Into the Night
A Man with a Plan
Eduard Kaib's plan for the nativity scene was expansive. The sketch indicates that the city of Bethlehem is depicted on the far back of the left side with hills stretching across the back to the right side, where a brook runs through them. Trees are scattered throughout the scene. The manger occupies the center of the plan, directly in front of the space provided for the visitors.
A Dramatic Scene
The original housing had arches and columns that visually divided the space among the Magi, the Holy Family, and the shepherds. There are rooms on either side of the display. One held the water pump for the brook that flowed through part of the scene. The other was a room for music.
Words Cannot Express
Kaib wrote an English introduction to his scene. At times it is clear that he struggled with the language, but his sentiments and wishes for the viewers are unmistakable; he writes, 'Gloria in Excelsis.' The angels sang this song of love and peace the first time in the Christmas night at Bethlehem long, long ago; but every year at the same time this message of heaven is heard by millions of people--Peace on earth, good will toward men.
In 1994 Rev. Ralph Kitterman wrote down his impressions of viewing the POWs nativity scene for the first time. Although the words are more eloquent, sentiments are shared between Kaib and Kitterman.
Into that cold crystal air came the guttural German sounds of a human voice. My two years of college German gave me the understanding ‘Our Father God’ was being addressed. It was Christmas and I was hearing the God of Luther and the church saints being addressed by men of war. I began to tingle within. I then heard a pitch pipe sounded. Very slowly a bit of light began to pierce the darkness and one could see these human forms more as shadowy presences. Then from the band of men came those beautiful strains of ‘Silent Night, Holy night’ sung in the original tongue. As the carol neared its close a spot was playing on Shepherds and sheep made of clay from the very soil of the camp and decorated with what colors could be mustered from substances obtainable by men behind wire containments. Then appeared ‘the Holy Family’ and Crèche.
From Silent Night they moved from one familiar carol to another. They sang with gusto and praise. I was glad it was in dark for there I stood, tears streaming down my face. We were giving inspiration on the Iowa hillsides in wartime and that deeper cry for Peace on Earth. Our bodies were cold but our hearts were burning within.
I saw these men, many miles from family and alone, imprisoned, praising God and pouring out their prayers for war's cessation. The Concept of Christmas and the family of God became most real.