Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Stranger: Nazi officer discovered in Minnesota

A few days ago, I read an interesting article about a man who had been living in Minnesota for decades was really a WWII SS Nazi Commander. For him to have been a commander in WWII, he'd have to be really old by now, and the story says he is 94 years of age.

I thought that was an interesting coincidence because I'd just watched a movie called "The Stranger". This is a fictional 1946 movie about a Nazi who had masterminded the genocide of the Jews and when the war was over managed to flee Germany to the United States. He settled in a small village in New Hampshire, obtained a teaching position at an academy, and married the town scion's daughter. It starred Orson Welles as the Nazi, Edward G. Robinson as the FBI man chasing him, and Loretta Young as the wife who married the Nazi.

The movie built its suspense, making the conclusion a sneak attack of horror. Its chosen location was a burb so guileless that patrons of the General Store helped themselves to pouring the ever-percolating pot of coffee behind the counter while the genial proprietor sat playing checkers near the woodstove with anyone who'd take him on for a quarter. There were happy teens running track, a well-attended church, and a luminous bride chirping about her white wedding.

Harper, NH is a kind of town every person could admire, life there is what we hope for, and wants life to be like. A town that's safe, pretty, innocent, and upright.

Its stomach-turning, gasping horror was due to the juxtaposition of the clean-cut innocence of the town being gradually overcome with the stain of the evil heart of the Nazi. It was like watching a baby just out of the bath being approached by a rabid, drooling, mangy dog ready to devour it.

The movie gradually descended you into the mind of the Nazi, but the resistance of our mind to recognizing such horror is strong, especially by the young wife who had just married the evil man masked as a thoughtful teacher. In response to her father's question about walking home after dark, she had said, "In Harper, there's nothing to be afraid of."
The fictional town of Harper, NH where the Nazi had come to live

The wife resisted the clear implications of her husband being a murderous Nazi, even after he confessed to two killings. He had (made up) a good reason, after all. She resisted facing the truth to the point where Robinson had to show her film of a recently liberated Concentration Camp, complete with wasted skeletons of people weakly and pitifully thanking their liberators, right down to close-ups of the skeletons in the ovens. The Stranger is said to be be the first to show actual footage of the German camps.

Loretta Young's character had a problem facing such evil, because one would surely be able to spot it? Something about the person would set him apart from all the other people who are not so evil, surely? We as rational, innocent, good people, would be able to distinguish ourselves from the Nazis who harbored such hellish minds and dark hearts? Surely we would not ... marry a person like this?

Loretta Young's character finally broke down and faced the truth. The movie is called The Stranger and the title is apt. The stranger is not the man who came to town with all his WWII evil hidden away, the stranger is the evil that is in all of us, a potential that waits coiled up like a snake at the base of our hearts, waiting to be fed.

So having just seen the movie the night prior and then reading the article about the Minnesota man, was interesting to say the least.

Report: Former Nazi SS Officer Living In Minnesota
A 94-year-old man who allegedly was a top commander of a Nazi SS unit responsible for the massacre of civilians during World War II is reportedly living quietly in Minnesota, according to an exclusive report by The Associated Press. The news agency says it obtained records through the Freedom of Information Act that show Michael Karkoc
"A June 3, 1944, photo provided by the
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
shows SS chief Heinrich Himmler (center) as he reviews troops
of the Galician SS-Volunteer Infantry Division." Source
lied to officials in 1949 about his past in order to immigrate to the United States. According to the AP, Karkoc concealed his military service during World War II as an officer and founding member of the SS-led Ukraine Self Defense Legion and later as an officer of the SS Galician Division. "The Galician Division and a Ukrainian nationalist organization he served in were both on a secret American government blacklist of organizations whose members were forbidden from entering the United States at the time," the AP reports."

Michael Karkoc Revelations: Nazi Unit Leader's Minneapolis Life Prompts Shock
"The revelation Friday that a former commander of a Nazi SS-led military unit has lived quietly in Minneapolis for the past six decades came as a shock to people who knew him, prompted harsh condemnations from World War II survivors in the U.S. and Europe, and led prosecutors in Poland to say they would investigate. ... "I know him personally. We talk, laugh. He takes care of his yard and walks with his wife," his next-door neighbor, Gordon Gnasdoskey, said Friday. Gnasdoskey, the grandson of a Ukrainian immigrant himself, said he was disturbed by the revelations about his longtime neighbor."

St. Michael's and St. George's Ukrainian Orthodox Church
Karkoc is a member of the St. Michael's and St. George's Ukrainian Orthodox Church, seen at right, and is a member in good standing, said his pastor. The implication being, how could such a quiet man, who the day before had been seen doing normal suburban things such as cleaning his gutters, have participated in brutal and evil crimes against humanity?

Paul Washer has the answer.

"Hitler was not an anomaly. Hitler was not a phenomenon. Hitler was what everyone in this room has the potential of being. Not only that, you need to understand that even in all the wickedness of Hitler, he was still restrained by the common grace of God. And you need to know this, that if it were not for the common grace of God, restraining you in your unconverted state, you would make Hitler look like a choirboy." Paul Washer.



The "shock" is not that there is a Nazi living among us. The shock is, that any one of us could be a Nazi.

When we come to grips with our own terrible evil, evil we use and wield against God every day, we come to better grips with His love for us. His holiness is so pure, so strong and majestic, so piercing, that even a glimpse of it terrifies the common man.

"When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him." (Exodus 34:29-30).

His perfection and holiness puts fear into us. That is because we recognize how depraved and evil we are.

Isaiah saw immediately how depraved he was, when confronted by the holiness of God. "And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" (Isaiah 6:5).

The delusion satan brings is that we are good, we are innocent, we are pure. Or, at least to the slightly more honest among us, we're not so bad.  "We're not like HIM" our minds cry out when we discover that our neighbor is a Nazi. We use each other as a benchmark of progress in the goodness department, when the true standard is God. Our minds want to shrink from using Him as a benchmark because deep down we know what we are:

"The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (Genesis 6:5).

Do you see how complete that statement is, "so great", "every intention", "continually"? We are saturated with sin, permeated down to the last molecule. Washer is right, "All men are born evil."

Washer is right to say that Hitler was restrained from worse. The restrainer is holding back the full potential of sin in the human heart, and so we enjoy His common grace. But once the restrainer is out of the way,

"Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, ... The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders..." (2 Thessalonians 2:7b, 8a, 9).

In other words, watch out! 'Satan with all power'. Everyone on earth except those who believe in Jesus after the rapture will make Hitler look like a choirboy. God's common grace will have been removed- which will reveal the undeniable fact that everyone is not just a Hitler, but is an antichrist.

Once we understand this, the shock shifts. We are no longer shocked by the Nazi man puttering in his garden, because we see ourselves as having the same potential. The shock is, GOD LOVES US ANYWAY.

We can have a higher and deeper awe and love for Holy God because he loved each and every little Hitler on earth. Our precious Jesus died and shed His blood to save us!

"but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8).

If the Nazi in the camp had turned from the ovens and bent down and asked the Lord to forgive his sins, Jesus would have, and the Nazi would go to heaven and the Jewish man on the slab about to be put into the oven would go to hell. His infinite love forgives any sin- except the sin of rejecting Him. His love is eternal, infinite, unstoppable, and would blanket you in glory in an instant,

"because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9).

The Lord will unhesitatingly save you, and change your evil heart to a holy heart.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Book review: Randy Alcorn's Deadline

My summer began at Memorial Day and for most people the summer still has 5 weeks to go until Labor Day, the traditional ending of the trav...