Nazi Death Camps Made Public Sixty-Eight Years Ago

2005 Execution of Iranian Gay Teens

The public was informed of the Nazi death camps on December 17, 1942, in Great Britain’s House of Commons.  That was just 68 years ago.  My good friend Louise McWhorter will be 90 years old this February. She was 21 years old when that announcement was made.

The Holocaust wasn’t all that long ago.

Some German theologians resisted National Socialism and it cost them. Paul Tillich was dismissed from his teaching post at the University of Frankfurt and took a position at Union Theological Seminary. Karl Barth was driven from Germany to Switzerland.

In 1939 Dietrich Bonhoeffer returned to Germany on the last scheduled steamer from the United States, despite the pleadings of American colleagues concerned for his safety. Bonhoeffer was a theologian and a pacifist, but decided he couldn’t live with ideological pacifism in the face of the concrete evil of National Socialism. In April 1943 he was arrested for his participation in the plot to assassinate Hitler. Bonhoeffer was hung with piano wire in Flossenburg Prison Camp in April 1944, just a few days before it was liberated by the Allies.

Adolf Hitler didn’t create anti-Semitism. Prejudice against the Jews had existed in Germany for centuries. Martin Luther was notoriously anti-Semitic. What Hitler did do was use it as a pretext, this pre-existing prejudice against Jews, and fan it into hatred, blaming them for all of Germany’s ills. He turned Germany’s tolerance of Jews into Germany’s sin, and the cause of Germany’s punishment. According to the Nazis, Germany was suffering her indignities and defeats because they tolerated Jewish influence in German cinema, industry, medicine, education, journalism, and politics.

“They’re everywhere!” the Nazi propagandists wrote.

The Jews were scapegoats. They were perfect. Christ-killers. They polluted the German Church with their false conversions. It was impossible for them to be Christians.

They were as decent and law-abiding as the everyone else, which made them defenseless. What civilized person could imagine what the government had planned for them. And they were picked up, one at a time, and put on trains headed east.

Hitler capitalized on the pre-existing antipathy toward Jews and turned the “decent Germans” against the small percentage of Jews, or intimidated them into standing by silently as the land was depopulated of the infestation. With a handful of exceptions, the Lutherans went along with it. With a handful of exceptions, the Catholics went along with it.

In junior high school I discovered Leon Uris in the school library. His books Exodus and Mila 18 made a profound impact on me. In my spare time I read about the Polish Ghetto and the Extermination Camps. Married couples diabolically forced to torture one another. Lampshades made of human skin. Hiding in latrines.

Today in the U.S., major leaders, some political, but mainly Christian, have given us a new scapegoat to blame our nation’s problems on: gays and lesbians. This is how it goes:

A new threat has arisen since the 1970s: homosexuals. They threaten the church, but they also threaten the entire nation. Their radical gay agenda is being forced down our throats. Everywhere you turn, there they are: on television, in the movies, in the schools, in the churches, in their parades, even in congress. They are a corrupting influence. It’s bad enough that we let them teach our children in public schools, now they want to adopt children–and do God-only-knows-what to them in private. And now they want us to marry them and ordain them. They want us to not only tolerate them, but to give them our stamp of approval. Tolerance itself is a sin.

Politics and differences make a deadly combination. Idi Amin in Uganda (1972-1979). Pol Pot in Cambodia (1975-1979). Iran and over 4,000 homosexuals (1979 to present). Ethnic cleansing in Bosnia (1992-1995). Genocide in Darfur (2003-2006). Death penalty proposed for “aggravated homosexuality” in Uganda (2009).

A little-noticed action was taken by the U.N. in November. For ten years homosexuals have been included on the U.N. list of categories of people specifically protected from extrajudicial, arbitrary and summary executions. The protected categories includes street children, human rights defenders, members of ethnic, religious, and linguistic minority communities.

Just before Thanksgiving, 2010, the West African nation of Benin introduced a measure to remove sexual minorities from the list of protected classes. The measure passed. Now it’s okay for countries to practice the extrajudicial, arbitrary and summary execution of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals.

The year is 2010.

The Holocaust happened in a civilized, technologically advanced country during a time of financial upheaval and political chaos. A lot of people say we’re in for something similar in our own future. 

You’ve heard of the Proverbs 31 wife? I want to be a Proverbs 31 Christian.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves;
      ensure justice for those being crushed.
Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless,
      and see that they get justice.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

The Holocaust wasn’t that long ago.

About Ron Goetz

My first wife used to say, "There's nothing so sacred that Ron won't pick it apart." My desire to be a pastor -- that was a temperamental mismatch. She was so patient. If my birth mother had lived somewhere else, maybe I would've become a cold case detective. But I would have had to be J instead of a P, I think. And that mid-life reevaluation, starting adolescence as a GARB fundamentalist and transitioning to a non-theist, that gave me an unusual skill set.
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2 Responses to Nazi Death Camps Made Public Sixty-Eight Years Ago

  1. Noel Goetz says:

    You are correct in your historical recollection. That said, the Jews had very little political clout or influence in German society and chose to “keep to themselves” rather than “to rock the boat.” The Jews were not gaining power at the time of Hilter’s rise. They had no overt political or sociological “agenda.” The Gay mainstream does and has flexed it’s political muscle at every turn and opportunity. Unlike the Jews, the Gay community villifies anyone who objects to their agenda as being evil and racist though someone else may have a personal view different then theirs. Who truly are the narrow minded. Who truly are the tolerant? Are the Gays losing strength? Are they on the run? Looking at purely the facts, and comparing apples to apples, someone is building a straw man here, and I don’t think it’s the religious right. You do not see very many “mainstream” Christians gathering in numbers to protest against the Gays. You have fringe elements, yes, but that has been going on for years and is on the decline. Want to know who’s hiding behind doors wanting to be left alone? Biblical literalists and others who have fear of their rights being swept away by the storm trooping left. “We” want to be left alone to believe and say what we want to without being shouted down and called little Hitlers. Your comparisons, though incendiary, are the same old tired molotov cocktails thrown by groups who use the name “Hitler” instead of shouting out- “f…. all of you bible literalists and go to hell.” I think I’d rather someone yell that at me then calling me a Hitler.” Just a thought.


    • Noel, I am sure you and many other believers simply want to be left alone. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that all of us get tarred with the brush that others earn for us. You’re not out protesting “against the Gays,” but many evangelical leaders do, and have for decades. We don’t have to search our memories to recall Jerry Falwell, D. James Kennedy, and Pat Robertson. Several San Diego local pastors were big-time supporters of Prop 8, including Jim Garlow of Skyline Wesleyan Church, Miles McPherson of The Rock Church, and UMC pastor Jim Hill of Clairemont Christian Fellowship. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and James Dobson of Focus on the Family were two big-name supporters of Prop 8.

      These people and churches are not “fringe elements” among Evangelicals, and the passage of Prop 8 was only two years ago, November 4, 2008. And there were a great many Prop 8 supporters standing on street corners protesting “against the Gays.”

      I am sure you want to be left alone, but it doesn’t look to me like James Dobson, Rick Warren, Miles McPherson, the Mormons, the Unification Church, or the Knights of Columbus show any sign of giving up the fight. If Prop 8 is overturned, you can count on them to return to do battle “against the Gays” with their rhetoric about the Radical Gay Agenda’s threat to families, to the churches, and to America.


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