Letter from Japan the day WWII ended

The International Center of Photography currently has an exhibit of Hiroshima photographs that were nearly lost, reminding me of a letter that my grandfather, then in the Navy, sent to my grandmother from Japan on 15 August 1945, the day that World War II ended.  The joy of that moment was tempered by distance and long service away from home and, as is apparent in the second paragraph, the reality of the devastation that came en route to victory.  The destroyed city my grandfather visited is not named, presumably to avoid censorship, but it is almost certainly not Hiroshima or Nagasaki as the peacetime population figure of 60,000 that he cites is too small and the implication is that the city was destroyed closer to four months ago than the previous week.  Still, where once modern and substantial structures stood, he writes, “there is nothing.”  He mentions photographs he took but, like the ICP’s Hiroshima photographs for many years, they may still exist but have not been found.



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