During the second world war, there was a very special man in Germany. His name was August Landmesser.
Born in Moorrege, German, in 1910, he was an only child. He joined the Nazi party in 1931 with the hope of getting employment. Four years later, he became engaged to Irma Eckler, a Jewish woman. This action costed him his position in the Nazi party. He and Irma then registered in Hamburg to be married, but the enactment of the Nuremberg Laws, which prohibited Germans from marrying Jews, prevented their marriage.
In 1937, Landmesser took Irma, with whom he was now living in secret, along with their first child, and attempted to flee Nazi Germany to Denmark. Unfortunately he was detained at the border and charged with “dishonoring the race” — or “Racial infamy” under the Nuremberg Laws. He was acquitted in 1938 for lack of evidence, but was warned that a repeat offense would result in a multi-year prison sentence.
Landmesser and his wife stopped hiding their relationship at this point, and on July 15, 1928 he was again arrested and sentenced to 2.5 years in the Borgermoor concentration camp. His wife, Irma, was also arrested by the Gestapo and held in Fuhlsbutten, where she gave birth to their second child. She was then sent to Oranienburg concentration camp, and then on to Lichtenburg concentration camp for women. Finally she was sent to the women’s concentration camp at Ravensbruck. It is believed that she would then be taken to the Bernburg Euthanasia Centre in 1942 where she was eventually murdered for her ethnicity.
Landmesser was discharged from prison in January 1941, but he was not allowed to be reunited with his two children. His two daughters were forced into the foster care system. August was eventually drafted into a penal battalion, and after fighting in Croatia, he was declared killed in action on October 17, 1944. A sad ending to a sad life.
Yet it was a life that we could all learn from. August’s life was marked with strict loyalty to a race of people whom it was illegal to love and support. He had rock solid convictions, and he refused to break them, no matter what the cost. He even went so far as to refuse to perform the Nazi Salutation. He appeared in a photograph from 1936, standing amongst other workers. He is the only one not saluting. We can be sure that although August never saw any reward for sticking to his convictions, His award awaits him in heaven.
We, also, are also asked to suffer for our convictions. Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34 NIV). He said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33b NIV), and we are advised, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23 NIV). August Landmesser was a living example of someone who took Jesus at His word, someone who held on to his convictions, no matter what the cost. Would we be so brave in his stead?
August Lansmesser was a hero. He took Jesus at His word when Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10 NIV). Let’s remember that our reward isn’t necessarily on this Earth; it is, however, in Heaven!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 10:1-3 NIV)!
In His love,
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries