Walking through the wide hallways of Yad Vashem is a little like walking through a nightmare. Jerusalem’s monumental memorial to the Holocaust is filled with stories you’d rather not know. It has pictures you’d rather not see. It has video that will leave you sickened. It offers name after name after name of those who died at the hands of pure evil.
How in God’s name did anyone let the Holocaust happen?
Why weren’t there more “righteous Gentiles” who did what they could to save their neighbors? We are grateful for Oskar Schindler, the Ten Boom family, and Pastor Andre Trocme, who led his village to save an astounding 5,000 souls.
But why did the church in Germany go along with Nazi insanity? Why was Dietrich Bonhoeffer executed alone, hanging by a noose made of piano wire so he would suffer slowly as he died? Shouldn’t there have been a long line of pastors volunteering to die with him?
If the church had spoken up, perhaps nothing would have changed. But because of its silence, every follower of Christ bears the shadow of shame from the worst chapter of our history.
Yes … the Holocaust is a chapter of Christian history. Germany is the home of the Reformation. Austria and Germany gave birth to both Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther. And believe it or not, Luther’s writings late in his life advocated the extermination of the Jews. If you’ve never read the words, rest assured of this: Hitler did. We know, because he quoted them.
As much as we would like, none of us can go back in time on this “Holocaust Remembrance Day” and change history.
So we will do the next best thing.
We will remember.