The dark stormy years of World War II has life lessons for all of us to learn and grow from. I am not talking about the military aspects nor am I talking about the morality of the war itself. I am focused on the people, the living breathing people who lived, and died, through that particular war. They all handled the unjust horrific events so very differently. We can learn valuable character lessons that create a better life for us now and for future generations. One of the hardest lessons can be about the “prisons” we currently live in.
Last night I watched another WWII movie. This one portrayed a man who saved 1,600 Jews. He himself was a Jew. He “collaborated” with the German SS to get his family and the 1,500+ to safety in Switzerland. His “collaboration” got so twisted by others that he was charged and went to trial. The first trial went so array that he was found guilty. Then the hateful people, some Jews, chose to kill this poor man who was trying to do something good for all Jews during a horrific and deadly time.
He was killed by 22-year-old and most likely several others who helped in the killing. This man was so unjustly accused that the court case went to an appeal, and after his death, he was acquitted of the charges. Talk about an injustice. He saved 1,600 people from the fate of a death camp and he was slaughtered for his efforts. How does humanities vision get so messed up?
This was the most disturbing WWII movie I have ever seen. Here was a Jew who was smart enough to know that the resistance was not able to save them. Instead he “collaborated” with the SS and paid money to get these 1,600 people out. When one thing won’t save your life, you try another. Chances are he did not ever imagine that his actions could get so twisted after the fact. Chances are he would have chosen to do it regardless. He saved his own family and so many more.
The story seems to have two sides. One side I am ignoring and I am choosing to believe in the good intentions of this man. I was not there, I cannot know this man’s heart. I choose to believe by his actions that he did what he did to save lives because that is what happened. Those people who lived through the holocaust because of him and then turned on him, I just cannot imagine their thought processes. As they have lived their lives and had the opportunity to have future generations because of this man who freed them, they got to choose how they thought.
Some people stood by this man who freed 1,600 and then was convicted and killed for this supposed crime. There is no possible way, no matter how many people and facts that we look at, that we can know the absolute truth of the story. I have made my choice and I wonder why.
This movie touched me more than most of the WWII movies I watch. Life is not fair. As human beings, we will be misunderstood. We will be treated as if we have done something so wretched when in actuality we have done something above and beyond what is typical or normal. We will be persecuted for what we have done because of what we believe in. We will have some who understand and many who don’t. We will have to live out consequences that are not ours to endure. Our lives will be altered because of others ill intentions towards us. We will lose part (or all) of ourselves because of ill intentions that turn well-meaning good people into hateful people towards us.
This seems to be a part of life for many more people than I ever realized. We see it in history and in the present. So, what do we do about it if it (in part or whole) happens to us? If we are killed for others miss-guided beliefs about us, there is nothing we can do about that one. Since I am writing this and you are reading it, we are alive at this moment. What are we going to do about the ill intentions of others in our lives? How do we find light in this darkness?
How are we going to move past the injustices in our lives? Do we even want to? I know I do. There is no amount of explaining that will get any other human to understand the past events that have shaped generations in an unfair way. Life is simply unfair. We can keep fighting the injustice and keep ourselves stuck in the midst of the insanity or we can choose life.
As I choose life, leaving behind the events of the past, all the injustices, all my own sins and the sins of others, it looks a bit odd to me. It is not a picture that I have ever envisioned for my life. I mean, NOTHING even close to what I envisioned for my life.
When there is nothing left to do to fix anything, we have tried it all, then sometimes reinventing life can work so we can actually have a life. I personally have paid dearly for all of my own sins, rightly so. Yet, I do not choose to continue to pay for those of others who have placed their cruel intentions on me. Time to get up, move on. This camp has been liberated!!
I can reinvent what my life looks like and then live that life. Choosing to have a life, one that is filled with joy and peace, free of guilt and shame that others have imposed on me that is not mine to bear. The losses are tremendous, heart-wrenching like no other I have ever felt. My children will always be welcome in my life, always. They will be loved and prayed for daily until the day I die no matter what. That cannot be taken away from them or from me by any other human. But I choose not to give up a joyful and peaceful life for myself.
After years of careful reflection on the events, it is time to move forward. Getting on a different train, one with a current hope that moves me past the horror of it all.
The man in the WWII movie that ultimately was shot down and killed for his choice to save 1,600 people has a story of hope to offer others. At any expense, there are choices that are worth making regardless of any other human on this earth understands or not. As we stand strong on our choices, we grow in character and stature. Other’s opinions are quite irrelevant, even at the expense of our lives.
Most of us will not be shot down because of our choices and we are the ones who get to choose how we will spend the remainder of our lives. Letting go of it all, I mean everything, is the answer for me personally. There is nothing else left that I have any power to change. My heart has never been more open to forgiveness going every direction. The only thing I have any control over is my own heart, my own forgiveness of others and myself and an openness to others. I will not be spending another year, decade, or a lifetime in others destruction for my life. I say this with a smile on my face and a skip in my step. I look forward to my new life that I have invented out of the annihilation of others intent for my life.
The circumstances that others have imposed on us that have altered our lives can feel like a “death camp.” Their intent can even be that of a death camp. Once in a while, there are literal barriers where we have no choices. Usually, the prisons of our minds have thicker walls than the destruction that others have placed on us. It is usually hard to see but when we do, there is freedom. With that freedom comes a life worth living.
It is looking down the path and see that there is a choice out of this destruction. So few were provided a choice during the holocaust. Remember, today we do not have to see the entire path to have faith that we really do have choices.
The Jew who saved Jews in this story was not given a choice, he was shot down. While there is still breath in us, we have a choice. No matter how much destruction has been done to us or our families, we have a choice in how we see ourselves. Are we worthy of a life or not? Of course, we are.
Finding the prison walls that only exist in our minds get us out of the prison camps that have been imposed on us by horrific events.
The most powerful stories of people who endured WWII are the ones where people could see past their own suffering. Some of these incredible stories include people who gave their own lives so others could live. Others who lived through the unfathomable events were able to go on to have full and productive lives.
What has touched me most is that although these people did not forget the horrific events, they chose to make a new life regardless of the events. Life is worth living to the fullest. We can wear our scars but they do not have to wear us.
At some point, the choice is ours to make. Are we going to live a life worth having? I chose to. What is your choice?
Maribeth Baxter, MBEC (Certified Mind-Body Eating Coach)
Dig Deeper, Learn More:
- Movie: Killing Kasztner: The Jew Who Dealt With Nazis
- Movie is FREE if you have Amazon Prime
- Article from a survivor, saved by Rudolf Kastner: Thoughts On Rudolf Kastner
Donations are accepted to serve others on their chronic illness journey. Maribeth Baxter, MBEC provides voluntary certified health coaching services to the financially limited during their time of crisis.