On The Spot






     The term “Death March” became one of the most horrid stories to come out of World War Two.  The sordid details of human massacres and insidious tortures are almost beyond human comprehension.  One of these “death marches” ended in a spectacular manner, far, far differently from its intended purpose.

     One young man, along with his father, mother, three sisters [one of whom had an infant child], two younger brothers, and two brothers-in-law, found himself on one such march.

     When we departed, we had some money, horses and many valuables.  Little did we realize that before long our captors would beat us, and force us under the threat of death to give them all our money and other belongings.  As each day passed their savagery increased.

     “Once we were halted, told to remove our clothes, and lie down in the sand.  Some were forced to give their entire outfits away, leaving them absolutely naked.  Some were allowed to keep just a shirt or blouse.

     “From time to time, the soldiers would walk into the place where we were huddled together in an attempt to survive the night, force some of the men to walk off into some distant place, and we would never see them again.  First my dad was taken away and then my two brothers-in-law.

     “Again and again some of the women were killed right where they stood, right before our eyes.  Those who were not murdered were in constant fear of being snatched up and given to some enemy villagers.  My two younger sisters were taken away and we did not know what had happened to them.

     “Thousands of babies and weaklings were thrown into rivers.  Mothers were compelled to abandon their own children when they became too weak to carry them further  , or they were unable to bear to see them suffering so badly.  The Euphrates River carried down its stream numerous headless human corpses.  My own two brothers were murdered and thrown into that river.

     We arrived at a valley between several mountains.  Three or four narrow roads led into the one central road.  Another convoy of human depravity met us, and together we were compelled to climb up the steep mountain route. But before we started up the dirt road that seemed to reach into heaven itself, more than six hundred men, women and children from the other convoy were tortured and massacred.  We had to stand helplessly by and watch it all.  I closed my eyes, and I suspect  most of the rest did, too.  That valley,  which under proper care could have been a beautifully irrigated garden, was now a vast cemetery of unburied bodies.  We walked off, leaving them there in the sun. 

     “I heard several of the adults talking softly about what they felt was waiting us at the top of the mountain.  We were now reduced to the older women and children under fourteen years old.  Their suspicions were accurate.

     “We were all sitting down in the dirt, trying to get some rest from the hike that would have been grueling for someone in top physical condition, when we were suddenly surrounded by the soldiers who had occupied that hilltop garrison.  It was as if we had been brought to them because they had not been able to go out and get their own captives to torture and kill.  We were like toys and playthings being given children.  They had rifles, swords, hatchets, and sickles.

     “With bloodthirsty eyes and shouts of wild passion, they began to attack the helpless, defenseless forms of depraved life who were now standing up.  Seeing all the bloodshed and cruel pain, the surviving women and children shrieked and wailed.  It only seemed to fan the fires of fury of these maddened murderers.

     “As if it had been planned, everyone fell to their knees at almost the exact moment.  Unanimously we all began to pray out loud.  These earnest, fervent cries stopped the slaughterers momentarily.  But, they began to jeer these pitiful petitioners.  And they shouted to each other to ‘finish them off.’

     “Just as they raised their swords, hatchets, and sickles to start slicing bodies into pieces, which they seemed to delight in more than in using a rifle, the ground began to quiver beneath us!

     “A cracking sound grew louder and louder.  A large crack suddenly came on both sides of us, separating us from the soldiers.  The there was a large shaking of the mountain and the crevices were suddenly enlarged to as much as three feet across.

     The stunned assassinators stood gaping at the gigantic cracks that had come on both sides of us.  Perplexed and terrified, they left us alone, going back into their makeshift barracks.  We all knew that God had heard and answered our prayers.  We all engaged in one of the most joyful meetings ever conducted.

     “We were taken on by our captors for three more months of traveling.  All the time, through terrible hardship and death-dealing ordeals, not one soldier had laid a finger on the first one of us.

     “When the war ended, and I made my way to Istanbul, I sought out a Christian missionary compound.  There, after much study, I gave my heart and life to the One Who had brought that earthquake, on the spot, in answer to our prayers.

     “Not too long after becoming a Christian, I was totally surprised by the sudden appearance of my sister and her child.  She had been separated from us on the march, and God had protected her, too.  Along with her came my other two brothers who had been taken into exile before the rest of us made the march.  Through my witness and the missionary’s patient studies, the two brothers and the sister were all baptized.

     “It took a while, but Christ gave me victory over my hatred and bitterness in regards to my captors.  And this same Christ is filling other broken hearts with peace, happiness, and hope.”