I am sitting in the town square of Krakow, Poland processing all that I have just seen. It's a lot to take in. Yesterday, we visited Auschwitz Birkenau, the extermination camp and memorial to more than 1,100,000 Jews... men, women and children who were killed here for no other reason than being a Jewish person. I was recently in Israel, and I was told that the Iranian people say that the Holocaust never happened. They call it propaganda. Many say it didn't happen and was made up to promote sympathy for the Jews. What a sinister lie that I wish were true for the sake of these people. This horror happened between 1941-1944, just 75+ years ago. I am not sure it is in our human ability to actually comprehend what took place here. I've been trying to wrap my mind around the question, how could humanity, at any time and for any reason, subject masses of innocent people to something so evil.
Can you imagine being forcefully removed from your home with your infant and small children, not knowing where you are going or why this is happening to you? The map in the center image shows the areas around Auschwitz from which the Jews were deported, as far away as Norway and Greece.
Imagine you are told you can bring just one suitcase and then you are loaded onto a train‘s cattle car to be transported with 70 other people in the same car. I believe it may have been better to die from the heat on the train surrounded by your family than to experience the nightmare that was waiting for them. After a long journey, you feel the train begin to slow down as you approach your destination. You don't know what awaits because the only information you've been given is that you're being relocated for "a better life."
When you arrive, there is a selection process which is shown in the image below. Women and children on one side, and men on the other. The selection took just a couple of seconds. The officer would direct those chosen for work to one line and those for death to the other. The image below depicts the exact scene:
The images below were taken June 11, 2019. This is the same unloading area photographed in the photos above taken 1941-44. The wagons held 70 people and Auschwitz would receive approx 100 full wagons each day.
Once the passengers arrived and after the selection process was completed, they had to walk about 10 minutes to "shower." This was a very somber walk for us to make on our tour.
In the photo below, middle and right side: This is what remains of the gas chambers at Auschwitz II as they were blown up by the guards in their attempt to destroy the evidence of their crimes when the camps were liberated Jan 27th 1945. In the photo below on the left, I am standing inside the only remaining gas chamber at Auschwitz I, which would hold 800 people who were told they were taking a shower. The SS would have them strip their clothing off while standing outside the building on the lawn and then walk into this room. One of the guards would close the door and get on top of the building and drop a canister of Zyklon B in and within 20 minutes, no one would be alive. They would have other prisoners wear gas masks and remove the bodies.
Afterwards, they shaved the heads of the women and extracted gold teeth before cremating the bodies. The human hair was being sold to manufacturers to produce fabric. In Room 5 of Block 4, there is a huge glass display case, about the size of a walk-in closet, filled with hair cut from the heads of an estimated 140,000 victims. There is also a display case of their shoes, suitcases, eyeglasses, hair brushes, tools, kitchen utensils, clothing and prayer shawls.
(Hair Photo Credit): Lukasz Trzcinski
The bodies were cremated to destroy the evidence.
There was housing provided for those who were selected to work. Each building held approximately 700 prisoners. There was a blockmaster appointed to deliver bread and oversee the prisoners of each building. The SS appointed German prostitutes to the position of blockmaster over the women. Each wooden area they called a bed/bunk slept 7 people in one bunk.
Auschwitz was not a typical concentration camp. It's main focus was extermination of the Jews. Most of the Jews who arrived here were never prisoners; they simply got off the train and walked to their deaths. Let's get back to the question... why?
There is a force of evil that is beyond our human logic and reasoning. This is the same spirit that drives Islam. The purpose behind it is shown in the Bible. Satan wants to destroy God's people. He's always had this desire, and he always will. The Jewish people are God's chosen people. They are His treasured possession. (Ex 19:5) So, if you have ever wondered what anti-semitism is all about and where it stems from, here it is... it stem's from hell. We are warned in Eph 6:12 "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
You might be wondering where was God during the holocaust? He was in the same place He was when His only son Jesus was crucified. God has not moved. He's allowing mankind to make their own choices. In biblical history, through the suffering of the Jews God was drawing them back to Himself. In the Old Testament, it is clear that God sent the Jews into captivity so they would repent and return to Him. "But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries." God's promise of blessing and protection for His people came with conditions. The covenant agreement required obedience to His Word. By the time World War II had started, the Jews were being wrongfully blamed for just about everything that went wrong. They took the heat for anything bad happening, and today, the Jews are still being persecuted by the world. They are surrounded by hostile neighbors who have expressed their intent to destroy the nation of Israel. God misses nothing. He has seen all of these injustices done to the Jews, but the psalmist’s words “But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer” (Psalm 38:15), which is why David could write, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1). David didn’t say how long he waited, but he did say he waited patiently for God and God heard his cries (or prayer), and God hears our cries too.
If you are a true follower of Jesus then you have the same heritage as the Jews. Jesus is a Jew. Romans 9:6 says "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel." This is because as a believer we have been adopted and grafted in, we too, have become heirs. Our citizenship is in heaven and in heaven this is how it is: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
The interesting thing to note is that while we are on this earth and until Jesus returns God still has a plan, a future and a hope for the Jews specifically. Prophecy is occurring right before our eyes. The Lord promised He would restore the Jewish people to the land He gave them, Israel. 2000 years they were scattered throughout the earth without a homeland, and after the Holocaust the Lord fulfilled His promise to restore them to their land and to make them a great nation on May 14, 1948. "Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land." (Ezk 37:21) He has also promised to show them favor and to bless and protect them after He restored them. Woe to those who set themselves up against Israel. God's glory will be revealed as He fulfills His Word for His namesake. "I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them,” says the Lord your God. Amos 9:14-15
"For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye" Zek 2:8
"And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” - Gen 12:2-3
Although this horror has occurred, God has seen every tear. No deed has been done in a secret place that He has not seen. He is faithful to perform His Word. He is good. For those who have lost their lives without a cause, He is just and He is the justifier. There will come a day in the not so distant future that all evil will cease. "God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels." 2 Thes 1:6-7
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. Rom 12:19