Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has just visited the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima, and has immediately come away calling for an end to nuclear armament. I can well understand his feelings - the Hiroshima memorials had exactly the same effect on me when I visited there some years ago. The stark evidence of mass destruction and loss of human life are almost too horrific to comprehend, and the fact that some countries might be still prepared to visit such a holocaust on others today doesn't speak too highly of our ability to learn from our past.
Did it shorten the war? Almost certainly. Was it justifiable to kill so many civilians to achieve that end? I was born after the war, and I can't answer that question. Was it immoral? Yes, in my opinion. Lots of immoral things happen during wars, and being the "winner" doesn't make your acts any more moral than if you "lost". We all lost.
Many of the places that I have been to and photographed have touched me - Stonehenge, Macchu Picchu, the Great Wall of China. But Hiroshima touched me in a way that no other place has. Not even the Bridge on the River Quai, that I have written about before. Perhaps it is the total devastation of the place that resulted in such indiscriminate loss of life, but I found Hiroshima to be absolutely chilling.
It can't ever happen again.