My Visits To The Holocaust Museum

Over the past five years I have had the sobering privilege of visiting the Holocaust museums in Washington, DC, and in Jerusalem. While the Jerusalem museum is understandably and appropriately larger, both are painful reminders of evil in the world. You cannot visit without noticing the hushed and reverent tones of all the visitors.

Each time I have visited I am reminded of these themes.

First, evil is real and the human heart is corrupt and defiled. The prophets of the Old Testament made that abundantly clear long before Hitler and the Nazis.

Second, humans are capable of any kind of evil. Those who are most in tune with God seem to understand this better than others.

Even casual students of the World War II era and Nazi atrocities ask how the German people could do the things they did. Germans are civilized people. How could doctors, lawyers, and others make up the Nazi death squads?

Third, we must be vigilant for justice and righteousness. If everyone is not respected, no one is respected. If anyone’s humanity is denigrated, then no one is safe.

For this reason, we should be concerned about freedom of speech and religion and the care for the elderly and unborn. Once we go down the road to watering down these concepts, we have lost precious parts of our lives.

Finally, I am always reminded of the poem of German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller. Niemoller initially supported Hitler. That is why his poem is so poignant. Because of his opposition to Nazi state control of the churches, he suffered imprisonment at two concentration camps and narrowly escaped execution. After his imprisonment he expressed his deep regret for not having done enough.

Niemoller’s poem is displayed at the entrance to the museum in Washington.

First they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

Let us be a people who care for others and who champion justice.

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One Comment


  1. Ed Matthew
    Sep 26, 2012

    Jefferson Parish Museum (JPM) was formed by a WW2 Veteran as a reminder and encouragement to following generations of God’s Faithfulness to His People who live a life of Trust and Obedience to Him. At least one of his two children got the message, however, it is a community effort that made the Museum and it will take the Community of God to preserve it for future generations.
    The following was found on a site asking Democrats who are Christian to leave the Party. While I agree with the view expressed by Terresa Hobbs who commented in response to a plea for tolerance by Christians, I go a step further and plea for Christians to get up close and personal enough to witness (be people of influence) and take back the Democrat party for Christ. (IT IS HARD and thankless this side of eternity) Else we would have learned nothing from the poem or history.

    Terresa Hobbs • a day ago • parent

    Well, no. There are many members of Christian churches who believe that same sex marriage, if not compatible with Christianity, is at least a matter of fairness.Their interpretation of the phone book also comports with their viewpoint. There are actually very few denominations that have given in to the lie that homosexuality is about love or even civil rights. Christians who know their Scripture understand that it’s all about rebellion. Dare I say….sin. Same as adultery, pedophilia, promiscuous heterosex. When it’s all about the sex, it’s not about love.Most Christians recognize that and contrary to your unsupported assertion that they’re suffering as a result, these churches are growing because people recognize the truth when they see and hear it You also seem to be confusing ‘free exercise’ by which I guess you’re referring to the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution, with free will. Free will has indeed always existed, since we were created with it. Free exercise, presumably of speech, religion, assembly and the press, is a relatively new concept in this world. Agreeing to disagree may be your way of ending a discussion, but it’s not the foundation of our Constitutional principles. Acknowledging the Creator and respecting life as He created it is what led the Founders to establish a nation in which we can freely exercise our other God-given rights. That Christian foundation is also what leads us to reject what you so euphemistically call ‘reproductive health’….abortion, and why we try to care for the poor without killing their spirits by creating dependence on government. Frankly, there’s a very real possibility that ‘free exercise’ WON’T always exist.

    In order to show God’s Love you have to show up with it.
    Blessings!
    Thank you Dr. Bailey!!!

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I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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[More on Love and Hatred] For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. — 1 John 3:11 (NIV)