The Bright Flash of Peace: Hiroshima in the World, 1945-1995
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Abstract The Bright Flash of Peace: Hiroshima in the World, 1945-1995 By Ran Zwigenberg This dissertation is a history of commemoration of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima in the context of the global development of Holocaust and WW II memory. Using the history of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park as a platform, it examines the role of architecture, psychiatry, emotions, tourism, economics and politics to trace the process by which commemoration was used to normalize and domesticate the memory of the bombing within the discursive space of the Cold War. The "bright flash of peace," as a Hiroshima journalist - oxymoronically - referred to the A-bomb on its first anniversary, was conceptualized not as a cataclysmic horror but as a rebirth and a transformation that allowed its victims to find meaning in the quest for a future world without wars. The bombing, this manuscript argues, was thought to have bequeathed Hiroshima's victims with a global mission and importance. This was synchronous with, and influenced by, a similar view of the place of the victim/witness in Holocaust discourse. This development was not least a direct consequence of the unprecedented nature of the tragedies and of the failure of conventional means to represent and explain them. Hiroshima victims and the peace movement that surrounded these were the first to publicly use and disseminate testimonies as a way of tackling the complex and pressing issues of nuclear victimization. Thus, this manuscript uses the experience of commemoration of the Holocaust and its survivors, mostly in Israel but also elsewhere in the West as well as the East, not only as a point of comparison and contrast but also as an opportunity to trace the many links that ultimately emerged between Holocaust and A-bomb discourses. It traces the convergence of these discourses, the way the survivor was eventually elevated to be the ultimate bearer of moral authority, and the consequences of this development for commemoration and politics in Japan and elsewhere.