Jan Letzel, Czech architect who built Hiroshima's "A-Bomb Dome"
The people of Hiroshima gathered on Tuesday to mark the 57th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb. The bomb killed 140,000 Japanese civilians, and turned the city into a blackened wasteland. Pictures of that wasteland show just a single building left standing, the famous "A-Bomb Dome", now the centrepiece of Hiroshima's Peace Park. But less well known is that one of the world's most famous buildings was the work of a Czech architect, who spent much of his life in Japan. Rob Cameron has more.
"The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans."
President Truman announces to the American people that an atomic bomb has been dropped on the city of Hiroshima. Survivors of the bomb called it "pika-don" - "pika" meaning a bright flash of light, "don" to represent the tremendous sound of the explosion. The bomb flattened every building in the city centre except one. The Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, designed and built by the Czech architect Jan Letzel, was left standing - something of an irony, because the bomb exploded almost directly overhead.
Jan Letzer himself never lived to see the transformation of his Industrial Promotion Hall into the A-Bomb Dome. The architect left Japan in 1923 in the wake of the Great Kanto Earthquake, and returned home to Czechoslovakia. Suffering from ill health, he died on December 26th 1925, at the age of 45.