From Such a Hell to Such a Time


I spoke with an 89 year old man this week. His life has been inspiring to others and quite an experience for him. He and his wife have been married 67 years and have lived through decades of difficult times as well as times of joy.

The story that has stuck in my mind is the one about his time in WWII. I’ve never met a POW until now and I have to say I have a new respect, a new pain for the men and women of our military.

A was drafted in the U.S. Army in 1944. He was in Belgium with his infantry unit during the most famous battle in WWII the Battle of the Bulge. The German soldiers began directing fire to his unit so his infantry unit tried to return to their camp. This is when A was wounded by enemy fire and captured by German soldiers. He was taken to a prison camp where he and many other prisoners of war were held until they were liberated by General Montgomery and his British soldiers. During the time he was a prisoner from Dec. 1944 to April 1945, he lost 98 lbs. due to malnutrition and lack of proper medical treatment to his wound.

I am trying to reconcile my feeling of such despise for soldiers who treated A in such a horrible way and knowing I shouldn’t despise others. Maybe I should just feel sorry for them. I know forgiveness is in order and perhaps that is how A has managed to get through such horrible circumstances.

Imagining how hungry I get going 6 or 7 hours without food it is hard to think of A being so hungry for so long that he lost 98 lbs. How hungry would you be, how horrible, how painful, how could one human do that to another?
I have seen the pictures of the POW camps, watched the horrific documentaries but to know someone who was tortured by these barbaric men brings it on home. To know there really are human beings in existence that have so little value for life is beyond belief yet it is true.

What would it take to cause a human being to be willing to go to the extremes these men went to in order to destroy other people? In my own heart I wonder is there anything that could cause me to turn on my fellow man in such a way. I have heard the German soldiers were afraid that Hitler would kill them and their families had they not done his bidding. Would that be enough to push me to the far side of hell? I pray to God that I could stand in His strength should ever a persecution come to the U.S.

I am thankful that I have been given the opportunity to meet this man, this man who has lived a full life despite what could have been a life shattering experience. There are no coincidences and A was kept alive and rescued for reasons known only to God Himself. Somehow I suspect A’s two sons, five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren could tell me why they think he’s here. I do not know where he stands in faith but I do know God brought him home from such a hell for such a time as this. Esther 4:14. I’m so glad I was here at this time to meet him.

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Comments

  1. What an amazing story. We have no idea what our service men go through to keep us and other’s free. The things that they see and experience would horrify us. Then they come back home to live their “normal” lives. The sacrifice they make for us is so unselfish.

  2. thanks

  3. Julie this is a wonderful post. My grandmother just died at the age of 95, and since I’ve received a box full of letters from my grandpa to her while they were courting and he was serving in the Navy – the letters cover 1942 to 1945. I’m learning so much and appreciate other bloggers to who write about this stuff. So many men came back from that war absolutely traumatized for life. We should be so grateful for their sacrifices.

  4. I read your post. I am Italian, anti-fascist and absolutely horrified because of barbarism committed by the Nazis. But the Germans was not all Nazis. Many still mourn for the sins of those soldiers unworthy. We must try not to generalize and to judge calmly. Thanks. Sorry for my bad English. Giancarlo 🙂

    • Giaros, thank you for reading my post. I am sorry if I offended you but in all but one place I specified I was speaking of German soldiers not the German people. I do not judge all German people, in fact I have great respect for them. I lived there when I was younger and grew to love the culture. However, I do not and will never approve of the treatment of our American soldiers, Jewish, Polish, or any other people while they were in Nazi prison camps. Please know I did not mean to come off as judging those who had nothing to do with killing, or torturing POWs. Your English is good. Come by again. thanks

      • Dear Julie, I’m not totally offended: I hate the Nazis, German or not. My father was imprisoned in German camps, forced to build the V2. He told me that German soldiers were not all Nazis, indeed many German soldiers hated the Nazis and were kind to their prisoners. These different experiences and certainly my father was more fortunate. Good weekend 🙂 Now I go to bed, here in Rome are the hours 10.45 AM. See you soon!

  5. I just stumbled across your blog today for the first time. The story was inspiring! I pray that God would open my eyes to see if I have anything in my heart that would cause me to hurt anyone an any degree. I am thankful for the service men and women that have unselfishly given their lives for our country.

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