‘Living witness to evil that took place, saving grace of Jesus Christ’
Anita Dittman speaks about her life in one of Nazi Germany’s concentration camps. She grew up in Germany and was almost 6 years old when Hitler came to power.
Under the blazing August sun, the women swung their heavy shovels and picks over and over again, piercing the dry earth. They stirred up so much dust that they could taste it. Sweat rolled off their weary brows as they labored on, digging 6-foot-deep ditches.
Anyone who dared to pause and rest received a lashing from an angry guard. Relief did not come until noon, when a horse cart drew up with buckets of water and a watery soup with a mysterious chunky substance floating in it. But the women were so thirsty that they devoured their meager rations with delight.
After a half-hour break, the women hauled their aching bodies back to the ditches for four more uninterrupted hours of digging. By the time they lined up at 5 p.m. to receive more foul-tasting soup and one slice of bread, they had spent 10 hours digging in the sweltering heat. Their hands were covered in blisters and their backs felt ready to break.
It was only the first day for these prisoners in Barthold, a Nazi forced labor camp.
“Why does God allow this?” asked a young woman named Steffi on that first day. “Why does He allow our people to be slaughtered?”
“But what about those who live, Steffi?” replied her friend and fellow prisoner, Anita Dittman. “You and I will live to tell our story.”
Steffi looked skeptical as Anita assured her, “[God] does see us, and He hears the innermost longings of our hearts.”
The hellish conditions in Barthold were enough to make many of the half-Jewish inmates lose faith in God. But 17-year-old Anita Dittman never lost faith. Anita had a Jewish mother and an atheist father, but a Lutheran pastor had led her to Jesus Christ when she was about 7 years old. It was her strong faith in Jesus that sustained her, and allowed her to comfort others, when she was hauled away to Barthold in the summer of 1944.
Written by Paul Bremmer
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