Hiroshima By John Hersey Character Analysis Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge

Father Kleinsorge, a German priest, leads a life of selflessness both before and after the bombing. After the bombing he contends with the effects of that illness for the remainder of his life but he struggles on, often sacrificing his own health to help others.

His sense of duty is foremost in his mind. Feeling ill, he conducts mass that August morning, stopping only when there is a siren. Coping with serious radiation illness, he feels that it is his duty to stop at the police station the day after the bombing and report the destruction on behalf of the parish. He also goes to the mission house right after the bombing to gather the records of the parish.

Father Kleinsorge devotes the first days after the bombing to helping others. Immediately after becoming aware of his surroundings, he dons his military uniform so that others will see him as a helpful authority. He begins digging people out of the debris. Every time someone comes to him for help, he goes with him or her even though some trips end up being fruitless. At Asano Park, the wounds he sees sicken him to the point of making him nauseous. But he overcomes his horror and tends to sick people for days, rarely stopping to help himself or to sleep. He sacrifices his own health to help others.

In the years following the bombing, Father Kleinsorge continues to help hundreds of people, both well and sick, again at the sacrifice of his own well-being. He performs numerous baptisms, weddings, and religious conversions, including that of Miss Sasaki. A good judge of human nature, he sees in her the call to a life in the church, and he encourages her to pursue that vocation. It is no wonder that near the end of his life many people make pilgrimages to see him and thank him for his help.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

How many doctors are left to treat the 10,000 victims who are making their way to the Red Cross Hospital?




Quiz