Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2012 2:00 am | Updated: 1:57 pm, Thu Dec 6, 2012.
By Tiffany Sukola,
Herald staff writer
MOSES LAKE — Peter Loth was born at a Nazi concentration camp in Stutthof, Poland. But he doesn’t remember that, or any of the atrocities that occurred at the camp.
Instead, Loth said his earliest memories were of growing up in Torun, a city in Poland that had been heavily damaged during World War II. Loth and his “Matka”, or mother, lived in an underground sewer system like many others at that time.
“I remember a knock, and here come the Russians, the KGB,” said Loth, who was taken from his Matka and placed in a prison designed to hold German children. “I had to go, my papers were German, and Matka’s were Polish.”
Loth said that the Russians and Poles hated the Germans for what they did durin
g the war, so they gathered German kids and heavily abused them, before executing them.
Loth also remembers seeing one of his friends from the orphanage killed in front of him.
“They said we’re taking them to the train station,” said Loth. “But it was really an execution wall.”
Loth said all he could remember hearing was a series of gunshots, as German kids were shot one by one. He said he saw the soldiers take his friend, and fire a pistol at her.
When Loth was 14, he learned that Matka wasn’t his real mother, and that his real mother was in fact alive and was living in West Germany. Although he was confused and felt betrayed by Matka, Loth decided to go meet his mother.
Loth made the journey to West Berlin in 1958, and was finally reunited with his mother. Loth learned that she had married a U.S. soldier, and that they had two daughters together.
Although the Stutthof camp was liberated from the Nazi soldiers, prisoners were still in danger. At a train station, Loth’s mother saw a Polish lady and asked her if she would take her son away from the all the chaos.
She handed the woman Loth’s papers, and promised she would one day come for him, said Loth.
That day came, Loth said. When his mother showed him her scars from the abuse she suffered at the camp. He knew she suffered just as much as he had.
“I spoke Polish and Russian, and she spoke German and a little English,” said Loth. “We couldn’t communicate, but held each other and cried.”
Loth later visited the Stutthof concentration camp as an adult, and said it was during that trip that he realized he needed to teach healing and forgiveness to other people around the world.
“As soon as I arrived, I was like a baby and I wept,” he said. “But then I became angry and hateful, and I told my family that we were leaving.”
That night however, Loth said he felt like God was telling him to return to the camp before he went back to the United States.
Although he was hesitant, Loth and his family went back to Stutthof the next day.
Loth was looking at a plaque with the names and pictures of the Nazi soldiers who were in charge of the camp when he said he heard God speak to him.
“God was telling me to forgive them, and I didn’t want to,” said Loth. “But I did, and now I lead other people to forgiveness. He chose me for that reason.”
Loth has since spent many years sharing his story and promoting healing and forgiveness around the world. The Women’s Open Door Outreach of Moses Lake sponsored Loth’s visit to Grant County.
Loth spoke at the Faith Community Church Monday night. Loth will speak to residents of the Moses Lake area again at 7 p.m. Thursday at Ephrata High School and again at 7 p.m. Friday at the Wallenstein Theater at Big Bend Community College.
Loth said that it wasn’t just his experiences in Poland that he had to heal from. When his step-father was assigned back to the United States, Loth and his family moved to Georgia.
It was 1959, and Loth’s family was constantly being verbally and physically abused since his mother was white, his step-father was black and his two sisters were mixed.
A few years later, Loth ran away from home because his step-father began abusing Loth and his sisters. Although he tried to locate his mother and sisters over the next 40 years, Loth was unsuccessful.
It wasn’t until Loth moved to Florida, married and had children that he heard from his family. He received a phone call from his sister Barbara, and Loth said it was a miracle from God that led her to find him.
She told Loth that their mother had passed, and Loth knew he had to return to the concentration camp where his mother had given birth to him. Loth said that trip was necessary, since it led to his realization that he needed to teach others how to forgive.
“Would you be able to forgive, all that I’ve seen,” Loth asked the audience. “We need to forgive.”