August 22, 2014

My Soul Grew Two Sizes Reading Survivng Hitler

Every once in a while you get the chance to read a book that moves you to the core, a book that illuminates truth, displays life's best virtues amidst its worth flaws, and feeds your soul to the point of growth. Surviving Hitler is that book.

Surviving Hitler is the true story of Agnes and Gustav, both victims of a terrible war on humanity. One a Jew, and the other an SS Soldier, this book delivers a beautiful mixture of God's hand at work, incredible mortal courage, unthinkable human sacrifice and uplifting spiritual triumph, even amidst the ugliest reality of pride, greed, power, and death. Through the hand of the Lord, and unlikely situations, both survive the war, meet, marry and join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

During her stay in one of many concentration camps Agnes records,

"I was overwhelmed with gratitude that such greatness and nobility survived in the most degraded situation. I felt that the eternal spirit, which exist is in all people, could be accessible despite the circumstances. Maybe there was still hope for the world, if some could remain untouched and pure in the midst of all the insanity. I learned that the hope that the world will be a place where all people will love their neighbors and themselves is alive as long as there is one person alive practicing it on the earth."

Another of my favorite accounts is a story that Agnes shares towards the end of the war.

"From inside the fence, lots of men still begged for water, and we continued to help them as best we could. Once while running from the hole in the fence back to the truck, I stepped on an arm by a ditch. At first I thought I had stepped on a dead man but then heard moaning. I looked down and saw the man looking at me, stirring something in side me to the marrow. I fell down to my knees, lifted his head, and poured a few drops of water into his mouth. He mumbled in Hungarian, "May Abraham, our Father, bless you." I saw that he was close to death and shouted in his ear that we were liberated, to which he nodded and said, "Thank God!" He looked at me and took one last breath. My last favor to him was to close his eyes so he wouldn't have to stare out into nothing like so many other corpses did. In wet clothes, I continued to alternately walk and run between the tanker and the hole in the fence. Suddenly I thought I heard a voice saying, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Mathew 25:40). I looked around to see who had quoted the Bible but saw no one."


Photo Courtesy of LDSliving

I think the thing that I loved most about this book was the way that while reading it you could actually see the Lord guiding their lives, protecting them from harms way, and strengthening them through their journey. My heart is forever changed thanks to these two brave humans. Two individuals that lit up all of their surroundings, on their very darkest journey, with their faith and humanity. The aftermath of the war was not easy for Agnes and Gustav, and after fighting for so many years to Survive Hitler it definitely took its toll on these two. But the miracle is in the choice that they both deliberately decided not to harbor hate, but to spread love.

To Agnes and Gustav: It is a privilege to know your story. If I could I would hug you both so tight and tell you thank you for blessing my life through sharing yours.

Available at Deseret Book.com