The Man Who Wouldn’t Salute

underground in Hamburg

A few months ago I had the privilege of accompanying my friend Dave Harvey to Hamburg, Germany to participate in a conference sponsored by Wolfgang Wegert, a pastor who has great influence in Europe. Wolfgang has held huge crusades over 30 years of ministry, and now has many churches and leaders who look to him as a spiritual father. He produces one of only 3 government sanctioned Christian television programs that is broadcast throughout Germany.In his office hangs a copy of a newspaper photo, entitled “The Man Who Wouldn’t Salute.”

Wolfgang’s father was a believer and worked in the shipyards in Hamburg during World War II. Every month Hitler would come to the shipyards to inspect the fleet. All the workers were required to assemble for Hitler’s visit. When the Feurher would pass by the thousands of workers would all extend their arms and give him the “sig heil” salute together.

The photo captured hundreds of ship workers in the act of saluting. But near the middle, and slightly off to the right, one man could be seen not saluting. This “Man Who Would Not Salute” was Wolfgang’s father, standing there with his arms crossed in defiance of Hitler.

As the War progressed, Hitler started making his inspections on Sundays, so that workers could assemble without having to take time away from shipbuilding. Wolfgang’s father refused to join assemblies, so that he could attend his church, despite people’s warnings that he would suffer the consequences of not showing up to salute Hitler. Nothing ever happened to him.

What a heritage Wolfgang has. In the providence of God, out of thousands who saluted Hitler, his father was an uncompromising Christian. If your parents are believers, praise God for his providence in causing you to be born to them. What a blessing to have been taught the gospel from a young age. What a blessing to have the gospel lived out before you from your childhood.

If you are a believer with children still at home, praise God for his providence in saving you so that you can influence your children for Jesus Christ. Wolfgang’s father could never have imagined that in God’s providence his son would have such widespread ministry for Christ. We can’t possibly imagine what effect our words and example will have on our children and future generations of believers.

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  • Eric Grover

    Wolfgang’s son Christian is a fellow student here at Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastors College this year. Christian just told us this story and showed us the picture of his grandfather with his arms folded this past week. What a blessing to have such a Godly heritage.

    BTW, it’s great having you guest blog Mark. Any plans to start up your own blog?

  • beth

    don’t stop writing.

  • sarah k

    Wonderful, moving story. As a German speaker, I just wanted to remark for future reference that the salute should be spelled “Sieg Heil”, “Sieg” being the German word for “victory”. Thanks for sharing this story!

  • Chris

    That was VERY moving, and I *loved* the pastoral encouragement at the end.

  • Christopher de Vidal

    Abraham Piper had a different story to tell about the same photo. Are there two similar incidents with different people? http://twentytwowords.com/2012/02/13/a-lone-dockw