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Stories of Hope-Barbara Reynolds

1961-1962: Spreading the Message

In 1961, in the face of resumed nuclear testing by the Soviet Union, Barbara and Earle felt obligated to take the message of the hibakusha to the Soviets. Bringing letters containing pleas for the end of nuclear testing, they once again sailed the Phoenix, this time to the Russian port of Vladivostok.


The Phoenix leaves for Russia in the fall of 1961.

The Phoenix was met by Soviet officials and ordered to turn back. Because they did not have visas for the Soviet Union and feared they would not receive a fair trial if arrested there, they complied with the orders of the Soviet officer who boarded their vessel near Nakhodka. Although Barbara and Earle conversed with the officer about their mission of peace, he refused to take their load of letters from the hibakusha. After a turbulent return voyage, the family finally made it back to Japan grateful for their lives.


 Barbara Reynolds fasting in the Peace Park on Christmas Day 1961.

When Barbara returned to Hiroshima with the undelivered letters, she became even more determined to help the hibakusha speak to the world. Along with other peace groups, she helped organize the 1962 Hiroshima Peace Pilgrimage, in which she traveled with A-bomb survivors Miyoko Matsubara and Hiromasa Hanabusa to twelve nations. They spoke to hundreds of groups and government leaders. The young hibakushas spoke of their experiences and hopes for a world free of nuclear weapons, while Barbara learned more not only of their suffering, but of the difficulties of building peace between nations.

The First Peace Pilgrimage Barbara Reynolds organized included Miyoko Matsubara and Hiromasa Hanabusa. Their mission was to share the message of "no more nuclear war."

“They [the hibakusha] only wanted everyone in the world to know what had happened to them so that it would never happen again to anyone, anywhere. I wanted to do whatever I could to help the hibakusha. . . . But I realized it would not be easy for I had learned that there are many problems to be solved if we are to make peace in a divided world.”

-Barbara Reynolds,
The Phoenix and the Dove

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