Hubby and I have been to Washington, D.C. many, many times. In fact, we met there 28 years ago! So when we had a day in DC to ourselves on our last trip, we wanted to see something we hadn’t seen before. We decided to go to the Holocaust Museum. Both of us love studying and understanding history, so while the subject matter was quite sobering, the little facts along the way were fascinating, even if in a horrifying way.
For instance, did you know that the Jewish population of Germany at the time of Hitler was .88%? That is opposed to say, Poland, whose Jewish population was close to 10%. So does that strike you as odd as it did me? I guess I always thought the German-Jewish situation more mirrored the Israelites in Egypt–that they were a growing population that the ruling class feared. But less than 1%? How did that pose any threat?
We were also mesmerized by the way differing points of view were systematically shut down by the Nazi government. If we learn anything from that dark history, we should learn that when the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion are threatened, the entire fabric of that society is at risk. If no differing points of view are allowed, someone is being persecuted.
Finally, we were captivated by the stories. So many stories. Stories of Jews and Christians and Muslims and intellectuals alike. Stories of victims and survivors. Stories of those who did the right thing instead of the prudent thing, often through the simple use of meager resources available to them and often at great personal cost to themselves.
When we left, I felt the heaviness of having peeked into the weeping heart of God at the evil people will do to one another. But I also left uplifted with hope, knowing that the love of God wasn’t absent even then. His love was manifest through people whose words and/or actions defied governmental authority and social pressure. People who found the demands of their conscience greater than those of external forces.
Oh, that we would give that love to one another when situations weren’t so dire. Oh, that we would look out for one another, sacrifice for one another as we walk through ordinary days without having to wait for extraordinary ones.