The Unknown Hero of Ludwigshafen, Germany

February 7, 2008 · Print This Article · Email This Post

Baby Thrown from Burning Building in Ludwigshafen, Germany

Everyone has been spellbound this week by these images of desperation and an ultimate leap of faith required of a Turkish uncle as he tossed his nine-month-old niece, Onur, out of a third-floor window in a burning Ludwigshafen, Germany building and into the arms of an unknown policeman who miraculously caught the infant. The policeman’s name remains unknown because he says he doesn’t want to be a hero. Well, he is a hero. Sadly, the infant’s two-year-old brother and eight other people, including four children and a pregnant woman, died in the blaze. Onur’s parents survived, although her mother was hospitalized. Over 60 people had thronged to the house during carnival celebrations in this southwestern Germany town.

Freefalling

Not long after the blaze began, the building’s main staircase collapsed, barring escape. Panicked partygoers jumped, with many missing rescue nets laid out by police and firefighters. Police chief Wolfgang Fromm said: “The scenes were so terrible that some of the forces deployed wanted to give up their jobs afterward.” Dozens of people sustained serious injuries including fractures, multiple burns and smoke poisoning. Two Turkish families lived there, but estimates were that up 50 people, both Turkish and German, were registered as living in the dwelling.

Despite numerous media attempts to learn the policeman’s name, all that is known of him is that he sustained a head injury when he fell to the ground after catching Onur. He was treated and released at a local hospital. Onur’s uncle said that, just before he let go of her, he caught the eye of the policeman and knew in his heart that his niece would be safe. Have you met angels in your life? We have. Tell us about yours.

Read about another leap of faith in Toronto, where a $40 million Hindu temple was built without a penny of government money.

Photo credit: AFP / Getty Images

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