By the time the rumblings of World War II began, Jews had spent 2,000 years roaming around the globe looking for a home. After living under Roman occupation and having over 100,000 of them crucified, Jews were forcibly expelled from their homeland and slowly driven to the north as country-after-country expelled them. An estimated 20 million Jews had been butchered "in the name of Jesus".
In order to understand the Holocaust, in order to understand the questions I had for decades, we must all first understand those 2,000 years. A man whom I love, admire, and respect, and from whom I have learned so very much led me to that knowledge. It was Thanksgivukkah, and Prime Minister Netanyahu went to visit the Vatican. During that visit, he gave the Pope a book written by his father. I knew his father had recently died, so the gift seemed to be rather personal, piquing my curiosity. So, I went to the library and checked out "Origins of the Inquisition" by Ben-Zion Netanyahu.
That book is not an easy read, neither from a collegiate standpoint, nor an emotional one. It is not a book one should read at bedtime.
It is abhorrent. Appalling. Horrific. Indescribably so.
I had heard of pogroms. I knew they involved killing Jews. I never knew the details. Professor Netanyahu painstakingly outlines those details, listing pogrom-after-pogrom from 38 C.E. to 1492. No, he does not lambaste Christianity. He does not have to.
The excuses for these atrocities varied; here is a partial list:
For over 2,000 years, Jews have been expelled from cities and countries, had their homes and synagogues burned down, the Talmud confiscated and burned; they have been tortured, beaten, mutilated, dismembered, dragged through the streets until nothing was left of their corpses (I have actually seen that on video. The location was Gaza, only in this case the Hamas were on motorcycles.), stoned, lynched, locked inside of buildings and burned alive, and marched en masse into lighted pyres.
Thus, by the time Hitler came along it was not a surprise. The shock was only the size of this pogrom.
So, why did Jews have gold, antiquities, paintings, and other valuables hidden away? Because they are greedy, filthy Jews? Or was it because they knew it was only a matter of time before the next pogrom? Why did they give up their homes to the Nazis? Why shouldn't they? Jews had been giving up their homes for 2,000 years. Why did they get on the trucks without a fight (with rare exceptions)? They were being relocated...again. Why did they allow themselves to be herded onto trains and packed in like sardines? Well, they had to get to their new homes somehow.
And, why did they line up on ditches and obediently wait to get shot? I imagine there is more than one answer to that question. Perhaps they were tired. Perhaps they knew that being shot was the least painful of the alternative methods to which they had been subjected. Or, most horrifically, maybe they believed this was really "it", the end of the Jewish people. Perhaps they had reconciled themselves to their "fate".
But, there was hope at the end of the nightmare that was the Holocaust. One man set it into motion decades earlier. No, it was no one named "Rothschild". No, it was not even Lord Balfour. It was Sir Winston Churchill, who had watched the Jewish people in Great Britain and admired their industriousness and zeal for life. There had been a great influx of Jewish refugees, and anti-Semitism was rising. His own political party wanted to stop the flow and even begin the process of relocating them. He broke ranks in 1904 and switched to the Labour Party. He pictured what became the Mandate for Palestine thirteen years before the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Balfour Declaration. Thank God for him.
The person who asked me to write more about the Holocaust did so because he did not know that Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, was involved. In Part Three, I will address the role of Islam in World War II.