The Wrong Side of History

“The Evangelical Church in the German state of Thuringia is being sued because of violating the state’s ban on Nazi symbols by continuing to use its bells which are decorated with Nazi inscriptions.” Deutsche Welle https://www.dw.com/en/germany-church-sued-over-nazi-bells-in-thuringia/a-47489723

As a believer, I am horrified that Germany still has more than 23 large bronze bells engraved with Adolph Hitler’s name and swastikas. The bells have inscribed “Everything for the Fatherland” a quote by Hitler. The bells are still calling people to worship at churches all over the country.  They have been used since the days and nights of the Holocaust.

Nazi church bell in Thuringia, Germany
Photo Credit: Screenshot

A brief history lesson may be in order.

Today, in central Germany, the state of Thuringia is being called to  account for one of its many secrets. There were concentration camps and death camps throughout the region of Thuringia, including Buchenwald and 130 satellite camps. Buchenwald was one of the largest in Germany. Today, bells are still ringing over the ashes of Jews in the name of Hitler.

In 1539, Luther wrote “The Jews and Their Lies” in which he said, “Next to the devil, you have no more bitter, venomous and vehement foe than a real Jew … Even if the Jews were punished in the most gruesome manner so that the streets ran with blood, so that their dead would be counted not in the thousands but in the millions.”

Christians, he said, are urged to “burn down Jewish synagogues and schools and warn people against them; [to] refuse to let Jews own houses among Christians; for Jewish religious writings to be taken away; [for] rabbis be forbidden to preach; [to] offer no protection to Jews on highways.”

During the time of the Reformation, it was said that Luther once threw an inkwell at what he thought was the devil. Maybe it was when he was writing The Jews & their Lies.

This propaganda poster from 1933 reads, “Hitler’s fight and Luther’s teaching are the best defense for the German people.”

In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler lauded Martin Luther. “To this group (great protagonists) belong not only the great statesmen, but all the great reformers as well. Beside Frederick the Great, we have such men as Martin Luther and Richard Wagner.”

What once was a sanctuary of worship began to align itself with Hitler’s hatred. Hanns Kerrl, the Reich’s minister for church affairs, said, “Adolf Hitler gave us back our faith. He showed us the true meaning of religion. He has come to renew for us the faith of our fathers and to make us new and better beings … Adolf Hitler is the true Holy Ghost.”

In 1933, Hitler became chancellor of Germany and soon after, the churches were told to put the swastika alongside the cross. The horrible truth is that most of them did. Soon after, the swastika was all that remained; the cross had been taken down. The German church cared more about its “reputation” than about human lives. The Christians scattered the seeds of Jew-hatred, seeds that were planted and grew in German hearts.

The church replaced the Cross with the swastika and the savior became Adolph Hitler. The church saluted in silence. They were told by the Reich Bishop appointee, that they could practice their faith and walk with Nazis as well. Allegiance to the State and to God was what the Reich promised.

By January of 1934, all “Jewish influence,” in the church was to be removed. The Old Testament could not be used because it is based on the Hebrew bible. German Christian leaders proclaimed that “the eternal God created for our nation a law that is peculiar to its own kind. It took shape in the Leader Adolf Hitler, and in the National Socialist state created by him. This law speaks to us from the history of our people. . . . It is loyalty to this law which demands of us the battle for honor and freedom . . . One Nation! One God! One Reich! One Church!”

One hundred years before the Holocaust, a man named Heinrich Heine, a German-Jewish poet, made this seemingly prophetic statement, “Wherever books are burned, human beings are destined to be burned too.” It began with an attack on academia both from without and within.

In 1933, the Nazis began the removal of Jewish intellectuals from German universities in what they called the “cleansing process”, starting with Heidelberg University. http://www.yadvashem.org. Anti-Jewish sentiment increased as was evident in many European countries, starting with France and Germany. This is happening again today in France and Germany, the US and around the world at exponential rates.

In March, 1933, mobs of Nazi gangs began terrorizing Jewish communities. By April of that same year, the Nazi Party began an economic boycott of Jewish businesses. Boycott became a tool in the hands of the Nazis to purge Jews from all of Germany. By May, Jewish books and the books of Jewish sympathizers were torched in Berlin. They were deemed “not German enough.” November 9, 1938 vicious attacks took place throughout Germany. It was called “Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass.” It was a coordinated effort by the Nazis, carried out by the Storm Troopers and Hitler Youth, known as Assault Detachments.

Sanctions were put in place to punish the Jewish people for being Jewish. Part of the Nazi strategy was the rapid economic, social and political separation of the Jews from German life. In many places today, both economic and social hardship, along with political division are escalating.

The backstory of so much Christian capitulation is not easy to write. And I write these words with tears, and I do it because it is important for all of us to learn and remember some of the history that lead up to the Holocaust.

German Christians, many of you are on the wrong side of history! I plead with the believers of Thuringia and throughout Germany to put the Cross back up in your churches and more officially in your hearts. That is the only way to actively and permanently let go of the swastika. Let the Cross stand for all that is good and mean something once again. If you need help taking down your Hitler bells, I will happily make myself available.

About the Author
Carla Brewington earned her doctorate at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. She is a Christian volunteer speaker with the Israel Education Force (IEF) an outreach of the Israel education organization, StandWithUs. She can be reached at burntwords@gmail.com
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