Thinking Out Loud

August 14, 2018

Diary of an Anne Frank Tourist

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:33 am

 

I have not read the book. My wife had, and before leaving for Amsterdam, she purchased tickets for us to tour the memorial site and the actual house where Anne Frank and her family lived before being discovered and then transferred to concentration camps.

For my wife, an unusual revelation was that the original diary is plaid, something she just never pictured, as captured in the cover for this, as well as the 60th Anniversary Edition.

I have however read the book and seen the movie for The Hiding Place, which has many similarities (and one striking difference) to the story in Diary of a Young Girl. Were we ever to return to Amsterdam, I would consider taking the train to Haarlem to see the clock and watch shop where that story played out, not really that far from where we were.

Groups are admitted about a dozen at a time. We’re given an audio tour guide, which sometimes triggers automatically when you enter a key area, at other times you need to point it at a designated mark on the wall.

The focus is the adjacent house. The house where Anne kept her diary. The house where her family lived. The house they were unable to leave.

Everyone reacts differently, I’m sure, but for me, this was the story which never should have happened. I’m not unaware of what happened in the Holocaust — film footage shown by a first year Sociology professor quickly took care of that — but the horror is never something to which one becomes accustomed. Each story opens it up like a wound that won’t heal.

And I have no skin in this game. No relatives. No immediate friends. Just the brotherhood and sisterhood that unites all humanity and the dawning that all vestiges of humanity and decency were set aside during those war years.

But this is 2018. As I tour the facility, I am reminded that many — not all — of the Protestant establishment of the day went along with Hilter’s initiatives and I can’t disconnect this to the present-day Evangelical support for another head of state. A comparison? In the willingness of Christians to swear unlimited allegiance to a leader whose capacity to lead is at best questionable? If the shoe fits, yes. […sound of people unsubscribing…]

That’s the part that scares me. The foolhardiness of saying, “Well, at least that could never happen today.”

Who’s to say?

There is an eerie silence as people snake through the different rooms of the exhibit. Even the children are relatively hushed. At the end, the tour exits to the street, but I take a different turn, approaching a security guard who seems to be in charge and asking if people are ever physically overcome with emotion.

He’s clear that certainly for Jewish people that is the case, stopping to pray at or near the exit or in the street. There are tears. There is the shortness of breath that goes with emotional overload.

How can they not?

The guard had also worked at another Jewish memorial. The reactions are similar. So why put yourself through that? Why not enjoy your visit doing something fun?

Because people tend to forget. The Holocaust story needs to be told, and it needs to be repeated, and it needs to be repeated often.

This is what happens when a person has both the view that one race is superior to another, and the power to act on that belief.

It ends badly.


Click the individual pictures at top to view full size

 

September 12, 2015

Corrie ten Boom and her Interrogator

Filed under: books — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:05 am

The following has been adapted from the just-releasing book, God The Reason: How Infinite Excellence Gives Unbreakable Faith by Craig Biehl (Carpenter’s Son Publishing). It appears on the blog Pilgrim’s Rock.

Corrie ten Boom Meets Lieutenant Rahms

God The ReasonShortly after her arrest and imprisonment for protecting Jews from the Nazi reign of terror, Corrie ten Boom met with Lieutenant Rahms, her pensive and troubled interrogator. He showed Corrie unusual kindness in his initial visits, though Corrie rightly suspected he was manipulating her to gain information about others involved in harboring Jews. Corrie spoke to the lieutenant about her ministry of preaching to the “feeble-minded” in what she called her “church for mentally retarded people” to which Lieutenant Rahms responded in typical Nazi fashion, “If you want converts, surely one normal person is worth all the half-wits in the world!” Nervous and contrite, Corrie ventured a reply, “The truth, Sir…is that God’s viewpoint is sometimes different from ours—so different that we could not even guess at it unless He had given us a Book which tells us such things.” Corrie “knew it was madness to talk this way to a Nazi officer,” but she continued. “In the Bible I learn that God values us not for our strength or our brains but simply because He has made us. Who knows, in His eyes a half-wit may be worth more than a watchmaker. Or—a lieutenant.”[1]

In a later encounter, Corrie spoke to the lieutenant about the message of God’s Book. “It says…that a Light has come into this world, so that we need no longer walk in the dark. Is there darkness in your life, Lieutenant?” After a long silence, and in a surprising moment of candor, the officer admitted, “There is great darkness….I cannot bear the work I do here.”[2]

I do not know the fate of Lieutenant Rahms. We can hope that his earthly darkness drove him to flee from eternal darkness and embrace the Light of the World. Maybe we will see him in heaven. Or, sadly, like Pontius Pilate, maybe he traded justice and reverence for God for his short-term power and livelihood and became an eternal tragedy.

Many participants in the Nazi reign of terror likely struggled with the evils with which Lieutenant Rahms struggled. Many made eye contact with the precious people who were dehumanized as apes by a worldview that saw Aryans as the apex of evolutionary progress. Most could not distinguish Jewish children from their own. Many saw the disproportionate accomplishments of Jews in society, contrary to the assertions of the propagandists. Yet they participated in the murder.

What lives might have been spared the terror of the racist Aryanism if people were rightly treated as endowed with dignity, as created in the image of God. What concentration camps would never have been built and what trains would never have carried their priceless cargo if people acknowledged dependence on God for purpose, meaning, and a moral compass. What horrors might have been prevented if Nietzsche had bowed the knee to the “God of the weak” and had never penned his deadly philosophy. The Nazi god, the Aryan pinnacle of human evolution, was no god, with no ultimate standard of right and wrong, no ultimate accountability, and no ultimate consequences for evil behavior. As William Penn once said, “If we are not governed by God, then we will be ruled by tyrants.”[3]

Many were partners in the evils of the Holocaust, so beware—if you reject and ignore God’s moral compass, someone else will provide one for you…. And the prevailing winds will drive us where we never dreamed we would go.


[1] Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place (Chosen Books, 1971; Bantam Books, 1974), 160.

[2] Ibid., 161.

[3] Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, rev. ed. (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982), 34.

 

 

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