The Silent Witness
Kunhardt Film Foundation Presents An Interview Archive Original: The Silent Witness, a documentary about Tomiko Morimoto West’s experience as a 13 year old girl in Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945, the day the first atomic bomb dropped. West, now a 91 year old woman, didn’t talk about her memories from that time for many years, but now shares her story because she believes it will help people. West was working at a printing shop helping with the Japanese war effort when she saw a B-29 flying over the factory. When the nuclear bomb dropped she said there was no sound, just a white flash. She thought she was going to die in that instant, but believes the wall she was standing behind saved her life. She survived by escaping to a mountain cave. In the days that followed, she searched for her family who had all died as she witnessed the atrocities of nuclear war. West hesitantly says the experience made a better person out of her and that it gave her an appreciation for life.
The Discussion and Education Guide is a resource to use when screening the documentary short The Silent Witness in communities and classrooms. Tomiko Morimoto West’s compelling personal narrative can be an accessible entry point to discussing difficult topics such as the tragedy, trauma, loss and legacy of war, as well as resilience and the interplay of history, ethics, and storytelling. An educational roadmap is also included with suggestions of ways secondary teachers can incorporate The Silent Witness into secondary ELA, History, or other humanities-based courses.