I’ve been studied the Holocaust for some time now. I wanted to know how one man could lead an entire country to destroy human lives as though they were cattle getting ready for the slaughter. I also wanted to know how so many people could just turn their head to such disaster. So I started reading Mein Kampf.
Perhaps you’re thinking that wasn’t such a good idea, and I was a bit hesitant myself knowing that the government probably now has me on some black list because I got it from the public library. However, I felt a strong urging in my spirit to move forward.
I heard a sermon recently that told me the Jewish people face East and facing East meant facing backward. So they move forward, facing the past, knowing where they’ve been, just like in a row-boat. I happen to agree with this. It’s not only been Hitler that slaughtered millions of people at a time and got others to turn their head, there’s been others. At some point in time, we need to start asking ourselves, how did this happen and how can we prevent it? I’m beginning to find out that, unfortunately, the only way to understand madness is to take a really good look at it and pray that God leads you to His understanding.
While Hitler’s book wasn’t an autobiography, there was enough personal information in the book to get an idea of who he was. I was quite surprised to find that this ‘madman’ had many traits that were desirable, that he was intelligent, artistic, empathetic, and loyal to his country to a fault. I was also surprised to read that in his own words, he tells how in the beginning, he wasn’t against the Jews. He was a man of keen observation and not just of events, but of the effects of those events on people. He seemed to be caught up in how he was responding to events around him and was unafraid to openly show his struggle with his internal man. He was unafraid to show how quickly he could be persuaded to ‘change opinions.’
Despite these findings tho, there were some marked events in his life that gave me a better understanding of how he perhaps started on the path he ended up on. From my perspective, I could see a determined arrogance that was fueled by a hate of those he felt repressed the German people and he seemed to take this battle very personally.
After getting to page 65, the last page of chapter 2, I’ve decided that regardless of what the rest of the book says, I got the answer I was looking for. There it was, in his own words, ‘And so I believe to-day that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord.’ He honestly thought he was in God’s will.
So how does an atrocity like the Holocaust happen? Hitler was so caught up in the whys of his day that he never stopped to consider who he was following. There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that this was a spiritual battle where Satan merely needed an outlet to gain power. Unfortunately, he found it at the expense of millions of lives.
While some may balk that I could see any positive in a man such as Hitler, I honestly believe that he had a greatness in him that was designed to be used in a positive way. Unfortunately, it didn’t play out that way.
How careful we need to be to search our hearts! This man claimed to be doing ‘the work of the Lord.’ Yet, clearly, it wasn’t. We don’t hear of him having conversations or thoughts asking God what God thought. We don’t hear of him having thoughts of praying about it and seeking God’s face. Nor do we hear of him addressing the hypocrisy of his own thoughts and actions. Instead, he very plainly points out his faults with every intention to correct everyone except himself.
He never stopped to listen to the small still voice inside telling him, ‘this is wrong.’ Instead, he kept barreling ahead towards the voice that fed his pride, his self-righteousness, his hatred, and ultimately, his insanity. What I get out of all of this, is that it only takes 1 human vessel for Satan to get his hands on to mess up a whole lot of other people’s lives.
And while the good news is that it only took 1 human vessel to die on a cross and save our souls, we still have to live this life out. We still have to face the evil present in the world and we still have to face the fact that, we could be persuaded to partake in that evil just as easily as this man was.
How we need Jesus! Not just as a Saviour for eternal salvation, but we need His leading and guiding every day! While this study hasn’t been easy, I walk away understanding now, more than ever, just what Christ did for us and how we need Him. Fact is, we can’t do this alone and even if we think we are, Hitler’s actions remind us very clearly, there is a spiritual entity that understands our power more than we understand it ourselves. If we don’t use it for God’s glory, he’s more than willing to use it for his.
God help us. I’m sorry this has such a downer tone, but the promise and hope comes in mourning and remembering those who were a part of this and other atrocities. That their lives weren’t lost in vain. There are very real people effected by this garbage. But we can’t just pick up the book and hate back. We have to stop and say … WAIT! That’s how he ended up down that path. Yes! I know his soul may be in hell; me pointing out the goodness that God put in him doesn’t change his soul status. What it does is show that if we don’t take time to see ourselves in men like this, we might just find ourselves being led to be the monster he became.
If we aren’t careful, we might just find our own selves getting caught up in the why and never consider who we are following.