So with these types of men under his care he was introduced to Hess. And as they meet Gerecke offered his hand to shake and Hess took it. Townsend says, “The act of an army chaplain physically touching a Nazi so repelled Americans that Gerecke was later severely criticized for even shaking hand with the defendants” (p. 140).
Gerecke did this, not disregarding the horror of what Hess had done or any of the other prisoners. He did this because, as he later said, “I was there as the representative of an all-loving Father. I recalled too, that God loves sinners like me. These men must be told about the Saviour bleeding, suffering and dying on the Cross for them” (p. 141).
Hess had been jailed with Hitler and helped in the writing of Mein Kampf. Gerecke invited him to come to the chapel service that would occur that Sunday. Hess said he would not come and also rejected the offer of different reading materials including the Gospel of John. Gerecke looked at this first meeting as a failure (p. 143).
By God’s grace though, not all the meetings went as this first one. As Gerecke came to know the different prisoners, those who had caused so much hurt and destruction, some came to repentance and faith as God used Gerecke to share the Gospel.