Faithful medical care: 9-4-09
Faith-based humor: 9-7-09

The Holocaust by bullets: 9-5/6-09

My own new Holocaust-related book is not the only one about that subject I want you to know about. I'd also like to recommend to you a book I wasn't aware of until just recently -- The Holocaust by Bullets: A Priest's Journey to Uncover the Truth Behind the Murder of 1.5 Million Jews, by Father Patrick Desbois.


Oh, my. Prepare yourself for a difficult but moving read.

Desbois has devoted years now to uncovering the story of the way Germany murdered Jews in the Ukraine and other portions of eastern Europe before Hitler's government decided that shooting them one by one was too inefficient.

That lethal inefficiency led to the creation of the gas chambers in the six death camps in Poland, the country on which my co-author and I have focused in our book.

But before the death camps, in the early 1940s -- indeed soon after the start of the war in 1939 -- Jews often were ordered to dig their own mass graves and then shot one by one to fill those graves. Desbois' estimate, based on considerable on-site research (including gathering shell casings from bullets fired by German weapons), is that about 1.5 million Jews died in this horrible way.

Desbois, a Catholic priest from France, immersed himself in Jewish culture and tradition to try to understand the Holocaust from that perspective and to try to understand the long, sad history of anti-Judaism in Christian history. (For my own essay on that subject, look under the "Check this out" headline on the right side of this page.)

The book describes Desbois' own journey of discovery in which he meets and interviews elderly Ukrainians who, in many cases, had witnessed some of the murders. At one point he describes a circle of these people who stood in front of a burial pit and told of what they knew about the Jews, their neighbors, who died there:

"Every one of them recalled things more horrible than the last. And I stood there, stunned, unable to move, listening to these people delivering the secret of the Shoah in this village. I had only one desire: to scream and beg them to stop. But no one could stop what was happening. Each one of them was narrating, for the first time, the history of the execution of the Jews of Rawa-Ruska, the assassination of young people whose children and parents had already been killed."

And if this passage doesn't jackhammer your heart, you need some help:

"I am convinced there is only one human race -- a human race that shoots two-year-old children. For better or for worse I belong to that human race and this allows me to acknowledge that an ideology can deceive minds to the point of annihilating all ethical reflexes and all recognition of the human in the other. It happened in 1941, 1942, 1943, and 1944, in the very heart of Europe, one of the oldest civilizations in the world that had been shaped by centuries of Christian religious thinking and by the Enlightenment -- yet human beings had stopped recognizing their own fellows! Human beings had not seen that by killing others, they were killing themselves."

I believe it's important for all of us to know as much history as we can, in hopes of finding good models to guide us in our time and place and in hopes of avoiding the evils that have gone before us. History, however, tells me that we're not all that good at either. And yet we must continue to try. Which means, at times, staring this kind of brutish history in the face and acknowledging what our fellow human beings suffered as well as naming the fellow human beings who caused that suffering.

* * *


The White House held a dinner for Muslims the other night. I like the idea of government officials paying respect to the various religions of Americans and see nothing wrong with such dinners, Christmas decorations, High Holiday greetings to Jews and so forth. I hope our elected officials never get skittish about such things. By the way, the author of the piece to which I've linked you, Eboo Patel, will speak in Kansas City in November as part of the annual KC Festival of Faiths.

* * *

P.S.: Until Tuesday, Sept. 8, my Internet access will be sporadic at best. That means a long time may go by between you posting a comment here and it being published. Thanks for your patience.

* * *

ANOTHER P.S.: Please plan to join me and my co-author, Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn, at one of the two upcoming (Sept. 10 and Sept. 13) events described here to launch our new book, They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust. Rainy Day Books will be there to help you buy a copy and you'll even get to meet some of the people whose remarkable stories we tell in the book.




Here is another great documentary on human evolution from the Science Channel (5 episodes each)

Species Odyssey - Part 1

Part 2

Dolores Lear

"(Abortion by Blacks) "That is genocide. And atheism always supports it."

Atheism may support it, but the Atheists population is 10% or less of the USA Citizens. With this many black abortions along with abortions of all other Human Colors, the Majority of Religious Humans support this as well.

And who supports our Nuclear Bombs and Pollution, that Kill many Humans Worldwide? 99% of Atheists and Religious Americans of all Faiths and colors?

Killing is Killing, whether by Individual Citizens, or Citizens for their Country, whether Atheist or Religious.

So which Genocide is greater? Abortion of the Unborn, or Killing Alive Humans in War? Is there any difference on Killing Life, between Religious Humans and Atheists? Can we compare this with the Question of which came first, the chicken or the egg?

What does a Conscientious Objector mean? Against Abortion Only? Why do so many males complain about Abortion, but not War? Just a male and female 'thing'?

Whoever our Parents are, Religious or Atheists, and our Environment when we were a child and growing up, does influence how we view our Brothers/Sisters of Life, and Killing All stages of Life as an Adult.

The Comments on this Blog prove it.


Lynne, I agree with you that if someone's complaining that someone else is quoting verses out of context -- then it really is on them to explain the verses within context.

When I responded to Bill's post about those verses the other day, I guess I just kind of focused in on the one verse that I'd been going on about before, LOL -- the meaning of which doesn't seem to improve "in context."

I can't remember much about the other verses -- though I'd always taken that Psalm verse about blessed is the one who rips open the bellies of your pregnant mothers and dashes your babies against the rocks, as the Psalmist being very very extremely upset and angry. So I guess that even back when I was a "fundamentalist," I accepted that "some" of the Bible wasn't literally God's inspired Word.

Which is really what it all comes down to: if every verse is really from God, then you'd have to say God really doesn't want women teaching men in the church -- and that His reasoning is NOT protection from the persecution -- but rather that woman was last in creation, and was the one who got deceived into sin. So for some of the more objectionable verses, putting them into an acceptable context means bending over backwards to rearrange the meaning.

Of course, reading them in their historical context means you wouldn't have to rearrange the meaning -- just accept that, you know, Paul was just a tad sexist, and some angry Psalmist wanted to kill his enemies' children. It makes a lot more sense, only some folks are frighened at the thought of accepting some portions of the Bible as just human, and not infallible.

Dolores Lear

Is anyone familar with indigenous religions?,1_159_AOrPjkQAAEouSp5xIADLqAabW2c,&sort=date&order=down&startMid=0&pSize=25&.jsrand=8558373

This sight calls it folk. ethnic and neopagan religions.

I do not remember if Bill had something on this last Fall. The Wicci and American Indian Religion are similar to this movement.

It sems to be a large gathering in Australia.

Red Biddy

Will Graham thinks that "the Enlightenment encompassed a systematic ATTACK on Christian thinking and weakened Christianity considerably."
And a GOOD THING TOO - although in my view the Enlightenment did little to weed out the rabid Christian based anti-semitism in Europe which continued unchecked, culminating in the Holocaust when it an estimated 6 million Jews died.
It's obvious from Father Desbois comment that he thought so too !
If it is any comfort to you, Will, (as you seem to have it in for the Communists) Hitler killed many thousands of them also, just because they were communist !
As for the Enlightenment "weakening" Christianity, maybe Will, you regard such things as banning spectral evidence from being used in American courts (after the Salem Witch Trials) and stopping the burning of people alive for heresy as "weakening" Christianity, but I doubt you'll find many people nowadays to agree with you !

Will Graham

So, RED BIDDY admits that the Enlightenment weakened Christianity, and declares that its a GOOD THING TOO.

But then she turns around, wanting to have it both usual...and wants to blame "rabid" Christians for the holocaust, completely ignoring the proof that Germany became increasingly secular in the years leading up to the First World War and even more so in the years after...directly facilitating the rise of the Nazis. (In fact, she did not even look at the proof I offered...and has no intention of ever doing so. Her atheism is, after all, well informed by Wikipedia and YOU TUBE.)

She declares that I should be comforted by the fact that Hitler killed THOUSANDS of Communits, ignoring the fact that Hitler killed THREE MILLION CATHOLICS in Poland. (Although she has a point, I do have it in for atheistically based is riddled with murderous thugs.)

The weakening of Christianity referred to the increasing hold of Moral Relativism which allowd the Eugenics Programs of the Nazis beo be fully implemented. (You remember Eugenics, developed by Darwin's cousin, FRANCIS GALTON and praised by Darwin in his racist, sexist, and elitist book THE DESCENT OF MAN.)

Red Biddy is quite upset by the 19 people killed in the Salem Witch Trials, as she should be, but AGAIN completely ignores the GULAGS was demonstrated by Solzhenitsyn...killed over 20 MILLION, including MILLIONS of Christians. And, as Solzhenitsyn shows, it was done BECAUSE OF ATHEISM in an attempt to eliminate religion.)

This, of course, does not bother her in the slightest, since the Chrsitians were "rabid" and I suppose doing with them what you would do with a rabid animal brings some comfort to her.

What this means, of course, is that her contention that Christianity led to the Holocaust, even while she admits that Christianity was weakened and she knows that Eugenics was key to the Nazi philosphy is an uniformed, willfully ingnorant, piece of propaganda.

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