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