There were, of course, members of the clergy throughout Europe during the Holocaust whose words and deeds reflected Christian conscience. And some of them were martyred for their faith. One example was Fr. Max Josef Metzger, a WWI German army chaplain and founder of Peace Alliance of German Catholics. For publicly protesting against the Nazis, Fr. Metzger was arrested by the Gestapo, condemned for high treason and executed in…..
Notwithstanding the passivity of most European Christians during the Holocaust and the active participation of others, clearly, there were in Germany and in every Nazi-occupied or allied European country, people — clergy, religious and lay — who behaved humanely, even heroically. These righteous people bore witness that compassion and decency still existed in what had become hell on earth. Despite considerable…..
Europe’s population during the 1920’s, ’30’s, and 40’s was approximately 95% Christian. Clearly, anti-Judaism, the Church’s 1900 plus year doctrine of animus against Jews, contributed to the culpability, complicity, and indifference of so many, many Europeans, both before and during the Holocaust. The following letter of complaint to Reich authorities from Mrs. Eleonore Gusenbauer of Ried, a village in Austria near Mauthausen, written in September, 1941, for example, demonstrates…..
Historians term the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the end of the nineteenth century to the beginning of World War I, a “Golden Age” for Jews. Things began to change for the worse, however, when Austro-Hungary, allied with Germany, was likewise defeated by the Allies in WWI. Under terms of the…..
Shaken by Germany’s military defeat in War World I, the humiliating terms of the Versailles Treaty, and the social and economic turbulence of the 1920’s and ‘30’s, most Germans yearned for better days, including restoration of their nation’s dignity and power. In this context Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist Party, with its promise of strong central leadership, a better way of…..
Pursuant to church practice (not doctrine) in the 19th century, a Jewish child baptized, with or without parental knowledge and consent, could not be returned to the custody of non-converted parents. Accordingly, Jews entering the House of Catechumens, a residence for converts located in Rome and in other Papal States were required to have their children baptized. Between 1814 and 1818, according to David I. Kertzer, author…..
As modern anti-Semitism began to take shape in the latter third of the nineteenth century, the Church was a major player. According to David I. Kertzer, author of “The Popes Against the Jews,” (photo above) in Pope Pius IX’s war on Modernism, no weapon was more effective than the Catholic press, which at the time consisted of hundreds of newspapers,…..
The term “anti-Semitism,” first coined in 1879 by German writer Wilhelm Marr who wanted a scientific-sounding euphemism for Judenhass, or Jew-hatred, purported to explain why Jews should be reviled as defined by race. Adopting an extreme version of anti-Semitism, Nazi propaganda depicted Jews not only as an inferior race but as a demonic one, whose threat could only be eradicated…..
Ritual Murder/Blood Libel
In 1144, an unfounded rumor circulated in England that Jews had kidnapped a Christian child from the town of Norwich, tied him to a cross, stabbed his head to simulate Jesus’ crown of thorns, killed him, drained his body of blood, and…..
A premise of my book, “The Holocaust, the Church, and the Law of Unintended Consequences, How Christian Anti-Judaism Spawned Nazi Anti-Semitism,” is that Nazism’s virulent brand of genocidal anti-Semitism was rooted in the Church’s 1900 plus year animus against Jews, termed anti-Judaism.
“Anti-Semitism,” wrote Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1994, “is a great sin against humanity.” But he made no…..