But in the midst of this broken city the Allies sought to piece together an appropriate trial. It was a difficult task because in many areas they were charting new legal territory. The lawyers asked questions about who should be tried for what and under what laws. Gerecke’s task was simpler in this respect. These men had obviously broken God’s laws.
With these leaders defeated and broken one of the tough tasks of Colonel Andrus was making sure that the prisoners did not commit suicide. Outside each cell of the major criminals was a flood lamp that the cell’s guard could shine in on the prisoner at any time. Townsend said, “At night, each guard was instructed to point the bright light at his prisoner through the door’s peephole” (p. 122). The laws of men can be evaded; sometime forever. But the laws of God are never evaded. The light of His law shines on them always. His law stands and those who have sinned (which is everyone, Romans 3:23) deserve the wage of sin. Death.
Death was nothing new in Nuremberg. But as Gerecke entered Nuremberg his task and privilege was to share life. He was called to that place so that he might extend to the prisoners the life giving message of the Gospel. Into a place that had promoted death he lifted up the Gospel. Into a place that had seen many lives end he came that spiritual life might be given. Into a place that was attempting to follow human law in every detail Gerecke came to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Before the Nuremberg trials, there are no records of American military chaplains being assigned to provide religious support to the enemies of their country. Throughout history, captured clerics typically ministered only to their own flocks in prisoner-of-war camps where they, too, were prisoners” (p. 136-137). Now Gerecke, as a free man, was able to extend to the prisoners Jesus Christ who came to set men free. As Isaiah writes, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; (Isaiah 61:1-2). These words Jesus applied to Himself in Luke 4. Gerecke, as an ambassador for Christ, had the opportunity to share the news of forgiveness and peace in Jesus Christ. A message that might not open the iron doors of the Nuremberg prison but does open the doors of the prison of sin and death.
By God’s grace, a number of the men under Gerecke’s care heard and believed the message of the Gospel. We will mention more of this in future posts.