A BOOK written by Thomas Kaufmann called: A Journey into Anti-Semitism addresses an important aspect of the Protestant Reformation within Germany as they rightly commemorate its 500th anniversary. It is an area of debate which many, both Catholic and Lutheran, would prefer to sideline, but which those who have studied the Reformation cannot ignore.

There is no doubt that Luther’s writings influenced Christian anti-Semitism during the development of Nazism, and made it easier for this evil ideology to be taught in Christian schools at the time. Nor can Catholic Christians be excused from blame. Hitler came from a Catholic family, as did Heinrich Himmler and Joseph Goebbels.

However, we should not forget the Confessional Church, which opposed the official Lutheran Church under Hitler’s known protégé, under considerable persecution, this body struggled to uphold the Evangelical faith in its true form.

Like many, Martin Luther was a flawed human being, often extreme in his language, but this should not detract from the call to put Christ first in true evangelical discernment.

One of the remarkable acts of this recognition by Catholics and Lutherans of their broken unity in Christ is the attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler on 20 July, 1944. The attempt was made by a remarkable Catholic officer, whose aide was a confirmation candidate of the Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, executed in 1945 for his involvement with a fellow Lutheran, who was chief of staff of German Military Intelligence, to overthrow Hitler.

The attempt heralded a new recognition of Christian fellowship rising above important differences.

On another note, I was born in Holland. I remember during my youth, the Jewish people were walking around in our society. They were marked with the Cross of David. Many of them were rounded up by the German soldiers and systematically deported to the concentration camp Dachau where they died in the gas chambers.

In the Order of the Carmelites, there was a Dutch Carmelite, Titus Brandsma. He was asked by the Dutch Bishops Conference to visit the press bureaus in Holland and request them not to publish the Nazi propaganda.

He was arrested for that by German soldiers and first put in a prison in Scheveningen. There he wrote a short poem: “Leave me here freely alone, in cell where never sunlight shone, should no one ever speak to me; this golden silence makes me free!”.

After that, he was deported to the concentration camp in Dachau where he was put to death together with thousands of Jews in the gas chambers.

Hitler considered the Jewish people an inferior race. He, himself, had a superiority complex as a German.

As a coincidence, we are celebrating on February 12 Racial Justice Sunday. There is a beautiful prayer for racial justice. “Father, help us see that You created us in Your image. Neighbor or stranger, always our brother or sister. Amen. (to be continued)

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