{Janet’s Germany} Auschwitz

‘work sets you free’

selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_01Auschwitz was a network of three main labor/extermination camps and 45 satellite camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II. We visited Auschwitz I.
selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_02From Wiki:

Auschwitz was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners, who began to arrive in May 1940. The first extermination of prisoners took place in September 1941. At least 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz, around 90 percent of them Jewish.

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Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Romani and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses, and tens of thousands of others of diverse nationalities, including an unknown number of homosexuals. Many of those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments.

selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_04The SS officer who did role call had his own little hut to stand in, outside of inclement weather while the prisoners stood out in the elements.selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_05Janet and I discussed how unfair it seemed that a place that housed such evil could be so beautiful, and even in the haunting silence some places there was even a peace. But yet, somehow – good will come out of this evil.selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_06A memorial was resurrected at the back of Auschwitz I for people to pay respects to the victims of Auschwitz. A place of silence, there were candles burning and a bouquet of red carnations. We both left a stone in the memorial as in the Jewish tradition to signify that we honored the deceased person’s memory with a visit to the grave.selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_07Even now, I am overwhelmed by the enormity of evil that happened in this place, that time period. If I had been alive then, which side of the Holocaust would I have fallen? Would I have blindly followed Hitler, agreeing with him, or obeyed in fear? Or would I have silently stood up to him by hiding and helping Jews and other people the Third Reich sought to exterminate? selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_08I cannot think on that too long – it shreds my heart. I will never know, unless I live through something like that. I pray that if I do, I have the strength and courage of Jesus Christ to do what is right and not give in to the reigning terror.selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_09Here are the train tracks that brought prison at Auschwitz. Today they are covered in daisies, forget-me-nots, and a variety of other wild flowers. selah_candace_rose_Auschwitz_10I have decided to not post much about the history of Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau (which we didn’t have a chance to visit). Here are some different resources to read if you wish to know more history about the camps.

Auschwitz DE
Auschwitz PL
Jewish Virtual Library
Wikipedia
PBS

How blessed the man you train, God,
    the woman you instruct in your Word,
Providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil,
    while a jail is being built for the wicked.
God will never walk away from his people,
    never desert his precious people.
Rest assured that justice is on its way
    and every good heart put right.
Psalm 94:12-15

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columbine

Whenever I see these flowers I think of their name. Which makes me think of school shootings. Mostly, the Colorado one in 1999. I remember the stories of Cassie Bernall and later Rachel Scott. And then I think of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and the brave acts that saved many little lives.

It makes my heart ache for the families who lost someone precious and for the children who will have the memory of death for the rest of their life. It makes me angry. It makes me pray.

Then I look at the flower again and think of life, how it is frail and beautiful and only lasts for a moment. Life lost too soon… death. It can claim any one of us at any moment.columbine

{Advent} God’s Messenger

But Jesus is constantly trying to make us understand that God’s ways are not our ways, and that God’s love is far less selective and far greater than ours. “Is thine eye evil because I am good?” God asks in Matthew’s Gospel after he has finished paying all the workers the same wage. When God blesses those we deem unworthy, does our jealousy make our eye become evil? Are we, like the elder brother, like Jonah, upset at God’s forgiveness? Daily I need a deep and penitent awareness of how much greater God’s love is than my own. – Madeleine L’Engle

“The people of Nineveh listened to Jonah, and they start loving God. They learned to do what God said and to stop running away from him – just like Jonah. Many years later, God was going to send another Messenger with the same wonderful message. Like Jonah, he would spend three days in utter darkness. But this Messenger would be God’s own Son. He would be called ‘The Word’ because he himself would be God’s Message. God’s Message translated into our own language. Everything God wanted to say to the whole world – in a Person.”

Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish. He prayed:
“In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God.
He answered me.
From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’
You heard my cry.
You threw me into ocean’s depths,
into a watery grave,
With ocean waves, ocean breakers
crashing over me.
I said, ‘I’ve been thrown away,
thrown out, out of your sight.
I’ll never again lay eyes
on your Holy Temple.’
Ocean gripped me by the throat.
The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight.
My head was all tangled in seaweed
at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root.
I was as far down as a body can go,
and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever—
Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive,
O God, my God!
When my life was slipping away,
I remembered God,
And my prayer got through to you,
made it all the way to your Holy Temple.
Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds,
walk away from their only true love.
But I’m worshiping you, God,
calling out in thanksgiving!
And I’ll do what I promised I’d do!
Salvation belongs to God!”
Then God spoke to the fish, and it vomited up Jonah on the seashore.

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Jonah 1-4, Hebrews 1:1-2

I am following my friend Amanda’s Advent Stitch-A-Long. You can find instructions for today’s ornament here. Prep instructions by Amanda are here.

The book used for the Advent reading is The Jesus Storybook Bible. You can find more information the book here or buy it on Amazon here.