for several days. on the anniversary of the sinking congress awarded the entire crew the congressional gold medal, the highest honor. enjoy american history tv this week and every weekend on c-span3. >> we continue for you with the bombing of hiroshima, japan, that led to the end of world war ii. coming up a discussion about how filmmakers tried to document the results of the bombing before the films were confiscated for decades. you'll see portions of the films. in 1945 war department film documenting b49 fortress air campaign against japan. that's followed by a discussion about president truman's order of the use of the bomb. all part of what you'll see every weekend on american history tv here on c-span3. >> dozens of films documenting the aftermath of the


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