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A German Jesuit priest living in Hiroshima, Father Kleinsorge
selflessly comforts many of the dying and wounded in the immediate aftermath
of the bombing, as well as in the years following. While he is not
seriously injured by the bombing, he falls prey to radiation sickness
and becomes weak and tired, often requiring lengthy -hospital stays.
Father Kleinsorge is the only non-Japanese person profiled
in the narrative. Although before the bombing he often felt that
he was under suspicion as a foreigner living in Japan, his experiences
afterward are not very different from those of the other victims.
His experiences demonstrate how the bomb served as an equalizer:
all people affected by it suffered and came together to help, regardless of
their background. At the same time, Father Kleinsorge gives the readers
a distinct, non-Japanese view of some significant events, such as
his amazement at how the majority of Japanese victims suffer silently
and with dignity.
Father Kleinsorge’s life does not drastically change
after the bombing—when we first meet him, he is already physically
weak from the wartime diet—but he does become so enamored with the Japanese
that he decides to become a citizen himself, taking the name Father
Makoto Takakura. This unexpected gesture reflects positively on
the Japanese people, and also symbolizes the community strength
and dedication that came about in response to the bombing.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Hiroshima!