March of LIfe Austria (April 2014)
Heinz Reuss of TOS Church began discussing March of LIfe with some people from Christian Friends of Israel Austria in 2013 and things began moving quickly. Churches of every denomination began planning for a march that would go from the Mauthausen Camp to Gusen I & II. As part of the march, I was asked to play in a church in Linz, Austria which is the hometown of Hitler. Pastor ___ and his lovely wife, Auguste, were gracious hosts and their church was full of people who have an obvious love of Israel.
The saints of Austria located and brought in 5 survivors of the Mauthausen-Gusen Camp system who were all living in other nations. They (need correct spellings of names) came from Slovenia, Poland, Israel, Italy, and ___ . in our opening meetings held in Gusen, we showed a documentary film by American/Israeli film-maker David Fischer that explored the relationship between his siblings and their father, who somehow survived the Gusen camp for 4 months though the average life of a Jew in this camp was about 3 or 4 days. The Governor of this region of Austria, _____ , spontaneously spoke at the end of the meeting and vowed that this state would have a continous and active remembrance.
The following day we gathered at the notorious Mauthausen Concentration Camp, known for SS cruelty. Our honored guests spoke about how they all went through processing at this place before being sent on to Gusen. We began marching to the quarry first. The Nazis loved granite and marble buildings and much of it was quarried from here. Prisoners were forced to carry huge granite blocks in a wooden basket on their back up and down an extremely slippery and steep slope. SS would very often kick a prisoner in the back as they started down the slope, causing a bowling ball effect as they hit other prisoners on the way down. There was also something known as the "Parachuters" when 1,000 Dutch Jews were brought to the camp and as they were entering the quarry and walking along the cliff, the SS began joking about "flying dutchmen" and threw them all over the edge. Most died, but those who somehow survived were brought back up to the top and thrown off again.
At the event, Wolfe Reinhart from TOS Church (but is an Austrian) spoke about how his father had been a proud Nazi, and how he had grown up hating Jews and his experience in the Austrian army had made him even more calloused. Then one day after he had become a born-again Christian, he had an urge to visit Auscwicz and in that place he came to grips with just how horrible his darkness was. Speaking to the Shoah survivors present, he asked forgiveness and vowed to support and love the Jewish people for the rest of his days, and was bringing up his children in a different way than his father had taught him.