The Cross and the Swastika (1988)
Word Books, UK
F. T. Grossmith

Reviewed by Lana Nightingale

(Investigator 12, 1990 May)

"I kneel by my bed and look up to heaven and ask God to open my daddy's heart and let Jesus in."

The little girl who said these words had, in 1946, one of the most notorious men in the world as her father — Hermann Goering.

This book though is not about him, although he and the other major luminaries of Hitler's Germany who were tried at Nuremberg feature in it.

Instead it is about Major Henry Gerecke the U.S. Army chaplain assigned to the prison at Nuremberg to care for the spiritual welfare of those prisoners of the Lutheran faith.

Henry Gerecke wrought a seeming miracle among his small congregation of fifteen (the other prisoners were Catholic) — a miracle that clearly illustrated the Christian concept of forgiveness being available for all mankind if they will only avail themselves of it. Some of these men, arguably the most hated in the world at the time, came to accept Jesus Christ as their saviour — an event as unlikely as unexpected.

History alone will be the judge as to whether justice was served at the Nuremberg trials, but the success enjoyed by Pastor Gerecke can be illustrated by the reconciliation of von Ribbentrop, Keitel, Sauckel and Frick among the Lutheran prisoners sentenced to death.

The fact that two other Lutherans sentenced to die (Goering and Rosenberg) made no apparent reconciliation with God was to cause Gerecke much heartache in that he felt to have failed them.

But this book shows Henry Gerecke as a resoundingly successful man of God and is a vibrant witness of how, according to Christian belief, the forgiveness of God can flow to all.

We can never know what was in the heart of Gerecke's most glaring "failure", but we can hope that the words of his daughter came true.