A Question Of Guilt

January 31, 2010

I am a Christian, and I have wondered why more Christians were not aware of the Holocaust and what was happening to their Jewish friends.

We did have a service in about 1998 at a Temple, giving the Swedish people thanks for taking in refugees, coming from Denmark by boat, and giving them safety.

— Sonja

Sonja, too many Christians were aware of what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust. Some of them tried to help, some church groups and priests even worked underground in the resistance — but the majority kept silent.

The official policy of the church, and the Pope, was to support Hitler or to look the other way. And don’t forget that many people were too afraid to speak up because the Nazi regime was a brutal dictatorship.

Regardless, no one should have voluntarily helped the Nazis; but too many did. Many Christians held anti-Semitic beliefs themselves: They had been indoctrinated over centuries by the church that “the Jews had killed Jesus.”

I am glad that you ask questions. It is important to remember the past. That is our duty. Keep asking questions and you’ll find many answers. And maybe you can ask a Holocaust survivor to provide you with a personal picture of how life was like back then. Become his/her witness.

— Tekla Szymanski


One comment

  1. Hello,

    We are contacting you because we are beginning a project that we believe might be interesting to you. Our intent is to bring together 3rd generation (grandchildren) of victims and perpetrators of the WW2 Holocaust such as Jews, homosexuals, sympathizers, Nazi, SS, Polish, Vichy, etc. We wish to create a safe, open space to inclusively listen and experience each other’s stories of growing up and living with family members who lived during the Nazi period. This space will be open in many ways and might include modes of expression that go beyond words, like movement, free association, and expressive theater.

    We will use questions about our formative experiences with family, in school, and with friends to structure the circle.
    Questions might look like the following:
    When did you first learn about the Holocaust?
    What ideas do I have about my own community and about the ‘others’ community?
    What do we know about our own historical links to the Holocaust?
    What was it like to be a grand-daughter of a Nazi soldier or a survivor?
    What is guilt, what is forgiveness, what is reconciliation?
    What do you feel when you meet a German/Jew?
    What is the role of commemoration?

    We ask that all participants hold the intention to go beyond blame. We hope that in experiencing the stories of each other, we will begin to build a shared experience, one which struggles to move beyond the conventional notions of the ‘other’ with which most of us have been raised. Meetings will be facilitated and will follow guidelines to maintain structure, confidentiality and the emotional safety and stability of the circle. The purpose of the group is not to debate or argue historical facts, but rather to encounter each other and listen deeply to each other’s stories and truths. Participants must be committed to a self-transformative process.

    At this stage, we call for all those interested to write in with a short statement including an introduction, your relation to the Holocaust, and your intent for joining. Once we gather a solid group we will announce our first meeting. If you know of others that are linked historically to the Holocaust and might be interest, please send this invitation along.

    Send all communications to 3rdgennyc@gmail.com

    In peace,

    Rami Efal and Charla Malamed

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