May 19, 2011

The Hiroshima Files

This Sunday's NYT Magazine will publish for the first time AFAIK some of the pictures of Hiroshima taken by the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey.

Picture #1 I have seen before. But none of the rest.

Two months after an atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey commissioned by President Harry S. Truman began to study the extensive structural damage done to the city, from the reinforced-concrete buildings at its center to the traditional wooden ones on its outskirts. Truman’s goal was to collect information that would help U.S. architects and civil engineers design structures able to withstand a nuclear attack. The secretive report included 700 images of Hiroshima. Robert L. Corsbie, executive officer of the Physical Damage Division, which conducted the survey, kept the prints until his death, in 1967; their odyssey afterward included being rescued by a neighbor from the curb after being put out with the trash, eventually ending up at the International Center of Photography in New York in 2006. On May 20, the center is opening a three-month exhibition of the work. The government’s caption to slide No. 4 (above) refers to ‘‘air zero,’’ the site of the blast, and says, ‘‘Shows partly burned coat of boy who was in open near City Hall (Building 28) 3,800 feet from AZ.’’  [NYT]

"At the instant it happened, the pale Virgin was rising in the east, head, shoulders, breasts, 17° 36' down to her maidenhead at the horizon. A few doomed Japanese knew of her as some Western deity. She loomed in the eastern sky gazing down at the city about to be sacrificed. The sun was in Leo. The fireburst came roaring and sovereign...."  [Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow. pp.707-708]

No comments: