Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Valiant Young Heroes

I have a niece who inspires me with her courage to stand up for what is right in difficult circumstances.  I asked her permission to share one of her experiences.  She graciously not only gave me permission, but also wrote up her account.  So here, in her own words, is one of her stories:

I stared at the yellow hardwood floor, my back pressed against the brick.  I forget why I wasn’t exercising, usually I made an effort to at least walk around the gym, I didn’t like playing sports.  Lauren was sitting nearby; her glasses perched upon her nose, her curly hair scrunched up in a ponytail.  I didn’t know how to make friends with her, wasn’t even sure that I wanted to.  I think everyone knew she was different, mentally handicapped.  I sighed, feeling guilty that I felt that way; it wasn’t like I had anything to lose by being her friend. 
            I glanced up as a group of kids I didn’t know very well came over and sat by Lauren.  I went back to gazing around the court.  Then, they started asking Lauren questions, I tried not to listen and my ears burned as she gave an indelicate response to a question that was itself inappropriate.  She probably doesn’t know what she’s saying, I thought, angry that they had even asked such a question.  I hoped she didn’t know what she was saying, I only half understood it myself. 
            It got worse, they started saying things like “Lauren, make a sound like an elephant, make a sound like a dog…”  She happily obliged, thinking it all a fun game.  I started thinking of what I should say to them and my body shook with the injustice of it all.  Tears leaked out of my eyes as I wondered if I would have the courage to speak up, even if one of them didn’t notice me. I wondered if they would notice me, I wondered… One of the girls noticed, “Hey, what’s wrong?”  She asked.  I felt awful, here was this girl, who at the same time was being nice by asking me what was wrong, was about to be reprimanded by me.  I couldn’t stop myself.
            “How dare you?  How dare you use her for your own entertainment?  Just because she’s different from you and maybe doesn’t even realize what you’re doing doesn’t mean you should treat her like she’s some pet you can just play with.  She’s another human being who doesn’t deserve to be used for your entertainment.” 
 My niece, Lauren and the group of kids all learned something very valuable in that moment.

Two Rooms in Berlin
Had the man been out in public, rather than sitting at his heavy oak desk, he would have been surrounded by cheering crowds.  He brought hope to a people burdened under the Treaty of Versailles.  He had a superb gift of oral persuasion.  As he used it, his circle of influence expanded to the tens of millions. 

He had a file in his desk that he pulled out whenever he had a chance to ponder his dream. Germania was the civilization he envisioned.  It would last for a thousand years, populated by the Aryan race.  Such a civilization deserved a glorious infrastructure.  He pulled out the folder and thumbed through his plans to build structures that would rival those of the ancient pharaohs.  It pleased him to think that, being the founder of this great nation, monuments to him would be scattered across his homeland. 
You can imagine that a man of his importance wouldn’t have much time to sit and dream about his utopia.  He was far too busy pushing his plans through to make them reality. And if the challenge of world conquest wasn’t enough, he had to deal with the occasional detractors among his own people that needed to be rooted out.
Speaking of which, a request for clemency had sifted its way to the top of his stack.  Ah, yes.  This was the boy whose anti-Nazi tracts were so professionally done that no one could believe they weren’t written by a team of adults.  The Gestapo had spent hours torturing people acquainted with this youth to find out who was responsible.  Finally they concluded their mastermind was a mere 16-year-old.  And this was the young man who was requesting his mercy.  Hitler would not need much time to deliberate over this request.  If the boy was going to play in the political arena of the adults, he could be punished as an adult.
“DENIED” he scrawled in angry letters across the clemency request and handed it to his clerk, activating the countdown of a young man’s final hours of mortal life. 
In another room, Helmuth Huebener was handed the three sheets of paper he was granted as his final wish.  His swollen fingers awkwardly gripped the pen. It was good, though, to see his thoughts once again flow onto paper.   So greatly did he value the freedom to communicate that he had risked his life to print the words which had landed him in this cell. 
He had seen through Hitler’s propaganda and endeavored tirelessly to let his fellow Germans know the truth.  He had listened nightly to the BBC and then printed and distributed flyers carrying the real news.   His only remorse was imperiling his two loyal friends, Rudi and Karl-Heinz, who had helped him distribute the flyers.
 For months since he’d been sentenced by the Nazi Blood Tribunal, he hadn’t known if his execution would be carried out in a day, a week or another month.  The suspense was almost worse than the sentence itself.  But evidently the request for clemency had been denied (as he had expected) and he was now near the end. 
Helmuth remembered the moment he was sentenced.  He stood before his accusers and boldly stated, “You kill me for no reason at all.  I haven’t committed any crime.  All I’ve done is tell the truth.  Now it’s my turn—but your turn will come!”  The stunned assembly was too shocked to silence him.  His words turned out to be prophetic.
Helmuth wrote three letters, only one of which survives.  (His letter home was destroyed in the bombing raid that killed his family nine months later.)  He wrote to his close friends:
“Dear Sister Sommerfeldt and Family,
When you receive this letter I will be dead.  . . .
I am very thankful to my Heavenly Father . . . I know that God lives and He will be the proper judge of this matter. 
Until our happy reunion in that better world I remain,
Your friend and brother in the Gospel,
There are no monuments to Hitler in Germany.  You will not find one street nor park that carries his name.  But if you travel to Hamburg, you will find a park, a street and a monument to young Helmuth Huebener. 
Helmuth’s two friends, Rudi Wobbe and Karl-Heinz Schnibbe were sentenced to years of hard labor, but they lived and moved to the USA after WW II.  One day not long ago, Karl-Heinz was visiting Helmuth’s memorial in Hamburg where a group of students were learning about “the Heubener Group.”  A traveling companion pointed out Karl-Heinz and told them he was part of the group.  He was quickly surrounded by the youth, eager to hear the story of how, when he was their age, he had the pleasure to work with a valiant young hero.

Helmuth Hubener

Truth & Conviction [DVD] by Matt Whitaker
The Price by Karl-Heinz Schnibbe
Three Against Hitler by Rudi Wobbe
Hubener vs. Hitler by Richard Lloyd Dewey

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