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Adolph Hitler and Brother Stanislaus




This popped up in my Facebook “Memories” this morning. I posted it 5 years ago, but the actual “memory” is from 50 years ago.


I once knew a man who slapped Adolph Hitler.

I met him back in the 1960s, during my high school years when I stayed a few weekends at the Catholic monastery in Colfax, Iowa, doing chores and spending time with Father Sean and the Brothers. 

Brother Stanislaus was old and small and thin, and he was very quiet, almost invisible. He raised pigeons in a large pigeon coop behind the monastery. The only conversation I remember having with him was on the summer afternoon when he gave me the grand tour of his pigeon coop. He pointed out individual pigeons and told me how they’d come to be in his care. His quiet humility made me feel as though I was in the presence of a modern-day St. Francis of Assisi. 

A couple of years later, I turned on the television at home and saw Brother Stanislaus being interviewed on a local news program. I was surprised to see him on television, and even more surprised by the story he told.

 During WWI, Hitler joined the Bavarian Army, serving as an infantryman and messenger.  Stanislaus, as Hitler’s superior officer, had a confrontation with Hitler which resulted in him slapping Hitler across the face. It was odd picturing that quiet, serene Catholic monk, Brother Stanislaus, dressed in a military uniform in the midst of one of the most horrific battles in the history of the world. The 16th Bavarian Reserve Regiment fought in the First Battle of Ypres, known in Germany as the “Kindermord bei Ypern,” the “Massacre of the Innocents”. In twenty days time, 40,000 newly-enlisted soldiers died in battle against Allied forces. 

Think of the paths that those two men took in their lives: one rose to power and waged a war against the world and his own people, resulting in millions of lives lost, while the other became a servant to the people who came to the monastery for spiritual counsel and quiet meditation. 

“….put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience….”  
Colossians 3:12



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