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Hiroshima museum receives A-bomb-related materials from descendants of Allied troops

A boy carries a tub in the post A-bombing ruins of Hiroshima. The photo was taken by Grover Edwin Hall sometime around the fall of 1945. (Photo provided by John Joseph Hall)

HIROSHIMA -- The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum has been receiving donations of materials, including photographs capturing Hiroshima in the aftermath of the 1945 atomic bombing, from the children and grandchildren of mostly Allied troops stationed in the city after Japan's surrender.

Gary Opdahl, 68, from Arizona sent roughly 40 pictures to the museum this past January. The photos had been taken by his late father Harlyn, a former military policeman, and include scenes from 1945 and 1946 such as a local woman passing by three other MPs, and a crowded square in front of Hiroshima Station. Along with the photo negatives, a letter Harlyn wrote to his wife was discovered, in which he said that the pictures accurately depicted the city in ruins.

A woman and U.S. military police officers are seen on a Hiroshima street in this photo taken in late 1945 by Harlyn Opdahl. (Photo provided by Gary Opdahl)

Gary says he was fascinated not by the bombed city, but by people who led their lives in the ruins. He also said that, in any war, the suffering of instantly losing one's family was beyond his imagination, adding that he wants to visit the Hiroshima museum someday.

Meanwhile, 48-year-old John Joseph Hall of Ohio, a grandson of former embedded photographer's assistant Grover Edwin Hall, who was in Hiroshima in fall of 1945, also donated some 30 digitized photos to the museum in January this year. The photos included one of a boy carrying a tub on his head while walking down a thoroughfare, and another of a mother walking through the ruins with a baby on her back.

Grover did not tell his children or grandchildren anything about Hiroshima before he passed away. John says dropping atomic bombs is not something to be proud of, but believes that information about it should be shared so subsequent generations can learn about the pain inflicted by the weapons.

A crowded square in front of Hiroshima Station is seen in this photo taken in late 1945 by Harlyn Opdahl. (Photo provided by Gary Opdahl)

Since fiscal 2007, there have been 52 cases of atomic bombing-related donations to the museum, mostly from former Allied nations such as the United States, Britain and Australia. In 2011, the wife of late U.S. Senator and U.S. Navy veteran Mark Hatfield sent porcelain items he found in the ruins of Hiroshima.

A curator at the museum appreciates the donations, saying that some of the photos "show common people in the streets, and that's something that is rarely found in official military documents."

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