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A Thousand Shall Fall

Book Review
Review by Alice E. Lauria

A Thousand Shall Fall chronicles the Hazel family in Hitler’s Germany during World War II. Franz Hazel was a pacifist and taught his family the ways of his faith. He had been a literature evangelist and publishing secretary.

His wife, Helene, was a homemaker and a Seventh-day Adventist.

When she refused to join the Nazi party, Herr Doering, a neighbor and party official, became her enemy. He would tell everyone that she was a Jew and harassed her in an effort the get her to join the party.

Nine year old Kurt, the oldest of the Hasel children and his sister, Lotte, were brainwashed daily about Aryan supremacy and Germany’s inevitable victory. However, when the younger Gerd, a nickname for Gerhard, took his father’s medals to school, Gerd’s mother found them in his pocket. This gave Franz an opportunity to explain what German life would be like if Germany won the war.

Gerd and Lotte enjoyed going to the Bird Paradise. The children enjoyed their walks in the open spaces, especially Susi and Lotti. Susi Hazel Mundy has written how this family of Seventh-day Adventists remained faithful to their beliefs and survived.

It was one warm Sabbath after church and after sundown when Franz opened the mail. At age 40 he was being drafted into the army.

A few days later at the recruitment center Franz explained that he was a Seventh-day Adventist and a conscientious objector. He asked to serve as a medic, but was assigned to the engineering unit. That meant the task of building bridges would put him on the front lines.

When he met Captain Hauptmann Brandt, Franz, with his permission, made two requests: one, to be excused from duty on the Sabbath, and two, that he receive a substitute, when possible, for pork products. Captain Brandt was agreeable.

Franz’ Lieutenant Gutschalk did not react so calmly. He lectured Franz when his requests were presented. The Lieutenant told him, “Work out whatever you want.” When the Lieutenant began to lecture again, he said that he didn’t like being “saddled with a religious nut.”

However, Franz was later rewarded and promoted for his good moral influence on the men in the entire company.

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