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Vulnerability of God

World War II was drawing to a close. The German army was sending children to man the lines in a futile effort to stop the allied invasion into their homeland. It was March 1945. [Dr. Karl H. Schlesier, a German soldier, remembers this time:]

I was…in a battalion of teenage grenadiers fresh out of training [and] was sent into the front line east of the Rhine River after American forces had established a foothold on the east bank.

Fresh American units were pushed across, and our battalion was ordered to plug a hole in the front line. We dug in three companies abreast on a slight rise in front of the little town of Kirchhellen. I was with the 1st Company in the center of the position. My company…numbered about 80 teenagers.

In bitter fighting American troops pushed through on both sides but got stuck in front of my company. About 17 or 18 of us were left…. We huddled in two-man foxholes.

On the morning of March 28, amid smoldering tanks and twisted bodies, there suddenly came an eerie silence.

"I looked over the hole I shared with a buddy and saw no life but a movement in the busted roof of a farm house about 200 yards away," Schlesier said. Feeling sudden panic, Schlesier stood up in his foxhole and fired four rapid shots at nothing in particular.

The eerie silence was broken by a single voice. A lone American soldier had walked…calmly toward the entrenched Germans, saying in a calm and low voice, "Come on out. Come on out." [Schlesier remembers:]

…The American soldier had two machine guns trained on him, and we were sure he knew this, but he just kept on coming. To have shot him would have seemed like murder because he was not a threat. He just wanted us to give up.

[Schlesier's] foxhole happened to be directly in the path of the approaching American soldier, so Schlesier and his buddy were the first to confront him. The German soldiers did as he said. They dropped their weapons and took off their helmets, tossing them back into the foxhole.

The American soldier…told them to put their hands over their heads. Then he turned and walked toward the American lines without looking back as the German soldiers followed. Schlesier was overwhelmed:

He must have been the most reasonable man, the most perceptive, the most understanding, and by far the most brave. We had not expected to live, and he must have seen how idiotic this all was, and he acted on his own to save us, risking his life in the process.

Later in the prisoner-of-war camp we talked about him. If he had not come to get us, we would have died in our foxholes. His action was a personal one. He was not ordered to do what he did.… I owe him my life and have lived it

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