at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, and asked the above question. With
little time to think, I hesitatingly answered, "Yes, I will "
Soon we gathered together in a grove of a few hundred trees significantly designated "The Avenue of the Righteous Gentiles"; referring to European Christians and others who had resisted the Nazi slaughter of the Jews.
"We stand here in this avenue of Righteous Gentiles, but as we can see
there are not enough trees here....because there were not enough righteous ones
then in Europe either. I realize that you consider Christianity to be morally
bankrupt,...and you have a perfect right to question the validity of a religion that
claims one thing, yet does another, or does nothing in the midst of evil.
The institutional Churches in Europe, and particularly in Germany were
mostly State Churches, Lutheran and Roman Catholic respectively. They were
historically antisemetic, and concerned about themselves and "their own". Many
individuals within did act couragously, but the majority "looked the other way"...at
least until it was too late. Hitler appointed a State Minister of Religion and Cults;
and soon neutralized a gullible clergy who on the whole accepted his ploy: "You
stay out of politics, a we'll stay out of your Church business".
Many resisted, but without leadership were soon overwhelmed.The Camps
were soon full of Ministers and Priests, as well as Jews. However there was one
Christian group of German Evangelicals who, mobilized by men such as Martin
Neimoller and Deitrich Bonhoffer, successfully gathered initially some 7000
Pastors, but in the end were also overwhelmed by the S.S and the Gestapo.
For 17 centuries the institutional Churches had said, in effect and by law, .
"You shall not live among us". Consequent were Ghettos, the Pale of Russia,
Jew-hatred, laws against Jews owning land, entering professions or clergy; and
other vile schemes too numerous to mention.
Then along came Adolf Hitler. In 1923 he wrote Mein Kampf; and German
society read it, and knew about his antisemitic ravings, madness, and plans. Ten
years later he became Chancellor, and promulgated the Neurenberg Laws.
He extended the Church dictum from "You shall not live among us" to "You shall
not live". The second stage could not have been successful, without the first
having conditioned the population at large !
As Jews you say "NEVER AGAIN". We Christians on an individual and growing
international scale also say "NEVER AGAIN". It is a vast movement within Christendom
which realizes that until the Church leadership formally repents, and denounces all forms
of "the teaching of contempt" towards Jews and Judaism, the Church has no right to
speak to you concerning the Gospel.
Canada has its own repenting to do. We turned away the boat "St Louis"
from our shores and it's occupants to certain death later in Europe. Our Prime
Minister, McKenzie King, on the advice of his Christian Czar of Immigration
Charles Blair, refused fleeing Jews admittance into Canada because, he alleged,
"they would make poor farmers and soldiers". Even after the war Nazis had better access to Canada than did Jews.
The "International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem", which I represent in Canada, is one such active Christian group; very pro-Israel and repentant because of the Scriptures. It is also a grassroots, non-denominational organization working in more than one hundred countries And there are today many similiar groups..including in Germany...and in Rome....which have faced up to the problem officially...but much remains to be done, particularly in the mainline denominations.
May God give us all the strength to do together that which is right !