JUST SIX WEEKS after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki triggered the end of World War II, Australian newspaper reporter Lorraine Stumm was in a small party of journalists taken by airplane over the destroyed Japanese cities. Like other Western journalists in Japan, Stumm had written of her pleasure at seeing signs of the Allies’ supremacy and of Japanese weakness and inferiority, and she was keen to witness the processes of war. But the flight had an unexpectedly traumatic impact on her. In her memoir I Saw Too Much (The Write On Group, 2000), Stumm recalled that she had ‘expected the rubble and the devastation’, but had been unprepared for the horror of seeing ‘the piles of bodies, clearly recognisable’. American reporter Gwen Dew of the Detroit News was also shocked into silence: ‘Never could you imagine such death, such fearful death… I literally could not speak for days.’ The desolate scenes haunted Stumm for decades. In 1989, she told ABC radio producer Sharon Davis:
It was just a vast wilderness with heaps of rubble here and there – absolutely devastated. Dreadful sight… And we just couldn’t believe that one bomb could possibly do so much terrible damage. It was as if you’d just wiped it out with a huge hand – wiped everything out in sight. Shocking thing. When I came back I wrote that it was the most terrible disaster the world had ever faced and who knew what the after-effects would be.
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