Hiroshima

Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge Character Analysis

A German priest living in Japan, and one of the six central characters of Hiroshima. Like Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto, Father Kleinsorge is uninjured in the explosion, and he devotes himself single-mindedly to helping the injured and dying. With the help of his fellow priests, Kleinsorge tends to the wounded, gives comfort to the dying, and arranges for the seriously injured to be ferried out of Hiroshima to receive the medical attention they desperately need. Although Kleinsorge endures a great amount of xenophobia during his time in Japan, he’s deeply invested in bringing Christianity to Japan. After the bombing he lives the rest of his life in the country, even assuming a Japanese name. Kleinsorge suffers from radiation sickness, meaning that he has very little energy; however, he’s regarded as an energetic, devoted priest. He dies in the late 1970s, one of the most beloved figures in his community.

Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge Quotes in Hiroshima

The Hiroshima quotes below are all either spoken by Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge or refer to Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Atomic Age, Politics, and Morality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Hiroshima published in 1989.
Chapter 1 Quotes

A hundred thousand people were killed by the atomic bomb, and these six were among the survivors. They still wonder why they lived when so many others died.

Page Number: 2
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Chapter 3 Quotes

Father Kleinsorge has thought back to how queasy he had once been at the sight of pain, how someone else's cut finger used to make him turn faint. Yet there in the park he was so benumbed that immediately after leaving this horrible sight he stopped on a path by one of the pools and discussed with-a lightly wounded man whether it would be safe to eat the fat, two-foot carp that floated dead on the surface of the water.

Related Characters: Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 4 Quotes

"My child," Father Kleinsorge said, "man is not now in the condition God intended. He has fallen from grace through sin." And he went on to explain all the reasons for everything.

Related Characters: Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge (speaker), Toshiko Sasaki
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
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She would say, "It was war and we had to expect it." […] Dr. Fujii said approximately the same thing about the use of the bomb to Father Kleinsorge one evening, in German: "Da ist nichts zu machen. There’s nothing to be done about it."
Many citizens of Hiroshima, however, continued to feel a hatred for Americans which nothing could possibly erase. "I see," Dr. Sasaki once said, "that they are holding a trial for war criminals in Tokyo just now. I think they ought to try the men who decided to use the bomb."

Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 5 Quotes

He registered himself as a Japanese citizen under the name he would henceforth hear; Father Makoto Takakura.

Related Characters: Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:
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Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge Character Timeline in Hiroshima

The timeline below shows where the character Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge appears in Hiroshima. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter One: A Noiseless Flash
The Atomic Age, Politics, and Morality Theme Icon
...the paper in his hospital; Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura is standing in her kitchen; Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, a German priest, is sitting in his mission house; Dr. Terufumi Sasaki is walking through... (full context)
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Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, aged thirty-eight, has been in poor health in the months leading up to the bombing.... (full context)
Chapter Two: The Fire
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...walk, they only see one other building still standing—the Jesuit mission house, from which Father Kleinsorge emerged, carrying a suitcase of his own. (full context)
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Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge wanders out to the garden outside his mission; meanwhile another priest, Father LaSalle, runs around... (full context)
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Father Kleinsorge treats priests’ injuries with bandages that Dr. Fujii gave him a few days before. Then,... (full context)
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A kindergarten teacher points Father Kleinsorge to the mission, where the secretary, Mr. Fukai, is standing by a window, weeping. Kleinsorge... (full context)
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...where he finds some of his neighbors and Neighborhood Association colleagues. He also notices Father Kleinsorge, a friend, but can’t find his friend Mr. Fukai. Kleinsorge simply says, “He ran back.” (full context)
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...Association is a man named Yoshida. As Mrs. Nakamura and her children, along with Father Kleinsorge and Mr. Fukai, run through the streets, Yoshida cries out for help from beneath the... (full context)
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...air, and some people think that the Americans have dropped gas on the city. Father Kleinsorge and the other priests come into the park, and Father LaSalle falls asleep almost immediately. (full context)
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...it difficult to distinguish between the living and the dead people gathered there. Tanimoto greets Kleinsorge and the other priests, who are gathering water from the river to give to burn... (full context)
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The rain subsides, and Mr. Tanimoto and Father Kleinsorge resume helping the bombing victims. Tanimoto and Kleinsorge decide to run into town to get... (full context)
Chapter Three: Details Are Being Investigated
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...the people in the park. Some of them begin to settle down to sleep. Father Kleinsorge is about to fall asleep when his mission bookkeeper, Mrs. Murata, rouses him to ask... (full context)
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Earlier that afternoon, Father Kleinsorge sent a messenger—a theological student who’d been living in the mission—to the Christian Novitiate in... (full context)
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...river. A group goes out, rescues the children, and brings them back to where Father Kleinsorge is resting. Then, Tanimoto, some priests, and LaSalle push off again. As Tanimoto rows, he... (full context)
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Father Kleinsorge takes care of the two young children that the priests rescued from the river. One... (full context)
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In the Park, Mrs. Murata continues to talk to the exhausted Father Kleinsorge. The Nakamura family can’t sleep, either—the children are sick, but too anxious to rest. When... (full context)
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...and the healthy survivors go to gather river water for the sick and injured. Father Kleinsorge ventures outside the park and finds a faucet—he gathers buckets of water for the victims... (full context)
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Back in Asano Park, Father Kleinsorge watches as the young children in the park play with each other—sometimes, unexpectedly, a child... (full context)
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The Novitiate priests arrive at Asano Park around noon with a handcart. They pack Father Kleinsorge’s suitcase into the cart, along with Mrs. Murata’s things and the two Nakamura children. Suddenly,... (full context)
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...of day three, he goes home and sleeps for seventeen hours. On August 9, Father Kleinsorge wakes up in the Novitiate, to which he walked the previous evening. The rector examines... (full context)
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On August 10, Father Kleinsorge learns that Dr. Fujii has been injured and has gone to stay with a friend... (full context)
Chapter Four: Panic Grass and Feverfew
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On August 18, 1945, Father Kleinsorge sets out for Hiroshima from the Novitiate to deposit the Jesuit Society’s money in a... (full context)
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By the first week in September, Father Kleinsorge is seriously ill from radiation. In the hospital, doctors try to treat him, but they... (full context)
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...whom she was engaged, and wonders if he’s left her because of her injury. Father Kleinsorge leaves the hospital on December 19; two days later, he meets with his friend Dr.... (full context)
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In February 1946, Father Kleinsorge is summoned to Toshiko Sasaki’s hospital bed. He speaks sympathetically about her condition, and he... (full context)
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...school. However, within a few months, Nakamura has spent all her savings. She asks Father Kleinsorge for advice; he suggests that she work for the Allied forces, or that she repair... (full context)
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Mr. Tanimoto becomes friendly with Father Kleinsorge. He is jealous, however, that Kleinsorge and his fellow priests have so much wealth—Tanimoto, on... (full context)
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...after the bombing of Hiroshima, “Toshiko Sasaki was a cripple, Mrs. Nakamura was destitute, Father Kleinsorge was back in the hospital,” and “Dr. Sasaki was not capable of the work he... (full context)
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...believe that America’s leaders are war criminals—Dr. Sasaki wants American generals to be hanged. Father Kleinsorge and many other priests maintain a neutral view of the bombing. Some priests say the... (full context)
Chapter Five: The Aftermath
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In 1946, Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge goes back to the hospital for radiation sickness, from which he suffers for the rest... (full context)
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In 1956, Kleinsorge’s health worsens. However, he continues to teach Bible classes to the children of Japanese families,... (full context)
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In 1971, Kleinsorge is hospitalized again, this time for serious liver dysfunction. Hundreds of adoring visitors come to... (full context)
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...her visits, she runs into her old fiancé, but he refuses to acknowledge her. Father Kleinsorge asks her if she would consider getting married to someone else. By 1954, however, Sasaki... (full context)
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...he treats about eighty patients every day. He continues to visit with his friend Father Kleinsorge. Two of his sons become doctors (the third becomes an X-ray technician), and both of... (full context)