Joined: 13 Feb 2006
|Posted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 9:45 am Post subject: Diana’s father inspired act of compassion
|Diana’s father inspired act of compassion
Mr Lister on the German street that bears his name.
PRINCESS DIANA’S father has been credited as inspiration for an act of compassion which saved many thousands of Germans from starvation in the aftermath of the second world war.
A former minister in Angus and Fife, the Rev Douglas Lister, counts himself fortunate to have counted Earl Spencer as his best friend during his days in the army.
Mr Lister has been feted as a hero in Germany for organising aid for thousands of starving refugees from Russia.
He has just returned from the city of Luneburg in the north of the country, where he was guest of honour at the 50th anniversary celebrations of the local Rotary club.
He found himself remembering his friend, then simply known as Captain John Althorp, with tremendous gratitude.
Mr Lister formerly of St Stephen’s, Carnoustie, and Largo and Newburn Parish Church, Upper Largo—from which he retired in 1986—now lives in Inverurie.
He was appointed the first honorary member of a German Rotary club in recognition of the campaign he spearheaded to feed and clothe refugees.
A Rothesay man, he was ordained in 1945 and became a chaplain to the Royal Scots Greys, serving in Luneburg.
Appalled by the suffering of 80,000 refugees camped along the banks of the River Elbe in the harsh winter of 1947, he launched an appeal for help to 400 Scots churches, organisations and friends.
Contrary to orders from senior officers, he instigated the campaign to feed and clothe the refugees and from ration-strapped Scotland came tonnes of food and clothes, sent anonymously.
In 1991, the Germans named a street in Luneburg the Douglas Lister Strasse.
The German justice minister, Dr Edward Schmidt-Jortzig, later called the relief effort “an act of magnificent reconciliation and a wonderful gesture of generosity.”
But Mr Lister said, “The people who really deserved, and still deserve, praise and honour are the thousands of Scots who sent their gifts anonymously at that time.
“I was immensely proud of Scotland at the time, but I wouldn’t have believed the effect of our generosity then would still have been so strong and real now 60 years later.”
Princess Diana’s father, he insists, also deserves recognition.
He said, “I had to apply to the army high command at Bad Oynhausen for permission to launch the appeal.
“I remember the day I received their reply. It was ‘No. Non-fraternisation with the enemy is the order of the day.’
“I was furious and in the mess at night over a whisky I discussed the problem with my best friend, Captain John Althorp. John was 23. I was 26.
“John was the kindest and most considerate man anyone could meet.
“‘What do you think we should do?’ I asked him.
“‘These poor people are no enemies,’ he replied, straight out. ‘Fight the high command.’
“That decided it for me. I protested to the high command and was finally given permission.
“In a very real sense it was Princess Diana’s dad who made it happen.”
Diana, Princess of Wales is and always will be The People's Princess.