Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bab 18 Background to the Holocaust

The approval of Hitler by Catholic prelates and their statements about "freeing the world from the Jews" seem shocking. Yet they only reflect Catholicism's historic treatment of the Jews. Hitler justified his "final solution" by pointing out that the Church had oppressed and killed Jews for centuries. How amazing that those who claimed to be the followers of Christ and successors of Peter could "persecute the race from which Peter-and Jesus-sprang"!3 Yet they did it in the name of Christ and felt justified thereby.

Roman Catholics were taught they had replaced the Jews as God's chosen people. The land of Israel, promised by God to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, now belonged to "Christian" Rome. She became the "new Zion," the "Eternal City," and "The Holy City," titles which God had given to Jerusalem alone. Papal armies fought to expand "the Kingdom of God." As a nineteenth-century historian reminds us, "The territory under the immediate dominion of the Pope was enlarged whenever war or treaty could increase it; and the inhabitants had to pay the utmost taxes they could bear."4

A Great Reproach upon Christ

Those who called themselves vicars of Christ have brought great reproach upon the name of Christ by their treatment of the Jews. The latter mistakenly equate Catholicism with Christianity. The Jews who were persecuted through the centuries by the Roman Catholic Church didn't realize that there were millions of Christians outside that Church-Christians who did not persecute God's chosen people and were themselves persecuted and killed by Catholics in far greater numbers than were the Jews.

Consider the following indictment of "Christianity" from a scholarly rabbinical treatise on the Holocaust. Note that Roman Catholicism is critiqued, not evangelical Christianity, which the author and his Jewish readers may not even know exists. This is from the chapter titled "The Christian Role [in the Holocaust]":

... without Christianity, the success of Nazism would not have been possible.... Were it not for the fact that dozens of generations in Europe had been imbued with religious hatred, the growth of racist hatred towards Jewry in modern times could not have taken place.

Furthermore, [all] through the Holocaust, the Vatican refrained from protesting the murder, and by and large stood aside, rescuing only a tiny few. To this day the Vatican refuses scholars full access to the documents of the period. It has been established, however, that the Vatican was among the first in the world to know about the genocide, and it did nothing to publicize the information (see Walter Laquer, The Terrible Secret)....

[I]t is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Pope's inaction indicated tacit approval.... Even when the Church engaged in isolated rescue activities, the motive seems to have been to bring the rescued Jews into the bosom of Christianity. Thousands of Jewish children were taken into monasteries, and after the war, many were not returned to their people and faith even after relatives pleaded for their release.

With unparalleled cynicism, many Christians still see the Holocaust as a heavenly punishment for the Jews' failure to accept Christianity.5

The rabbi continues to analyze “Christianity as he sees it (all he knows is Roman Catholicism) in his attempt to under stand the reason for its moral failure in relation to the Holocaust. His observations and arguments are devastating, yet he doesn't know that there are millions of true Christians who would agree with his critique of the false religion of Rome One would think he had never heard of the Reformation an( Protestants who don't have "monks" and whose ministers marry:

The priests of Christianity [Catholicism] arc forbidden to marry, and its monks, living lives of self-affliction, isolate themselves from human society. The religion is not one which can easily be put into practice.... The notion that it can be, leads to incomparable hypocrisy....

Over the years, Christianity [Catholicism] gave rise to a number of mystic cults, some of which distinguished themselves by their affinity for the lowest forms of moral abomination. The Christian [Catholic] process of repentance also led to the commission of grave crimes. When automatic atonement is offered to those who confess before a priest, the temptation to sin is greatly increased....

While murder, robbery, and rape were all but unheard of within medieval Jewish communities, these acts were commonplace within devoutly Christian [Catholic] Europe. The spiritual salvation promised by Christianity found no concrete expression.6

Anti-Semitism at Work

The rabbi's critique of Catholicism is right on the mark. The tragedy is that he thinks he is dealing with Christianity. From the time the popes ruled Rome, the Jews' plight-in the name of Jesus Christ the Jew-was far more grievous than it had ever been at the hands of pagan rulers. Pagans had blamed every disaster upon Christians. Now the Roman Catholic Church blamed all on the Jews. Accused of causing the Black Death, Jews were rounded up and hanged, burned, and drowned by the thousands in revenge.

A rare pope now and then sought to ameliorate the Jews' situation. Gregory I "forbade the compulsory conversion of Jews, and maintained their rights of Roman citizenship in lands under his rule.... To the bishop of Naples he wrote: `Do not allow the Jews to be molested in the performance of their [religious] services." Alexander III was "friendly to Jews, and employed one to manage his finances." Innocent III "led the Fourth Lateran Council in its demand for a Jewish badge, and laid down the principle that all Jews were doomed to perpetual servitude because they had crucified Jesus." Yet "he reiterated papal injunctions against forcible conversions, and added: `No Christian shall do the Jews any personal injury ... or deprive them of their possessions....' " (Yet he massacred tens of thousands of Christians.) Gregory IX, though the founder of the Inquisition, "exempted the Jews from its operation or jurisdiction except when they tried to Judaize Christians, or attacked Christianity, or reverted to Judaism after conversion to Christianity. In 1235 he issued a bull denouncing mob violence against Jews." Innocent IV "repudiated the legend of the ritual murder of Christian children by Jews."7

In spite of the above, the general picture was one of persecution of Jews by the Church. Numerous councils and papal bulls dealt with this issue, as the following will illustrate:

The Council of Vienna (1311) forbade all intercourse between Christians and Jews. The Council of Zamora (1313) ruled that they must be kept in strict subjection and servitude. The Council of Basel (1431-33) renewed canonical decrees forbidding Christians to associate with Jews ... and instructed secular authorities to confine the Jews in separate quarters, compel them to wear a distinguishing badge, and ensure their attendance at sermons aimed to convert them.

Pope Eugenius IV (1431-47) ... added that Jews should be ineligible for any public office, could not inherit property from Christians, must build no more synagogues, and must stay in their homes, behind closed doors and windows, in Passion Week (a wise provision against Christian violence)....

In a later bull Eugenius ordered that any Italian Jew found reading Talmudic literature should suffer confiscation of his property. Pope Nicholas V commissioned St. John of Capistrano (1447) to see to it that every clause of this repressive legislation should be enforced, and authorized him to seize the property of any Jewish physician who treated a Christian.8

More than 100 anti-Semitic documents were published by the Roman Catholic Church between the sixth and twentieth centuries. Anti-Semitism became official Church doctrine. The rationale was that "Christ crucifiers" had no rights in God's holy kingdom, the land of Israel no longer belonged to the Jews but to Christians, and the Church had to wrest the land from the possession of both Arabs and Jews.

The Catholic Church has no comprehension of Bible prophecies concerning the return of Jews to Israel and of the Messiah returning to reign from the throne of His father David. Rome calls itself the New Jerusalem; old Jerusalem and the Jews are no longer part of God's plan. In 1862, La Civilta, the semiofficial voice of the Vatican, echoed a belief held for centuries by declaring: "As the Jews were formerly God's people, so are the Romans [Catholics] under the New Covenant."9 It was only natural that such teaching would nurture and sustain anti-Semitism.

The Historical Record

To raise an army for the First Crusade, Pope Urban II promised instant entrance into heaven without purgatory for all who fell in that great cause. The knights and knaves who responded with enthusiasm to that deceitful promise left a trail of mayhem, plunder, and murder on their way to Jerusalem, where they massacred all Arabs and Jews. One of the first acts after their triumphal entry into Jerusalem was to herd the Jews into the synagogue and set it ablaze. On their way to the Holy Land, the Crusaders gave the Jews the choice of baptism or death. De Rosa recounts:

In the year 1096 half of the Jews of Worms were slaughtered as the Crusaders passed through the town. The rest fled to the bishop's residence for protection. He agreed to save them, on condition that they asked to be baptized. The Jews retired to consider their decision. When the doors of the audience chamber were opened, all 800 Jews inside were dead. Some were decapitated; fathers had killed their babes before turning their knives on their wives and themselves; a groom had slain his bride. The first-century tragedy of Masada was repeated everywhere in Germany and, later, throughout France.10

During the brief pontificate of Pope Paul IV (1555-9), the population of Rome was decimated by almost half, with the Jews the main victims. Three hundred years earlier the church had put Jews in ghettos and "obliged them to wear on their chest, to their public shame, a yellow circle of cloth,"11 but enforcement of that edict had become lax. Pope Paul IV issued, on July 17, 1555, a landmark anti-Semitic bull, Cum nimis absurdum. It returned Jews to their ghettos, forced them to sell their properties at huge losses, and reduced them to the status of slaves and rag merchants.

Marriage between a Christian and a Jew was punishable by death. One synagogue was allowed in each city; the others were destroyed, seven out of the eight in Rome suffering that fate. While still a cardinal, Paul IV had burned the Jews' books, including the Talmud, and no replacements were allowed. These are only some of the indignities and crimes the Jews suffered by this bull, which set a pattern that lasted for another three centuries.

Pope Gregory XIII declared that the guilt of Jews in crucifying Christ "only grows deeper with successive generations, entailing perpetual slavery." Subsequent popes continued the persecution:

A succession of popes reinforced the ancient prejudices against Jews, treating them as lepers unworthy of the protection of the law. Pius VII followed by Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX-all good pupils of Paul IV.

Eleven days after Rome fell, on 2 October 1870, the Jews, by a royal decree, were given the freedom which the papacy had denied them for over fifteen hundred years. The last ghetto in Europe [at that time] was dismantled.12

Forced Conversion

Catholicism's doctrine of infant baptism destroyed the truth that one becomes a Christian not by any work or ritual but by responding to the offer of God's grace through personal faith in Christ. Since baptism automatically saved, Pope Leo III decreed forcible baptism of Jews. At times, Jews were given the option of professing to believe in Christ, or death-or in some cases merely imprisonment or expulsion from the region. The famous rabbinical authority, philosopher, and physician Maimonides fled Spain to Morocco to escape such an edict, and then to Egypt in 1135. Today's visitors to the former Jewish quarters in Spain receive pamphlets providing some of the tragic history, such as the following from the city of Girona:

On March 31, 1492, Ferdinand and Isabel of Castile and Aragon, known as the Catholic Monarchs, issued the edict expelling the Jews from Spanish territory ... [they had] no other choice but renunciation of religious belief or compulsory expatriation. Those who chose to convert to Christianity in order to avoid expulsion faced the full fury of the Inquisition, which had already begun to prosecute heretics in Girona in 1490.... Some Jewish families were virtually wiped out at the hands of the Inquisitors.

Baptizing an infidel assured one's passage to heaven. Jewish children were sprinkled forcibly with water and declared to be "Christians" by those who imagined they had thereby guaranteed themselves a heavenly abode. Benedict XIV (1740-58) supported this terror by ruling that a child, though baptized against its own and its parents' will, was nevertheless a Roman Catholic. If these unwilling "converts" thereafter denied their new "faith" they were then heretics, with the dire consequences attached to that label.

Similar crimes continued for centuries. For example, in 1858 Pius IX ordered his papal police to take the seven-yearold son of wealthy Jewish parents from them and put him into a Catholic boarding school. A Catholic maid had, without the parents' knowledge or consent, baptized the boy, Edgar Mortara, shortly after his birth, thus allegedly making him a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

When the parents pleaded with the pope to return their child, he replied in typical papal fashion (referring to the adverse publicity the case had aroused in newspapers), "I don't care a rap for the whole world!" Hasler continues the story:

The pope treated the young secretary of the Jewish community, Sabatino Scazzocchio, with particular cruelty and humiliated him so badly that he suffered a protracted nervous breakdown.

Two years later Pius IX displayed Edgar Mortara, now dressed in a seminarian's robe, to the Jews of Rome.13

Foundation for the Holocaust

Surely Shoah's authors, rabbis Schwartz and Goldstein, are accurate in saying that Roman Catholicism's (though they think it is Christianity's) centuries-long persecution of the Jews laid the foundation for what was yet to come, the Nazi Holocaust. The Catholic Church bears a large responsibility for that horrendous crime. Most of the overseers of the massacre of the Jews were Catholics. The longtime persecution and slaughter of Jews by the Church undoubtedly helped Catholic persecutors to justify their actions.

Shock waves went through the international media on May 26, 1994, when these headlines came across the Associated Press wire: "VATICAN TO TAKE HOLOCAUST BLAME." The amazing article, datelined Jerusalem, stated: "The Roman Catholic Church is drafting a document that acknowledges the church fostered centuries of anti-Semitism and failed to stop the Holocaust, a report released Wednesday said.... Rabbi David Rosen, an Israeli negotiator with the Vatican, gave the report on the draft document to Israel during talks this week in Jerusalem. . . . `It's not just important,' Rosen said. `It's mind-boggling.' . . . The report also says the document will declare that `the tradition of theological and church anti-Judaism was an important element on the way toward the Holocaust."' 14

The following day a denial came from the Vatican, reminding the world that while "Pope John Paul II has repeatedly denounced anti-Semitism ... he has always defended previous popes against accusations they were silent about the Holocaust." Chief Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro explained that the document referred to in the news report the day before was "not in any way a draft of a document prepared by the Holy See, but rather by the Polish and German Episcopal Conferences."15 Thus the Vatican continues to deny what the rest of the world knows is the truth.

Numerous examples could be given showing that Catholicism prepared the way for the Holocaust, but we must confine ourselves to just a few. A Catholic Church in Deggendorf, Bavaria, had for centuries displayed a picture commemorating that town's historic slaughter of all Jews "out of legitimate zeal pleasing to God." The inscription under the picture read: "God grant that our fatherland be forever free from this hellish scum."16 The display offended neither people nor prelates, being consistent with Roman Catholicism's historic treatment of Jews. A French Jewish scholar concluded that the Church had actually prepared the German Catholics for Hitler:

Without centuries of Christian [Roman Catholic] catechism, preaching and vituperation, the Hitlerian teachings, propaganda and vituperation would not have been possible.17

Hitler's Rise to Power

At first the Church was opposed to Hitler. ` After the smashing election victory of the Nazis in 1930, representatives of, important Catholic organizations met ... to discuss ways halting the threatening brown tide."18 But after the July 19: Reichstag elections, during which "the National Socialists polled 37.4 percent of the popular vote and elected 230 deputies ... [making] them the largest single party in the Reichstag," the Catholic Bishops began to ease their criticism.

In spite of the fact that "all dioceses had declared membership in the Nazi party to be inadmissible," hundreds of thousands of Catholics had joined and probably several million were supporting it with their votes. Why chase these good Catholics from the Church? After all, the pope and cardinals in Italy praised and supported Mussolini's Fascist party there, so why not in Germany?

On March 13, 1933, at a conference of Bavarian bishops, Cardinal Faulhaber, just back from Rome, reported that "the Holy Father, Pius XI, had publicly praised the Chancellor Adolf Hitler for the stand which he had taken against Communism.... [R]eports were circulating again that the Vatican was anxious for the friendly co-operation of German Catholics with the Hitler government...."

On March 23, Hitler announced that "the government of the Reich, [which] regards Christianity [Catholicism] as the unshakable foundation of the morals and the moral code of the nation, attach[es] the greatest value to friendly relations with the Holy See and [is] endeavoring to develop them." Five days later the German bishops publicly withdrew their previous opposition to the Nazi Party.19 The strategy that Hitler had earlier outlined to Rauschning was working:

We should trap the priests by their notorious greed and self-indulgence. We shall thus be able to settle everything with them in perfect peace and harmony.... Why should we quarrel? They will swallow anything in order to keep their material advantages.20

The Church and the Third Reich

Catholics in increasing numbers rallied to the support of Hitler's Third Reich. Organizations such as Kreuz and Adler (Cross and Eagle) were formed with leading Catholic professors of theology such as Otto Schilling and Theodor Brauer, newspapermen like Emil Ritter and Eugen Kogon, and other

Catholic leaders pledged to support the new Nazi Regime.21 Hitler assured the Church it had nothing to fear from National Socialism so long as it cooperated fully. The bishops "called for the support of the government's program of `spiritual, moral and economic rejuvenation.' 22

That Hitler was a Catholic in good standing made his promises of peaceful partnership with the Church believable. He had been raised in a traditional Catholic family, had regularly attended Mass, had served as an altar boy, had hoped at one time to become a priest, and had attended school as a boy in a Benedictine monastery at Lambach. The abbot was heavily involved in the occult and Eastern mysticism, and it was at this monastery that Hitler first encountered the Hindu swastika which he later adopted. Nor did Hitler neglect to attend Catholic Church services from time to time even after he came to power.

G.S. Graber, a specialist on the history of the SS, informs us that "Himmler's Catholicism was very important to him. He attended church regularly, took Communion, confessed, and prayed."23 Himmler's December 15, 1919, entry in his diary read: "Come what may, I shall always love God, shall pray to Him, shall remain faithful to the Catholic Church, and shall defend it. . . .24

After the war, escape was the paramount aim for SS members, of which nearly one-quarter were Catholics.25 Many would be successful in eluding Allied justice and reaching havens, mainly in South America. Tens of thousands of the worst Nazi war criminals-most of them Catholics-would travel the secret "Ratlines" to a new life. The principle agent in their escape would be the Vatican.

Himmler was able to compartmentalize his life so that, as head of the infamous SS, he could oversee the murder of millions of people with the stroke of a pen or by verbal orders to his underlings through his vast organization, but could not pull the trigger himself. He was willing to wipe out the Jews or any other elements in society that he deemed undesirable. However, "he did not want to see [with his own eyes] the blood flow ... because this would induce soul-searching, not to mention stomach cramps.”26

An audio and typed copy with authenticated handwritten notes of Himmler's October 4, 1943, speech in Posen, Poland, to 100 German secret police generals was recently discovered and is on display in the new Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. In it Himmler said:

I also want to talk to you, quite frankly, on a very grave matter. Among ourselves it should be mentioned quit) frankly, and yet we will never speak of it publicly.

I mean ... the extermination of the Jewish race. This is a page of glory in our history which has never been written and is never to be written.27

SS Colonel Rudolf Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz and one of the greatest mass murderers in history, was also raised in a devoutly Catholic family that hoped to see him become a priest. He was devoted to his family, fond of animals, and a fanatical believer in Hitler's Nazi religion. In his autobiography he said, "Let the public continue to regard me as the bloodthirsty beast, the cruel sadist ... [they] could not understand that [the Commandant of Auschwitz] had a heart and that he was not evil."28

The SS, in many respects, was patterned after the Jesuit Order, which Himmler had studied and admired. Amazingly, the SS oath ended "So help me God." Its catechism "consisted of a series of questions and answers along the following lines: Q: Why do we believe in Germany and the Fuehrer? A: Because we believe in God, we believe in Germany which He created in His world and in the Fuehrer Adolf Hitler, whom He has sent to us."

The Jews could be exterminated in the name of God by good Catholics because for centuries their Church had demonstrated this to be God's will by its relentless persecution and slaughter of those despised "Christ-rejecters."

From the very beginning Hitler, who was "well aware of the [Catholic] Church's long anti-Jewish record,"29 made no secret of his plans for the Jews. Meeting with Church representatives Bishop Berning and Monsignor Steinmann on April 26, 1933, "he reminded his visitors that the [Catholic] Church for 1500 years had regarded the Jews as parasites, had banished them into ghettos, and had forbidden Christians to work for them.... He, Hitler, merely intended to do more effectively what the Church had attempted to accomplish for so long."30

There is no indication that the two Catholic prelates disagreed with him. How could they without denouncing numerous infallible roves and their own infallible Church?

No comments: