In 1945, at the end of World War II, almost all the cities in Japan were being attacked by U.S. air raids. The Japanese government formed the Volunteer Citizen Corps, an organization intended to mobilize citizens, in preparation for possible battles with the invading Allies on the soil of Japan. In Hiroshima, the volunteer citizen corps had been formed by community or by workplace and mobilized to demolish buildings for firebreaks to stop the spread of fires.
On August 6, the day of the bombing, the building demolition was underway in the heart of the city. Tens of thousands of corps members mobilized from Hiroshima City and from neighboring towns and villages were all exposed to the bomb. Building demolition, an effort to minimize damage from air raids, actually increased A-bomb casualties. Those who entered the city immediately after the bombing to search desperately for corps members were also affected by the residual radiation.
We have worked hard to find materials relevant to the special exhibition on the volunteer citizen corps. However, it was very difficult to get a complete picture of the impact on the corps, the numbers mobilized on that day, and how the corps were formed because so few records remain. Nevertheless, through the scant remaining records obtained from town, village and company offices as well as memoirs of the bereaved families, we present here the damage suffered by the volunteer citizen corps, the sorrow of those left behind, and some stories of the hardship they endured after the A-bombing.