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tv   Reel America A Thousand Cranes - The Children of Hiroshima - 1962  CSPAN  August 15, 2020 8:31am-8:56am EDT

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to these cities and their citizens. next on "reel america," "1000 a thousand cranes: the children of hiroshima." american betty jean lifton was inspired to make this film after going there and learning that cancer from radiation was continuing to affect atomic bomb survivors and their children. the film documents the origins of hiroshima peace park and tell us the story of how handmade paper cranes became a symbol of peace and remembrance for the victims of the august 6, 1945 atomic bombing of the city. ♪
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betty jean: in japan, there is an old belief that a crane can live for 1000 years. if you fold 1000 paper cranes, they will protect you from illness. after the bomb fell on a hiroshima, august 6, 1945, the people folded paper cranes. ♪ today in hiroshima, men, women, and children are still folding paper cranes. 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?
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these children look like children anywhere. but the park they are playing in is called the peace park, and the monument behind them is the center 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 the sky and destroyed the city in its flaming heat. while children play in the front of the peace museum, which bears grim testimony of what the bomb did to the first city that experienced it. when they walk home from school to the park, the children can see the atomic dome in the distance.
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it was once the industrial exhibition hall. now it is the only shell left standing from the atomic blast. but all children make their way to the children's monument in the park. it was erected after the death of sadako sasaki, who died from leukemia at the age of 12, 10 years after the bomb fell. now children bring paper cranes as offerings to the monument. this young woman was a friend of sadako's. they would have been the same age if sadako had lived. but sadako has already become a legend in japan. she is the anne frank of hiroshima, remembered for her tragic death from radiation effects. she was just one of hundreds of people to suffer such a fate.
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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 sadako sasaki? she might have been just an old girl, gossiping on the river bank, if she had lived. she was just two years old when the bomb fell, a mile from her home. uninjured. she was the fastest runner in her sixth grade class and go swimming, when suddenly she developed the signs of leukemia. she laughed and sang bravely when her classmates came to visit her in the hospital. and she folded paper cranes. she wanted to make 1000, but she reached only 964 when she died. no more summer hiking, no more swimming.
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and then, as if the death of sadako symbolized all of theirs, the children of hiroshima rose up together to do something about it. they raised 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 seems like such a normal scene, but the teacher reports on her days off to the hospital for blood transfusions. round and round, the terrible memory of that day of the bombs must still go in her head. but she tells the children
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nothing. the crane knows that this popular teacher has anemia. like sadako, she was at home, a little over a mile from the explosion and uninjured. when she was in the sixth grade, her gums begin to bleed, but the symptoms went away. in the third grade of junior high school, she became weak and was diagnosed with anemia. for the past five years, she has been in and out of hospitals. she does not talk about the past. her father was wounded in the post office when the bomb fell 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
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not like to marry the survivors. they consider them tainted. they want women in the family who will produce healthy children. other people's children may be all yuki will have in her uncertain life. the crane also watches down over this little girl. three years ago, her mother suddenly became ill, and then she died of leukemia, a word she did not understand. this is her picture, taken just before she died at the age of 27. and this is the buddhist altar 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.
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♪ doctors do not know if this illness was inherited. this is kimiko. 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. kimiko was born three years after the war. her dearest dream was to have an organ that her family saved to get her. she said she often thinks about her brother when she plays. kimiko's brother entered the city a week after the bomb fell.
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he ate canned goods from an exposed army supply depot. after that, he was never well. no one diagnosed radiation effects on him, the symptoms of leukemia. the doctor said it might have been from the exposed canned food. kimiko's mother, who also ate the food, is weak. usually weak. weakness is one of the symptoms most survivors seem to have. but her body is also swollen, and she complains of internal pain. kimiko likes to make things with her mother in memory of her brother. if only his suffering is not in vain, she says. paper cranes. "i shall write peace on your
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wings, and you shall fly all over the world." ♪ kimiko has joined a group of hiroshima children dedicated to peace. they call themselves the folded crane club. until recently, a light has been shed behind the atomic home. it belongs to a day laborer and his wife, both bomb survivors. the folded crane club. some men are meant to be the conscious of their time. each one wearing a white hat is one of them. he's like a pied piper to the children of hiroshima. the tune he plays is that everyone must work for peace in the world.
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each week, he and the children read a newspaper on their peace activities for the survivors in the hospital. they also write letters to the heads of states and to the united nations, pleading for universal disarmament. she earned some money selling. she and ichiro met in a bible class, where they struggled to find some meaning in the disaster that came to that city. her leg was permanently crippled when the impact of the blast left her unconscious outside her home. like kimiko's mother, she also feels weak. although they love children, 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. ♪
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he 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 family have nothing for themselves. ragged bedding, scrap books on the folded crane club, sadako's school picture. portraits of other children who have died since the war. this dark, unheeded check which
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each built out of the rubble of their cities has become the children's spiritual home. and always, the atomic dome is their backdrop, their reminder of what a city looks like after a nuclear attack. are the survivors of a nuclear attack luckier than the dead? the atomic bomb hospital is still filled with survivors needing checkups or treatments. the children of the folded crane club come here regularly to read distribute their newspapers. 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 in an instant, like it wipes out of the city.
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a city. to these children, a hospital is a familiar place. ♪ mr. miyamoto is stationed in 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. he tells the children to stay pure in their motives, as they work for peace.
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this 35-year-old has been in the hospital for the past two years. her leg was injured in the bombing, but now she has kidney troubles and frequent bouts of jaundice. her husband died of cancer, said to be due to the radiation effects. her children are living in an orphanage until she can care for them. but when will that be? tell mothers in other countries what a bomb can do, she says. "tell them to work for peace." this is the children in the orphanage. the oldest girl, aged 13, always reads their mother's letters to the younger sister. "dear children, i hope you are well and enjoying yourselves." she is always thinking of the two days a month she can visit her mother.
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the little one likes to talk of a day they will live together in a house of their own. machiko doesn't say anything then. she understands that her mother will be too weak to work, even if she gets out of the hospital. but they have many more years at this orphanage. ♪ machiko can look out to the inland sea, to the island of hiroshima. otherwise known as boar's island. it was the largest orphanage after the war. it was founded in 1946 when a teacher noticed thousands of vagrant orphans were hanging along the railroad station, taking part in racketeering and prostitution. one september 9, he went out
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with a truck and literally abducted 60 orphans at the station. he had only 43 boys left, but they were the original ones to come to the boar's 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 is 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 those chaotic weeks. he still does not know if they are alive. ♪ after as many memories he hopes these orphans do what he did as
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a child. his group have all gone back to hiroshima to make their way. only sato seems held at the island by ties of the past. and yet he says he feels apart from these children. they have never known the nightmares of children who have lived through an atomic blast. ♪ sato likes to climb the hill to visit the grave and report what is happening. he took off his hat on request and asked if his hair looked all right from the back. he was really asking if it was long enough to hide the scars he is still so ashamed of. half of his body was burned. he forces himself to believe he has no radiation damage.
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but even if he takes care of it, it's always there. just as a city that has been burned can be rebuilt, so could a man's skin build scar tissue, but his mind cannot get rid of that fear. the disease 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. most of its population of 450,000 is made up of outsiders who rushed in to take advantage of the frontier conditions. that was the rumor that for 75 years, trees and flowers would never grow again in hiroshima.
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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 damages. the people of hiroshima walk the streets of their city carrying these fears. and every day they pass this bank. on the front steps, there is still the shadow of a man who sought refuge there. in the light of the bomb's explosion, the city had been photographed for posterity. a reminder that after a nuclear blast, only the shadow of man remains. a shadow in the storm. the crane on top of the children's monument knows all these things. but he wants people in other
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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 hiroshimas. tell them about sadako and our 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, as 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 away the nuclear ashes of the past. to sleep in peace."
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♪ "tell them, on the night of august 6, the anniversary of the bomb, to think of hiroshima." on that night, the members of the folded crane club walk with lanterns through the city. and they place them down the river to console the spirits of the children who have died. ♪ on each lantern, they write a child's name. they send them out with a personal prayer that they, the living, shall keep their memory alive. and sometimes she leads them in a song she wrote. "give back my father. give back my mother.
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give grandpa back. grandma back. give me my sons and daughters back. give me back my friends. give mankind back. give each back to each other. so long as this life lasts, give peace back to us. a peace that will never end." ♪ [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] ♪
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>> this is american history tv, featuring events, interviews, archival films, and visits to college classrooms, >> u.s. navy veteran harlan twible recounts being a young officer on the uss indianapolis after it was sunk in shark-infested waters by two japanese torpedoes. the crew had just delivered atomic bomb parts to tinian island for the weapon that would be used on the city of the hiroshima. surviving crew members, only 317 out of 1196, were not rescued for several days. the national world war ii museum recorded this interview. harlan: i was born in gilbertville, massachusetts, march 10, 1922.


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