It was kind of awesome to
be there, are the words Joseph Mrosko of Pana used to
describe his tour of duty in Nagasaki, Japan at the end of
World War II. Mroskos job was to photographically record
the results of the second atomic blast directed on the Japanese.
Today, August 9, marks the 39th anniversary of the Nagasaki
of a well-established photographic studio in Pana, Mrosko,
59, had been a 2nd Marine Division combat photographer in
the Pacific theater before being sent to Nagasaki within two
months of the Japanese surrender.
went to Nagasaki in 1945 to photograph all the damage done
by the atomic bomb. Our work was to walk the city, block by
block, taking pictures from ground zero to the outer edge
of the city to show the destruction.
had a team of one movie camera man, a reporter, a Japanese
interpreter and myself as the still photographer.
said he took hundreds of pictures for Marine Corps
Intelligence and was able to save a few for himself as shown
on these pages.
because of the passed time or a seeming desire to forget,
Mrosko could not specifically identify the date or locations
of his subjects. His Nagasaki collection of at least 13 black
and white photographs is included in a war photo album. They
are not singled out or set aside from his other photographs.
pictures in this issue attempt to show the widest view of
the areas affected. Note that some buildings remain conspicuously
intact, especially in the photo of the roofless cathedral.
to what may be a popular belief, Mrosko said all of Nagasaki
was not destroyed in the blast: You think of Nagasaki
as obliterated, but it wasnt. In fact, Mrosko
said his average routine included photography work during
the day and staying away from Marine M.P.s while running
around at night.
also became acquainted and made friends with some of the Japanese.
Mrosko had by then learned the Japanese language from an interpreter.
The Japanese were great. No ill feelings or problems
also found no signs of the derogatory or sinister Japanese
caricatured in the propaganda of the times. It was kind
of surprising. Theyre no different than any other people
in small towns.
cooperation by the Japanese was excellent. No Marines were
sent with us for protection to avoid any hostility,
Mrosko noted of his stay in Nagasaki and other areas in Japan.
to say exactly when he arrived in Nagasaki, Mrosko was able
to determine from a dated picture that his stay was between
the August 9 bombing and the end of October that year. Mrosko
said he saw no corpses in the city or wounded walking the
streets. Mass burnings of the dead were in fact ordered by
government officials shortly after the blast. But some accounts
have stated there were uncovered dead for up to a month afterwards.
one time during his block by block photo survey, Mrosko said
he came to the shell of a building in a completely demolished
area. While kicking through the rubble inside, he noticed
some gold tooth caps. There was no body or skeleton in sight.
said neither he nor the other Marines were then worried with
the possible side effects posed by exposure to the blast area.
At the time, we werent concerned about possibilities
of radiation since our knowledge then was very limited. I
(have) had no contact with any of the Marines in Nagasaki
so I dont know if any of them suffered any radiation
sickness over the years.
20 years old, Mrosko said he could not recall as much about
Nagasaki as he would like because he did not pay much attention
to details. We were young. You pulled out and thats
it. Go on to the next assignment.
completing our work in Japan (Mrosko also photographed
the coast line installations of Kyushu where the US invasion
was planned) we flew into China to record the war between
the Nationalist and Communist Chinese until I was discharged
in May 1946.
devastating were the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings
on August 6 and 9, 1945 that Japan surrendered three days
later and effectively ended World War II.
recently returned from a trip to Germany, Mrosko said he likes
to travel, but has no desire to ever revisit Nagasaki or Japan.
During the interview he said, I didnt want to
remember. I think I wiped it from my mind.
in Pana-News Palladium (Pana, IL), August 9, 1984.
Photo by Joseph Mrosko.