Epilogue: Messages Left in School Building
The reinforced-concrete west school building became a relief center after the bombing. On the stairway and classroom walls were written messages, providing news about bomb victims or asking the whereabouts of others.
With the walls containing the written messages in front of him, Kikuchi no doubt imagined the people to whom those messages represented their last hopes. Even 63 years later, this single photograph helps those who view it understand what Kikuchi felt on that day; it continues to tell of the horror of the atomic bomb.
People robbed of everything by the atomic bomb had to get back up through their own determination and go on living under their own strength. Photograph the conditions as they are, and raise questions for those who view them. That was the essence of the documentary photographs to which Kikuchi earnestly devoted his life. Such works have a powerful appeal that can only be generated by the genuine truth.
Similarly, the mission of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is to tell the truth about the bombing. The museum will organize and preserve Kikuchi's treasured photographs and put them to use from time to time. In this way, those who view them years or even decades into the future can learn from the past, search their own hearts, and discover a path to follow.
As he snapped the shutter, Kikuchi believed that the A-bombed city and its victims would recover. Nevertheless, his appeal will continue to reach across time to demand the elimination of nuclear weapons.