Newly discovered photographs depict Nagasaki one day after the bomb
These newly discovered images, which went on sale at Bonhams in New York last week, depict Nagasaki one day after the fateful dropping of an atomic bomb over it and Hiroshima. They were taken by renowned military photographer Yosuke Yamahata.
When the bomb was dropped on the 9th of August, 1945, Yamahata was actually on an assignment near Nagasaki. As soon as he heard the news, he hopped on a train with a writer and painter to go document the devastated city.
Having been instructed to document the destruction for military propaganda purposes, he worked from throughout the day, taking a large number of images using two different cameras.
Unknown to Yamahata at the time, one of the cameras had a faulty shutter device - the images to be auctioned are thought to include 12 taken from the original negatives of this defective camera.
Yamahata’s photographs, which to this day remain the most complete record of the atomic bomb attack, appeared in Mainichi Shimbun on 21 August. After the appearance, they were seized upon the arrival of American forces under a strict censorship policy, though Yamahata managed to hide the negatives in time.
The images were later found in a photo album confiscated by an American military policeman from a citizen in Osaka at the end of the Second World War.
Yamahata died from cancer in 1966, aged just 48. His illness is believed to have been caused by his exposure to radiation at Nagasaki.
His memory lives on in his photos however. In 1952 he wrote: “Human memory has a tendency to slip, and critical judgment to fade, with the years and with changes in life-style and circumstance. But the camera, just as it seized the grim realities of that time, brings the stark facts of seven years ago before our eyes without the need for the slightest embellishment.
Today, with the remarkable recovery made by both Nagasaki and Hiroshima, it may be difficult to recall the past, but these photographs will continue to provide us with an unwavering testimony to the realities of that time.”
To view and learn more about these though provoking images, visit the Bonhams website.