by Christine Ege

Although history has never been my personal passion, it demands my attention, as history provides keys to the future.  First, a study of our past can prove eye-opening – we discover our ancestry and the origins of our family and cultural traditions.  An understanding of whence we came helps us comprehend why we have certain tendencies or even how we ended up where we are now.  However, the most crucial reason for examining the past is to learn lessons from history that will empower us to avoid repeating the same mistakes. 

In the fourth chapter of her book, Journey to the Holocaust:  Anti-Semitism, the Bible and History, Dr. Susanna Kokkonen highlights the tragic persecution of Jews during the Middle AgesShe points out that the Nazis were not by any means the first to insist that Jews wear yellow marks somewhere on their clothes to identify themselves as Jews.  Even during medieval times, Jews were segregated in separate neighborhoods and forced to wear identifying badges.  Thus, the yellow star we associate with the Holocaust was far from a new invention.  As if that were not enough, Jews were regularly criticized, persecuted, and even blamed for diseases (such as The Black Death) and natural disasters.

The Crusades, commonly portrayed as an initiative to reclaim the Holy Land from Muslim rule, also served to give expression to longstanding antisemitic sentiment.  En route to the Middle East, Jewish communities were destroyed.  “Even before the knights had left Europe, they destroyed Jewish communities on their way.  Hatred toward the Jews, along with their hatred toward Muslims, was a motivation the leaders of the crusades openly expressed.  It was said, for instance, that the purpose was to take revenge on Jews for the death of Jesus and to eradicate the Jews completely from the face of the earth” (pp. 85-86).

Moreover, the Spanish Inquisition involved brutal victimization of the Jewish people.  Even those who ostensibly had converted to Catholicism were exposed and condemned – even executed – for observing practices that might be associated with Judaism, such as keeping the Sabbath.  The persecution finally culminated in the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. (Some scholars have brought evidence that Columbus may have been a Jew.   In that case, a Jewish person may have had a hand in the initial exploration of the Americas!)

Truly, as Ecclesiastes 1:9 states:  “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (NKJV).  Antisemitism is certainly nothing new.  However, the only way to avoid repeating gross errors and sins of the past is to study history, examine our own attitudes, and ask God to transform our hearts.   The sorrowful facts are written for our reflection; may we therein derive hope for a different future, free of persecution, prejudice, and indifference!

The Snare of Superiority

The Snare of Superiority

by Christine Ege Many concur that hindsight is always 20/20, as it is relatively easy to recognize mistakes after they have been made and identify sins after they have been committed.   However, it is not always such a simple matter to discern truth in the face of...

read more
Holocaust Survivor Edith Jucker Breaks Her Veil of Silence

Holocaust Survivor Edith Jucker Breaks Her Veil of Silence

Edith Jucker’s testimony of survival captivated the audience, who had assembled to hear her story, along with the stories of a remorseful Nazi descendant and the daughter of a rescuer who was awarded the Righteous Among the Nations title along with a medal of honor from the President of Poland. Edith broke the veil of silence and bravely recounted her experience during the horrific years of the Holocaust and post-war Europe, and Claudia Kiesinger courageously told the painful story of her perpetrator Nazi grandfathers, whom she does not wish to emulate. Renata Hurd related how her father as a teenager was instrumental in his family’s decision to hide nine Jewish people on their property. It was clear that one person’s courageous decision can significantly impact the lives of others.

read more
Winton’s Children

Winton’s Children

by Lisa Alford I am so moved by an article I read about Nicholas Winton, who rescued 669 children from the Holocaust.  His wife found a scrapbook in their attack with pictures, names, and documents of children whose parents gave them up to save their lives. These...

read more
Hidden Heroes and Heroines

Hidden Heroes and Heroines

by Christine Ege A little more than seventy-five years after the end of World War II, the number of living Holocaust survivors is naturally diminishing.  Their stories are being recorded by museums and other institutions committed to remembering a particularly sordid...

read more
The Power & Penalty of Unrighteous Precedents

The Power & Penalty of Unrighteous Precedents

by Christine Ege When new laws are enacted or official judgments are pronounced, those laws and judicial decisions set precedents for the way subsequent situations are managed.  In the fifth chapter of Dr. Susanna Kokkonen’s book, Journey to the Holocaust, she...

read more
The March of Life Stands with Ukraine

The March of Life Stands with Ukraine

Statement by Jobst Bittner, President and Founder March of Life March of Life condemns Russia’s unprecedented and barbaric aggression against the Ukraine. We express our solidarity with the Ukraine, with its government and its people. We honor the Russian citizens who...

read more
“Upstander” Lessons I Learned From My Family

“Upstander” Lessons I Learned From My Family

by Diane Gatchel I would like to share a bit about my family’s experiences during WW2, from stories I remember them sharing.  They were raised here in America, but I would call them “Upstanders” because of the sacrifices they endured during that time. My father was...

read more
The Sweet Orange of Gela Baser Percal

The Sweet Orange of Gela Baser Percal

by Lisa Alford Gela was born in Rakow, Poland.  She had two brothers and two sisters.  The Nazis invaded Poland in September 1939.  In 1942, the Jews were ordered to leave everything and were informed they would be deported in one hour.  Although they were promised...

read more
Janusz Korczak, Closer than a Father

Janusz Korczak, Closer than a Father

by Joan Smith Polish Jewish national hero Janusz Korczak was a talented doctor, teacher, writer and advocate for children. But in the end, it is his selfless love and devotion that is remembered by everyone who learns of his story. Born Henryk Goldszmit in 1878, he...

read more