Biblical Restitution: A Story of Forgiveness

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January 12, 2007 by Joseph Krohn

Thirty-six years of suffering a guilty conscience finally proved too much for a German man who shoplifted from a small store while on vacation in Norway in 1970. Seeking to make amends, he sent a cheque for the equivalent of C$380 to the small mountain town of Lom, and asked them to find the shopkeeper, Mayor Simen Bjoergen said on the town’s website Thursday.

“For many years, my conscience has bothered me. With the enclosed cheque, I hope to free myself from that and request your help,” wrote the German, whose name was not released. “I would also like to ask for forgiveness for the wrong I did so long ago.” In the letter, the man said he had been travelling in Scandinavia with his young brother and girlfriend, now his wife, when they stopped in Lom, a town of about 2,300 people 250 kilometres north of Oslo. He said he shoplifted about 40 German marks or the equivalent of C$30 worth of items from a local store, which he recalled only as “a souvenir shop with a big parking lot.” He asked Bjoergen to find the shop owner and give him the cheque, and if that was not possible to use the money for a good cause.

Bjoergen finally found retired 78-year-old shop owner Gabriel Lund, who owned the Fjoset gift shop in 1970, and gave him the cheque. In a letter to the German, the Mayor said Lund asked him to say “that he forgives you” and that he had given the money to the local retirement home to do something nice for its residents.

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