Cover image for Mission at Nuremberg : an American army chaplain and the trial of the Nazis
Title:
Mission at Nuremberg : an American army chaplain and the trial of the Nazis
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2014.

©2014
ISBN:
9780061997198
Physical Description:
388 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 24cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Death by hanging -- Zion -- God of war -- This too shall pass -- The sun's light failed -- Judas window -- His soul touches the stars -- Book of Numbers -- The brand of Cain -- Wine and blood -- It was you who invited me here.
Abstract:
Mission at Nuremberg is Tim Townsend's gripping story of the American Army chaplain sent to save the souls of the Nazis incarcerated at Nuremberg, a compelling and thought-provoking tale that raises questions of faith, guilt, morality, vengeance, forgiveness, salvation, and the essence of humanity. Lutheran minister Henry Gerecke was fifty years old when he enlisted as am Army chaplain during World War II. As two of his three sons faced danger and death on the battlefield, Gerecke tended to the battered bodies and souls of wounded and dying GIs outside London. At the war's end, when other soldiers were coming home, Gerecke was recruited for the most difficult engagement of his life: ministering to the twenty-one Nazis leaders awaiting trial at Nuremburg. Based on scrupulous research and first-hand accounts, including interviews with still-living participants and featuring sixteen pages of black-and-white photos, Mission at Nuremberg takes us inside the Nuremburg Palace of Justice, into the cells of the accused and the courtroom where they faced their crimes. As the drama leading to the court's final judgments unfolds, Tim Townsend brings to life the developing relationship between Gerecke and Hermann Georing, Albert Speer, Wilhelm Keitel, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and other imprisoned Nazis as they awaited trial. Powerful and harrowing, Mission at Nuremberg offers a fresh look at one most horrifying times in human history, probing difficult spiritual and ethical issues that continue to hold meaning, forcing us to confront the ultimate moral question: Are some men so evil they are beyond redemption?
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Book 341.69 TOW 1
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Book BIOGRAPHY GERECKE, H. 1 .SOURCE. BT 4-16-14
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Summary

Summary

Mission at Nuremberg is Tim Townsend's gripping story of the American Army chaplain sent to save the souls of the Nazis incarcerated at Nuremberg, a compelling and thought-provoking tale that raises questions of faith, guilt, morality, vengeance, forgiveness, salvation, and the essence of humanity.

Lutheran minister Henry Gerecke was fifty years old when he enlisted as am Army chaplain during World War II. As two of his three sons faced danger and death on the battlefield, Gerecke tended to the battered bodies and souls of wounded and dying GIs outside London. At the war's end, when other soldiers were coming home, Gerecke was recruited for the most difficult engagement of his life: ministering to the twenty-one Nazis leaders awaiting trial at Nuremburg.

Based on scrupulous research and first-hand accounts, including interviews with still-living participants and featuring sixteen pages of black-and-white photos, Mission at Nuremberg takes us inside the Nuremburg Palace of Justice, into the cells of the accused and the courtroom where they faced their crimes. As the drama leading to the court's final judgments unfolds, Tim Townsend brings to life the developing relationship between Gerecke and Hermann Georing, Albert Speer, Wilhelm Keitel, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and other imprisoned Nazis as they awaited trial.

Powerful and harrowing, Mission at Nuremberg offers a fresh look at one most horrifying times in human history, probing difficult spiritual and ethical issues that continue to hold meaning, forcing us to confront the ultimate moral question: Are some men so evil they are beyond redemption?


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Henry Gerecke, a Lutheran minister from St. Louis serving as an Army Chaplain at the close of WWII, received a startling opportunity: ministering to the Nazis who would be charged with war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials. Gerecke, who had given well-attended sermons for years, had also struggled during the war to bridge the divide between his country and his faith, refusing a request from Office of Strategic Services officials to extract information from prisoners during confession. Townsend, a three-time Religion Newswriters Association Religion Reporter of the Year, examines Gerecke's struggle and the uneasy path toward prosecuting Nazi officials, with Churchill at one point recommending Nazi officials just be shot within six hours of capture rather than be prosecuted. Townsend's account is full of surreal moments Gerecke witnessed during his time in Nuremberg, from watching a congregation full of Nazis singing "Silent Night" on Christmas to Goering's last letter to his daughter, an innocuous note wishing her a happy birthday. Townsend's accessible account captures the strangeness and horror of Gerecke's assignment, and examines what it's like to spend the day around men who had committed such monstrous acts. Agent: Eric Simonoff, William Morris Endeavor. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

In his first book, Townsend, a writer and editor with the Pew Research Center's Religion and Public Life Project, examines World War II's most unusual ministry: the pastoring of the architects of the Third Reich. On Nov. 20, 1945, the Allies commenced the Nuremberg Trials, an unprecedented proceeding that charged Hitler's top lieutenantsGoering, Kesselring et al.with conspiracy to commit crimes against humanity. Due to the strict security surrounding the prisoners, the Chaplain Corps was called upon for the first time in its 230-year history to supply religious counseling to America's enemies. Assigned to this controversial task since he was Lutheran (like so many of the German prisoners), spoke the language and had experience with prison ministries, Chaplain Henry Gerecke (18931961) worked for nearly a year to rescue the souls of some of history's most notorious defendants. Gerecke's prewar life story, a quick review of the Chaplain Corps' evolution, scene-setting to explain the Nuremberg tribunal's composition and mission, thumbnail sketches of the Nazi henchmen and a recitation of the atrocities they engineered, and prison life for the war criminals are all part of Townsend's story. However, he focuses most on Gerecke's delicate interactions with his highly unusual flock. Passages recalling the middle-aged St. Louis preacher's counseling of Goering (and the decision to deny the Luftwaffe commander Holy Communion) and Gerecke's first meeting with Rudolf Hess are especially well-done. Townsend authoritatively addresses the excruciating moral and religious issues confronting wartime chaplains and deftly explains the role of a spiritual adviser in bringing the wrongdoer, even one seemingly beyond redemption, back to "a place of restoration." Gerecke's story is only a footnote to "the trial of the century," but Townsend thoroughly understands and skillfully handles the rich, potentially explosive material it contains.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

In 1945, as the Allies readied the complicated plans for the Nuremberg trials, religion was a consideration, per the Geneva Convention's regulations. As award-winning religion reporter and first-time book author Townsend puts it, they had to determine whether to supply the architects of the Holocaust with a Christian minister to comfort their spirits as they explained to the world the murder of six million Jews. The Lutheran minister the Allies provided was Henry Gerecke, a middle-aged U.S. Army chaplain from south St. Louis. Along with Father Sixtus O'Connor, a Catholic, Chaplain Gerecke spent months ministering to the top tier of Nazi criminals. In a clear, gripping, and extensively researched narrative, Townsend raises the hard questions of good and evil, forgiveness and retribution; and, also, whether these killers, obeying orders and ignoring morality, deserved spiritual succor in what were, for many of them, their final days. There is much to ponder and bemoan in this detailed report of the trials and of a brave, kindly pastor moving through the most frightening experience of his life. --Kinney, Eloise Copyright 2014 Booklist