Friday, August 6, 2010

A Mild-Mannered Hero

"Felix Kersten, a mild-mannered, short man, had a unique place in the Nazi scheme of things. He was a masseur and had wealthy and influential clients in the Third Reich. His most famous cliet was Heinrich Himmler, who was the second most powerful leader in Germany. Just before Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, Himmler was stricken with severe stomach pains. Physicians had failed to relieve his suffering, so Felix Kersten was called in. Kersten treated the patient with such success that Himmler would be dependent on him during the years ahead.

In March 1945, it was clear that Nazi Germany was on the brink of total collapse, but Hitler had ordered the Gestapo leader to murder the hundreds of thousands of prisoners in concentration camps before they could be liberated by the Allies. Himmler, was again bothered by stomach pains and went to see Kersten. Kersten brought up the topic of the concentration camps and Himmler told him of Hitler's orders. The mild mannered masseur pleaded with Himmler to ignore the directive. 'Those are the Fuhrer's direct orders, and I must see to it that they are carried out' Himmler said testily. Undaunted, Kersten kept hammering away at his patient through his manual therapy during the next 2 weeks. After many heated arguements, the persistent masseur won out. He coerced Himmler into writing on paper a personal pledge to Kersten that he would not have prisoners killed and they would remain in the camps to be handed over to the Allies. Himmler stared at the amzaing document for a while but he finally signed it and gave it to Kersten."

(taken from "Bizarre Tales from World War II by William Breuer)

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