Seventy-five years ago, on August 6, 1945, the United States unleashed a terrifying new weapon as the new atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, followed by another in Nagasaki three days later. An estimated 200,000 people were killed, and others who survived the bombings dealth with the effects for years afterward -some for the rest of their lives. Many suffered in silence, as they were victims of discrimination in postwar Japan, only opening up about their experiences recently, in their old age, for projects like the 1945 Project and The Last Survivors of Hiroshima. Taeko Teramae is one such hibakusha.
Hiroshima survivor Taeko Teramae didn’t realize the full extent of her injuries until her younger brothers started making fun of her appearance. Confused, the 15-year-old asked her parents for a mirror—a request they denied, leading her to surreptitiously track one down on a day they’d left the house.
“I was so surprised I found my left eye looked just like a pomegranate, and I also found cuts on my right eye and on my nose and on my lower jaw,” she recalled. “It was horrible. I was very shocked to find myself looking like a monster.”
Nine people who agreed to be a part of these projects tell their stories of surviving Hirshima's and Nagasaki's bombings at Smithsonian. Warning: these accounts are disturbing and sometimes graphic.