Tag Archives: holocaust

The Rise and the Fall of the Third Reich

TheRiseandFalloftheThirdReich Well I just finished today William Shirer’s The Rise and the Fall of the Third Reich.  A couple of thoughts.

  • If Churchill and England would have capitulated, England would have been devastated in a Poland like genocide.  That goes against what I have read over the years that Hitler never wanted to go to war against Britain.  It does have a bizarre section where it appears that Hitler is trying to recruit former king Edward VIII to take the throne if the invasion is successful.  The book leaves it unclear how serious Edward took his offer.
  • I was amazed at how soon the Germans realized the war was lost but other than fretting about it, did nothing to stop it.  While there are many references to trying to negotiate with the English and the Russians (not that it would have done any good), as far as I know, there were no attempts and instead military delusions kicked in.
  • The idea that Germany was going to rule the world as enslave everyone that wasn’t enslaved by Japan or Italy is factually correct but still a little hard to grasp.  Maybe as a Canadian I can’t get my head around the idea of manifest destiny unless it involves hockey.
  • In the end it did answer some of my questions about the WWII, like why Hitler launched the Battle of the Bulge (even if he had driven the Allies to Antwerp, then what?  He was out the fuel, tanks, and men to push the offensive any further) and why did he not order a retreat from Stalingrad?
  • Winston Churchill surveying the damage during the Blitz Hitler never went to one of the bomb ravaged cities.  By contrast we have all seen the photos of Winston Churchill during the Blitz.  There is one video of people cheering Churchill as they were digging out the next morning and yet Hitler said “it was too hard on him”. 

It was a good but really, really, really long book that if you haven’t read and enjoy reading history, it is worth reading.  There is a lot more to think about then what I could cover here.  It may make a wonderful addition to your summer reading list.

The Story of Metropolitan Kyril

Tony Campolo tells this story in Let Me Tell You a Story

One of the most amazing stories to come out of World War II concernns a church leader in Bulgaria named Metropolitan Kyril. When the Nazis rounded up the Jews in his city and herded them into a barbed wire enclosure, he decided to act.

The train that was supposed to take the Jews to Auschwitz pulled up at the station. The S.S. guards were just about ready to load the Jews into the box cars that would take them to the gas chambers, when suddenly, out of the darkness, Metropolitan Kyril appeared. He was a tall man to start with, but as an Orthodox priest, he wore a miter on his head, which must have made him appear like a giant as he emerged out of the darkness. He was wearing his black robes and his white beard hung over them. Marching behind him were many of the townspeople.

Kyril went to the entrance of the barbed wire enclosure, which was then surrounded by his supporters. When the Nazi guards tried to stop them, he laughed at them and pushed aside their guns. He went in among the Jews and as they surrounded them, crying hysterically, he raised his hands. He quoted one Verse of Scripture, and with that verse her contibuted signifcantly to the changing destiny of a nation. Quoting from the Book of Ruth he declared to his Jewish friends, “Whither thou goest, I will go. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God!” The Jews cheered and the Christians joined in cheering. They were no longer separate peoples. They had become on in the declaration of the Word of God.

Because of such heroics, not a single Bulgarian Jew ever died in a Nazi conventration campe during World War II, in spite of the fact that Bulgaria was one of the Nazi powers. When a man is willing to lay down his life to oppose oppression and injustice, amazing things can happen.

This is one of my favorite stories by Tony Campolo. It reminds me how much one person acting out of faith can do. At the same time it reminds me of how little I do out of faith but rather reason and security.

I wonder what Metropolitan Kyril was thinking as he marched up to the S.S. troops who were no doubt aiming their weapons at him, yelling at him to stop. I wondered if he thought he was going to die, or be herded onto the boxcars to die later in the gas chambers, or if he knew he would persevere. I am not sure that any of those thoughts would have been comforting or take away from the courage it took to confront the SS on that day.