Hover over Romans 1:20-22 for proof of God's existence, and over Matthew 5:27-28 for Judgment Day’s perfect standard. Then hover over John 3:16-18 for what God did, and over Acts 17:30-31 for what to do.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Chapter Three: Echoes of Thunder

After 21 years of peace, Europe was suddenly thrust into war again. A massive German force of 1.25 million men swept across the Polish border on September 1, 1939. Russian troops invaded from the east and Poland began to fall into the hands of a merciless enemy. Britain and France immediately declared war on Germany, fulfilling their defensive obligations to Poland. The two nations released a communiqué as to why they had invaded: "To bring order to Poland and to help the Polish people confronted with the collapse of their state."

Three weeks of nightmarish bombing left Warsaw in devastation. The Nazis called the invasion its Blitzkrieg‑‑a "Lightning War." The name was certainly appropriate. By the end of September 60,000 Poles had been killed by the Nazi invasion, 200,000 more were wounded and 700,000 soldiers were being held in captivity.

Cracow was one of the first cities to be assaulted. Samuel mistakenly thought that the Polish troops would hold back the enemy front, and that Britain would come to their aid. But the truth was that he and his beloved family was now trapped. If they went south they would confront hostile Hungarian troops who were sympathetic to the Nazi cause. Since the invasion, he had no idea where the U.S. stood militarily. If they had entered the conflict, then his U.S. documentation would be a death warrant. If they went East, they would face Russian troops who were as merciless as the Nazis. The Germans had taken Bromberg to the north. The only option was to stay where they were and pray‑‑and pray they did. That night Samuel wept openly, and took his family in his arms and pleaded with God for their safekeeping. Jerry had never seen his dad like this before. Until now he had scoffed at any thought of faith in God.

Samuel's knowledge of Germany’s recent history added to his dread. The Nazi's were so coldly systematic…like a disease spreading across a human body. They had persecuted the Jews in stages. He remembered reading in U.S. newspapers how it began well before World War II, with legislation that systematically removed Jews from society. Following Hitler’s takeover of power on 30 January 1933, he began his first nation-wide anti-Jewish boycott. Nazis stood outside Jewish shops and companies throughout Germany to intimidate Jews. The boycott wasn’t particularly successful. It was declared that it had served its purpose and ended it after one day. He remembered seeing a translation of a boycott poster used in the town of Geisenheim:

"German people’s comrades! German housewives! You all know the disgraceful methods that so-called German Jews abroad are using to incite against the German people and Adolf Hitler’s national government. If we do not want to give up and sink into deeper misery, we must defend ourselves. We therefore call on you to heed the appeal of our Führer, the German people’s chancellor, for a boycott against the Jews and expect the full support of each person in this defensive action. Do not buy from Jewish shops! Do not go to a Jewish doctor! But maintain the strictest discipline. Do not even touch the hair on a Jew’s head. The boycott begins Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. From that moment on, we will watch to ensure that the boycott is strictly followed. He who tries to ignore the boycott will be seen as an enemy of the German people."

The American media said that the boycott had failed and that the Nazis would back off. But they didn't. The Nazis began a concerted effort to change the perception of a Jew. They portrayed Hitler as a savior, equating his "deliverance" of the German people to the exodus from Egypt, while the place of the Jew in other Old Testament stories were changed. A Nazi educational slide set included an image called "David and Goliath." It showed a stereotypically drawn "Jewish" David crouched naked and Neanderthal-like behind a bush. His opponent, the giant Goliath, loomed in Aryan splendor before him. And in one of the most famous speeches of his career, his address of 30 January 1939 to the German Reichstag, Hitler assumed the role of a Hebrew prophet, calling down destruction on a sinful Jewish people. His words echoed a theme common in anti-Jewish Christian literature of the 1930s and 1940s. The Old Testament, some of its defenders argued, was to be salvaged, not because it honored or glorified the Jews, but precisely because its prophets and punishments proved God's displeasure with those "hard-necked" people.

In 1939, they were painted as being "destructive Jews" and likened to those in the time of Christ. They were “the same Jewish criminal people who nailed Christ to the cross!”

In time, Jews were placed in Concentration Camps, in which the prisoners were used as slave labor and were kept until they died of exhaustion or disease. When the Third Reich advanced into other countries of Eastern Europe, they murdered Jews and any political opponents, in mass shootings. The Jews and Romani (Gypsies) were held in overcrowded ghettos, and then packed into freight trains and taken to extermination camps, where, if they survived the journey, most of them (men, women and children) were put to death in gas chambers.

To be continued.