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Item 395 - World War II: Hiroshima and Nagasaki Catalog 589 (Aug 2020)

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Minimum Bid: $500.00
Sold Price: $5,120.00 (includes buyer's premium)


Significant collection of 167 first generation glossy photos documenting the destruction of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the climactic stages of World War II, ranging in size from 4.25 x 2.25 to 7.5 x 5.5 (majority measure approximately 6 x 4), with many of the images matching with those taken by Japanese photographer Yōsuke Yamahata, and others deriving from the collection of an American military photographer stationed in Osaka. A large segment of the photos included herewith show the devastating aftermath of the ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’ nuclear bombs released by the Enola Gay and Bockscar Superfortress bombers on August 6 and August 9, 1945. The photos are comprised of aerial and ground-level perspectives that offer harrowing images of the fallen Japanese cities, with the majority focusing on the ruined landscape, mangled infrastructure, and vast stretches of debris and rubble, with several photos depicting graphic images of Japanese survivors and the deceased. Among the archive is a large number of prewar and postwar photos of varying subjects, including: soldier and boat parades, food lines, General Dwight D. Eisenhower and staff, shots of Mount Fuji, and numerous images of Japanese streets, architecture, and civilians. The reverse of many photos are annotated with either “Nag,” “Hir,” “Osaka before war,” or “Osaka after war.” In overall fine condition, with a few scattered bends and short tears.

Yamahata's photographs, of which he took a total of 119 on August 10, 1945, are the only extensive photographic record of the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing of either Hiroshima or Nagasaki; he had some of them published in the August 21, 1945, issue of Mainichi Shinbun. General MacArthur and the American military soon occupied Japan, imposing strict censorship on any reporting or publishing of images of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, with orders to seize and destroy any evidence found, which would have included Yamahata's photographs. After the occupation forces left Japan, Yamahata was able to publish ‘Atomized Nagasaki’ and some of his photographs appeared in the September 29, 1952 issue of Life Magazine. However, soon after the publication of this book, Yamahata became disillusioned by the peace groups that were using his photographs for their own propaganda purposes and, for the most part, withdrew his images from circulation. It was not until 1995 that they reemerged when a controversial Smithsonian exhibition of the photographs, named ‘Nagasaki Journey,’ was scheduled and subsequently cancelled. Yamahata's photographs of Nagasaki remain the most complete record of the atomic bombing as seen immediately after the bombing, and the New York Times has called his photographs 'some of the most powerful images ever made.'

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