Hiroshima Peace Memorial, commonly called the Atomic Bomb Dome, in Hiroshima, Japan, is part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The building serves as a memorial to the people who were killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Over 70,000 people were killed instantly, and another 70,000 suffered fatal injuries from the radiation.
The building was designed by the Czech architect, Jan Letzel. It was completed in April 1915, and was named the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition (HMI). It was opened formally to the public in August that year. In 1921 the name was changed to the Hiroshima Prefectural Products Exhibition Hall, and again in 1933, to the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.
Having slightly missed the original target (the distinctive "T"-shaped Aioi Bridge), at 8:15 on August 6, 1945, the first nuclear bomb to be used in war, detonated almost directly above the dome (the center of the blast was 490 feet (150 m) away and 1,968 feet (600 m) above ground).
The Genbaku Dome, originally close to Shima Surgical Clinic, initially was scheduled to be demolished with the rest of the ruins, but the fact that it mostly was intact, use delayed these plans. As Hiroshima was rebuilt around the dome, it became a subject of controversy; some locals wanted it torn down, while others wanted to preserve it as a memorial of the bombing. In 1966 Hiroshima City declared that it intended to preserve the now termed "A-bomb Dome" indefinitely. Funds were sought locally and internationally. To date, the A-bomb Dome has undergone two preservation projects.
In December 1996 the A-bomb Dome was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List based on the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. China had reservations regarding the confirmation of the memorial as a World Heritage Site and the delegate of the United States to the World Heritage Committee dissociated himself from the decision. China cited the possibility that the monument could be used to downplay the fact that the victim countries of Japan's aggression suffered the greatest losses of life during the war, while the United States claimed that having a memorial to a "war site" would omit the necessary historical context.
There were 17 American POWs among atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima.