Classroom questions :
Rudolf Graichen




Rudolf GraichenLet me please give you first some background information about myself and our family in which I grew up when I was your age and still going to school, because it had a strong influence on me as a young growing teenager. It will help you to better understand my answer to your question how I felt when I was picked up by the Nazi Gestapo.

I am not of Jewish descent, but just a plain simple little German. However, my parents had strong religious convictions and had become Jehovah’s Witnesses even before I was born in 1925. That was really the thorn in the eyes of the Nazis. They wanted everybody to believe in Hitler and not in God and Jesus. Now how could they achieve that goal? They changed the daily greetings for all people to use from “Good Morning” (good day) to “Heil Hitler” which means salvation comes through Hitler. Out of religious convictions and not to be blasphemous toward God my parents refused to say heil Hitler as a daily greeting. That is what made the Nazis so furious and they banned Jehovah’s Witnesses as a religion and thereafter the Gestapo picked up all male members to be imprisoned. That included my father also. By court order it was decided to take us children away from what they called “the bad influence of our parents” (I was 12 years old at the time) in order to be reeducated and indoctrinated with Hitler’s Nazi philosophy. They picked us up from school one day, put us in a police car (like criminals) and took us to a Reformatory. They put us together with all those real bad kids who nobody could really control. What good could we learn from those real bad kids? What a contradiction. About half a year later they took us to an elderly couple who were willing to take us in as foster parents to at least finish our school years. My mother was not permitted to see, visit, or contact us, not even to write us a letter or a little postcard.

Now just think, what did all that mean for us as children or as a family? Well, suddenly and abruptly our happy and peaceful family life in a loving, warm, and caring Christian family environment had come to a cruel end. How could I just simply forget what Hitler and his Nazi fanatics had done to my parents, to our whole happy family life, and especially to us as children? I hated the big highhanded gross injustice they had perpetrated on an innocent family. They had ripped it apart into little pieces only because we did not want to cave in and did not want to run with the crowd for evil ends as one poet had put it, but rather had the courage to stand up for what we believed to be right and to avoid what we believed and knew was wrong. How does the saying go more or less, he who does not stand up for what he believes in is right will finally fall for everything else.

With this background in mind you will now understand much easier my answer to your first question, How did I feel…..?

When I was seventeen years old and the Gestapo picked up my mother and me to be imprisoned, I had made up my mind already not to become a Nazi, no matter what, come what may. How could I even support a system that had highhandedly misused its power and unscrupulously ruined our family life? How could I now turn around and help to do the same to another innocent happy family and to their children, what I had hated and despised, after they had done this to us and our Christian family life? For me as a teenager the answer was NO, NO, and again NO. I felt that I rather would prefer to drop dead right now, then and there, and asked God to help me not to cave in and not to become one of them only to avoid a hard time of persecution. One wise man once said, It is better to suffer injustice than to participate in doing the injustice, because we know that everybody will finally have to reap whatever he has been sowing, be that now good or be that bad. Surely the Nazis did not believe in that law of nature, but how true did it turn out to come to be so anyway. Because now we can look back in history and ask, Where are Hitler, his Nazi party, and his seemingly invincible war machine? Well, gone, yes long gone. Their injustice had finally caught up with them too. What a powerful lesson for us, too, to remember and never to forget.

At least one lesson we all should learn from this is that in the long run, crime does not pay, be that on an individual basis or even on a government basis. Yes, injustice will finally catch up with all stubborn wrongdoers because, believe it or not, but yes, there is a righteous God who does care about us humans, especially when we cry to him for help as innocent victims of injustice and oppression. I personally can stand up any time as a witness to vouch wholeheartedly for it to be true.

Rudolf Graichen

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