Christians and the Holocaust (Part 1)

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a time we set aside to reflect upon the horrendous slaughter the Jewish people had to endure. Since this blog is obviously Christian in perspective, I wanted to post a paper I wrote in college for partial fulfillment of the History of Modern Israel class. I've changed it a bit for this blog.


ne fact we must face as Christians is the shameful ways some of us have dealt with the Jewish people. Those actions, among other things, serve as stumbling blocks to reaching people with the message of the Messiah. They have clouded and confused the Gospel with condemnation, hatred, and malice, and many Jewish people fail to the proper connection we have with the sacred Tanakh.

Christianity, of course, began deep in the roots of the Jewish faith. Early Christians were all Jewish, spreading their message of hope for salvation in Yeshua (“Jesus,” whose Hebrew name, appropriately enough, means “God saves”). They discovered a unique oneness that broke down the wall of partition between Jew and Gentile who have accepted the Gospel message in the Spirit of Messiah. Of course, their message of harmony through the Gospel did not last as the idea that to be a Jew and Christian is a contradiction prevailed, in stark contrast to the historical fact. The purpose of this paper, however, is not to explore the compatibility of the teachings of the Tanakh, the Jew, and the Gospel (though the author of this paper does operate under the premise that these are one hundred percent compatible).

Atrocities committed against the Jews undertaken in the name of Christianity do not represent the teachings of Christianity, nor do they ever represent the corpus of Christian thought in their respective time periods, as we see in the events surrounding Hitler’s “final solution” and the general cause of Zionism in the twentieth century. Not all who took the name of Jesus Christ were silent or complicit with the Nazi regime’s slaughter of nearly six million Jews in the previous century. There were dissenting voices of brave souls standing for the truth of the Christian message and for the plight of an oppressed people.

Hitler and the Nazi regime waved the Christian banner as they marched to power in Germany. Stop for a moment and consider this: most of this blog's readership is within the United States, a land where the banner of religion is flaps as fervently as the gums of the candidates running for office. Most living here understand that appeals to Christianity or any other religion by politicians are baits for votes more often than not.

Based only on that, the reader must also ask himself what defines a “Christian.” Is true, undefiled Christianity a faith and practice willingly embraced by a convert, or or is it a church or state body to which a person who by birth or by coercion bears allegiance? The term can become rather elastic, for in some European countries, past and present, “Christian” and “citizen” bear synonymy. As such, religious persecution would become more of a case of pseudo-political action against possible antinationalism or dangers to the state.

Which banner was Hitler really waving, then? The victory of Christianity over Judaism, or the nationalistic message that Jews were ruining the German society and way of life? Some may point to the fact that he felt like he was doing a service to Christianity[1], and led many youth who were probably Christian astray, but he was not motivated by Christianity. He knew his message was against the message of the cross (he spoke to the heart idols producing antisemitism in Europe), which is why he attempted to control pulpits by unifying them prior to 1937. Afterward, he began initiating "a campaign of intimidation and terror to silence his clerical opposition."[2] If Christianity were indeed anti-Jewish, there would be no need for him to do this.

If Christian conviction was not his motivation, then why did he, against all wartime reasoning, waste money, men, and merchandise to ensure the suffering and destruction of the Hebrew lineage? All guessing as to a possible motive aside (such as possible occultic involvement) he found justification in his understanding of Darwinian evolution and its application to societal structure. Social Darwinism provided the apparent scientific basis for believing some humans have less right to live than others (i.e., the Jews).

What was the genuine Christian response, then?

To be continued tomorrow...


[1] Fiscel, Jack. “Nazi pulpits?” The Weekly Standard. Washington: Jul 28, 2003.Vol.8, Iss. 44; pg. 29. Available from ProQuest. http://exchange2.stu.masters.edu:2072/pqdweb?index=17&did=376554281&SrchMode=1&sid=1&Fmt=4&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1147294605&clientId=8756. Accessed on 10 May, 2006.

[2] Ibid.

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