Are Christians responsible for the Holocaust?

August 11th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 7 comments

Question:

I am Christian. But my Jewish friend lost most of his family during Hitler’s Holocaust. He firmly believes, Hitler notwithstanding, that it was the basic principles and practice of Christianity that set the stage for the Holocaust. Is there anything I can say to him? 
Thank you for reading and considering this question.

∼ James

Answer:

Dear James,

The first question you need to answer is whether your friend is dispassionately discussing history or emotionally explaining why he distrusts Christians and/or Christianity. The fact that you say, “Hitler notwithstanding,” suggests that he acknowledges that Hitler hated the Church only somewhat less than he hated Jews. The answer to that question will decide if and what you should say. 

If this is a topic on which your friend is incapable of listening objectively (and we all have topics like this), then speaking is pointless. It seems that you and he are able to have a friendship, and we would suggest that this topic should be off the table. No good will come from discussing it. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into conversation.

If, however, the two of you are able to explore this topic dispassionately, then you will acknowledge that there is a great deal of truth in what he says. Christianity certainly inspired hatred of Jews over the centuries, and both the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations recognize this. Yet, what some Jews fail to acknowledge is that anti-Semitism pre-dated the Church and exists outside of it. Pharaoh and Haman were not Christians. Neither was Stalin. If your friend wants to live in today’s world rather than planting himself firmly in the past, he should recognize that, right now, most Christians are the source of support for Jews and Israel, not their enemies. Secular, liberal college campuses and the Moslem world are the rampant venues of anti-Semitism today.

Figure out the story behind the story,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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7 comments

timothy jones says:

i blame King Saul for the holocaust. if he had listened to YAHOVAH, through the prophet Samuel, none of many attempts to eradicate the Jewish people would have happened. hitler was obviously influenced by the spirit of amelek. the occulted, and reviving ancient pagan gods of the germanic people lead to disaster.

Susan Lapin says:

Obviously, King Saul made a terrible decision and was punished for it. However, it is, in my view, a bit too easy to blame X or Y. Had the Jews not built the Golden Calf, everything would be different as well…had Adam and Eve not disobeyed God life would be completely different. We are always encouraged to look at what we can improve rather than finding someone to blame for all our difficulties. If Saul appeared today we would probably be completely awed at such a righteous person among us. The Torah doesn’t hide the flaws of great people, but they are still great people.

K. Marie says:

I am a disabled wife of 21 years and my husband has been a hard working Trucker for 20 years. We are older 56/63. With a long story behind us we have found ourselves in need of physical help that we can’t seem to get from the Body of Christ to help us with things around my home structurally. Our finances no matter where we cut all corners still cause ourselves to struggle and to hire help would be years away from the immediate assistance that we so desperately need, our last resolve at this point is looking towards our Amish Brethren because of the way Churches only help the church itself or its members, and when we where a member those needs where ignored on several occasions, we understand that’s churches often do fail many of us and finding church a safe Haven is getting down right scary at times. But with all that internally be said my question is can or will anyone help us and if not why do they play so much Church for their close friends and Families and leave some of us fall through the cracks, I left my Church of about 6 or 7 yrs We had attended because in part with this issue as being a big part of it, the other parts, is no one in the first place ever reached out to us in some of our most incredible experience of pain, loss, and struggle. We feel isolated in this thing called Church, it plays well but there is nothing Outstanding towards the poor within stranger in their midst. Christianity is completely sad and predictable towards those in Christ, why is it like this? Why do they make great grandures of Faith, Programs etc when the person sitting next to them is internally melting. Today’s Christianity does not look and sound like the one I read in the Bible, mostly Why? How can we get help, when they are to busy playing Church, friends and family? I have been a believer/Born again since 1978/ 39 yrs.

Susan Lapin says:

Dear K. Marie, We’re sorry that you are having a difficult time, but his isn’t really related to the Ask the Rabbi on which you posted it. May I suggest that you submit it as an Ask the Rabbi question? While we, unfortunately, aren’t able to answer all the questions that we receive, at least in this way, it will be in the queue. We wish we could personally reply to everyone who writes to us, but our schedule and the volume of mail makes that impossible. We do pray that your situation improves.

Dear K. Marie, My wife (of 20 years) who passed away nearly 2 years ago was wheelchair bound about the last 10 years of our marriage. Some said that our church should have built us a ramp for her at our single wide trailer, but the doorways are all too narrow for a wheelchair, so she spent the last 9 years of her life in a nursing home, she did not like it no matter how well they treated her. I stayed with her there long hours every day even neglecting our church except for Sunday morning service. I was her church and we attended services at the rest home. I took her on vacations while she was able and out to eat or just drive around or shop. Our church helped at times. We are Pentecostal and live in the Bible Belt down south. I thank God for the saints I’ve known. But even the church in the book of Acts had problems with the gentile widows falling through the cracks, but when this was brought to the church, they took steps to fix it. The bible says that there will be a falling away of faith in the last days and so it seems. Many are just playing church, but there are some faithful about. Nobody visited my wife like they should have, even her family stayed away, and some had no visitors at all. We tried to fill in and make friends, I am a preacher also, so we prayed and talked about the Lord. I pray you will find a Bible believing church in your area that has not bent their knees to Baal.

Susan Lapin says:

David, thank you for your kind and compassionate words for K. Marie. I’m so glad you wrote and may you find people like yourself in your life.

Brian says:

I just wanted to add a short comment. You can tell a person’s beliefs and values by their fruit (actions).

The Bible (both Hebrew O.T. and Christian N.T) both make it clear murder is wrong! If they’re a Christian they’ll believe that and value the sanctity of life.

So, the idea that true Christians are responsible for the death of an estimated 6 million Jews is absurd to the highest degree. People can use the term “Christian” or “Minister” just as easily as someone can use the term “Jew” or “Rabbi”. It’s only by their actions and their love and concern for others does it reveal their true beliefs and whether or not they really are true men and women of God.

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