Where was God in the Holocaust?
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The Holocaust, as mentioned in an earlier article, showed us what happens when evil is allowed to go unchecked and free reign is given to every hatred of the human heart. It proved the failure of man, not the failure of God. He gave man free will and what the World witnessed in the 1940s was how low we could sink when we forsake morality and conscience. The Holocaust showed us that without God and His teachings, the earth could not survive; we would just end up killing each other.
If you wish to read more on the subject of God and the Holocaust, may I recommend that you read Chapter 13, “Can theology survive after Auschwitz?” in Fred Wright’s excellent book, “Father Forgive us”.
Many Nazis were Roman Catholics or members of the State Protestant Church but, as both Church history and secular scientists were telling them that Jews were subhuman, haters of God and worthy of death, they allowed themselves to be instruments of this age-old hatred and killed Jews without a glimmer of conscience or thought of personal consequence. Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, “I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews. I am doing the Lord's work.” The attempted annihilation of the Jews was carried out by these twisted hearts with religious zeal, a zeal nurtured by years of anti-Semitism, infiltrated into the German Church and German soul.
As mentioned earlier, the Jewish people were in Galut, in exile. It was a natural consequence of the warnings in Deuteronomy 28. During this exile, it’s as if God leaves them in the hands of man, just as, in the final hours of Jesus’ own life, he was placed in the hands of man. An implication of this is that, outside of Israel, the Promised Land, life for the Jew was always going to be precarious. This puts an added emphasis on the true nature of Galut. One of the major consequences of the Holocaust was to signal the death-throes of the exile, in the miraculous provision of the State of Israel, a land to provide, for the first time in 1900 years, a safe haven for Jewish people.
It’s my belief that the tender heart of God, grieved to the utmost by the frenzy of evil deeds against His people in the Holocaust and overwhelmed by the sheer number of devout Jews going to their death Kiddush HaShem, just said, ‘Enough is enough, I cannot leave my beloved people any longer at the mercy of the Gentile nations. It is time for their homecoming.’
Once installed in the Land of Israel, although anti-Semitism was never going to leave them alone (taking a new form in Arab Muslim hatred), they would be masters of their own destiny in their own land, with their first self-governance since the time of the Kings of Judah. This is the importance of Israel to the Jewish people. Most Jews, living in material comfort and perceived safety in the West, have yet to realise this. Perhaps the coming days will show them otherwise, as was shown to the Jews of Poland and Germany, who also thought in the mid-20th Century, that they were safely integrated into these countries.
As a footnote to this tragic episode I finish with a poem, written by 12 year old Eva Pickova in a Jewish ghetto; she died 2 years later in Auschwitz.
Today the ghetto knows a different fear, Close in its grip, Death wields an icy scythe.
An evil sickness spreads a terror in its wake. The victims of its shadow weep and writhe.
Today a father's heartbeat tells his fright. And mothers bend their heads into their hands.
Now children choke and die with typhus here, A bitter tax is taken from their bands.
My heart still beats inside my breast. While friends depart for other worlds.
Perhaps it's better - who can say, Than watching this, to die today?
No, no, my God we want to live! Not watch our numbers melt away.
We want to have a better world. We want to work? We must not die!
In an earlier article we heard of those “Ordinary men”, ordinary Germans who were turned into “killing machines”, agents of the evil Nazi regime in the “Final Solution”. Yet before the war these were regular people like you and I. This speaks volumes of the evil that lurks within all of our hearts and the ease with which anti-Semitism can find fertile soil for its propagation.
We must all be so watchful.