Hitler's Pawn: How To Forgive Someone
Last night I had some trouble sleeping. Around 12:45 I woke up and couldn’t get back to bed.
Earlier in the day I’d seen a documentary on HBO (you can still watch it on HBO On Demand, if you have it) called Hitler’s Pawn. It was the story of an unusually talented track and field star — a high jumper named Gretel Bergmann — who was disqualified from the German Olympic team solely because she was Jewish. This was the 1936 Olympics, held only about a year or so after Hitler had come into power.
This story was very disturbing, and very touching. It’s one thing to be disturbed about unfairness or injustice when you’re watching a movie — it’s another thing to see wanton ruthlessness in real life — and to witness the fallout on the victims.
So I guess Bergmann’s story was still in my mind when I woke up in the middle of the night.
I remembered a book I had purchased some time ago, but had not yet read, and so I went upstairs to my office library and began rummaging around for it. After a few moments, I found it. The book was “Night” by Elie Wiesel. A short book, it was Wiesel’s personal story about surviving the holocaust and specifically his experiences at Auschwitz and Buchenwald — two of the most infamous concentrations camps the Nazi’s created.
What Wiesel endured not only wasn’t human, it’s so far removed from “normal” – in even the WILDEST stretch of the imagination — it’s hard to digest. Imagine, you’re 14 years old, you wake up one morning — and instead of going to school, you are forced to gather together in the middle of town and told that the following morning you will be shipped out on a train somewhere.
You get to take ONE small bag of belongings, and everything you own, is now the property of the government.
You travel for days on a train, squeezed together with hundreds of other people inside the train car like cattle — forced to stand the entire ride. People are urinating and defecating and fornicating in the corners of the train car. You finally reach your destination and the first thing that hits you is the odorous stench of burning flesh.
You are 14 years old.
Three days ago at this same time, you were playing baseball in the streets with your friends.
Sick, isn’t it?
The scary thing is, this story took place only 61 years ago.
I finished Wiesel’s gripping book in a couple of hours, and thoroughly tired — both from exhaustion, and from going through Wiesel’s journey — I fell soundly asleep.
It seems to me, if you are presently suffocating with acrimonious feelings about something, or someone, that one of the shortest routes to forgiveness, is to watch this movie and read Wiesel’s book. There is nothing that will make your tragedy smaller in stature, than feeling the magnitude of emotional devastation these folks went through.
Because no matter how tough your situation is… you have LOADS more control over your life than these folks did. They survived, and you will too.
Now go create something, Craig
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