Georg Gaertner, a young German man, found himself in North Africa in 1943. He was a part of the German Army’s Afrika Korps. He was captured by the British army at Tunis in 1943.He was handed over to the Americans along with thousands of other prisoners and was brought to prisoner of war camps in the United States. Georg was sent to Fort Deming, New Mexico.
In September of 1945, because he was afraid of being sent back to his hometown which was now under Soviet control, he slipped past a guard, lifted up the fence, and escaped from that prison camp. And he ran.
He started out working as a farm laborer. Because he was afraid of being captured, he was constantly on the move.
He became a tennis instructor. He had played tennis in Germany as a young man and was rather good.
He became a ski instructor in the Rocky Mountains. In fact, in 1952, he was part of the team that went into the Donner Pass. There was a train that had wrecked in there, and it was locked in because of the snow. The skiers went in and rescued some 200 people out of that train wreck.
He was continuously running, continuously trying to stay away from the authorities.
One day he came home fearful that he’d blown his cover: They’re going to know who I am, and so I’ve got to move again. He told his wife: “Pack it all up. We’ve got to move immediately.”
After 20 years of this, she said: “Wait a minute. I can’t take this any longer. What’s wrong with you? Why are we constantly moving like this?”
Georg sat down and he shared with her what he had never shared with anyone else: He was a prisoner of war, a man condemned. She looked at him and said: “Go to the office of immigration and naturalization. The war is over.”
Finally, Georg, who went by the name, Dennis Whiles, after 40 years of running, at 64 years of age, turned himself in to federal authorities. Instead of condemning him, they released him to live a free man.*
The war was finally over for Georg Gaertner. He no longer had anything or anyone to fear. The past was over. He now lived free.
Because of the Cross, our war is over. Jesus Christ won the victory over sin and death. If we trust in Christ, we have no thing or no one to fear. We can live in the freedom that God designed for His creation. We no longer live in condemnation for a life in the past. No longer do we have to live under guilt and shame. We are free to become the person God meant us to be, His child.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8:1-2 (NIV)
*”Hitler’s Last Soldier in America,” by George Gaertner and Arnold Krammer.