Leslie Sussan & “Hiroshima, My Father, and Me”
Venue: Essor Hiroshima Room 1･2
In 1946, with the war over and Japan occupied, 2nd Lt. Herbert Sussan received a plum assignment. He would get to use his training as a cinematographer and join a Strategic Bombing Survey crew to record the results of the atomic bombings in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. From his first arrival in Nagasaki, he knew that something novel and appalling had happened and that he had to preserve a record of the results, especially the ongoing suffering of those affected by the bomb (known as hibakusha) even months later. When the U.S. government decided that the gruesome footage would not be “of interest” to the American public and therefore classified it top secret, he spent decades arguing for its release.
His last wish was that his ashes be scattered at ground zero in Hiroshima. The author, his daughter, followed his footsteps in 1987, meeting survivors he had filmed more than 40 years before. And on that journey she found a father she had never really known in life.
This book recounts Herbert Sussan’s experiences (drawn directly from an oral history he left behind), his daughter’s quest to understand what he saw in Japan, and the
stories of survivors whose lives touched both father and daughter.
Leslie A. Sussan was born and raised in Manhattan, and now lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her daughter Kendra and their cat, Neko-chan. Over a long career as an attorney, she litigated for the U.S. Department of Justice, represented migrant farmworkers and abused children, and has now retired after fifteen years as an administrative appellate judge. She attends Bethesda Friends Meeting. She and Kendra lived in Hiroshima for a year in 1987-88.
At Saturday’s Friendship Hour, former Directors Barb and Dannie shared about their travels from 2019 to 2020, adventuring through Russia, the Baltic States, Palestine and Israel, and Europe, then finally back to their home in Indiana.
In addition to seeing beautiful places and visiting friends, they learned more of the history of Auschwitz, the Gaza Strip, the Mostar Bridge, and the home and grave of author and philosopher Leo Tolstoy.
After their presentation was Q&A and time for open conversation. Through this time of sharing, attendees had the chance to reflect on war and the pursuit of peace.
Thank you to everyone who attended!