By Rick Hamlin
Prayer Removes Mountains
It’s the only Guideposts story about D-Day that I know of told from the Germans’ side.
Adolf Zinsser was too young to go into the German Army in the early days of World War II, but as he said, his “blond and blue-eyed” Aryan looks attracted attention and when he was only 15 he was urged to enlist in the S.S.
He remembered the song they would sing in those illegal church gatherings, that “prayer removes mountains,” and wondered if it was true. Perhaps that’s why he had resisted the allure of the S.S. Two years later, in 1944, when he was only 17, he was drafted.
At training camp he was registered a rifle and warned along with the other soldiers that he would be court-martialed if he ever lost it. To his surprise he turned out to be an excellent shot. But he was horrified at the thought that he could harm another human being for the Nazi regime.
He prayed under his blanket at night, Lord Jesus, let me never kill a man for a government that makes people hide to worship you.
In May 1944 he was sent to France along with other raw recruits to help man Hitler’s “impregnable” Atlantic wall. Assigned to a bunker in Normandy, he saw the sky darken with Allied planes on June 6. Soon he was part of the German retreat. Although he came under fire in the days ahead, to his relief he was never close enough to the enemy to return the fire.
Then one night, sleeping in a farmhouse with his squad, he put his rifle under a pallet of straw and slept on top of it. The next morning when roused awake, he groped under the straw to retrieve his rifle ... and found nothing. The rifle was gone. The entire unit searched the barn. It was gone, disappeared into thin air.
That day, for the first time, his squad fired against the Allies. All but Zinsser, who was put in charge of a terrified horse. He never fired a weapon for the remainder of the war—mostly because he didn’t have one. He wasn’t court-martialed. Instead he and his unit were taken as prisoners by the Allies.
His one prayer, a prayer that he was almost ashamed of, had been answered. Prayer could remove mountains? It seemed to have removed one rifle.