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Holocaust Remembrance Day: On Peer Pressure and Being Our Brother’s Keeper

“…whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye.”  (Zechariah 2:8)

Today is Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day), also called Yom HaShoah.


The crematorium ovens at Auschwitz with trolleys for inserting bodies into the fire: It is believed Jewish people walking to the gas chambers would have felt the heat from these ovens, which were beside the gas chambers.

Many of our ministry staff here at Bibles For Israel had parents, grandparents, great grandparents, uncles and aunts who perished in the Holocaust.  Many of them were burned in the ovens of the Auschwitz extermination camp!

Here in Israel, Yom HaShoah began at sundown last night with a state ceremony held at the Warsaw Ghetto Plaza at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Authority in Jerusalem.

At 10 this morning, a siren will sound for two minutes all across Israel.

Israelis will stop whatever they are doing, wherever they are, to remember the approximately six million Jewish people who perished in the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis.

Yom HaShoah-two minutes-sirens-Holocaust

On Yom HaShoah in Israel, people stop to stand at attention for two minutes when the siren sounds in honor of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.  In the above photograph, people have exited their cars on the highway to pay respect to the victims of the Holocaust.

We will also remember the heroic Jewish resistance during that period and the ways in which mutual help, self-sacrifice and Jewish unity saved the lives of many

The theme of this year’ s commemoration is “My Brother’s Keeper–Jewish Solidarity During the Holocaust.”

Today Israeli Jews and Arabs alike will stand still for a moment of silence.  It’s a silence which, without even a word, speaks of the unspeakable.

Under the direction of Adolph Hitler, German Nazis tortured and murdered Jewish men, women and children – called the apple of God’s eye, God’s own segulah’ (special treasure).

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.  The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession [segulah].”  (Deuteronomy 7:6)

The Nazis also murdered many other people who they considered inferior to the ‘Aryan race.’

Amos BenGershom-Government Press Office

Israel’s leaders stand silently during the nationwide sounding of the siren on Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem.

Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

This day was chosen to commemorate the Holocaust because it is the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

On April 19, 1943, the Germans entered the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland to deport the surviving Jews to the death camp called Treblinka.

A year earlier, in 1942, 300,000 Jewish men, women and children had been rounded up by the Nazis and deported to the death camp.

In January 1943, however, Warsaw ghetto fighters resisted another attempt to round up more Jews for slaughter.  After that they prepared for future resistance.

On the morning of April 19, when 2,000 well trained, heavily armed German troops entered the Ghetto with tanks and flamethrowers to carry out the final deportation.

However, 750 resistance fighters armed with nothing more than Molotov cocktails, 17 rifles, and a handful of pistols fought for the lives of everyone in the Ghetto.


Warsaw Ghetto burning: Captured Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto are led by German soldiers to deportation.  The woman on the left at the head of the column is holding onto the right arm of her mother-in-law, and her child is in tow.  The child’s father can be seen to the girl’s left.  Of the four, only he survived the war.

The Germans were forced to withdraw and returned with ever increasing firepower.  They were, nevertheless, unsuccessful.

Several days later, the German commander, General Jürgen Stroop, gave the order to burn the ghetto to the ground building by building.

Warsaw’s brave resistance fighters held out for 27 days against this overwhelming force.

On May 16, Stroop announced that the “the Jewish quarter of Warsaw no longer exists.”  (Jewish Virtual Library)

We want to believe that such events are past and can never happen again.

Shockingly, today Israel and the Jewish People still face Muslim Arab enemies that would like to deport and annihilate them.  Sadly, there are Christians who support this ungodly agenda.


Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: The German’s forcibly remove Jewish men, women and children from the Warsaw Ghetto.  Of those rounded up, who weren’t murdered on the spot, many were sent to the Treblinka death camp.

Are the Jewish People Lost and Cursed by God?

Today, there are Christians who believe in Replacement Theology, a errant idea that the Church has replaced Israel, and that the Jews are now cursed by God.

Some people think that the Jewish People deserved what happened to them during the Holocaust, and that the Holocaust is evidence of God’s judgment of their stiff-necked, sinful ways.

The Word of God is very clear that God has a plan for Israel, and that He isn’t finished with the Jews:

I ask then: Did God reject his people?  By no means!  I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.  God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew….  Again I ask:  Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery?  Not at all!  (Romans 11:1–2, 11)

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved.  (Romans 11: 25–26)


The best revenge is living well: Young Orthodox boys overlooking a crowded holiday event at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.

How Could the Holocaust Happen?

How could the Holocaust happen in a modern, democratic country?  A partial answer, perhaps, could be the prevalence of a spirit of Laodicea in the Church and in people in general.

In Exodus 23, the Bible warns the reader to not “follow the crowd to do evil.”  (Exodus 23:2)

If we look at the European Church, the majority were silent on the persecution, deportation and murder of the Jewish People.  Many were actively complicit.

Can you imagine how grieved and infuriated Yeshua, who was a Jew Himself (who is seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven), must have felt to see Christians who called themselves His disciples embracing His brethren’s executioners?

Nevertheless, this is the unbelievably sad truth.  It has been extensively verified, photographed and documented, and is on display at Yad Vashem (The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem).

That said, many Christians did risk their lives to hide and rescue Jews during the Holocaust, and many Christians perished because of this.  This, however, was the exception and not the rule.

“Comfort, comfort My people, says your God.”  (Isaiah 40:1)

Father-Son-Kotel Wall

Father and son at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.

The Holocaust and Peer Pressure

We mustn’t underestimate the power of peer pressure.

The tendency to be governed by the group, to follow the crowd, and to give in to the fear of man is in us all to one degree or another.

Christopher Browning’s book Ordinary Men highlighted interviews of European men who systematically slaughtered whole villages of Jewish men, women, and children during the Holocaust.

These murderers were neither deranged nor on a vendetta.  They were not paid killers.  They weren’t even military men.

They were just ordinary men you’d find on any street—regular family men from whom you’d buy your groceries at the local store, or who you’d call to fix your plumbing.

But these men were enlisted to kill Jews.  They were explicitly told no one would be penalized for not participating.

From the beginning, they were given the option to decline.  Few did.

When the interviewer asked the men why they killed innocent Jewish people, they explained that is was due to “peer pressure.”

Most of the men simply lacked the courage and strength to step apart from the crowd and take a stand for righteousness.

Everyone else was doing it, and they didn’t want to be regarded as different.  They rationalized their actions with “if everyone else is doing it, it must be okay.”  After all, these were only Jews!

This combination of peer pressure and the bigotry towards the Jewish People proved lethal.

Orsenigo-Nazi-World War II

Cesare Vincenzo Orsenigo, who was Apostolic Nuncio to Germany from 1930 to 1945, during the rise of Nazi Germany and World War II, was the direct diplomatic link between Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII.  Orsenigo routinely refused to intervene on behalf of the Jews.

Holiness Means Set Apart

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  (Matthew 25:40)

Holocaust-Jews escape-arrest

The Hiding Place is the story of a Dutch Christian family who helped Jews escape the Holocaust.  Corrie ten Boom and her family were arrested in 1944 due to an informant.  Corrie’s father died 10 days later at Scheveningen prison.  A sister, brother and nephew were released, but Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where only Corrie survived.

During the Holocaust, most of the Church fell into line with the Nazis and kept silent, all the while continuing to hold their church services in a pretense of holiness.

Imagine weekly Bible studies, prayer services, Sunday morning and evening church services, weddings and other celebrations taking place in these German churches.

They were joyful as they celebrated Christmas and Easter, and they did it 13 years (1933–1945), while their country was operating concentration and labor camps!

They carried on with their programs, lifting their hands in worship while denying and/or ignoring the plight of Messiah’s brethren, the Jewish People.

And many of the Nazis who ran the death camps attended Sunday services!

There were, however, a few brave souls with the courage to risk their lives in order to help Yeshua’s (Jesus) brethren in their time of desperate trouble.

They believed Yeshua meant it when He said, “He who tries to save his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”  (Matthew 10:39)

The Ten Boom family, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and others like them, gave their lives to be ‘set apart’ from the group.

Set apart is actually the meaning of the Hebrew word for holy (kadosh).

Irena Sendlerowa-social worker-Warsaw Ghetto

Irena Sendler, a Catholic social worker who was also a member of the Polish resistance, smuggled 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto with the help of the resistance.  She provided them with false identity documents and with housing outside the Ghetto.  For this, the Nazis tortured her and sentenced her to death.  Nevertheless, she did survive the war.

These righteous Gentiles, and others like them, dared to stand with the Jewish people in the Holocaust and to resist the evil forces that were trying to destroy them.

Their names are honored at Yad Vashem (Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem).

Yeshua honors them as well.

“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.”  (Matthew 25: 34–36)

Will we have the courage, in the coming time of Jacob’s trouble, to be holy (kadosh)—set apart as followers of God rather than followers of the crowd?

Could Another Holocaust Happen?

“How awful that day will be!  No other will be like it.  It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.”  (Jeremiah 30:7)

The principalities and powers of wickedness that possessed the Nazis live on today in many people and organizations, as well as in elements of Islam.

The desire to extinguish the Jewish People and destroy the plans of God still exists.

In the Book of Esther, Haman plotted to destroy the Jews in the Persian Empire.

In the last century Hitler almost succeeded in wiping out the Jewish people.

Today, there is a real, modern-day ‘Haman’ on the scene today in the modern—day state of Persia (Iran) calling for the complete destruction of the Jewish people and Israel.

Christians around the world must not deceive themselves as we stand on the brink of the time of Jacob’s trouble.  Christians need to understand God’s heart and plan for Israel and the Jewish people in these end times.