Sunday, March 10, 2013

What Was Evil In The Shoah?- Ashley Scully

I will be referring to God and Evil: An Anthropological-Philosophical Reflection by Manfred Deselaers as well as Father Manfred’s lecture.

In the beginning, God leaves His permanent mark on His creation; because God is good, his creation is good. “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” Creation can turn evil—man can become evil when he turns away from God. Evil means not doing justice to the responsibility to which we are called. It is a betrayal of trust, a breach of promise. But behind every evil, good shines and as a result evil unmasks itself as such.

What was evil in the Shoah? What happened in Auschwitz created a wounded relationship that goes in two directions: the neighborhood and the covenant. It comes down to a simple question: how can we trust each other after this happened? It was a betrayal of trust: the Jews wanted to stay in their neighborhood and live in peace. Why didn’t the neighbors allow that? Why didn’t Christian neighbors allow that? We have Yad Vashem, but it is still a small number of non-gentiles who helped the Jews. The reality is the majority of Europe did not help the Jews. Everyone had a responsibility to help their Jewish neighbors, but the majority did not fulfill their responsibility. It is important to note that the non-gentiles who helped their Jewish neighbors were shining the goodness of love. Therefore, their courageous actions highlighted the evil committed by the bystanders who did not help their neighbors.

Group photo taken at the gate of Auschwitz I
Love means making oneself a gift for the other, to leave oneself behind and put others ahead. As God’s creation, we have a vocation for love. We have a calling to help the other person’s life to thrive. What was evil in the “neighborhood wound” was not giving love to our Jewish neighbors.

The other part of the wound is the covenant God made with His chosen people. Why was God indifferent? What happened to the covenant? It is clear that the covenant was broken; it was broken because of man. A leader had risen (Hitler) in Germany, with an ideology that Jews are the problem, the source of all the world’s social and economical problems. This ideology spread, and people rejected the Jews. When they rejected the Jews, they killed them. In doing so, they broke the covenant because they killed God by killing His creation. Where was God? He was suffering with the Jews.

The wound of Auschwitz is very deep and is still healing. To be in Auschwitz is like touching the wound. We currently live in the shadows of the Shoah and to heal the wound, we must heal with memory. It is important to heal because the Shoah happened, it was made possible and became possible, and therefore it can happen again. 


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