January 27, 1945 is acknowledged as the official beginning of the end of the Nazi Holocaust. International Holocaust Remembrance Day annually correlates with the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration-death camps.
More than seven decades after the horrific era known as the Holocaust, the debate is ongoing. How could such an atrocity occur in civilized modern society?
Fingers justly point at the Nazi regime. The vast majority in the faith community, however, chose to overlook the most basic of biblical principles—when you see evil, do something about it (Job 29:16b-17).
What Happens When People Ignore Evil?
In March 1939, everything changed for Jewish people when the German army invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia. Hitler was responsible for lighting the fuse that ignited World War II.
A Jewish man, a Holocaust survivor, shared his experience. Nazi soldiers were everywhere and Nazi propaganda constantly blared from loudspeakers. Military convoys and troops streamed through his village carrying out Hitler’s expansionist ambitions.
The development of these activities alone was troubling. Even more disturbing, the Holocaust survivor told of the rapid and fundamental change in attitude toward the Jewish population of Czechoslovakia.
Until the Nazi occupation, this man’s family had many Christian friends. His childhood buddies and schoolmates were Christians. His father had Christian colleagues, clients and employees. His family interacted regularly with Christian neighbors.
Overnight, the community including long-time Christian friends abandoned them. Approximately 263,000 Czechoslovakian Jews died in the infamous Nazi concentration-extermination camps of Theresienstadt, Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz-Birkenau.
When you read historical accounts, the speed that latent anti-Semitism surfaced and pervaded Europe can easily be missed. In his soft-spoken manner, what the Holocaust survivor conveyed was like a lightning bolt that shocked me to the core.
I Got the Message
The environment of pre-World War II Czechoslovakia teaches that attitudes toward the Jewish people can change overnight. When Jewish families were herded into ghettos and deported to death camps, few Christians came to their aid.
The tragic reality is that when Hitler targeted the Jewish people, the faith community covered their eyes while plugging their noses to the stench of the cremation ovens. That the Nazis were obsessed with record keeping and marked victims with correlating tattoos is proof, however, that the Holocaust is historical fact revisionists cannot erase.
Our view of the Holocaust must be clear. But, the faith community must be willing to see what is happening in our culture now so that we act on conviction. Job provides a stellar example: “I searched out the case that I did not know. I broke the fangs of the wicked, and plucked the victim from his teeth” (29:16b-17).
Standing with Israel today requires more than hype and effusive words. Our speech must be coupled with action to do all in our power to aid God’s Chosen People who are not just the victims of anti-Semitic rhetoric, but premeditated attacks that hit shockingly close to home.
Every January 27, We Remember the atrocities of the Holocaust to affirm our resolve to stand in solidarity with the Jewish people every day. A solid grasp of God’s Word leaves no other choice.
1) We Remember, collage. (Photos: Memorial Ceremony at the Raoul Wallenberg square in Stockholm with Holocaust survivors. 27 January 2013, International Holocaust Remembrance Day). By Frankie Fouganthin/Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios
Copyright © Charles E. McCracken 2019, devotional comments. Repost/Reprint with permission. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.