Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Hating has to Stop - The "Railway Man" dead at age 93

'Some time the hating has to stop': A tortured war hero, his Japanese tormentor, and the redeeming power of forgiveness.

Re-blogged.  See the complete story here:

Beaten to a pile of broken bones, caged, starved and tortured, Eric Lomax was convinced he would never see Britain ever again.

He had already experienced the lottery of death among the chain gangs on the Burma-Siam Railway. Now things were even worse. Accused of being a spy, he had been left to the mercies of the Japanese army’s secret police.  Among their specialities was what is today known as ‘waterboarding’, when a prisoner undergoes near-drowning. It was surely only a matter of time before he would be put out of his misery.

As his interrogator had explained to him on arrival at the prison camp in 1943: ‘Lomax, you will be killed shortly whatever happens. But it will be to your advantage in the time remaining to tell the whole truth. You know now how we can deal with people when we wish to be unpleasant.’

Eric Lomax was put to work building a railway by his Japanese captors during the Second World War, before he was accused of being a spy and interrogated by Nagase Takashi (below)


And yet Eric Lomax would somehow survive an ordeal so unspeakable that when he was later transferred to Singapore’s notorious Changi prison, he described it as ‘heaven’.

After the war, like so many of those who had survived the atrocities of Japanese captivity, he could barely discuss his experiences with anyone.

He bottled it all up, although he found that tiny things –particularly inaccurate bills or bureaucratic requests for personal information – could almost paralyse him with fury.

 Through it all, he retained a loathing for the Japanese, particularly the infernal interrogator still haunting his dreams with the same words: ‘Lomax, you will tell us...’  Yet nearly 50 years on, Eric Lomax did something extraordinary. He not only tracked down the man – he met him, befriended him and forgave him. And in 1995, he published a powerful account of his experiences.

Called The Railway Man, it swiftly became a bestseller and won a cluster of literary awards. Indeed, so remarkable is the memoir that it is about to come to the big screen – with Mr Lomax played by Oscar winner Colin Firth, no less –and with Nicole Kidman as his wife.

Sadly, Mr Lomax will not see the film. In the early hours of last Monday morning, he died at his home in Berwick-on-Tweed at the age of 93. He leaves a widow and daughter.

Eric's wife Patti (left) encouraged her husband to get in touch with his erstwhile torturer

 But he also leaves an enduring story of the healing power of forgiveness that will be retold long after we are all gone.

1 comment:

  1. What a compelling story of forgiveness and love. Would that we all could reach that pinnacle.