Hiroshima bell tolls in Germany on anniversary

8th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

8 August 2005, HANOVER, GERMANY - A bell that was a gift from Hiroshima to its German twin city, Hanover, tolled solemnly three times Saturday morning as Germans remembered the world's first nuclear bombing.

8 August 2005

HANOVER, GERMANY - A bell that was a gift from Hiroshima to its German twin city, Hanover, tolled solemnly three times Saturday morning as Germans remembered the world's first nuclear bombing.

The bell, which hangs in the steeple of the church of St. Giles in Hanover, was rung at 8.15 a.m. to match the time of day when the U.S. bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Many residents of the city in northern Germany, which suffered heavy conventional bombing in the Second World War, took time out to pray or meditate Saturday morning.

Hanover has been twinned with Hiroshima since 1983.

Elsewhere in Germany, peace activists and church groups gathered just after midnight to remember the bombing simultaneously with ceremonies in Hiroshima, which is eight time-zones to the east. The candlelight vigils were dubbed the 'night of 100,000 candles'.

They were inspired by a Japanese tradition of lighting candles on Hiroshima day and putting them in streams to float, representing the souls of those killed by the destruction 60 years ago.

In all, more than 200 events including exhibits and discussions were organized around the country to commemorate the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings in 1945. Germany escaped Japan's fate in 1945 as it had already surrendered in May.

In Berlin, a petition in favour of nuclear disarmament was launched by 40 German peace groups. Organizers said it would be submitted to the next German government and would demand the withdrawal of all nuclear weapons from German soil.

Germany has no nuclear weapons of its own, but the nuclear-armed United States has arsenals and bases in Germany.

While the United States neither confirms nor denies the presence of nuclear weapons to its ally, scholars have said there are 150 nuclear warheads at bases in Ramstein and Buechel on Germany's western fringe.

Police in the southern city of Stuttgart said 75 people picketed the headquarters of EUCOM, the U.S. command in Europe. In Berlin, 15 Greenpeace activists erected a 6-metre-high sculpture near the U.S. embassy depicting an atomic bomb with Statue of Liberty atop it.

An estimated 70,000 of Hiroshima's 350,000 residents died instantly in the atomic bombing, vaporized by the heat and pressure that sent a mushroom cloud towering into the sky.

By December 1945, the death toll rose to about 140,000 as radiation and burns claimed more lives. Thousands continued to die over the following decades from cancers and other ailments caused by radiation, raising the death toll to over 242,000 today.

Germany was Japan's wartime ally, and its devastation by Allied bombing before the Nazi regime surrendered has left postwar Germany with a strong pacifist streak.

Germany's main Lutheran bishop, Wolfgang Huber, called on the United States, Russia and other countries finally to scrap their nuclear weapons, saying the risk of inadvertent use was "unacceptably high".

DPA

Subject: German news

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