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Building Demolition Amplified the Tragedy
Building demolition at this time meant taking down buildings to create a fire lane to prevent the spreading of fires in the event of an air raid. On August 6, 1945, thousands of students were sent out for a large-scale building demolition project designed to clear a fire lane dividing the city north and south where Peace Boulevard is today. Because the students in the upper level of national schools and first- and second-year students in secondary school were helping to pull down buildings-outdoors and in the city center-the atomic bomb carried them off in vast numbers. On August 6, approximately 26,800 students were mobilized from schools in Hiroshima City, and 7,200 fell victim to the atomic bomb. Of these 82% were working on building demolition.

Phase 1
Late 1944
Phase 2
February-March 1945
Phase 3
Beginning March 21, 1945
Phase 4
May 1945
Phase 5
June-July 1945
Phase 6
Beginning July 23, 1945
17/Firefighting practice for air raids
About 1940
Courtesy of Michiru Tanaka
The Air Defense Law passed in 1937 created air defense organizations for every neighborhood, factory, and government agency. Special evacuations, bucket brigades, and other firefighting drills became routine. Also in preparation for air raids, buildings in certain areas were demolished.

18/Building Demolition in Hiroshima City
In accordance with a notice issued by Hiroshima Prefecture in November, 1944, Hiroshima City began demolishing buildings. Six phases of demolition were carried out from late 1944 through August 1945. The sixth phase mobilized a large number of groups from the Special District Guard Corps, units of Community and Workplace Volunteer Citizens Corps, and the Student Corps (mobilized students). All these groups were at work bringing down buildings when the atomic bomb dropped.
Source: "Urban Formation and Changes in Urban Landscape-One Century in Hiroshima," Hiroshima Municipal Archives Bulletin Volume 13, Hiroshima Municipal Archives, 1990

19/Newspaper article revealing confusion caused by building demolition

April 4, 1945 Chugoku Shimbun
Courtesy of Chugoku Shimbunsha
Forced building demolitions went badly. For the residents in targeted areas, demolition meant losing their beloved homes. Furthermore, too few vehicles and workers were provided to move belongings and clear away several houses at a time. Thus, the projects led to great turmoil.
Sunday, June 3 Weather: sunny
Today we had to clean the roads, even though it was Sunday. We carried off roof tiles and pieces of wood to clear off the roadway. I borrowed a shovel from someone and shoveled sand into a rope basket. While I was digging, the shovel hit a big brick. It took Nishio-san, Yamada-san and me working together to wrestle that brick out.

21/Building demolition
About 1945 Near Takeya-cho (Fujimi-cho)
Drawing by Yoshio Hamada
After removing the shoji paper doors and roof tiles, soldiers and Volunteer Corps would saw through the first-floor pillars. Then they would attach a rope to the beam under the roof and pull the building over.
20/Diary of Nobuko Oshita of first-year students at First Hiroshima Prefectural Girl's High School
Courtesy of Yoko Fukumori

22/Students cleaning up a site where a house was torn down
Drawing by Shigeo Nishimura
Source: Hiroshima-A Tragedy Never to Be Repeated, Fukuinkan Shoten Publishers
After houses were pulled over, it was the mobilized students' job to clean them up. Here they are transporting roof tiles by passing them down the line.

  Mobilized Students
-The Lost Tomorrows of the Students-

 Schools Stained the Color of War
 The Start of Student Mobilization
 Building Demolition Amplified the Tragedy
 The Suffering of Mobilized Students
 Looking for Children
 Reopening in the Burnt Ruins
 Monuments to the Students

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