The pacifist footprint of Sadako Sasaki

The girl Sadako Sasaki He was two years old when the gates of hell opened in Hiroshima. She lived 1.6 kilometers from the place where the atomic mushroom arose on August 6, 1945, but the shock wave from the explosion made her fly through the air, she was thrown through a blown window and fell into the street. Fujiko, her mother ran after her, sure that the little girl had died, but saw that she was still alive. Everything happened quickly, mother and daughter on the ground, witnesses of Armageddon and subjected to the black rain, the radioactive dust that poisoned everything.

As so many times before and after that ominous day, on the morning of the scorching bombardment the sentence of Bertrand Russell: “The history of the world is the sum of what would have been avoidable.” At the same time that Japan surrendered and political expediencies saved Emperor Hirohito from submitting to the judgment of the victors, the list of ‘hibakusha’ – bombarded people, their translation – grew unbridled, of those defeated with their bodies raw , mutilated, condemned to a life of endless disease and suffering.

Hospital admission

Sadako lived like any other girl of her time until January 1955, when at the age of 12 she was diagnosed with leukemia, known in Japan at that time as the atomic bomb disease, so abundant was the evidence that the incurable disease it was triggered by exposure to radiation. On February 20, she was admitted to the hospital: the disease was beginning to weaken her and her white blood cell count was six times normal in someone her age. Meanwhile, the country was reborn from its ashes with the support of the United States and atavistic traditions were diluted in a changing society, as it masterfully reflected in 1953 Yasuhiro Ozu in the movie ‘Tales from Tokyo’.

At 12 years,
He was diagnosed
a leukemia,
then in
Japan like the
of the pump

Come August, Sadako was transferred to a double room, where she coincided with Kiyo, a high school classmate two years older than her. One day, ShigeoThe girl’s father mentioned the old pious legend of the paper cranes: the gods granted a wish to those who produced a thousand cranes with the delicate and geometric art of origami, the Japanese variety of origami. From that moment on, Sadako’s diminished forces were applied to achieve the thousand cranes that were to please the gods and bring him healing. It was an enormous effort in which her high school classmates collaborated by busily folding and folding paper so that Sadako reached her goal. No one knows how many cranes came out of her hands and how many of those who helped her in her endeavor: she may only managed to give life to 644, as was said at first, but there are those who maintain that she overcame the thousand challenge, and her brother higher, MasahiroHe states in a book that produced more than a thousand pursued.

Multi-colored cranes

The gods were silent. Come October, hopes were dashed. On the 24th, her parents insisted that Sadako eat something. He ordered a rice tea, tasted it, and said, “It’s tasty.” They were his last words: on the morning of October 25, 65 years ago, he fell into eternal sleep. Sadako’s fate has fertilized the pacifist culture ever since; At the foot of his statue, in the monument erected in the Hiroshima Peace Park to the children who died as a result of the atomic bombing, it reads: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world”. And there are the multi-colored paper cranes reminiscent of Sadako.

The influence of pacifism was never noticeable before the Second World War despite the mortality caused by the first; it was never a mass movement. The 1937 film ‘The Great Illusion’, by Jean RenoirIt is a singular example of pacifist preaching in an unfavorable environment; the 1929 novel ‘Farewell to Arms’, by Ernest Hemingway, it is also like that of 1933, ‘Without novelty on the front’, by Erich Maria Note. “Peace at any price was a minority position” in the non-communist left before the war broke out, says the historian Eric Hobsbawm in ’20th Century History’, but after the devastation of the 1939-1945 period, pacifism grew everywhere with the examples of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and many other voices. Sadako’s work was quieter, less publicized, but no less useful in fighting the degrading culture of war without arms.

The Russian poet Rasul Gamzatov He was so impressed by the visit to the Hiroshima memorial and the story of Sadako Sasaki’s paper cranes that in 1969 he published the poem ‘Cranes’, which begins like this: “Sometimes I feel that those fallen soldiers, / That never came out of the bloody battle zones, / They were not buried to rot and crumble, / But turned into softly groaning white cranes.


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