The Value of Kindness

We all realize that kindness is a good trait that can yield pretty positive results. Often times we associate kindness to being involved in good times and personable social surroundings. Where and when is it appropriate to show kindness? What could benefit from kindness to even people who have immense hatred for you? How far can it truly take you? Taking a look back on World War II: 1942, easily the strongest military and industrial power in western Europe is Nazi Germany. Within their ranks, their airborne warfare division, the Luftwaffe, the Nazi counterpart to America’s air force, heads intelligence gathering only under the SS themselves. A low level airman, not even a rank of an officer, is considered the “master of interrogation” among all of the German armed forces. He is tasked to interrogate all captured US pilots and any allied POW thought to be carrying sensitive information. Post war, when hired by the US Army, his techniques and ideologies shaped military interrogation schools for generations. The interesting part was, Hanns-Joahchim Gottlob Scharff, is not known in any instance, using physical means or force to obtain information. He believed, firmly, with kindness anything can be obtained vocally. His method involved a brief period of isolation, being the only person talking to a prisoner in a friendly matter to make the subject feel a sense of alliance with Scharff. He was known to have taken individual POWs out of the camp and eat with them, always conversing, listening for any intel. Beforehand, Hanns would gather as much known information of a situation and the subject as possible assuming parts to build a story of the events. He would tell the captured the story of events as if he already knew exactly what happened and just needed some sort of confirmation. This would give soldiers under intense stress the idea that any information they are withholding is already common knowledge to the enemy giving them the immediate feeling that they are disposable. He noted when telling his account of the story prisoners would often correct him as a means to give the impression they are more valuable of a hostage then what is perceived. In reality, all the prisoner would do is confirm that Hanns’ made up story is true including details he would not have otherwise had any knowledge of. He had a nearly 90% success rate and was the first to openly utilize a technique that was not complete torture. His teachings are the backbone to tactics commonly used by our police and military today. He received a immigration status and moved to California to pursue his art career and ambitions where he died in 1992. He established actual friendships with many of the former POWs he once interrogated.

Word Count: 457

The Value of Kindness

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