When the Allies jailed and tried many of the members of the Nazi high command after the end of World War II, Henry Gerecke (pictured) tended to the defendants’ “spiritual needs.”
Gerecke was a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod pastor who worked to bring Hermann Göring, Albert Speer, and others not so much to justice, but to Jesus. A non-fiction book about his efforts, written by Tim Townsend, recently hit store shelves.
In a Huffington Post article about the book, Townsend says that Gerecke
… looked beyond the terrible men imprisoned in front of him to the children they had once been. One of the most lovely — and chilling — pieces in the book comes when Gerecke accompanies [de facto Nazi Secretary of War Wilhelm] Keitel up the 13 steps of the gallows and prays aloud with him a German prayer both were taught by their mothers.
“He knew that he needed to save the souls of as many of these men as he could before they were executed,” Townsend said. “I think for him he thought it was a great gift he had been given.”
And not one he took lightly. Gerecke did not give communion to any of the Nazis unless he believed they were truly penitent and [they] made a profession of faith in Jesus. Only four of the 11 sentenced to hang met Gerecke’s standard.
Two things jump out at me.
Number one: Gerecke acting as the gatekeeper of paradise, rather than letting his omniscient God sort out which Nazis deserve to sit at His feet for all eternity. What a divine head rush that must have been for a mere mortal!
Number two: As we’ve seen before, not even serial killers and genocidal maniacs are, apparently, beyond the reach of Christian redemption. Non-Christian people, however, no matter how kind the lives they’ve lived, are denied God’s eternal grace — and they may well burn in hell if, for example, they’ve been playing doctor with someone who possesses the same naughty bits.
Gerecke may have been a nice man. Let’s say that he was. Knowing of his works, are you any closer to wishing to join his favorite club?
(Image via U.S. National Archives)