My family and I, in our soon-to-be-destroyed apartment, were living among both Christians and Jews. There were five of us: mother and father, I and a younger brother in our mid-teens, and our eight-year-old brother. Our building superintendent, Fritz, was Christian. How would we be dealt with? Who would be allowed to live, who destined to perish? Fritz was key. He would be asked the crucial question: "Where are the Jews?"
That day arrived. "Are there Jews living in this building?" asked the Nazi youth in their impeccable uniforms and emotionless voices, as though they were asking if there were mice or roaches in the basement. Looking directly at them, shoulders square, voice simple and strong, Fritz replied without mincing words. "No Jews here. Only Christians."
In the days that followed, Fritz behaved as he always had in his role as superintendent of the building. Occasionally he asked if we were well, if we needed anything. The Nazi storm troopers filled the streets, shooting at random anyone they wished--a child stealing potatoes for starving Jewish parents, a young man with a Jewish star sewn on his arm--then laughing as if they were at an amusement park shooting at duck decoys.
Ah, Fritz, how you must have loved humanity to take such a risk! I wonder if you knew you saved these five lives. I know that all who did not have supers like you--most of my extended family--were slaughtered in their homes or in the camps.
We stayed, living as though at any moment our lives could be cut off with the snap of a finger. Finally, in August of 1939, we left. War broke out the next month. We went to America, living at first with an aunt who had migrated to the States some years earlier when she foresaw what was to come. I grew up determined to honor Fritz's love of humanity and grow it in myself. Perhaps it was part of the reason I decided to become a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst and in that small way serve others.
Fritz was an ordinary human being, but he acted with pure consciousness and connection in the most superior of ways. He was just a super. He was also a just and superior being.