The State We're In, 26 May 2012. It’s been 30 years since May 24, 1982 - known as Martyrs’ Day in Iraq. But in Iran, it’s celebrated as the day that the city of Khorramshahr was liberated - a major turning point in the Iran-Iraq war.
During that conflict, two soldiers - one Iraqi and one Iranian - met on the battlefield. The Iranian saves the Iraqi’s life, risking his own in the process. Nearly 20 years later, and on the other side of the world, sheer coincidence brings the two men together again in a life-saving drama. Also on the show, a man in Amsterdam sees a WWII photograph and suddenly recalls how close he was to being sent to a concentration camp.
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Naja Aboud didn’t want to join the Iraqi army.
But in 1982 he got conscripted and had to leave his wife and son behind.
Just after arriving at the Iranian city of Khorramshahr, he got badly wounded, and took shelter in a bunker full of the dead and dying.
Then he saw a light coming towards him. He thought it was an angel. But it was an Iranian soldier.
Rescued by the enemy - listen in new player
Zahed Haftlang ran away from home to join the Iranian army and became a medic. After Iran won the Battle of Khorramshahr, his orders were to search each bunker. Iranian forces were killing prisoners on sight.
But when he came across the wounded Iraqi soldier, he decided to save the man’s life – even though it meant risking his own. Yet getting him to the field hospital was an ordeal. Another Iranian soldier wanted to kill Naja... and when they finally got to the hospital, the doctor initially refused to treat him.
Naja was operated on and his life was saved – all because an enemy soldier rescued him. The two men had one last emotional meeting, before having to go their separate ways. That was in 1982. Naja spent 17 years as a prisoner of war in Iran. Zahed also became a prisoner of war. Both men lost their families. Naja eventually moved to Vancouver, Canada.
Then 18 years later, Zahed was working as a merchant marine. He was depressed and suicidal. He jumped ship – at the port of Vancouver. Through sheer coincidence, the two men find themselves in a waiting room together. They start talking...
Naja and Zahed tell host Jonathan Groubert about their astounding reunion, and how they both saved each other’s lives.
'Two Enemies, One Heart' took seven months to produce. Read 'Making Two Enemies, One Heart'
Read more about Naja and Zahed's story: Blood Brothers by Timothy Taylor
BBC World Service article - Documenting a Tale of Two Soldiers
Carel Wiemers in the Netherlands had almost forgotten his childhood friend Hans - until he saw a picture of him in an exhibition featuring children who were sent to concentration camps.
Then Carel realized he was there the day the Nazis came for Hans and his family and how - had it not been for the breathtaking courage of Hans’s mother, he’d have been sent to the camps, too. View photos.