Flash of Light, Wall of Fire
August 30, 2021 – January 28, 2022
Briscoe Center for American History, Austin, Texas
On August 6, 1945, the United States Army Air Forces dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. A blinding flash of light was immediately followed by an enormous blast of heat and wind that destroyed almost everything within a mile radius. Three days later, the United States dropped another atomic bomb two miles north of downtown Nagasaki. By the end of 1945, 140,000 people had died in Hiroshima, a city of 330,000, while 74,000 had died in Nagasaki, a city of 260,000.
Over fifty amateur and professional Japanese photographers are known to have documented the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombings. The Anti-Nuclear Photographers’ Movement of Japan (ANPM) collected many of the surviving images, which now make up the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Photographs Archive at the Briscoe Center. These images serve as a visual record of nuclear destruction, the horrific effects of radiation exposure, and the mass suffering that ensued.
With its compelling selection of these photographs, as well as ANPM photographer Tsuneo Enari’s more recent photographs of artifacts from the bombings, Flash of Light, Wall of Fire forces us to confront the human and environmental costs of nuclear war.