The Holocaust commonly tops the list as the most tragic historic event and worst event in human history. The Holocaust, lasting from 1941 to 1945 and primarily targeting the extermination of the Jewish people, killed approximately six million Jewish people worldwide and up to five million other individuals targeted by the Nazi Party in Germany that didn’t meet their Aryan race prototype. An atrocity of this magnitude is unfathomable, but fortunately we have a God whose love is incomprehensible and immeasurably more than any atrocity.
I had the opportunity to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland last year while on the World Race. This site was one of the hardest places I have ever taken in, considering it is known as the largest mass murder site in the entire world. Despite the somber sadness of visiting a place like this, there are a few things I would like to share with you regarding this experience for Holocaust Remembrance Day.
During my visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, we had the privilege of visiting the site with a Jewish group from Spain that carried Israel’s flag all around the site. This brings me to the first takeaway I would like to share with you – hope overcomes. The damage from this atrocity was high, but it is also complete. When we allow ourselves and our world to heal, we find that hope shines through the dark places it didn’t at one point. Hope allows us to persevere as we strive to achieve something greater in the future. The death and destruction brought on by the Holocaust was one of mankind’s darkest hours, but the healing and restoration that takes place now replaces darkness with hope – a hope that comes through faith.
Secondly, the memorials and the testimonies of life at the concentration camps was horrifying, but many people in this horrendous living situations seemed to overcome, even if only for a little while. While processing this idea, I realized the potential humanity has to inflict pain, injustice, and destruction may overwhelm some, but the potential humanity has to bring healing, goodness, and restoration overwhelms all! Story after story was shared at the concentration camp of how inmates banded together to help one another survive and push through all of the pain and injustice that surrounded them. Don’t only remember them in terms of them being victims; remember them in their efforts to overcome and be an example to us all that no matter the injustice or destruction we face, we have the opportunity to rise above and show that goodness overwhelms evil.
Finally, when I first arrived at the concentration camp, I was thinking how can mankind even allow something like the Holocaust to happen. As we learned about the early Holocaust movement and the ideals Hitler established in the Nazi party, it became evident to me. If you can get enough people to believe what you believe, then you can change the world for good or for bad. Hitler convinced many people through various tactics of his ideals and started the movement that produced this atrocity. In other words, he spread his beliefs that impacted the world negatively. However, as a Christian we have the opportunity and the duty to share what we believe to impact the world for good so our Father in heaven can get the glory. When we share our faith, we give hope to a world that desperately needs it and we honor those who suffered the injustices this world inevitably faces. Through this faith, we get to be a beacon of hope that illuminates the past with healing and restoration and shine our light forward to show God’s goodness overcomes this world’s evil.