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God on Trial: Prisoners in Auschwitz indict God. (Discussion)

God on Trial is a 2008 BBC/WGBH Boston television play written by Frank Cottrell Boyce and Stephen R. Pastore, starring Antony Sher, Rupert Graves and Jack Shepherd. The play takes places in Auschwitz during World War II. The Jewish prisoners put God on trial in absentia for abandoning the Jewish people. The question is if God has broken his covenant with the Jewish people by allowing the Nazis to commit genocide. I am interested in hearing what you think about this clip, I am not interested in a christian covenant view take, I am interested in a mature analization of the nature of God from this man's point of view and then from yours. I would venture to say this clip is for the mature christian that knows The old testament and has a firm grip on the true nature of God  http://youtu.be/PP4i6tRGw7Q

Tags: Auschwitz, God, God., Prisoners, Trial:, in, indict, on

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Do we have to send you a resume as well to be involved in this discussion?

I thought the clip was phenomenal & captivating - my thoughts on the clip.

From his point of view, he sees God as being cruel & takes His anger out on the children of the violators of His law. He sees Him as a judge but not a righteous judge. He feels He's unfair & just down-right mean. 

My point of View: I totally understand where this dude is coming from. God did push some harsh punishments & when we have the human perspective on it all, it seems totally opposite then what He calls us to be. That's looking thru human eyes though.

I will come back to this topic, time permitting.  But first, I wanted to share some background to the Holocaust.

 

Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which

deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to

live. Never shall I forget those moments which

murdered my God and my soul  and turned my

dreams to dust.

--Elie Wiesel, Auschwitz survivor

 

The scale of the terrifying horror and cruelty, extreme depravation, and utter hopelessness that millions of Jews living in Nazi Germany and occupied nations were subjected to during the reign of Hitler from 1933-1945 is something we can't even begin to grasp.  We didn't experience it.  We only read about it.  Today, a significant number of people, including Iran's political and religious leaders, deny that the Holocaust ever happened. However, nothing can erase the fact that some 6 million Jews died in concentration camps where they were subjected to starvation, brutality, and unsanitary conditions.  Many were killed by poisonous gas.  Hitler, a fanatic filled with hatred and loathing toward the Jewish people, nearly succeeded in his grand scheme to bring about the systematic and methodical extermination of the Jews.

STUDY GUIDE FOR THE NIGHT, by Elie Wiesel, a Jew, provides a vivid and poignant recounting of this horrific experience by someone who survived the horror of Auschwitz.  Allow me to include excerpts.

 

     "The Nazis opened the first concentration camp in 1933, soon after Hitler became German Chancellor. In the year leading up to war, Hitler imprisoned thousands more people. Once Hitler began invading other lands, the demand for camps skyrocketed. Jews imprisoned during these early years were often kept only long enough to convince them to flee German-held lands. Many did, though without going far enough to escape later reimprisonment. Auschwitz, where Wiesel was initially taken, opened in 1940. With its reception centers, such as Birkenau, Auschwitz eventually became the largest of the camps.

 

In 1941 Hitler invaded Russia and was plunged into the first long battle of the war. He needed supplies

and weapons. Thus, many of the camps became forced labor centers that used prisoners to fuel the

Nazi death machine. In 1942, at the Wannsee Conference, Hitler and his allies developed the official policy known as the “final solution.” Under this plan, Jews in particular would be worked until they collapsed and then they would be killed. Hitler’s scientists first experimented with “mercy killings” on people who were mentally ill. Methods for mass murders, such as lethal injection and poisonous gas, were later developed. Gas chambers were added to six camps. In these camps, mass extermination began in earnest.

More than 1.25 million people were killed at Auschwitz alone."

     Psychologists who study Holocaust survivors have recognized a pattern of reaction to the concentration camp experience. At first, prisoners were stunned and paralyzed by the horror. Many did not survive this early shock, in fact, the highest death toll was among new prisoners. Even if they weren’t selected for death, they fell ill, were grief-stricken by the loss of family members, became exhausted, or simply gave up hope in the face of evil. Those who survived these early experiences recovered some sense of balance.

 

Many have reported that they separated themselves from their surroundings and even their bodies. They focused on surviving one day at a time. With each new onslaught of horror or loss, prisoners repeated this process. Some people became what prisoners called muselmänner or “walking dead.”

 

U.S. Holocaust Memorial: http://www.ushmm.org/

 

Thank you for sharing this video and bringing up the Holocaust.  I would like to discuss two aspects.
 
  1. First, is there any support for the belief of some that the Holocaust was God's punishment of the Jewish people (directly or indirectly)?
  2. Second, how could the Jews at Auschwitz have come to such a low point of desperation that they decided to put God on trial?

 

1)  Was the Holocaust God's Punishment of the Jews?

This website, http://deoxy.org/godholoc.htm, is typical of those that claim it's "biblical truth" that God ordained the Holocaust citing Scriptural support in passages from Deuteronomy 28.  Not that he merely allowed the Holocaust to happen and did nothing to stop or restrain it, mind you--but that he instigated it.  The insinuation is clear: that Hitler and Nazi Germany were doing God's bidding.  The Holocaust was "divine punishment against rebellious sinners," it says, adding that "the Lord loves Holocausts." 

 

This kind of talk is rank anti-Semitism and I disavow it completely.  It only serves to fuel the intense and vicious hatred that some have toward the Jewish people, including Islamic extremists who embrace this outrageous claim or are so brazen to deny that the Holocaust ever happened. 

 

Facing near annihilation by 1945, through the methodical and systematic means employed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, an unprecedented human tragedy, the Jewish people have since gone on to restore the nation of Israel, which was recognized in 1948.  The Holocaust was not the final chapter for the Jewish people.

 

Not only that, but they have successfully defended themselves several times since then in wars instigated by neighboring countries committed to Israel's demise.  They have endured unrelenting attacks by terrorists.  Despite overwhelming odds, this little nation has prospered greatly, has built a thriving democracy.they are a strong, stoic and remarkably resilient people. 

 

There's no question based on historical evidence that the Jewish people have endured many trials and tribulations, suffering intense persecution often at hands of so-called "Christians," but we should be very careful before ascribing any kind of responsibility to God.  This was a pure act of evil; not divine retribution.  People can twist Bible verses and take them out of context to support just about kind of thinking that fits their agenda-- including justification of prejudice, discrimination, oppression and all kinds of injustice againt others in the name of God. 

 

One should also understand that the Jews were not the only people who suffered during World War II, although without question they were the primary targets of Hitler and ruthlessly sought out by the Nazis for extermination.  The Nazi war machine, fueled by Hitler's maniacal ambitions and pure undefiled evil, brought widespread suffering, death and destruction to millions of other people in the nations of Europe and the Soviet Union, including Christians.  Would we infer that God was seeking retribution against these people as well, and on what grounds?

 

Those who nonetheless believe--or are open to the idea that God instigated or allowed the Holocaust to happen as a punishment inflicted against the Jewish people for rejecting the Messiah--should consider this statement, which I found on the Internet.

 

I get a little frustrated when anyone says things like the Holocaust are a form of punishment inflicted on a certain group of people. The implication is that divine intervention extends even into the realm of what human's consider evil -- or more to the point, divine intervention ignores the context of human life completely and applies it's wrath where ever it sees fit.

 

One of the important things to remember is that the Holocaust was perpetrated by evil people.  You cannot equate their actions with those of God.

 

2)  Why did the Jews at Auschwitz put God on trial?

I can understand how the Jewish people in Nazi concentration camps could come to believe by the sheer desparation of the circumstances that God might have abandoned them.  The Jewish people were systematically targeted and rounded up in large numbers by the Nazis all over Europe.  Families were broken off.  In the deplorable conditions of the concentration camps, they had seen many die, often from starvation and disease, in what became a daily struggle for existence.  The living had to endure incredible and unrelenting suffering, torture and starvation.  Many were ruthlessly exterminated in gas chambers.

 

For the Jewish people it must have seemed as though there was not even a glimmer of hope; that all light had been extinguished, and they were in total darkness.  But again, out this terrible tragedy arose the restored nation of Israel, which has thrived and prospered for more than 60 years despite persistent and real threats to its existence.

 

Closing Statement
I don't know that I've addressed the full thrust of your question, as I didn't really bring into the discussion passages from the Old Testament to support my claims, but I would be happy to do so.  That said, from my perspective, the burden of proof is on not on me, but rather on those who believe that the Holocaust was God's indirect or direct punishment of the Jewish people to provide Scriptural support for their position.  Thanks again for posting this thought-provoking topic.

What are your thoughts about the clip Mike?

Thanks Tammy and Colby. I think this gentleman unfortunatly only chose too look at one side of the coin. I can see that in his circumstance why this happened, he only saw the vengence and lack of any percieved justice. The preludes and outcomes to some of the history he recites from these stories is convenienly missing. It would be difficult in his situation given the history he would have studied in the Torah to really have any other view of God. I posted this so I may be able to have some different points of view to share when someone may bring this subject up. Your responces were more than helpful. I ran across this coincedentlly ( ya right! ) in a divotional I am using it goes like this. "Seemingly senseless pain and trauma engulfs much of life.  If you seek to follow Him, you must be content to trust His character rather than your ability to understand. The difference between a knife in the hand of an assassin and a knife in the hand of a surgeon is intent: both inflict severe pain. You must decide whether God is an assassin or a surgeon. But remember, your choice does not change God, only your opinion." - Walter A. Henrichsen

I just found it fascinating. Not necessarily his opinions on God but just the play altogether.

Mike, I hadn't thought of the point you made with regard to "putting God on trial" by the Jews at Auschwitz, but it's insightful and helpful. 

Night is an amazing book.  I can see how he lost his faith.  As bad as our lives get from day to day, we havent had to endure the horrors that the jewish people experienced during the Holocaust.  Nothing in the average Americans life, or even the very poor in our county comes close to the the living hell those people went through. It would be hard not to feel abandoned by God.

I agree Jason especially when they knew they were God's chosen. I would think if I was God's chosen at that point, I would prefer to be His enemy. 

True enough, Jason. I don't think we can begin to imagine the sheer horror and desperation that the Jews of Europe felt during the Holocaust.  It was, as you say, a "living hell" on an unprecented scale.  Approximately 6 million were murdered by the Nazis following Hitler's order to find and exterminate them.  And yet there are those among us today who deny that it ever happened.

I love this...it's just an opportunity for God to show up and show out...People are crying out for God's truth and not man's truth, and God is going to show himself mighty in the midst of them. 

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