On a Snowpacked German Road
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“On a Snowpacked German Road,” Ensign, June 2000, 51

On a Snowpacked German Road

On a cold January night in 1945, German guards entered our room and told 18 prisoners to be prepared within an hour to walk to another prison camp. The worst blizzard in 80 years had swept over the region, choking the road to Spremberg, a railway terminal about 75 miles (121 km) distant. Unwashed, unshaven, and unkempt, we passed through village after village, our frostbitten and blistered feet leaving blood on the snow. This spectacle was viewed by curious villagers lined up on both sides of the road. No communication passed between onlookers and prisoners, only silence.

After we had walked more than 50 miles (80 km) with little food and rest, an old woman detached herself from the crowd and began to walk alongside us. She walked by my side for a moment, and then her hand slipped into my pocket and left something there.

The woman was my enemy, so I hesitated to put my hand inside my pocket to discover what she had deposited. When I finally reached inside, my hand felt a small, round object. It was a potato! I didn’t wait to wash it; I ate it immediately.

Measured by the affluence of today, the potato was nothing. But measured by the circumstances of that time, it was everything. That elderly German woman bound up my wounds with a small potato. It warms my heart when I remember her charity in a world that often seems bereft of it.—Vernon J. Tipton, Springville First Ward, Springville Utah Stake