Thursday, April 22, 2010

As Long As There Are Jews There Will Always Be Nazis

"Solange es Juden gibt, wird es immer Nazis geben" 
(As long as there are Jews there will always be Nazis)
"A Jew is a citizen of no country except Israel" 
"Waarom leef ik" (Why am I alive?)
—comments written in the Anne Frank museum guestbook, Amsterdam and quoted by Mark Kurlansky in A Chosen Few: The Resurrection of European Jewry.
Anne Frank
My one and only visit to the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam took place back in 1971. My wife, children and I were touring the Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy in a rented VW bus. To stand in that place where this little Jewish family hid from the Nazis filled me with deep sorrow and anguish. It put flesh and blood to the story of Nazi fanatical hatred. It was such a troubling experience for me that I had to cut the visit short. Tears choked my throat and eyes as we walked down the stairs and back to the street.

To this day, now nearly forty years later, I cannot put my mind around how any group of people, any nation, any government could harbor such hatred and fear. It does not make rational sense, but then why should it? The only explanation I can find for the Nazi decade, the years during which I was born and began to grow toward manhood, is to accept the fact of evil, evil so deep as to go far beyond comprehension. The more I study—and write—about that era, the more I am convicted by the insights of Jesus and his apostles. Listen to them:
"...our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12).
"When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness" ( Jesus when captured in the Garden - Luke 22:53).
"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son" (Colossians 1:13).
Jesus and his apostles teach us that everything about darkness and this dark world is opposed to light. They also teach that this is power, not power in the sense of electricity or steam or hydrogen, etc., but power that reaches into the human psyche to fill it with darkness. We view the power of that darkness in the rise and destruction of Nazism. No war in all human history destroyed so many human lives, both civilian and military. Estimates run to as high as 60 million, an astounding and unbelievable number.

But why? I will not attempt to probe the depths of that question, but instead, in  the days ahead, will focus on antisemitism and share some of what my research suggests about why the Nazis hated Jews so deeply and attempted to exterminate them all from the face of the earth.

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