Blessed are the peacemakers, right? The people who experience violence up close and personal and, rather than dole it back out, somehow find an alternative solution. Sure, these types of people don't usually get blockbuster movie franchises made about them, but we'll sure as hell stop to applaud them here. So here's to the ones who, whether by Jedi mind trick or just pure audacity, resolved violent conflicts while using their indoor voices.
5John Rabe: The Living Buddha of Nanking
In popular culture, the roster of surprisingly awesome Nazis pretty much begins and ends with Schindler's List. In reality, there were no doubt lots of compassionate people who just got swept up in Hitlermania; it's just that it's hard to do a list of "5 Nazis We Admire" without upsetting the advertisers. But that shouldn't stop us from talking about John Rabe, who, during World War II, turned up in a place where somebody with compassion was badly needed.
Which was actually "most of the planet" at that point.
In 1937, Japan invaded China and captured Nanking, the capital. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians were at the mercy of the invaders. What started thereafter was an inconceivable slaughter of a type so sanctioned that competitive civilian murder received news coverage back home, along with other atrocities so horrifying that a Cracked article has no place even hinting at what they are. But there was an organization called the Nanking Safety Zone, run by 22 Westerners from around the world, that was supposed to function as a haven.
One of these people would be credited with patrolling the streets and personally intervening to stop murders and prevent rapes. And rather than being some trained super soldier, he was just a guy who worked for the phone company and had been a member of the Red Cross. Soldiers naturally didn't take too well to this, and more than once Rabe found himself looking down a gun barrel. But what Rabe had to protect him was an armband with a swastika on it (oh, and he looked like an Indiana Jones villain):
Yale Divinity School Library
This guy actually wrote letters to Adolf Hitler requesting aid in stopping the atrocities being committed against the Chinese, which shows that even though he was with the party, he wasn't so much with the program. Who knows how this guy reconciled being a compassionate humanitarian with belonging to the most monstrous political party the world has ever known. Maybe he just liked the uniform? It probably did bring out his eyes.
"Swastikas make my ass look incredible."
After the war, the Nanking Safety Zone organization was credited with preventing the deaths of an estimated 250,000 Chinese people through personal intervention, sheltering, and international pressure. Rabe himself went home to Germany in 1938 to do lectures and presentations about Japanese atrocities until the Gestapo arrested him for that, marking him as probably one of history's most oblivious heroes.
After the war, Rabe was denounced as a Nazi and became impoverished. But for many years, he and his family survived on care packages from the very Chinese citizens he'd helped to save and who'd given him the nickname "the Living Buddha of Nanking."
Nope, the hat doesn't help.