The Failure of Christian Love in the Holocaust.

What were the psychological factors that went into Christian violence, absence, silence and overall abject failure of love during the Holocaust?

By Andrew Tix

‘”What must I do to inherit eternal life?,” Jesus once was asked. A discussion followed, in which the two “great commandments” were affirmed: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“Put simply, the history of Holocaust testifies to a glaring failure of Christian love.”

“And who is my neighbor?,” asked the questioner. Jesus answered with the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this story, Jesus demonstrates that being well-educated in religion or having a reputation for being religious do not necessarily translate into love of neighbor. Rather, love is expressed when we have mercy on someone in need, even if that person differs in belief, race, or social class (Luke 10:25-37).

The Christian Response to the Holocaust

Reflecting on the behavior of Christians during the Holocaust, Stephen Smith, co-founder and Director of the Beth Shalom Holocaust Memorial Centre in the United Kingdom, offered an alternative parable.

“There was once a man going about his business, trying to live out his life peacefully and without offence to those around him. One day as he went about his life, a group of men set upon him. They robbed him and they stripped him and they left him on the side of the road for dead. Presently, along came an educated, God-fearing and good man; a man known for his generosity and charity. He saw the man who had been beaten and robbed, but he crossed over the road and carried on his way. Shortly, along came a priest, a well-respected man of wisdom and of learning. Seeing his neighbor in distress, he too crossed over to the other side; after all, he would not be seen helping a Jew. And so the Jew lay in the gutter waiting for the Good Samaritan.

But there was no Good Samaritan.

Not this time.”

Read the complete essay at



“Never shall I forget that smoke.
Never shall I forget the little faces of children whose bodies I saw
turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith for
Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence which deprived me, for
all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those mountains
which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams into

‘These words from Elie Wiesel will, I hope, be instantly recognized. They capture the experience of the victims of the most appalling
ideology in a century of godless ideologies. The Jewish writer Arthur Cohen calls the Holocaust a Tremendum, an ultimate experience. 3 For Christian
theology the Shoah 4 represents the most serious challenge to its fundamental doctrine of a loving and caring God. But other serious questionings of Christianity arise from the Shoah. There is the obscene fact that the ideology of the ‘Final Solution’ was produced within a culture that had been Christian for fifteen centuries. Because of this the whole Western Church is under judgement. Two elements of this condemnation come to mind at once. There is the churches’ share in creating and
sustaining anti-Semitic feelings throughout Europe. We shall say more about this. But the Shoah also revealed the acquiescence of western Christianity in a culture of death and destruction. Not enough attention has been given to the
ease with which Christians, Catholics and Protestants alike, assented to the ideology of Nazism. Many of them apparently believed its teaching and practices were merely extensions of Christian civilization. The massive
support of both Protestant and Catholic Churches for Hitler puts into question the theory that most ordinary Germans were compelled by the brutality of Nazism to do things repellent to their Christian sensibilities. The Tremendum
demands of Christians that they reflect on their relationship to western culture.’


One thought on “The Failure of Christian Love in the Holocaust.

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