Drafted into the German military in 1939, Horst spent the first year as a construction worker. In 1940 he was assigned to a field unit at the Western Front. He participated in the conquest of France and afterward left with his unit for the invasion of Russia. While retreating from the Russian front he was captured and spent the final days of the war in an Allied POW camp. He went on to become a district president of the Church in occupied Germany before fleeing to the United States.
One early morning, January 6, 1942, I had to stand guard duty with a buddy, Hans Plank. We were standing beside a little shack, the straw roof covered with snow. A Russian machine gun started to shoot at us. I could see the tracers hitting the ground before my feet, then skipping off to the sky. Other rounds hit the straw roof, and I could see the bullets making rows of holes, making the snow coming down like sugar coming out of a bowl.
I was very afraid and since I was forbidden to leave the post, I wanted to pray. I could feel the power of the destroyer. But I could not utter one word of prayer; my tongue felt paralyzed. To think that the first words in my life were prayers on my mother’s lap. All I was able to say was that if my mother could pray for me right now, the Lord might hear the prayer of a righteous woman. With that thought, I looked to the east, and felt prompted to look north. When I did that and turned, a bullet passed, and in passing, hit the coat at my stomach. Had I not turned, it would have struck my stomach. After that incident the shooting stopped.
Some days later I received a letter from my mother. In the letter, she wrote that in the night of January 6 she woke up hearing me calling her “Mama.” She also heard the sound of shooting. She got up quickly, woke up my four sisters and said that they needed to pray fast, that I was in mortal danger, and needed their prayer. The five women knelt down, and my mother pleaded with the Lord to keep His protecting hand over me. After the prayer my mother told my sisters to go back to sleep and be of good cheer. I had been in danger, but the Lord helped me.