In the next few minutes Peter would either be a hero or the laughingstock of the entire prison. You see, Peter was a prison guard and as he turned his back momentarily, one of the work crew prisoners took off running. The husky broad-shouldered sentry immediately upon noticing, began his pursuit. Everyone stopped their tasks; Peter’s co-workers as well as the other criminals. What made the occurrence a real spectacle was that the fleeing man really had nowhere to go; for the path that he had chosen was to go up the side of a small, yet very steep hill. It was like a sporting event, both of the men were able to be seen clearly by all, yet it was just a matter of time before caught up to the other. The loud cheering from the other guards on the ground made it more so like an arena with two opponents. “Get him, Peter” yelled Nicholas, one of Peter’s closest companions. Peter looked up the incline at his target, who was still quite a distance in front of him. That the large muscular man would catch him, there was no doubt, it was simply a matter of covering the distance between them as fast as possible to save face. After all, he was known as the toughest and most durable guard in the prison. All of his cohorts greatly respected him and knew never to cross him, so Peter wanted to make this catch with style, so as not to lose face with his peers.

Attempting to clutch a rock to maintain his footing though, Peter unexpectedly tripped. This caused his rifle, which was slung over his shoulder, to fall. Frustrated, he watched it drop for many feet before it crashed into the mountainside. A boo could be heard from below as Peter wiped the sweat from his forehead. This was more of a challenge than he had expected. His boots were feeling heavy and boosting his large 240 pound frame up the terrain was no small feat of little exertion. Squinting his eyes due to the absolutely unbearable light of the sun, the determined guard pressed on. Ahead, he located his adversary; who was a little closer now and obviously was also having a difficult time, which was evidence by his heavy breathing. It was a divine miracle, thought Peter, that the prisoner, surely very weak from just the normal physical labor of the day, had made it this far. As the group many feet below chanted his name, the burly guard closed the gap between them. With a final burst of energy, the nearly exhausted, uniformed man sprinted a dozen yards or so.

The ground was more level here, being a plateau of sorts, and the one Peter had been pursuing was crouched down and whimpering somewhat. The guard drew his sidearm and aimed it at what turned out to be the object of his passion for the last few moments. “Get up fool!” he said firmly as he waved his weapon. “Now start walking!” The other looked up and slowly, after utilizing a tree limb for aid, stood up. Feebly, he did as he was told. Weak and sickly, each step for the distraught man was a chore. As the two began down the path they just made, the cheering increased in volume. “Peter...Peter...Peter!” Taking hold of the moment, the big guard responded by shooting both arms straight up into the air, proclaiming victory over his captive! Other than the one instance where he lost his footing, everything did go well. Certainly no prisoner was getting away from him; especially this timid and cowardly man. After all, he was Peter Alheim, the most feared and respected man in the entire prison! As he kept his arms uplifted, the chanting got even louder. The feeling of being a champion!

Minutes later, the two men were back where the escapade had begun.

His friends patting him on the back, Peter put away his sidearm. “Take him” said Peter to a fellow guard. Well, he did it! No laughingstock to his peers, Peter was a hero! As the frail seventy-two year-old Jewish prisoner was led back to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp work party, Nazi officer Peter Alheim looked up, satisfied and content.

You see friend, it is all in the perspective that you take. Some men are heroes and yet are fools, others are fools and yet heroes.


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