Survivors challenge Smithsonian's Enola Gay exhibit

Date: August 24, 2003 12:55:33 PM US/Easter

Dear Friends,

The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Committee condemns this outrageous exhibit. To our knowledge our late Chair, Louise Franklin-Ramirez, addressing the Plenary of the 1993 World Conference Against Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs was the first person to publically condemn plans to memorialize this hideous symbol of mass murder when she said; "The U.S. Government has announced plans in 1995 to publicly display the "Enola Gay," the B-29 bomber used to destroy the city of Hiroshima. This callous action represents another attempt to justify the atomic bombings and the pursuit of nuclear supremacy. Organizing is now underway to block these plans through public education and civil disobedience. The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee pledges to do everything within its power to prevent this outrage and we ask for your full support."(I have pasted in the full text of her speech below)

The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee reiterates our uncompromising opposition to any exhibit of the Enola Gay which does not include a complete exhibit and examination of the consequences of the Hiroshima bombing and a discussion about the legality, ethics and morality of possessing and using nuclear weapons.

As before, we pledge to organize a program of resistance, including non-violent civil disobedience, education and protests to prevent the exhibit. Current plans call for the exhibit's opening on December 15, 2003. This leaves us little time to organize. The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee stands ready to help coordinate and implement a campaign to stop the Enola Gay exhibit.

Yours for A World without Nuclear Weapons,

John Steinbach, Secretary & Acting Chair,
Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee of the National capital Area



I am deeply honored to address you on the most serious and pressing challenge facing Humankind today ---the total abolishment of nuclear weapons--- that the sad tragedy which befell Hiroshima and Nagasaki will never be repeated. Greetings to my sisters and brothers throughout Japan and world-wide attending this Thirty Eighth Annual World Conference Against A & H Bombs. And special greetings and gratitude to the HIBAKUSHA who, as they travel the world, work tirelessly to remind us of the horrors of nuclear war. I am proud to represent Women Strike for Peace, The Gray Panthers, and The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee of the National Capital Area in a heartfelt appeal for the elimination of nuclear weapons and their components, and for a global reordering of priorities for the benefit of oppressed peoples and the children.

Women Strike for Peace initiated protests to end nuclear testing in the early 1960s which resulted in the Limited Test Ban Treaty, and we have since been working for a Comprehensive Test Ban and the total elimination of all nuclear weapons. The Gray Panthers are leaders in the struggle for social justice. Our slogan is "Age and Youth In Action" and we stress the linkage between militarism and social injustice. The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee is a grass roots coalition of Washington, D.C. area Peace, Justice, and religious groups. We organize the largest annual Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance in the U.S.A.. Children and adults of the Washington area have folded 1,000 paper cranes to carry our message of Love and Goodwill to Sadako’s Statue in Peace Park, Hiroshima.

On behalf of Women Strike for Peace, Gray Panthers and the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee, I extend warmest greetings of Peace and Solidarity to this entire magnificent Conference.

Our work here together for nuclear disarmament is crucial to the well being of our Sacred Mother Earth. Here in the Pacific Basin, we call for demilitarization and denuclearization, and especially for the elimination of U.S.A. military bases. The deplorable situation of U.S.A. nuclear weapons ships docking here in Japan, directly contravening the "Japanese Peace Constitution," must be strenuously opposed. The U.S.A. occupation of Korea must end and we support an independent, non-nuclear, and reunified Korea. We demand a Nuclear-free Pacific!

The current destabilized global political situation is extremely alarming. Although the Soviet Union no longer exists, Russia possesses tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and the emerging reactionary forces there cannot be considered allies in the disarmament movement. Meanwhile, the U.S.A. has developed a destabilizing super accurate "First Strike" nuclear force which includes Trident II, MX, Cruise Missiles, and Inter-Continental Bombers. And, the ominous threat of nuclear proliferation persists. We must work to redouble our efforts to abolish all nuclear weapons before they irreversibly poison the entire ecosystem!

We understand that the primary purpose of nuclear weapons is not "deterrence," but rather to impose economic and political control over the poor nations of the world. Among the primary victims are the indigenous people and people of color who mine the uranium, store the wastes, and suffer the nuclear tests. The result is increasing polarization, with the desperately poor majority of the world’s people demanding long overdue social justice. Money to fund the "Military/ Corporate Complex" is taken from the mouths of the children, poor mothers, and the elders. Hunger, Homelessness, lack of health-care, and a deteriorating environment are symbols, the world over, of the insane pursuit of military and nuclear supremacy. It is time to stop sacrificing our children’s future on the altar of corporate and military greed.

In just two short years we will pause to remember the fiftieth anniversary of the atomic bombings. We can and must use the occasion to link the disarmament movement globally, and to broaden our struggle to include all democratic forces opposed to economic, political, and social oppression. We look to the HIBAKUSHA and other radiation victims for leadership and guidance in formulating our themes and programs for the 1995 Remembrance Actions.

As 1995 nears, we oppose all efforts to divide the nuclear disarmament movement. We must instead begin to unite to challenge the real enemy who is continually destroying and despoiling our children’s legacy. Even in Hiroshima, divisions must still be overcome. Isn’t it finally time to insist that the Korean A-Bomb Victims Memorial be brought inside Peace Park where really it belongs?

The U.S. Government has announced plans in 1995 to publicly display the "Enola Gay," the B-29 bomber used to destroy the city of Hiroshima. This callous action represents another attempt to justify the atomic bombings and the pursuit of nuclear supremacy. Organizing is now underway to block these plans through public education and civil disobedience. The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee pledges to do everything within its power to prevent this outrage and we ask for your full support.

Sisters and brothers, in our efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons we must maintain a sense of urgency about the crucial struggle ahead. A "Comprehensive Test Ban" seems to be finally within our reach as the nuclear powers continue to maintain a nuclear test moratorium. We must use the 1995 Fiftieth Anniversary of the Atomic Bombings to mobilize broad public opinion. Let us all link hands world-wide; men and women, white and people of color, young and old, workers and academics, and form an "Anti-Nuclear Human Chain Reaction." By joining together, we shall abolish nuclear weapons and regain control of the human and natural resources stolen from our communities to fuel the "Nuclear Madness."

Nuclear weapons are at once the major obstacle to a sane and just human society, and the principal threat to life itself. With our hearts, minds and hands, working together, we keep alive the spirit of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and thus help keep our world alive. We solemnly pledge to recommit ourselves to work unceasingly to establish a just peace, to reverse the nuclear and conventional arms buildup, and to completely dismantle and destroy all nuclear weapons, that the children of the world shall be free from the threat of nuclear omnicide to share and enjoy a beneficent and bountiful future.


Contact Hiroshima/Nagasaki Peace Committee of the National Capital Area
C/O John Steinbach
7615 Lake Drive
Manassas, Virginia 22111


Enola Gay flies into new A-bomb controversy

By David Rennie in Washington and Colin Joyce inTokyo
(Filed:21/08/2003) UK Telegraph

America's most distinguished museum has been plunged into a diplomatic firestorm by plans to display the Enola Gay, the Second World War aircraft that dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima, without any mention of casualties inflicted on the ground.

The B-29 Enola Gay is prepared for public display at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum Japanese survivors have called on the Smithsonian Institution to scrap plans to display the giant B-29 Superfortress, the centrepiece of a new air and space exhibition just outsideWashington.

City officials fromHiroshima said they were also considering a formal complaint about the display, which is to focus narrowly on the technological achievement of the first A-bomb drop.

The Hiroshima Hidankyo and the Gensuikyo, the two main victims' associations, have sent an e-mail to Gen Jack Dailey, the director of the Smithsonian Air andSpace Museum, requesting that the exhibition be stopped.

The letter said: "The display rationalises the bombing and as such it is absolutely unforgivable…

"Atomic bombs massacre civilians indiscriminately and are weapons that cannot be justified in humanitarian terms. Even now, many victims continue to suffer the after-effects."

A Hidankyo spokesman said: "I cannot even bear to hear the name [Enola Gay] so this exhibition is hard to accept."

Survivors' complaints have ranged from talk of insensitivity, to claims that theUnited States is using the restored aircraft to advance an agenda of nuclear aggression.

Akito Suemune, 76, the director general of the Hiroshima Council Against Atom and Hydrogen Bombs, said: "We don't believe the display is for the purpose of technology."

He added: "The exhibition is seen as a campaign by the US authorities to support the use of atomic bombs and show off its nuclear power.

"As survivors we cannot let the exhibition go ahead."

Although the Enola Gay - which was named after the pilot's mother - arguably changed the course of history, the aircraft as a whole has not been seen in public since 1960, when it was dismantled.

Yet even hidden away in storage, the huge machine, with its 141 ft wingspan, attracted controversy.

An earlier exhibition centred on the Enola Gay in 1995 sparked political outrage, as veterans groups and the US Senate accused the exhibit of over-emphasising Japanese casualties.

Museum curators bowed to demands to stress the number of lives the A-bomb saved by bringing the Second World War to a swift end, and removed artefacts recovered from the bomb site inHiroshima.

A simple display of a section of the aircraft's fuselage lasted three years, before it too was withdrawn.

Now, after a 19-year restoration, the entire aircraft is to go on display, returned to the exact condition it was on "mission day", down to the special vacuum tubes in its radio sets.

This time, the Smithsonian has taken care to avoid passing historical judgment on the aircraft.

When the Enola Gay goes on public view in December, it will be flanked by signs giving its technical history, and a neutral recitation of its part in theHiroshima raid, and the second attack on Nagasaki when it flew a weather observation mission.

The key sentence in the museum display will read: "OnAug 6 1945, this Martin-built B-29-45-MO dropped the first atomic weapon used in combat over Hiroshima, Japan."

Peter Golkin, a Smithsonian spokesman, confirmed that the display would not mention the death toll inHiroshima, variously estimated at between 80,000 and 250,000.

"That number does not appear in the material," said Mr Golkin, adding that there would be no photographs of the devastation of the bomb site.

The museum has not yet decided whether to display the Enola Gay with its bomb bay doors in the open position or closed, officials said.

The 1995 exhibit included an 11 ft model of Little Boy, the weapon dropped onHiroshima.

Gen Dailey said the new display "delivers the facts and allows people to understand these facts within the context of their own beliefs".