What a death camp survivor can teach us about love

Posted by Karen Degen on 16th January 2014

Tags: Germans, Jewish, Wild Bill, death camp, forgiveness, hate, love, soldiers, survivor

Psychiatrist George Ritchie, author of Return from Tomorrow, told the story of ‘Wild Bill’, one of the death camp survivors with whom he worked after the liberation:

“Wild Bill” was one of the inmates of the concentration camp, but obviously he hadn’t been there long: His posture was erect, his eyes bright, his energy indefatigable.  Since he was fluent in English, French, German and Russian, as well as Polish, he became a kind of unofficial camp translator.

Though Wild Bill worked 15 and 16 hours a day, he showed no signs of weariness.  While the rest of us were drooping with fatigue, he seemed to gain strength.

I was astonished to learn when Wild Bill’s own papers came before us one day, that he had been in Wuppertal since 1939!  For six years he had lived on the same starvation diet, slept in the same airless and disease-ridden barracks as everyone else, but without the least physical or mental deterioration.

Wild Bill was our greatest asset, reasoning with the different groups, counseling forgiveness.  “It’s not easy for some of them to forgive,” I commented to him one day…. “so many of them have lost members of their families.”

“We lived in the Jewish section of Warsaw,” he began slowly, the first words I had heard him speak about himself, “my wife, our two daughters, and our 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 work group.”

“I had to decide right then,” he continued, “whether to let myself hate the soldiers who had done this.  It was an easy decision, really.  I was a lawyer.  In my practice I had seen too often what hate could do to people’s minds and bodies. Hate had just killed the six people who mattered most to me in the world. I decided then that I would spend the rest of my life – whether it was a few days or many years – loving every person I came in contact with.”  This was the power that had kept a man well in the face of ever privation.


If you want to let go of hate or anger and be able to forgive, if you want to be at peace and able to love but don’t know how, I can help.  EFT creates true freedom from those negative emotions.

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