History has always been of interest to me. Even as a little boy I enjoyed hearing about dates and events in the past. In school, I was extremely interested in the Civil War and World War II because I knew that members of my family had fought in both wars. Later, because of research, I found out that my great, great, great grandfather had fought in the Revolutionary War. So, one of my passions in adulthood has been to visit national battlefield sites. In visiting Shiloh, Andersonville and especially Gettysburg, I have been gripped with sorrow. Still, I was not prepared for the feeling of complete distress that came over me as I was walking through the grounds of Auschwitz and Birkenau outside of Krakow, Poland.
These Nazi death camps, where 1.5 million people were systematically murdered, continue to remind the world what evil men can perpetuate upon one another. As I walked through the compounds that housed prisoners, I saw the shoes of the victims, reminding me that I get to walk out of this place but the owners of those shoes did not. Those shoes were worn by families that came to Auschwitz hoping to work and be released because, as the words over the entrance said, “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Means Freedom).
I hardly know how to describe the feelings I had when I saw a large room filled with human hair that was taken from women being marched into gas chambers and put to death. Not only was there a desire to kill those women but also to bring great shame upon them. The group that I was with included several women and you could hear and see these ladies respond with gasps of unbelief and with the sound of weeping.
The horrific and egregious devaluing of human life by the Nazis was demonstrated in another room that we viewed. We saw braces, crutches and prosthetics that many of the victims had to use to make their way to the camp. When they arrived they were taken immediately to the gas chambers, where they were murdered and their bodies burned because in the Nazis eyes their handicap meant they were people of no value.
The thought that flooded my mind as I left that place of death and evil was “could it happen again and in America?” Then it came to me that it is already happening in our country. Abortion is systematically taking the lives of millions of human beings.
I wonder if future generations will be given tours through Planned Parenthood buildings, where millions of babies have been and continue to be murdered. Will that generation say about my generation, “How could they have let this happen?” Are we doing what many of the churches in Germany did when cattle cars filled with Jews traveled by where they were gathered to worship? They would just sing louder so they could not hear the cries of despair from their fellow human beings.
Singing to praise and worship the God of the universe is right, good, and holy. Singing to drown out the cries of the innocent is a shame and a disgrace. May God grant us the courage to confront evil. Then we shall sing loudly of His mercy, glory, and grace.