While in Paris this week, I had a chance of viewing a new documentary on the Holocaust that caused me to ponder on the fate of my people during WWII. It was extremely uncomfortable to watch, as I discovered what even I had subconsciously buried deep into my own mental archives of the Shoah.
The powerful and revealing documentary titled Ce qu’ils savaient (What they knew), covered some recently declassified war files about the knowledge that the Allies had about the fate of European Jews and what they did or “didn’t do” with them.
From 1939 until 1943, a multitude of reports from various sources within Europe got to the hands of Sir Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin at first, and eventually also reached General Charles de Gaulle and President Roosevelt. Yet, very little if anything was done to reach out to the Jewish communities of Europe to warn them, let alone protect or even rescue them.
After the war, the civilized world has been told about General Dwight D. Eisenhower (then Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe) and General Patton discovering some of the Nazi carnage at Ohdruf in April of 1945. The visit to the camp and the subsequent efforts to liberate it and many others was very real. So was the utter repugnance experienced by the Allied troops regarding the unspeakable crimes committed by the Nazis against the Jews. But it is doubtful that General Eisenhower’s surprise was really a complete surprise. Based on the declassified reports now available, while the shock of the death toll and inhuman conditions of the camps were likely real, possibly even appearing surreal, the facts of the carnage couldn’t be new to the American general.
To be fair to General Eisenhower, we must realize that from the moment he was exposed to the bestiality of the camps, he deliberately shared and documented as much as he could in an effort to avoid any future re-writing of history that would minimize or even exclude the Shoah. I’d hate to have seen the damage done by Holocaust deniers if Eisenhower hadn’t said or done anything! I commend him for that. But was was it too little, too late?
One could speculate about the reasons (if any) why Auschwitz-Birkenau was never bombed even though allied forces had an aerial map and flew as close as 8 kms from the Camp?
One could also wonder why De Gaulle, Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt kept so many reports hidden from the general public?
It has been said that rescuing the Jewish people was a task of such gigantic proportions in a time of war that Allied forces were overwhelmed at the idea. Yet I wonder what would have really happened if the Allies looked for a solution with the same energy, resources and infrastructure as the Nazis who implemented “the Final Solution to the Jewish Question”? Would more Jewish people have survived? Without a doubt, Yes!
But more important than revisiting the past is planning for the future, and we cannot change the events of the past, we can certainly learn from them and prepare for a future that wouldn’t include such barbarism.
Government and the military are very much needed to maintain order and safety in any country. So, my concern shouldn’t be perceived as an attack on either. This being said, I feel strongly about the personal responsibility that each one of us has to fight xenophobia in general and antisemitism in particular. Thus, we should never wait or rely upon government or the military to do so.
The process begins with recognizing the nature of the human heart. We must admit in all humility that the human heart is wicked, and that includes yours and mine as well.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9).
There is nothing we can do to change our heart on our own, except to recognize our shortcomings and depravity, so that we can ask God to give us a new heart and make us into a new creature capable of loving even our own enemies (Matthew 5:44). How much more then could we love Israel and the Jewish people who ARE NOT our enemies?
As we are already into the second decade of the 21st Century. We are surrounded by technology making global communication possible at the click o a button. Yet, we are also seeing a strong, viral and pandemic rebirth of antisemitism. All the Facebooks, Twitters and blogs of the world will not suffice if human beings don’t stop their self absorbed daily routines for a moment and start caring about my people more compassionately.
Do not rely on others to reach out and help those in needs, but instead rely on God to give YOU the strength, compassion and resources to reach out to others.
God can use you to love my people with the love of Messiah Yeshua. The fate of the Jewish people is not sealed but it is in the hands of those who will allow God to guide them. Be one of them, you will be blessed!