Love for No Reason
Through the train window, she watched the villages and vineyards of the Italian countryside go by. It was 1942 and Sussi Penzias, a young Jewish woman who’d fled Nazi Germany, was traveling alone, hoping to remain unnoticed. Since she’d arrived in Italy three years earlier, she’d been moving from place to place, staying with friends and friends of friends, hiding from the authorities. Now she was on her way to yet another safe house in a new town.
Suddenly, the door at the end of the train car swung open and two police officers came in. Sussi’s heart beat wildly. They were wearing the black uniform of the Fascisti, the government police. To Sussi’s horror, the policemen began making their way down the aisle, stopping at every row to examine the papers of each passenger.
Sussi knew that as soon as the policemen discovered she had no papers, she would be arrested. She was terrified she’d end up in a concentration camp, and would face unimaginable suffering and almost certain death.
The officers were getting closer, just a few rows away. There was no escape. It was only a matter of minutes before they would reach her seat. Sussi began to tremble uncontrollably, and tears slid down her cheeks.
The man sitting next to her noticed her distress and politely asked her why she was crying.
“I’m Jewish and I have no papers,” she whispered, hardly able to speak.
To her surprise, a few seconds later the man began shouting at her, “You idiot! I can’t believe how stupid you are! What an imbecile!”
The police officers, hearing the commotion, stopped what they were doing and came over. “What’s going on here?” one of them asked. Sussi began crying even harder.
The man turned a disgusted face to the policemen and said, “Officers, take this woman away! I have my papers, but my wife has forgotten hers! She always forgets everything. I’m so sick of her. I don’t ever want to see her again!”
The officers laughed, shaking their heads at the couple’s marital spat, and moved on.
With a selfless act of caring, the stranger on the train had saved Sussi’s life. Sussi never saw the man again. She never even knew his name.
Lovely Thoughts for Lovely People Just Like You