By Steve Robertson for VT
During WWII German paratroopers landed on the island of Crete overrunning and capturing the small fishing village. This is a war story of redemption and forgiveness based on a true story.
A few years ago, when I was married, my wife and I had a very large home in Westwood, CA near UCLA. We made our home like a luxury hotel as a refuge to serve thought-leaders who we knew were doing good in our world.
One of the people who stayed with us for an extended time was a renowned Monk and Rhodes Scholar from Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship.
During his stay, he recounted a true story about his youthful travels to the island of Crete before he became a monk. It always moved me deeply and he kindly gave me permission to share it in this adapted story.
As it turned out this Monk believed, that in a former life, he had been a German soldier. This belief became an obsession for him. When he had the opportunity to talk to various people, who he knew had encountered German soldiers he thoughtfully inquired how they had treated them.
One day, after he and his church mission’s group had traveled to Crete and completed building a youth hostel on the island, he and his fellow team members were invited by the Mayor to attend a celebration dinner at this home.
Knowing about the WWII history of Nazi paratroopers invading Crete, the young monk to be, proceeded to besiege the Mayor, during dinner, with questions about how the German soldiers treated him and the people on the island. After a relentless barrage of questions, the Mayor acquiesced and agreed to take him off to the side and tell him a story.
This is my adoption of the Mayor’s true story, written in a film treatment format. The names are fictitious and I’ve allowed myself some creative license in adapting the story. All rights are reserved.
FADE IN: WWII German paratroopers land on the island of Crete overrunning and capturing the small fishing village. The paratrooper commander takes captive and occupies the largest home in the village, that of the Mayor.
The Mayor’s son, Antoni, a handsome, strong, courageous, young man of only nineteen, escapes and leads the resistance effort to free the town, his mother, and father from Nazi occupation. Antoni, since age seven, has shared a mutual love with a beautiful next-door neighbor, Teresa. She is known for her colorful red dresses, glowing smile, and twinkling brown eyes. Antoni and Teresa have been in love and loved by the entire village since childhood. As their romance blossomed toward adulthood they planned to marry.
The German commander, a good man, and poetic thinker was also a great lover of music. His ordered capture and occupation of the village, the mayor’s home, and rumors of death camps in Poland, constantly frayed at what he believed to be a greater purpose in life. His face seemed to constantly bemoan a soulful struggle to find meaning in the horror of war.
The Commander found solitude in rare moments that enabled him to remember the inseparable love he felt for his wife. From the moment he met the mayor, whose home he now occupied, he felt a strange familiarity and connection with the man. Through a common love of music, the Commander develops a deep friendship with the Greek Mayor, holding him with unspoken esteem liken to that of a spiritual teacher.
Behind the scenes Antoni courageous battles the Germans as the leader of the resistance. He is unspokenly known and esteemed as the town’s hero. As daily occupation continues the rising death toll of German soldiers comes to the attention of the Commander. Eventually, after months of occupation, the Commander discovers that it is actually the Mayor’s son who leads the resistance.
Painfully, the Commander confides to the Mayor that his duties as an officer demand a just retribution that would compel him to execute Antoni if he was ever found and captured.
Antoni and his resistance fighters are constantly on the move to elude capture. He remains in secret contact with Teresa. German spies learn that Teresa has finally arranged to meet with her beloved Antoni. A trap is set. At the rendezvous, Antoni and Teresa are surrounded. Outnumbered, and in the ensuing fight, Teresa is knocked to the ground, hits her head on a rock, and dies. The enraged Antoni kills soldier after soldier but is eventually captured.
The following morning the Commander is informed of Antoni’s capture. Left with no option he orders him executed by firing squad. The Commander fights back tears as he informs the Mayor of his son’s capture and pending execution.
Overwhelmed with grief, the Mayor becomes enraged and must be physically subdued by the Commander’s accompanying soldiers. Later that morning shots are heard signaling Antoni’s execution. The Commander visits the now captive Mayor to express his great sorrow. The Mayor will not hear a word of it and vows that if he ever escapes that he kill the Commander on sight.
The following day, the Commander receives orders from Germany headquarters, the entire battalion of paratroopers is to withdraw from the island. The following morning the town’s people awake to find themselves free. They walk the village in a joyful daze of disbelief. The Mayor retreats into what seems bottomless grief.
Seven years after the war and on the anniversary of his son’s execution, the Mayor sits in his living room tearfully embracing a picture of his lost son Antoni. He reflects on the inseparable bond they shared from the time he was born through adulthood. As a young boy, they walked the village daily greeting each of the shopkeepers, Antoni’s finger was always affectionately wrapped around his belt loop.
He recalled the day of Antoni’s execution and the rage and betrayal he had felt for the Commander, whom he had thought, even in the midst of war, was a friend. He remembered the tearful and soulful sorrow he felt from the Commander as he told him of what was to come of his captured son.
At that moment the Mayor decided to pray for forgiveness and release his long-held hatred and judgments towards the Commander. A light cast through the living room window and landed, at that moment, on Antoni’s face in the picture that he was holding. A great peace came over the Mayor, the deepest he had ever known.
Suddenly, there is a knock at the door that startling the Mayor from his peaceful reflection. Gently wiping the tears from his eyes he walks to the door and opens it to find a man looking to be in his early forties standing there hand in hand with a young boy who appeared to be around six.
Mustering his composure and strengthening himself from the vulnerability of the moment the Mayor demanded in an untypical gruff tone “Who are you and what do you want?” There was an intentional silence that seemed to last minutes, one that beckoned for an unspoken recognition. Just as the Mayor was prepared to repeat his demand he instantly recognized the man who stood in his doorway as the Commander.
Before the Mayor could utter a word, the Commander spoke with the presence of a sage and with an exacting sense of purpose, “I have come to return the love once taken from you”. The Commander then placed his son’s hand in that of the Mayors…and said, ”I am forever entrusting the love of my life, my son, in your hands. From this day forward, each summer from June until the end of August, my son will live with you as though he were your own.”
The Mayor’s eyes overflowed with tears in what seemed to be a miracle that acknowledged his forgiveness. Kneeling to embrace and kiss his son, the Commander continued “Stefan be a good boy. Respect everything he tells you. I’ll be back in three months. He will treat you as his son. He is to be like your Father. Do you understand?” “Yes Papa, said the boy.” The Commander stood silent after his words to his son and with that, looked with a loving clarity directly into the Mayor’s eyes, shook his hand, and walked away.
The Mayor and Stefan held hands as they watched the Commander leave and walk down the street until he could be seen no more. At that moment, the Mayor noticed Stefan’s hand had slipped from his own and his index finger was now curiously wrapped around his belt loop, just as Antoni had done as a boy of this age. The Mayor looked down and his eyes met with the sparkling eyes of Antoni. “Papa”, said Stefan, “could I see my room?” “Yes, son,” said the Mayor, feeling somewhat beguiled by the natural tone of his words and response.
As they walked hand in hand towards his son Antoni’s old room there was a profound sense of familiarity. As they entered the room, the Mayor watched with a protective sense of curiosity as Stefan was immediately drawn to and walked toward the bed where sat a stuffed bear that once belonged to Antoni.
“Fluffy”, said Stefan picking up the bear to hug and twirl in joyful circles just as Antoni had often done after coming home from school. Stunned, the Mayor asked, “What did you call the bear?”. “I’ll call him Fluffy”, said Stefan. The Mayor began to weep noticeably, remembering that this was the very name Antoni had given the bear. Quickly noticing, Stefan put down the bear and immediately came to comfort the Mayor, “What’s wrong?” asked the concerned Stefan. “Nothing,” said the Mayor, “nothing at all my son.” Wrapping his arms around the Mayor’s waist Stefan said, “I’m here Papa, everything will be OK. I’ll protect you.”
The Mayor who had, since his son’s death, lived but a shadow of the life he had once known, now felt reborn. Later he and Stefan walked the village. Stefan’s finger never left the belt loop of the Mayor. As they neared the boat docks the Major decided to stop at the ice cream shop where he and Antoni would have their daily treat.
As they neared the doorway of the shop, a family of American tourists walked out, their beautiful little girl of seven daintily paraded her bright red dress, and her glistening eyes danced with an unmistakable love of life.
As the Mayor and Stefan and the American family passed the children’s eyes met and became transfixed on one another. The little girl then winked at Stefan in a timeless and unmistakable moment of acknowledgment. FADE OUT
Steve Robertson is the Founder and CEO of ProjectPeaceOnEarth.org (PPoE) and the PeaceSongAwards.org
Robertson is also the Founder and CEO of SupportVeteransNow.org, PenPalsForPeace.org and the LoveAllLoveWins.org campaigns.
The ProjectPeaceOnEarth.org Steering Committee and Advisory Board consist of 41 world-famed/Grammy-winning musicians, Academy award-winning filmmakers, Emmy winning TV producers, top scientists, doctors, higher-education scholars, human rights and world-thought leaders in the areas of consciousness and spiritual development.
Robertson has produced three international peace concerts from and for Bethlehem Palestine on Christmas Day and for the Middle East/Global Peace out to some 80 million homes worldwide which featured Grammy-winning musicians, famed celebrities, and thought-leaders.
Overview of Steve Robertson’s/PPoE achievements to date:
In 2009, Robertson lead a nationwide bus tour called “Peace Has Begun” that served to frame the word “peace” as a verb for social good and promote the planned annual Project Peace on Earth global musical prayer concerts. The bus was a traveling media studio that featured two broadcast journalists who interviewed people on their commitment and actions towards inner and outer peace.
In September of 2010, Steve lead a medical mission, with famed eye surgeon Paul Dougherty MD, to Hebron Palestine which resulted in the restoration of eyesight (40 free cataract surgeries) to elderly people. Michael Garcia, former VP of Development for HBO traveled with the Medical Mission to film a documentary called “Visions of Peace.”
On November 25th, 2011, Robertson, Executive Produced a promotional aerial image, in conjunction with John Quigley (PPOE Advisory Board), additional PPoE Middle East Production team members and a UNRWA team, that consisted of some 1000 Palestinian refugee children forming the Picasso Peace Dove image and spelling out the words “Love All” both in English and Arabic.
On September 26th, 2012 the UN selected the Picasso Peace Dove and Love All still image photo (out of some 800,000 over the course of the UN) as one of the 49 most iconic images ever captured since the organization’s inception.
In 2014 Robertson became an Executive Producer and the Artistic Mentor on the Shanti Samsara Environmental Consciousness benefit album. The album, produced by Ricky Kej, was produced at the request of Prime Minister Modi of India, to honor all forms of life from a Vedic and Buddhist perspective. Prime Minister Modi presented this album during his November 2014 UN Climate Change Conference Keynote Speech in Paris to every Presidential attendee at the event. The 150-page pictorial coffee table book and 2 CD album set involved over 500 musicians and 40 countries.
In November of 2014 Robertson created and Executive Produced the 2 Unite All benefit album to bring surgical teams, medical supplies, and PTSD Therapies into GAZA and the Middle East Region to support greater peace. The album features numerous world-famed Grammy-winning musicians …30 major musicians including Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Philip Lawrence (Burno Mars), Stewart Copeland (The Police), Thomas Bergersen (2 Billion YouTube video hits), Gary Nicholson (Grammy Winner and TX Hall of Fame) and many more. The album is endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Professor Noam Chomsky, Oliver Stone, Vera Baboun (former Mayor of Bethlehem) and many more.
In 2017 Steve founded the PeaceSongAwards.org (PSA) worldwide contest which serves as a search for our world’s most enlightened musicians, songs, spoken word poetry and music videos that guide the way to inner peace and outer peace on earth. PSA Jury Panel Members consist of many world-famed Musicians, Music and TV industry people and Thought-leaders.
Steve’s acclaimed and recent book, “The Power of Choice, Success and Your Life Purpose” is endorsed by numerous national best selling authors including Gary Zukav (“Seat of the Soul,” 10million + books sold), Don Miguel Ruiz MD (“The Four Agreements”),Caroline Myss PhD (“Anatomy of the Spirit”), Jack Kornfield PhD (founder of the Mindful Meditation Movement, author of “A Path With A Heart”), Larry Dossey MD (recent author of “One Mind” – former Director of the Nat. Inst. for Health, Alternative Medicine Division), Alexander Astin PhD (founder of UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute), Jack Healey (former Exec. Dir. of Amnesty International) and more.
National Best Selling Authors proclaim:
Steve’s book is … “A TEXTBOOK for the Soul” – Caroline Myss, PhD (National Best-Selling author of “Anatomy of the Spirit”)
“Robertson is a Living Avatar on whose shining example our future may depend.”– Larry Dossey, MD (National Best Selling Author of “One Mind” and “The Power of Prayer”)
Steve book uses…”beautiful metaphors and analogies that lead in every instance to awareness, self-responsibility, and our Divinity” – Gary Zukav (National Best Selling author of “Seat of the Soul”)
Steve’s book is …”required reading for anyone who has longed to find and fulfill their life purpose.” – Don Miguel Ruiz (National Best selling author of “The Four Agreements”)
Steve’s book…”can empower you and help you bring your gifts to the world.” – Jack Kornfield, PhD (National Best Selling Author of “A Path With Heart”)
Steve’s book offers …”rich and spiritually authentic insights into the meaning of life and how to find and live your life purpose.” – Gerald (Jerry) Jampolsky, M.D. and Diane Cirincione, Ph.D. (National Best Selling Authors, Pioneers in the Human Potential Movement)
Steve’s book is …”a treasure trove of timeless wisdom and spiritual guidance.” – Alexander Astin, PhD (Considered the world’s most widely quoted person on Higher Education. Co-founder of UCLA Higher Education Research Institute. Best Selling Author of “Cultivating the Spirit”.)
Steve’s book…”looks at all of us in the eye and asks us to awaken to our own power and force.” Jack Healey, former Executive Director of Amnesty International. Former Franciscan Monk.