We Gather in Faith
Teaching and commentary from our pastor, Bishop Francis Christian.
I recently recalled a movie made in Europe called "Saviors in the Night." Based on the memoirs of Marga Spiegel, it tells the true story of how she, her husband Menne and their daughter Karin were saved from extermination in the death camps.
They were saved by German farmers Heinrich and Maria Aschoff and their daughter Anni, who hid them on their farm in the region of Munsterland for 30 months. Some of their neighboring farmers were members of the Nazi party, who bought into the propaganda that Hitler and his cohorts promoted. But some, like the Aschoffs, by a miracle of grace, fought the lies and the bigotry, especially about the Jewish people.
Early in the film, Anni who is a member of the Hitler Youth Movement, is angry when she first learns that her parents are hiding Jews. In a memorable line that defines the whole movie, her parents tell her "We are Germans, but we are also Catholics."
The movie dramatizes the conversion experience of this Catholic family and others who come to understand more profoundly and live with greater commitment to their faith. The "saviors" know that if they are caught concealing Jews they will be killed immediately.
It makes me wonder what I would have done in the same situation. It is interesting to note that Marga and Anni became the closest of friends and at the end of the movie are shown talking to some of the actors on the movie set. It is also interesting that the director of the movie, Ludi Boeken, knew some of this reality first hand since his own parents were saved in Holland by people like the "saviors" in the movie.
It is true that many more Jews could have been saved if more people had courageously lived their faith like the Aschoffs. The Jewish Talmud says, "He who saves a single life saves the entire world."