The letters you are about to read where scribed over a period of two years. America was still embroiled in the Korean conflict when the author was drafted. He was two weeks shy of 20 when he stepped over that magic line at the induction center in Los Angeles, California and was officially and immediately a soldier with the serial number: US 56192300. He was discharged two years later on February 8, 1955 at Fort Ord, California. Although foreign born, he loved America and considered it an honor to serve his adopted country as a soldier. He spent all of his active duty in Germany, the country of his birth.
Life as a soldier was a daily challenge for the author. His religious leanings and idealism made him conspicuous amongst his comrades and superiors. He was a conscientious objector and a vegetarian at the time he was drafted. At first he was able to demonstrate that this should not disqualify him from being an asset to the army. Eventually, however, he “caved in.”
In August 1953 an inner struggle began to ravage his soul. At first he was able to hide the terrifying and exhausting conflict from others. Eventually, however, his ability to concentrate and perform his duties as a clerk typist in the office of admission at the Army Hospital in Nuremberg, Germany became apparent. He was hospitalized on the psychiatric ward of the hospital. He pleaded with the chaplain, the psychiatrist and his superiors not to give him a medical discharge.
He was treated with unusual care and kindness; and after a few weeks was able to resume his normal duties. However, his religious zeal was severely compromised and he began to model his life according to a new and less demanding set of standards. In one of his letters, dated March 24, 1954 he wrote:
“If a thousand wolves are howling around you and you don’t howl yourself, then you get eaten up alive. My voice and power is not so great that I am able to raise my voice above the thousand voices. I did think it was possible, and maybe it is for someone who is stronger than I am?”
Many years passed before the author had the courage, stamina, emotional equilibrium and inclination to look into the rearview mirror of his life and meet PFC – Private First Class Peter Dieter Laue for a second time. He was surprised, amazed, stunned and humbled by what he saw. As he reviewed each letter he felt as if he was standing in front of the High Priest making his confession. He remarked to himself, “Had I not known that my High Priest has a heart of mercy, I would not have had what it took to meet the old, flawed Peter.”
This scribe has made himself purposely transparent and vulnerable to let others know that striving for excellence in the world may become a sign of misguided pride and zeal. Polishing our ego and putting it on display for others to admire stinks to high heaven. Not even Jesus allowed Himself to be praised or called “good” while He walked amongst us. In a subsequent book, To Hell and Back the author continues to chronicle the journey of his soul.
With few exceptions, the text has been left as originally transcribed from letters that were mostly handwritten.