On the 14th of August 1941, a Polish monk named Maximilian Maria Kolbe was murdered in Auschwitz.
Kolbe's life had been remarkable. Fiercely intelligent and driven, he founded a movement of Catholicism and spent several years in Nagasaki, ministering to the 'hidden Christians' who had emerged after centuries of oppression. A Polish nationalist as well as a monk, he gave sanctuary to fleeing refugees and ran Poland's largest publishing operation, drawing the wrath of the Nazis. His death was no less remarkable: he volunteered to die, saving the life of a fellow prisoner.
It was an act that profoundly transformed the lives of two Japanese men. Tomei Ozaki was just seventeen when the US dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, destroying his home and his family. Masatoshi Asari worked on a farm in Hokkaido during the war and was haunted by the inhumane treatment of prisoners in a nearby camp. Forged in the crucible of an unforgiving war, both men drew inspiration from Kolbe's sacrifice, dedicating their lives to humanity and justice.
In The Martyr and the Red Kimono, award-winning author Naoko Abe weaves together a deeply moving and inspirational true story of resistance, sacrifice, guilt and atonement.