The German, who saved thousands of Igbo Lives

Dr. Rev. Georg Huessler 2

Monsignor Dr. Georg Huessler, the longtime President of Caritas International was born on July 7th, 1921 and died on Sunday the 14th of April, 2013, at the age of 91. Dr. Huessler showed courage, solidarity and charity and through his work in Biafra gave life and hope to our hungry and starving people. We pray the Almighty God to grant his Soul eternal Rest. 

If you have contacts to Igbo Governors, Politicans, Religious Leaders, Catholic Bishops, Ohanaeze Ndị-Igbo, WIC, Aka Ikenga etc, please kindly suggest to them, the need for Ndị-Igbo to honour and keep the memory of Dr. Huessler alive. We can immortalize Fr. Huessler by erecting and naming any structure / Statute after him. Eg. Streets, Bridges, Academic Buildings, Humanitarian/Research Centres, Schools, Hospitals, Orphanage Centres  etc. could be named after him in appreciation of what he did for the Igbo/Biafran people and as a mark of our Gratitude. 

Igbo Governors, Catholic Churches (Archdiocese) and wealthy Igbo people may honour and erect Structures in Dr. Huessler´s name or the Igbo Nation may celebrate his Birthday every 7th of July. In case of any commemorative Event, the German Ambassador to Nigeria and the Caritas President (Msgr. Dr. Peter Neher) may be invited including Dr. Huessler´s Nephew and Next of Kin.

Father Huessler was a true Igbo Friend and a Man of God. Dr. Huessler lived a life of charity and service to Humanity. Ndị-Igbo and our future Generations shall ever remain grateful to him and Caritas International, for they were there for us, when the world abandoned us. Let Ndị-Igbo preserve the Legacy of this man and let our Children know about him. Let the Igbo Nation maintain this “German-Igbo Friendship” which Dr. Huessler and Caritas started.
http://germanafricainsight.org/en/news/rev-dr-huessler

 http://www.caritas-international.de/ueberuns/huessler

 

Rev. Dr. Georg Huessler, the Igbo/Biafran Friend is Dead

With heavy Heart but with Gratitude to God for Life well spent, we announce to you the passing away of our dear Friend, Monsignor Dr. Huessler. He died on Sunday the 14th of April, 2013 at the age of 91 and was buried yesterday the 22nd of April, 2013.

Dr. Rev. Georg Huessler

Dr. Georg Huessler was the former Secretary-General and president of Caritas International.  He co-ordinated the Caritas International Relief Operation, during the Nigeria-Biafra War, a war that raged from 1967 – 1970. Dr. Huessler and the Caritas International saved millions of Lives of the then hungry and starving children, women and men of Biafra. The Biafra war was the worst human catastrophe on record after the Second World War.

Dr. Huessler mobilized the German civilian population and other relief agencies who donated massively to the Biafra relief action. They delivered relief materials like clothes, cornmeal, milk powder, sugar, rice, stockfish and medicine which kept thousands of suffering and starving Biafra women and children alive. The Caritas deliveries were done through the Air-Corridor ordered by Dr. Huessler at the risk of the Lives of his Staff. Some sick and starving Biafra children were also airlifted to Ivory Coast, Sao Tome and Gabon where they were treated, fed, cared for and returned to Biafra after the war. It was one of the greatest relief assistance ever launched by Caritas and similar relief organisations. 

Dr. Huessler showed courage, solidarity and charity and through his work in Biafra gave life and hope to our innocent people. We pray the Almighty God to grant his Soul eternal Rest.

Please pay your last Respect to Msgr. Huessler by visiting www.germanafricainsight.org and

pasting your Comments under “Tribute to late Fr. Huessler ...” or send your Tributes straight to: info@germanafricainsight.org

It shall be good, if Igbo State Governments, Organisations, Ndi-Igbo worldwide and Ohanaeze shall keep the memory of this man alive, a man who sacrified all so that many Biafran children, women and men may not die of hunger. If you have contacts with Ohanaeze, WIC and Igbo State Governments, please kindly asked them to immortalize Msgr. Dr. Huessler by erecting or naming any structure / Statute after him. Streets, Bridges, Schools, Hospitals, Orphanage Centres at Enugu, Owerri, Umuahia, Onitsha and many other places may fit him. In Igboland today there are number of structures and streets named after Europeans and people who never did anything for us. In Berlin last week Archbishop Zolltisch (Chairman of the German Bishops Conference) and the German Chancellor Merkel paid Tributes to Dr. Hüssler. 

http://www.caritas.de/fuerprofis/caritaskongress/highlights/arbeitsmigrationalskuenftigeherausforder (My Story about Biafra) 

http://www.caritas-international.de/ueberuns/huessler (Huessler Biafra)

Thanks in advance for your Tributes to a true Igbo/Biafra Friend, Rev. Dr. Georg Huessler.

Signed:
Joe Mmeh
(Ogbuefi Nnanyelugo)
Freiburg, Germany

 

 

Igbos Celebrate German-born Biafran Hero

By Transport & Business Express

Igbos across the world have been sending their best wishes to a German national who proved to be a God-sent angel for their race during the Nigeria-Biafra War of 1967-70.

Dr. Georg Huessler

Msgr. Dr. Georg Huessler used his position as President of Caritas Germany to saved millions of Igbo lives during the war and grateful Ndi-Ugbo have continued to celebrate him ever since. A lifelong soldier in the fight against poverty and injustice, Monsignor Huessler was the President of Caritas Germany for 21 years and carried out two mandates as Caritas Internationalis President from 1975 to 1983. Caritas is a global Non-Governmental organisation founded and run by the Catholic Church.

In a message he sent out reminding Ndi-Igbo that Rev. Dr. Huessler would be 91 years old on July 7, Joe Mmeh, Coordinator, Ndi-Igbo Germany, described him as “Our good old friend.”

Mmeh euglogised Huessler for “his selfless service, efforts and determination were instrumental to keeping Biafran (Igbo) children, women and men fed, medicated and alive for the 30 brutal months of civil war and genocide against Ndi-Igbo.”

According to Mmeh, “At the risk to his life, safety and freedom he, Caritas and other kind-hearted men and women provided sustenance to millions of Ndi-Igbo. He took Biafran children to Gabon when there was nowhere else to obtain health care and nourishment. Caritas gave life and hope to the beleaguered innocent men and women in Biafra.”

The Ndi-Igbo Germany Coordinator noted that “it has always been a pleasant surprise for Dr. Huessler to get cards from Ndi-Igbo Worldwide (then Biafran children and adults) during his birthday,” adding: “I am sure that even now that he is no longer healthy that cards from Ndi-Igbo shall once more gladden his heart.”
Source: www.transportandbusinessexpress.com

 

Rev. Dr. Huessler - 91st Birthday

Rev. Fr. Dr. Georg Huessler

Happy Birthday Reverend George

May your days continue to flourish in God's goodness and may your children (Igbo sons and daughters included) celebrate your virtues all our days.
Amen.
Happy birthday sir.

Dr George Hussler and Rev Father Tobe Nnamani
Dr George Hussler and Rev Father Tobe Nnamani

Rev. Dr. Hussler and Chief Joseph Mmeh
Rev. Dr. Hussler and Chief Joseph Mmeh

Biafran Gift to Dr Hussler
Gabon 1970: A gift given to Dr Hussler by the Biafran children at "Village KM 11"

 

Preamble

In April 1968, the survival of the nascent Republic of Biafra was hanging on the balance. After the fall of Enugu in September 1967, Biafran major cities continued to fall one after the other into the hands of the enemy. Consequently, what was left of the Biafran Secretariat consisted of a mobile van moved from one corner to the other. While major world powers watched with folded arms, debating on the proper interpretation and application of the principles of territorial sovereignty and non-intervention in the OAU Charter, the Federal soldiers continued their ferocious onslaught on the defenseless Biafran population. They rampaged, pounded, bombed and shelled villages and towns including hospitals and schools with reckless abandon. The level of death-toll and human misery shocked the conscience of the international community. And, as Biafran borders continued to shrink by the day, the population density jumped from its pre-war level of 500 persons per square kilometer to 2,000. In spite of all these seemingly insurmountable odds, the Biafrans were determined to defend themselves to the last man or so it seemed. However, as a result of the total and suffocating blockade by land, sea and air, the resultant crushing effect of hunger and disease threatened to snuff life out of the fledging republic and its traumatized citizens. It was in the midst of this excruciating situation that the Christian Churches all over the world including Jewish Synagogues in America launched one of the greatest relief assistance in the history of humanitarian intervention.

One man who played a leading role in this timely intervention was Rev. Fr. Dr. Georg Hüssler, former President of Caritas International. This kind-hearted man of God celebrated his 88th Birthday on July 7, 2009. Prior to this date, the Co-ordinator of Nzuko Umuigbo World-Wide Inc., Chief Joe Mmeh did an effective networking; he sent out emails to many Umuigbo both home and abroad requesting them to send a congratulatory birthday message and _expression of gratitude to a man who gave them food when they were starving to death and thereby saved them from total annihilation. For, according to the Roman Poet Cicero, “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but, the parent of all others;” it is also an attitude that leads to beatitude. The response to this appeal was over-whelming as post-cards and emails poured into Dr. Hüssler’s letter and email boxes in waves. The content of this parent of all virtues was laden with emotions as many of those who sent them recounted the agony they or their parents and relatives went through and how they might not have seen the light of day without his timely intervention. To crown this out-pouring of gratitude and give it a somewhat personal touch, Chief Mmeh and the author paid a courtesy call on Father Hüssler on July 23, 2009 in his home in Freiburg/Breisgau, south-west Germany . The Octogenarian - still relatively strong, came to the door to meet us. After exchanging pleasantries, he took us down the memory lane and recounted with passion and astonishing picturesque details how Caritas (Relief Organisation founded in May 1946 in Germany) in tandem with other relief agencies and good-spirited individuals airlifted thousands of tons of relief materials to Uli Airstrip. The following is a sketch of the tit-bits from the meeting.

Who is Rev. Fr. Dr. Georg Hüssler?
Father Georg Hüssler was born on July 7, 1921 in Einöd , Saarland , Germany and grew up in Elsass. He was a medical student when World War II broke out; he enlisted into the Germany army and worked as a Sanitary Inspector. When the war ended, he proceeded to Rome where he studied Theology and was ordained priest in 1951. After his doctoral studies, he became an Assistant to the then President of German Caritas with Headquarters in Freiburg . He rose through the ranks to become the Secretary-General and later the President of German Caritas, a post he held for 22 years from 1969 to 1991.In between the time , he was also appoint President of Caritas International. Dr. Hüssler was decorated with three Honours by the three tiers of government in Germany , namely; the local government of his city Freiburg , the State government of Baden-Württemberg and the Federal Republic of Germany. Dr. Hüssler was interested in both aspects of the Catholic Social Teaching. On the practical side, he distinguished himself in the excellent way he managed the affairs of Caritas in the whole world bringing relief and succor to thousands of people ravaged by war and natural disasters. On the theoretical level, he authored five insightful books among which are Caritas and Pastoral Work (1985), Life in the 20th Century (1998) and Humanity as Spirituality (2006). He has retired from active service and lives a quiet life in Freiburg

The saving Role of Relief Agencies in Biafra:TheJoint Church Aid (JCA)
It is pertinent to get a glimpse of the complex and dangerous circumstances in which the relief agencies operated. In fact, all the contentious elements in complex humanitarian emergencies interplayed in the Biafran war such as the possibility of exploiting existing differences within the civil society; the issue of disputed legitimacy of host authorities; high prevalence of hunger and disease; keen and probing journalistic interest; the likelihood of manipulating relief for military and diplomatic advantages and apparent division among the international relief agencies. While all these complex issues were being discussed in high and low quarters, the estimated monthly death-toll in Biafra was put at 750,000.

The first major huddle was the non-agreement of Biafran and Nigerian governments on the route through which relief aid should be supplied. While Nigeria wanted relief to pass through Lagos , Biafra on the other hand saw it as suicidal to let their food pass through enemy hands. When Obilagu Airstrip came as a compromise, the federal troops captured it within a few weeks and Uli was now the only outlet through which relief came to Biafra . The Nigerian government strongly opposed it and refused to guarantee safety of flights landing at Uli. The Red Cross was the first to airlift food in August 1968 but was compelled to stop after one of its planes was shot down by the Nigerian government killing the entire crew.

At this juncture, the JCA which was made up of 37 international Church bodies from 28countries picked up the gauntlet. It defied the federal governments order and began one of the most efficient and effective relief Airlifts in the history of humanitarian intervention. Fr. Hüssler told us that this was the first time relief agencies charted their own planes to supply relief materials. He recounted how he and Father Tony Byrne the Deputy Director of JCA with representatives from the Churches went to France to purchase four planes. According to Fr. Hussler, “initially, we hired one experienced Pilot, Frank Wharton (an American of Latvian descent) who was later joined by Gustav von Rosen another pilot from Sweden among others.” Von Rosen brought four of his own planes and flew relief aids into Biafra free of charge. However, as the Nigerian government was vehemently against this life-line, Uli Airstrip which was only 8,000 foot was bombarded day and night but after each bombardment, it was quickly repaired to received the next flights. In the end, JCA airlifted about 60,000 tons of assorted relief materials in 5,300 flights. The Red Cross, before its short-lived assistance, ferried 41,000 tons of food and medical equipment in 4,000 flights. There were also significant contributions by other smaller relief agencies. The entire relief action mounted by JCA gulped the sum of about $116 million dollars and another $250 million dollars was invested in it by American private interests. This wonderful work of mercy was accomplished but not without heavy human loses on the part of the helpers. Thus, by the end of 1969, 27 pilots had lost their lives with 10 planes short down by the Nigerian Air Force.

JCA’s assistance was not limited to sending food to Biafra ; it also came in some other significant ways. For example, when in January 1968, the Nigeria government changed its currency, Biafra became literally bankcrupt. Even though it printed its own currency, the purchasing power of the Biafran money worth little or nothing. The relief agencies exchanged the Biafran pounds at the rate of $2.80. In this regard, Fr. Hüssler made a handsome donation in cash even after the war had ended. According to him “unknown to me, on January 15, 1970, when I flew to Lagos to meet Gowon, the end of the Nigeria-Biafra war was announced that day. Now, the Biafrans were left with no money since the Biafran Currency had become worthless. I had 100,000 Deutsche Mark in my bag which I changed into Nigerian Currency, chartered a Taxi and drove down to Onitsha where the money was handed over the Church through the then Archbishop Arinze, who took it with two hands and expressed his gratitude.”

The relief planes did not lift relief materials alone. “We discovered that the planes were flying empty back to Europe, so we quickly loaded children and the sick into the planes and flew them to safety in Europe and some African countries such as Gabon , Sao- Tomé etc.” Fr. Hüssler personally took two children from Okporo in Orlu to Europe - Roseline and Moses. Roseline had a hole in her head while Moses had a broken jaw. Unfortunately, Roseline did not survive but Moses is still alive today. Dr. Hüssler related to us that one of the things that touched him during those turbulent days was the magnanimity shown to 3,000 Biafran children by late Oma Bongo of Gabon . He gave the JCA a very large expanse of land where an English school was built. Bongo personally gathered about 56 competent personnel from different countries to give the children sound education. Another 1,000 children were also airlifted to Sao-Tomé – a Portuguese Island perching on the Atlantic Ocean . Fr. Hüssler also told us that he was delighted by the way Gowon spontaneously gave permission for the children airlifted to Gabon to come back to Nigeria .

Conclusion
This was how we spent the two and half hours with him and his former secretary –Frau Engesser, when he was Caritas President . It was indeed a pleasant company. As Dr. Hüssler re-lived this intense experience, tears of joy rolled down his chicks and he ended by saying in German Language “also, das war doch eine schöne Arbeit und ich bin Gott dankbar” – that was indeed a nice work and I thank God for that. We were very glad that we met him in person. There are still a lot of other people out there who played decisive roles during those 30 months of horror and degradation. One such person is John Doyle – a Holy Ghost Father who is now over 80 years old and lives in Reutershügelweg4, D-18069, Rostock , Germany . It would be good for Umuigbo who live in this area to pay him a visit and, on behalf of all Biafrans in general and, Ndiigbo in particular, personally express our heart-felt gratitude to him. Finally, we wish Father Hüssler a happy Birth-day, more healthy days ahead and God’s choicest blessings.

(Rev. Fr. Dr. Tobe Nnamani, MSP, is a priest of the Missionaries of St. Paul. He studied in Germany and Belgium and now teaches at the National Missionary Seminary of St. Paul, Abuja .
Contact:ecomat23@yahoo.co.uk, GSM: +234-80-36-37-88-03).

"Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted."
-Albert Einstein