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Gerhard Klein


Gerhard Klein stellt in seinen liebevollen Zeichnungen die wichtigsten Sehenswürdigkeiten der Stadt Dresden dar und stellt sie in kurzen Beschreibungen vor. 

Paul Schneider (english)

Paul Schneider (english)

Christoph Werner

Translated by Christoph Werner (Weimar, Thuringia) and Michael Leonard (Petaluma, California)

Deutscher Textenglish

Eingang BuchenwaldA thin blanket of snow covers the mustering ground. A sharp north-eastern wind whirls up the flakes, and the sky hangs low and grey above me. I have been standing here for an hour, my back towards the bunker. My feet are growing cold and despite my warm winter clothes, gloves, cap and lined boots I start to freeze.

I take off my coat, my sweater, my gloves and am standing now in my shirt. The wind blows through it to my skin. It is early in the morning, about 8 o'clock, and a few degrees below freezing. At home I had a good breakfast, and I am still feeling the pleasant warmth of the hot tea I had. But it does not last. I begin to tremble after 10 minutes in my shirt, and my hands, which I do not want to put into my trouser pockets, are beginning to get numb.

How long did the prisoners have to stand here in their thin clothes? Mere skin and bone, without hope of warmth, many of them with only the prospect of working in the quarry. Again and again they were being counted, for hours, sometimes for days, until all numbers tallied. Some collapsed and were lifted up by their comrades and supported so that they could escape a beating by the SS guards.

Buchenwald-BunkerI give up, gather my things and flee to the heated room of the security man at the entrance. He offers me a cup of hot coffee from his thermos, which I accept with a trembling hand and drink.

No, one cannot share the feelings of the prisoners. No, one cannot get even the slightest idea what it was like in Buchenwald concentration camp, as an inmate.

On the left side of the entrance seen from outside, is the 'Bunker', in which uncounted numbers of people were tortured to death. We know the names and the sufferings of only a few of them, among them Paul Schneider.

Paul Schneider. Such an ordinary name, but what an extraordinary ring it has now acquired.

Truly, in the town of Weimar history can engulf you, both in a most beautiful and in a most terrible way. And in a dark time of terror one can encounter such an incredible light of self-sacrifice that despite everything one need not lose one's belief in mankind and its mission.

Paul Schneider was beaten and tortured for many months in the 'Bunker', the arrest cells of Buchenwald concentration camp, by Martin Sommer, the sadistic 'Hangman of Buchenwald', because Schneider believed he had to go to the utmost in the imitation of Christ, to death even in order to obey his God.

Zelle von Paul SchneiderAnd to obey God, to unconditionally follow His will meant for Schneider to give his fellow-prisoners and those tortured alongside him consolation and hope. Witnesses said that the example and the words of Paul Schneider encouraged and helped them to endure their sufferings. Prisoners on the mustering ground who could hear his words which he called out to them through the bars in his cell in the 'Bunker' say likewise. It was only a few words Schneider was able to shout out before the SS-man Sommer reached his cell and knocked him to the ground and began to beat him.

Not many have the gift of resignatio ad infernum, the desire to absolutely and completely sacrifice oneself to God. Paul Schneider was one of these few.

For him the imitation of Christ meant service to his fellow human beings, which even under the conditions in a concentration camp could not, for personal considerations, be ignored or forgotten. This must fill even those who are not Christians with great respect and admiration.

It is right that the Pfarrer-Paul-Schneider-Gesellschaft (Pastor-Paul-Schneider-Society), which has its seat in Weimar, Hoffmann-von-Fallersleben-Street No. 4, devotes itself to keeping up the memory of this martyr and brave human brother.

Paul Schneider was murdered in the infirmary of the concentration camp on July 18th, 1939 by an injection.

Since 1954 there has been a Paul-Schneider-Street in Weimar, and since 1988 the Protestant Community Centre "Paul Schneider" in Weimar-West.

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