Wild Bill was one of the death camp survivors during WW2. He was one of the inmates of the concentration camp, but obviously, he hadn’t been there long (or so we thought) for his posture was erect, his eyes bright, his energy was strong. Because he was fluent in English, French, German and Russian, as well as Polish, he became a kind of unofficial camp translator.
Psychiatrist George Ritchie, author of “Return From Tomorrow” tells the story. Wild Bill worked 15 to 16 hours a day but showed no signs of weariness. While the rest of us were dropping with fatigue, he seemed to gain strength. I was astonished to learn when Wild Bill’s own papers came before us one day; he had been in Wuppertal death camp since 1939! For six years he had lived on a starvation diet, slept in the same airless and disease-ridden barracks as everyone else, but without the least physical or mental deterioration.
Wild Bill became our greatest asset, helping us, counseling us in forgiveness. “It’s not easy for some of us to forgive, I commented to him one day. Many of them have lost members of their family.” Wild Bill responded. “We lived in the Jewish section of Warsaw, my wife, our two daughters and three little boys. When the Germans reached our street, they lined everyone against a wall and opened up with machine guns. I begged to be allowed to die with my family, but because I spoke German, they put me in a workgroup. I decided right then” he continued, “whether to let myself hate the soldiers who had done this, I had seen too often what hate could do to people’s minds and bodies. Hate had just killed the six people that mattered most to me. So I decided then that I would spend the rest of my life, whether it was a few days or years loving every person I came into contact with.”
Love is amazing! Jesus didn’t tell us to like our enemies, that’s almost impossible. Like is a sentimental and affectionate word. Love is greater than like. Love sees that there is redemptive goodwill for all people!