Smoke in the church's eyes: 3-15-13
Homing in on religious history: 3-18-13

New Holocausts insights: 3-16/17-13

Perhaps it's not surprising that nearly 70 years after the end of World War II, the Holocaust -- that shocking German effort to wipe out European Jewry -- should continue to make news.

FDR-JewsIt was, after all, so completely unthinkable before Adolf Hitler and his Nazis nearly pulled it off that even some people in the midst of it could not conceive of what was happening.

Two matters related to the Holocaust have passed my way in recent days, and today I want to share them with you to see what you make of them.

The first is a book I haven't yet read, only read about in this piece. It's FDR and the Jews, by Richard Breitman and Allan J. Lichtman.

As the story to which I've linked you notes:

For decades, it has been one of the most politically charged questions in American history: What did Franklin D. Roosevelt do — or, more to the point, not do — in response to the Holocaust?

The new book in some ways runs counter to traditional criticism of FDR for not doing enough to save the Jews. Thus, it's not surprising that it should be encountering some resistance, especially from Jews who think the authors are rewriting history. And yet the book looks compelling, and I hope I have a chance to give it a read before long. If you get to it first, let me know what you think.

Auschwitz-volunteerThe other matter to come to my attention is the publication of a book about a Polish man who went underground at Auschwitz and survived to write about it. The book, The Auschwitz Volunteer, now has been published in English.

The murders that happened at Auschwitz -- to Jews, yes, but also to many Poles -- turned that place into Ground Zero of the Holocaust, and mere mention of it today conjures up the whole of the Germans' evil effort to rid the world of Jews.

The author of this book, Capt. Witold Pilecki, would spend two and a half years inside Auschwitz, carefully taking notes about what was happening there. It was an act of cunning and courage, and historians forever will be in his debt -- just as those know-nothing Holocaust deniers will be denouncing him for making their impossible job even harder.

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The Vatican is being assertive about defending Pope Francis I from charges that while he was in charge of the Jesuits in Argentina he "he knew about serious human rights abuses but failed to do enough to halt them," as this New York Times story reports. In matters of public relations, the best defense is a good offense. We'll see whether this story dogs the pope or whether it goes away.

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P.S.: In honor of my late mother, who would have turned 100 years old on Friday, here's my current Presbyterian Outlook column in which she plays a role. Just in case you missed it. Or missed her.


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