World

WWII memory: Girl survived Tokyo firebombing thanks to others who piled on top of her and died

  • In this Feb. 11 2015 photo, Haruyo Nihei speaks next to a painting depicting a pile of victims of Tokyo Firebombing at the Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage. Nihei was only 8-years-old when the biggest attack of the war, the firebombing of central Tokyo, killed over 100,000 people and left hundreds of thousands more homeless. She fled with her family and watched as many others were burned alive. As the flames swept over her, she was sheltered by her father and many others who piled on top of them who suffocated or burned to death. (AP Photo/Mari Yamaguchi)

    In this Feb. 11 2015 photo, Haruyo Nihei speaks next to a painting depicting a pile of victims of Tokyo Firebombing at the Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage. Nihei was only 8-years-old when the biggest attack of the war, the firebombing of central Tokyo, killed over 100,000 people and left hundreds of thousands more homeless. She fled with her family and watched as many others were burned alive. As the flames swept over her, she was sheltered by her father and many others who piled on top of them who suffocated or burned to death. (AP Photo/Mari Yamaguchi)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this March 1, 2015 photo, Haruyo Nihei speaks at a room depicting the situation at that time of WWII under the blackout order at the Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage. Nihei was only 8-years-old when the biggest attack of the war, the firebombing of central Tokyo, killed over 100,000 people and left hundreds of thousands more homeless. She fled with her family and watched as many others were burned alive. As the flames swept over her, she was sheltered by her father and many others who piled on top of them who suffocated or burned to death.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

    In this March 1, 2015 photo, Haruyo Nihei speaks at a room depicting the situation at that time of WWII under the blackout order at the Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage. Nihei was only 8-years-old when the biggest attack of the war, the firebombing of central Tokyo, killed over 100,000 people and left hundreds of thousands more homeless. She fled with her family and watched as many others were burned alive. As the flames swept over her, she was sheltered by her father and many others who piled on top of them who suffocated or burned to death.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this March 1, 2015 photo, Haruyo Nihei speaks in front of a map of damaged area of 1945's Tokyo Firebombing at the Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage. Nihei was only 8-years-old when the biggest attack of the war, the firebombing of central Tokyo, killed over 100,000 people and left hundreds of thousands more homeless. She fled with her family and watched as many others were burned alive. As the flames swept over her, she was sheltered by her father and many others who piled on top of them who suffocated or burned to death.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

    In this March 1, 2015 photo, Haruyo Nihei speaks in front of a map of damaged area of 1945's Tokyo Firebombing at the Center of the Tokyo Raids and War Damage. Nihei was only 8-years-old when the biggest attack of the war, the firebombing of central Tokyo, killed over 100,000 people and left hundreds of thousands more homeless. She fled with her family and watched as many others were burned alive. As the flames swept over her, she was sheltered by her father and many others who piled on top of them who suffocated or burned to death.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)  (The Associated Press)

A snapshot of World War II, from a woman who survived the March 10, 1945, firebombing of Tokyo:

NAME: HARUYO NIHEI

HOMETOWN: Tokyo's downtown Shitamachi area.

WWII EXPERIENCE: Nihei was only 8 when the biggest attack of the war, the firebombing of central Tokyo, killed more than 100,000 people and left hundreds of thousands more homeless. She fled with her family and watched as many others were burned alive. As the flames swept over her, she was sheltered both by her father, who survived, and by many others who had piled on top of them who suffocated or burned to death.

LIFE AFTER WAR: Nihei's family all survived. They stayed with relatives and moved briefly to the countryside before eventually returning to their old neighborhood. She was silent about her experiences during the firebombing for many decades.

WHY SHE SHARES HER STORY NOW: "You know, those people who saved my life weren't anyone famous. But they did save my life. And those friends of mine who died who I used to play with, their stories would never be told if I don't tell them. Since I am a survivor, I feel I should help tell the story."