A survivor of the 1945 atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima and a man who fought to rid the world of nuclear weapons in the decades that followed has died. He was 96.
Carl Goosens, who survived being blown 50 feet away by the blast, died Friday, his family said.
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Goosens was living in Stuttgart, Germany, when he heard about the bombing of Hiroshima. He was driving home when he saw Japanese civilians running through the streets after the bombing. He traveled to Japan just days after the bombing to help the victims.
“I could not believe that over 400 people had been killed, most of them by the blast,” Goosens, a retired writer and organizer who helped found the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, said in a 1995 interview. “But, of course, I knew that hundreds of thousands of people had died.”
He helped found the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a United Nations-sponsored campaign to persuade countries to end their nuclear weapons programs. The worldwide campaign won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995.
The bomb was dropped on Hiroshima by the U.S. Air Force on Aug. 6, 1945, at an altitude of 1,000 feet. Nearly 140,000 people died in the first three days, and hundreds of thousands more were killed or injured. A second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. About 200,000 people died in the two initial attacks, and tens of thousands more died from radiation exposure.
Goosens said the bomb might have spared his life if he had stopped to smell the smoke from the blast. Otherwise, he said, the explosion probably would have been powerful enough to blow him into the sky.
Goosens recalled not knowing how to make it out of the room he had been hiding in to make sure he would be protected from the blast. Once outside, he saw cadavers of his family and two other siblings. He never saw his parents again.
The massive blast blew away his house. When he stood up after the attack, he said, he felt like he had only lost parts of his body. He had no sense of direction, and had to walk to his feet, he recalled.
“All I can remember is a great sense of agony, of dying,” he said.
He said he heard reports of people dead on the streets and babies having no food, water or clothing. He said he helped hand out food to victims of the bombing. The next time he saw the cadavers was in a morgue.
He said he was given 2,400 shilling bills by the Red Cross and workers in the motor plant that had been bombed.
Goosens is survived by his wife, Florence, who has lived with him since 1989, his daughter, Eva, and a grandson.
Fox News’ Alex Guillén contributed to this report.