Names and photos of 16 overseas A-bombed priests and monks to be registered at Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims

(by Masami Nishimoto, Staff Writer)

Information to be made available to public by end of February

The names and photographs of 16 Society of Jesus foreign priests and monks who experienced the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, will be registered as A-bomb victims at the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, in the city’s Naka Ward. The society’s Japan province, located in Tokyo, will submit the registration information, which will be made public by the end of February. The priests and monks include 13 Germans, one Spaniard, and two Koreans. Also learned was that the last of the soeurs Auxiatrices (Helping Sisters) nuns who had engaged in providing care to A-bomb victims with the priests under the horrific conditions caused by the atomic bombing, had died at age 102 in January.

Four priests experienced the atomic bombing at a priests’ house attached to the Noboricho Church, about 1.2 kilometers from the hypocenter. Father Hugo Lassalle, one of the priests, recounted his experience to people in western nations the following year. He also worked to promote establishment of the Memorial Cathedral for World Peace (completed in 1954). Makibi Enomiya, Mr. Lassalle’s Japanese name, will be registered at the memorial hall. He acquired Japanese citizenship in 1948 and was made an honorary citizen of Hiroshima in 1968. He passed away at age 91 in West Germany in 1990, just prior to reunification of East and West Germany.

In 2006, the cathedral, which houses a bronze relief of Father Lassalle, and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum were the first post-war buildings to be designated Important Cultural Assets.

All 13 of the A-bombed German priests and monks, who had avoided internment and were evacuated from Tokyo to Hiroshima during the war, had died by the end of 2011. Three had acquired Japanese citizenship after the end of the war and changed their names.

Father Pedro Arrupe, who led the efforts to rescue those who had evacuated to the Nagatsuka Jesuit novitiate in Gion-cho (now part of Asaminami Ward), was from Spain. He was later appointed to serve as Superior General of the Society of Jesus in 1965 and died at age 83 in Rome in 1991.

Photos of the two monks from the Korean peninsula, including Father Kim Tegwan (who was ordained to priesthood in 1950, and died at 71 in Seoul in 1990), were also submitted to the memorial hall by the society. The peninsula was under Japan’s colonial rule during the war.

Registration of the names and photographs was facilitated by Masaki Kano, director of the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims. Mr. Kano visited Father Renzo De Luca, director of the Japan Province of the Society of Jesus, and made a request to register the information ahead of the visit by Pope Francis, who originally was a member of the Society of Jesus, to Hiroshima on November 24, 2019. Mr. Kano also sent Father Luca a Chugoku Shimbun newspaper published on November 12 that uncovered the circumstances in which the 16 priests and monks had experienced the atomic bombing. The society’s Japan province subsequently conducted another investigation and collected photos of the 16 priests and monks.

Seven nuns and a German priest experienced the atomic bombing at the Misasa convent of soeurs Auxiliatrices Japon, in Kusunoki-cho, Nishi Ward, after Mass had concluded. The women comprised two Japanese, two Italian, two French, and one Irish. After the bombing, they fled to the Nagatsuka novitiate and attended to victims with gauze and boric-acid solution.

Sister Asobu Yamada, who had been in good health until recently, died at a special nursing home in Kobe on January 26. She was 102. Sister Yamada traveled to the United States in 1973, staying in the country for 34 years and fulfilling her duties with Japanese-American Catholics in the state of California and elsewhere. The soeurs Auxiliatrices Japon, located in Tokyo, hopes to also have Sister Yamada’s name and photo registered at the hall.

(Originally published on February 23, 2020)