Ever since I first learned of the full horror of the Holocaust when I was a freshman at the University of Minnesota I have had a kind of obsessive fascination with it. I’ve studied every aspect of Hitler and the Third Reich and about the philosophy that led to their “Final Solution.” In fact, for several years, I taught a course at Bethel University entitled “Theology After Auschwitz.” To get on the inside of this unthinkable horror, I would have the class not only read books, but also watch films and hear from living survivors. My conviction has always been that, after the Crucifixion of the Son of God, the Holocaust represents the greatest expression of evil in human history. For this reason, I believe it ought to serve as a criterion by which we measure the authenticity of our theology, and especially of our thinking on the problem of evil. “If you cannot speak it standing next to the mass grave of gassed children,” I have often said, “it is inauthentic to ever speak it.” In my view, all the flowery statements about God controlling all things for his glory become hollow nonsense in the vicinity of gassed children.
In just a few weeks I have the opportunity of fulfilling a several decades long dream of visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau. It will take place at the end of several weeks of kingdom teaching in Austria and Switzerland. I’ll be accompanied and supported by my wife Shelley and my kingdom co-workers, Greg and Marcia Erickson. I believe the experience will be powerful as we reflect on theological matters with the above criterion in full view.
To make the most of this visit, I’m wondering if any of you have ever visited these memorials? If so, do you have any recommendations for us? For example, should we view these memorials with a tour guide? And if you think we should have a guided tour, is there one you can recommend? Please send any information you think would be helpful to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks so much for your help. If it comes to mind, please pray that in both my speaking ministry and in our memorial visits, God will accomplish in us and through us all that he intends.