It was during the First World War when Solomon Geier, a German Jewish
soldier saw a fellow soldier hit by a bullet and fall to the ground. At
great risk to himself, Solomon jumped out of his bunker and dragged his
comrade to safety where medics saved his life. Solomon returned to fight his
war and never learned the name of the soldier whose life he had saved.
Several decades later, in November of 1938, Solomon and his family applied
for visas to emigrate from Germany, when a late night knock was heard at the
door. In Berlin of the 1930s late night visitors never brought good news so
Solomon could be excused for expecting the worst when he opened the door to
admit a tall Gestapo officer.
Solomon Geier asked the officer? Yes, the trembling Solomon replied. You
won’t recognize me said the officer, but you saved my life in the last war.
I recognized your name when it came up on a list last night and I have come
tonight to inform you that your family, among hundreds of others, is slated
to be deported tomorrow night; make yourself scarce. With that the officer
turned and quickly strode out, turning at the last minute to call “The debt
has been paid.”
Solomon and his family spent the entire night alerting friends to flee to
safety and left the country the very next day. The next night was
Kristalnacht, when many Jews were injured, deported and executed. Solomon’s
single act of saving a life saved his own life as well as hundreds of Jews
and thousands of their descendants several decades later.
The Talmud teaches that charity saves lives.