I was deeply affected by And There Was Light, the astonishing autobiography of Jacques Lusseyran, who, though blinded at age eight, was a leader of the French Resistance in World War II.
A turning point in Lusseyran’s life was his miraculous return from the dead in Buchenwald, a notorious German concentration camp. It was his sickness that rescued him and bestowed the grace of continuous joy. His experience is so profound that it is difficult to fully appreciate the transformation he underwent—from fear and certain death to the very embodiment of happiness and hope.
Here is an excerpt from And There Was Light:
Towards the end of the month all of a sudden it became too much for me and I grew sick, very sick. I think it was pleurisy. They said several doctors, prisoners like me and friends of mine, came to listen to my chest. It seems they gave me up. What else could they do? There was no medicine at all at Buchenwald, not even aspirin.
Very soon dysentery was added to pleurisy, then an infection in both ears which made me completely deaf for two weeks, then erysipelas, turning my face into a swollen pulp, with complications which threatened to bring on blood poisoning. More than fifty fellow prisoners told me all this later. I don’t remember any of it myself. I had taken advantage of the first days of sickness to leave Buchenwald.
Two young boys I was very fond of, a Frenchman with one leg, and a Russian with one arm, told me that one morning in April they carried me to the hospital on a stretcher. The hospital was not a place where they took care of people, but simply a place to lay them down until they died or got (more…)