"When they came for the communists, I was silent, because I was not a communist; When they came for the socialists, I was silent, because I was not a socialist; When they came for the trade unionists, I did not protest, because I was not a trade unionist; When they came for the Jews, I did not protest, because I was not a Jew; When they came for me, there was no one left to protest on my behalf."
- Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984)
I'm back in the office after being on vacation from Monday the 2nd to Monday the 9th. The first day of our vacation in Washington, DC, we visited the US Holocaust Museum. I've read enough and watched enough movies about the Holocaust that I wasn't shocked by anything I saw, although it was very moving to see actual bunks from a camp and to stand in a railcar that had been used to transport "prisoners."
But the thought that kept haunting me was "what would I have done if I'd been living in Nazi Germany? Would I have had the courage to stand up to the sins being committed in the name of 'German interest?'" It scared me to realize how many Germans truly believed that whatever was best for Germany was really the right thing to do. Other than a few members of the confesssing church, lead by Deitrich Bonheoffer, no christians or churches stood up to the Nazi government, everyone just looked the other way. They took the attitude "it's not hurting me or my family." The Nazis controlled Germany and the occupied countries by punishing entire families or even entire villages for subversive actions. Only a brave few dared oppose the Nazis.
Would I have had the courage to stand up to the Nazis, though it would've cost my life and the life of my family?A pastor in southern France did exactly that, his family and church hid a group of Jews in their church and eventually helped them escape occupied France. This guy had a wife and 4 kids and some of his family members were arrested.
This question kept bothering me, especially since it doesn't matter anymore. But there are two things I took away from those 4 hours in the musuem.
1) Our partiotism and love of country must never take precedence over our commitment to honoring Christ. If we believe (as did many Germans) that our country's interests or the lives of US citizens take precedence over the lives of those in other countries, we've fallen into serious sin. If we ever excuse the sins of our nation (as did many Germans) because of some belief that our country is Christian and thus we have a right to kill others to inflict our will in the world, then we're living in sin. Singing the Star Spangled Banner must never take away the ability to speak to with a prophetic voice!
2) A modern day Holocaust is happening right now. After wondering what I'd do had I lived then, I remembered that massive genocide is happening right now in Africa. And as soon as I made this connection, I saw that the museum had an exhibit on the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. It doesn't matter what I would've done in the 1940's, but it does matter how I respond to the genocide in Darfur. For more info, check out http://www.ushmm.org/conscience/alert/darfur/contents/01-overview/. Or just google "Darfur" to find out more.