Tuesday, March 3, 2015

MISSION AT NUREMBERG: AN AMERICAN ARMY CHAPLAIN AND THE TRIAL OF THE NAZIS by Tim Townsend

Gifted to me by my daughter and son-in-law at Christmas, this was my first book of the new year.  Given that my father was a WWII veteran, and possibly present at the Nuremberg War Trials as an MP, this book held special interest for me from the beginning.  However, what captivated me most was the central character of the story: Pastor Henry Gerecke.  Pastor Gereke, a product of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, became one of the chaplains assigned to minister to high ranking Nazi war criminals, chief among them being Herman Goering (who later committed suicide before being executed.)  Reaction to the Nazis even today is often one of revulsion and disgust, and for good reason.  They were responsible for the systematic execution and slaughter of countless people, primarily a significant numbers of Jews.  Their brutality ranks as among the highest in history.  One can only imagine the challenge of a man sent to be the pastor of those responsible for such horrific crimes.  However, as a Lutheran Gereke understood the Gospel well.  He ministered to them as one who understood that none are beyond the grace of God.  His faith in the power of the Means of Grace to convert and reconvert hardened sinners allowed him to do what lesser men would resist.  It may upset some to think that there were Nazi war criminals who actually communed on the body and blood of the Savior.  However, were these men fundamentally any different than the thief on the cross who was welcomed by Jesus into Paradise?  Chaplain Gereke faithfully led worship for all who would attend, preaching the Word without compromise.  He walked with each of his condemned flock to the gallows.  The experience nearly broke him, and as a Lutheran pastor for over 25 years I could only marvel at his ability to endure.  Townsend's book was a fascinating read with regard to this famous trial by someone closest to the defendants.  That said, for me the most engaging story was that of the man God used to bring the good news of salvation in Christ to the most unlikely candidates.  In some ways Gereke was a far more courageous servant than the prophet Jonah who ran away when called to minister to those who opposed God's plans.  I highly recommend this book to WWII enthusiasts as well as those interested in seeing the heart of Lutheran ministry at its best.

1 comment:

Carl Vehse said...

The book review of Mission at Nuremberg had the following comment:

"Reaction to the Nazis even today is often one of revulsion and disgust, and for good reason. They were responsible for the systematic execution and slaughter of countless people, primarily a significant numbers of Jews. Their brutality ranks as among the highest in history. One can only imagine the challenge of a man sent to be the pastor of those responsible for such horrific crimes."

With the change of a word or phrase, the comment could be applied to today:

"Reaction to the Demonicrats and RINOs today is often one of revulsion and disgust, and for good reason. They are responsible for the systematic execution and slaughter of countless people, primarily over 55 million people of the womb. Their brutality ranks as among the highest in history. One can only imagine the challenge of a man sent to be the pastor of those responsible for such horrific crimes."

May God direct the United States to employ such Nuremberg-style justice so that another statement from the book review may apply to the assigned chaplain for U.S. political leaders of such horrific crimes:

"He walked with each of his condemned flock to the gallows."