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Saturday, April 20, 2013


This story of a British soldier sparing the life of Adolph Hitler during World War I has been around for a long time. It is believed by most to be true.

At the end of the first year of the war, the Allies (UK, France, and Belgium) met the German Army near the town of Ypres, Belgium during October and November of 1914. A major battle ensued causing over 260,000 casualties. As the Germans withdrew, a wounded German soldier limped out of the smoke and into the gun sights of British Private Henry Tandey.
Tandey took aim, and with a squeeze of the trigger he would end the life of this
enemy. But he didn’t shoot. He was unable to complete the deed. The two men stared face to face at each other, then nodded. The injured German crawling back into the shadows was Corporal Adolph Hitler of Braunau, Austria. He never forgot the kindness of the British soldier who spared his life; and the face of Henry Tandey haunted Hitler for the rest of his life. Years later Tandey was quoted, “I took aim but couldn’t shoot a wounded man, so I let him go.”
Henry Tandey went on the become the most decorated British enlisted man of World War I, winning multiple medals for bravery including the Victoria’s Cross. The young German was recognized for bravery
by his country too, being awarded the Iron Cross. Tandey retired from the Army in 1926 and lived the quiet life in Leamington, England.
By the 1930’s, Adolph Hitler had risen to power in Germany as the leader of the National Socialist Party (NAZI). He clearly remembered Tandey. Hitler interpreted the incident as a prophetic sign of what he was destined to do. He carried with him the newspaper article about Tandey being awarded the Victoria’s Cross; and after becoming Chancellor of Germany, he ordered officials to get a copy of Tandey’s service record.
By 1938, war was imminent in Europe. British Prime Minister, Neville
Chamberlain, travelled off to meet Hitler in an effort to head off the conflict. While there, Hitler invited Chamberlain to his new retreat in Berchtesgaden. While touring the residence, he came upon a painting by Italian Fortunio Matania which clearly depicted Henry Tandey carrying a wounded soldier to safety during the Battle of Marcoing in 1918. Both Tandey and Hitler were also present at this battle, but they had only met once before years earlier at Ypres.

Chamberlain asked why the Chancellor had a painting (it was a copy) of British
soldiers at his home. Hitler replied, “That’s the man who nearly shot me. That man came so near to killing me that I thought I should never see Germany again, providence saved me from such devilishly accurate fire as those English boys were aiming at us.” Adolph Hitler then asked Chamberlain to pass on his gratitude to Tandey upon his return to England; which he did.
Henry Tandey was nonchalant about the message at first; but as World War II began, he would say, “If only I had known what he would turn out to be. When I saw all the people and women and children he killed and wounded, I was sorry to God I let him go.”
Tandey outlived Hitler by thirty-two years but carried the weight of his action, or non-action, to the grave in 1977. Would you have felt the same way Henry Tandey did? What do you think would have given you the moral justification to decide who lives and who dies? If you knew that the man in your gun sights was Adolph Hitler, would you have pulled the trigger?

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