Recently there has been a rise in an interest in the Holocaust. David Baddiel has a new documentary where he meets with that strange group of people who deny the existence of the Holocaust. You can still catch that one on the BBC iPlayer (other catch up services are available) https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000fjqk/confronting-holocaust-denial-with-david-baddiel
The book the Tattooist of Auschwitz was the biggest selling paperback last year described as a beautiful tale of hope and courage based on interviews with Holocaust survivor Ludwig Sokolov. It tells of the Tattooist who acts of selfless love run alongside the most brutal of human behaviour. Another popular book last year was another Holocaust book. This time it was ‘The Librarian of Auschwitz.
Both writers have run into problems about the accuracy of their portrayal of real stories. Have they got the facts right? Both authors have been accused by the Auschwitz Museum of making mistakes and misinterpretations which can be dangerous and disrespectful.
The new Amazon (other streaming service are… you know) series ‘Hunter’ has come up with similar problems. In this Al Pacino plays a Auschwitz survivor leading the hunt for Nazis in the 1970s.
Jewish groups have recoiled at a scene in the first episode which shows the main character having a flashback to his time at the death camp. In the scenes he watches SS officers force 32 Jewish prisoners to play human chess. The inmates are ordered to move across the grass board and take another piece by killing the other person.
The problem is, it never happened. Yes there were behaviours that were as horrific as that but no such thing happened. Similarly, the football match between the guards and prisoners described in the Librarian of Auschwitz also never happened.
A spokesperson from the Holocaust Education Trust fears that such scenes and rewriting of history in books and films risks fuelling Holocaust denial. ‘By straying so far from the truth, it allows for Holocaust distortions and falsehoods to spread while undermining the very people who suffered there. We need to defend the truth of the past and not sensationalise in the interest of art.’
Whatever you feel on whether it is OK to distort for the sake of a good story telling there is no denying this incredible story. Corrie ten Boon was a Holocaust survivor who saw and experienced the horrific acts of the Nazis. Yet, she said, ‘There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still. ‘ What an incredible statement which is so powerful. This incredible lady, who lost everything in the Holocaust, who saw horrors beyond horrors, somehow knew the love of Christ was within her.
I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Live within my love. John 5:9
Therese last Sunday spoke of how hard it is to love our enemies and yet Corrie ten Boon was able to so that. She had captured in her heart the love that Christ had for her and others. It lead to her meeting her prison camp guards in 1946 and forgiving them even though they had been especially cruel to her and her sister before she died.
Time magazine called Jesus, ‘the most persistent symbol of purity, selfishness and love’ and it was said of His time on earth that ‘all who touched Him were healed. (Mark 6:56)
We are invited by Jesus to live within His love – to soak it in, to share it with others the way it was been offered to us: freely without being forced, full of grace.
So, how are you handling love, loving all, finding a way to loving forgiveness and acceptance?
If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise. 1 Cor. 13:1
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Cor. 13:13