Face to Face with the Reality of the Holocaust

It can be difficult to grasp the reality of the Holocaust from books and history until one comes face to face with a survivor who has a real and palpable story to tell.  Only then one experiences shock, anger, grief, and compassion, all conglomerated in a mixture that is difficult to bear.

My patient was an 86-year-old Jewish woman from Poland who shared her story with me.  In 1941, around age 15 she was arrested along with her parents and five siblings, and taken to Auschwitz under the pretext that they would be given work and made productive members of society.  The pain, hunger, torture and tremendous loss this woman suffered cannot be put into words.

By early 1945 when Auschwitz was liberated, the Nazis had murdered her parents, two sisters and two teenage brothers.  She along with one brother were the only ones out of a family of eight to survive this unspeakable ordeal.  It was heartbreaking to hear the grief and pain she continues to bear after so many years, especially when talking about her teenage brothers whom she described as “the most beautiful boys you’ve ever seen.”

The Holocaust was nothing short of an example of depraved human nature at its worst.  If it wasn’t for God’s grace which put an end to the Nazi regime, many more Jews and other races would have been slaughtered.  And some have the audacity today to say that another Holocaust cannot happen because we live in a modern society who learns from past mistakes.  I say no, we are capable of another Holocaust and even worse!  And this is simply because of our fallen human nature and our depraved spiritual state without the salvation given through Jesus.

The Bible is clear about the state of humanity as David laments over our depravity in Psalm 14:

1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good.

The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.

They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good, not even one.

Remembering the reality and evil of the Holocaust leads us to understand the deep corruption of the human soul and the need for a Savior, which are the first steps in our restoration to where God wants us to be.  May God give each of us this great salvation available only through faith in Christ.