It’s been nearly 70 years since the Holocaust, and the number of survivors are dwindling. To those survivors the Holocaust remains real and ever-present, but for many others, 60+ years ago is ancient history.
The Holocaust (Shoah in Hebrew) was the Nazi’s persecution and planned slaughter of the Jewish people. Approximately 6 Million Jews were murdered which was roughly 2/3 of all Jews living in Europe during World War II.
You may remember from my post a few weeks ago (A Visit to Mauthausen) that I went to a concentration camp while traveling in Austria. The Mauthausen was one of the worst! At least 100,000 inmates died or were killed there, and half of the deaths were in the last 4 months before the camps were liberated. Thousands of prisoners were beaten to death, shot, murdered by lethal injection, or frozen to death in “death-bath-actions.” At least 10,200 inmates were murdered in the gas chambers.
Through the years, I have read many accounts of survivors, watched documentaries and movies, and even had the privilege to hear a few survivors speak. One speaker made a huge impression on me as she recounted all she endured. Many years after the war she met the officer that had repeatedly abused her and her sister. She said everything within her wanted to spit in his face. Instead, with God’s help, she looked him in the eye and said, “I forgive you.” This woman was not the only one who has extended forgiveness for the horrors they endured. Many others have as well.
Could I forgive if I had been imprisoned and tortured?
Jesus has instructed in Matthew 5:44 to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” In Mark 11:25 Jesus states, “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (NIV)
Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day, begins Wednesday evening, April 18, and goes through Thursday evening, April 19. As we take time to remember the horror, may we also remember those who fought, survived, and FORGAVE.
Is there someone that you need to forgive?