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Hell-Bound Train

Dreamed summer 1938 by Franz Jaegerstetter

Franz Jaegerstetter was an Austrian farmer who, before World War II broke out, publicly refused Nazi conscription, one of the only such cases for which we have a detailed dossier. During his trial, he testified that his actions were inspired by a powerful dream:

I am in a valley, seeing a beautiful shining railroad train with a huge German Swastika, gathering speed as it comes down a mountain. Streams of children and adults -- huge numbers -- rushed toward the train to jump on. I am debating doing this myself when a booming voice proclaims, "This train is going to Hell!"
He knew, come what may, he could never get aboard this terrible conveyance carrying such a great part of humanity into the abyss. In 1938, with all the barbarous pomp of Prussian militarism, Jaegerstetter was convicted of treason and publicly beheaded.

But a dream, once shared, does not die. It becomes a living seed, putting down roots in the world. I was told this story by Daniel Ellsberg, the man who blew the whistle on the so-called Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, so incensing President Nixon that White House "plumbers" were dispatched to burglarize his office. Ellsberg was put on trial for violating national security and narrowly evaded a long prison sentence. He went on to become a passionate antinuclear protester, focusing his outrage on weapons of mass destruction.

"When I sat on the tracks to block the freight train into the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, where they were machining enough plutonium bomb triggers for a hundred, a thousand Auschwitzes, I thought of Jaegerstetter's dream. I took comfort that I was doing what was right, and that I could endure the consequences."

--Marc Ian Barasch

SOURCE: Healing Dreams by Marc Ian Barasch, 2000, and God Has No Edges by Arthur Bernard, 2008. Each quotes Jaegerstetter slightly differently; lacking the German original, I have pooled details from the two translations.

--Chris Wayan

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