This is my story – my life from the horrors of war and slaughter to the travails of change and atonement. For much of my life I lived in fear that my past would catch up to me. I hid my beliefs and prejudices and walked among the gentle, unsuspecting people of a small American town. I am, or was, an embodiment of madness, atrocity, cruelty and horror.
I had to remind myself how to behave, react and interact with those around me. I could not pick my friends, neighbors or the people I would like to associate with. I could not express my desires and thoughts. I could not do what I wanted to do. I was locked inside a mad world without the ability to make any contribution, as I used to do – during the war and before it.
Friends and neighbors? I shunned them. Social groups and religious organizations? I shunned them as well. Often I thought it better to turn myself in or die one way or another – just to get everything over with.
That changed one day – a miraculous day when a young child came into my life and helped me back into life, reappraisal, and a quest for atonement.
That young child was Jewish.
And I am a former SS officer.