Last week I talked about the Ten Boom family. A family who suffered greatly during the Nazi regime for their stand against the evils of Nazi-ism and German Socialism.
After World War 2 many of the German S.S. high command (military leadership) went into hiding. They were harbored by many nations. Most thought that they had escaped the world's wrath against them for their atrocities. Most were also hunted down and captured. War crimes trials were held in Nuremberg. Adolf Eichmann, one of Hitler's top henchmen, was allowed to speak and defend his actions.
His words: " I have broken no laws. I was simply following the laws of war and my flag."
Eichmann was correct.
German "law", in 1935, had deprived the Jewish people of German citizenship. There were also laws forbidding them to marry or have sexual relationship with anyone of the Aryan, "Germanic" Race. There were thirteen administrative regulations against the Jews that would later outlaw them completely, and, eventually, through intense propaganda, they were given the status of "non-human".
With Hitler's ability to make arbitrary "laws", there was no opposition, or at least, no opposition without the threat of severe punishment or death. Even pastors could be arrested for treason for resisting the new "laws" of the new German Socialist Government. Since they were "breaking the law" by resisting, they had no recourse.
It's hard, almost impossible, in our day, to imagine that a law could actually be imposed which would strip a person of his or her status of being "human". It's unfathomable, isn't it?
If such a law were passed, then the taking of a human life could be easily justified and rationalized. If it's resisted, then it must be a flaw on the part of the person who is not willing to validate the law of the land. They must be "subversive" in some way. If it's "legal", then it must be correct. Case closed.
At least that's the way the Nazi Party saw it. That's the way the German citizen accepted it without much opposition. (There were other, economic reasons also).
A pastor of a German church tells the story that, on Sunday, when the church would gather for worship, at a particular time, every Sunday, they would hear a train go by the back of their church during the service. They could hear the cries of the Jewish people as the train passed. It was a horrific sound. So, what did they do?
At that time, every Sunday, when they knew the train was to pass by, they made that time their "hymn singing" time. They would all sing just as loud as they could as the train passed by. That way they couldn't hear the cries of those "non-humans" barreling down the tracks towards Auschwitz.... and the ovens. It worked. They didn't hear them at all after that.
There's a saying, "If you want to see a Nation's God, then look at that Nation's Laws."
Eichmann's argument, although valid, succumbed to the decision of the War Crimes Tribunal. They weren't going to argue that what they Nazis did were "illegal" according to the laws of Germany. They were going to insist that there was a "higher" law in which to ultimately yield. There was a natural law that superseded the arbitrary laws of any particular nation. Although they couldn't exactly explain it, they knew that, just because something was "legal", it didn't make it "moral", and the hideous nature of the crimes stood in start contrast to human decency and sensitivity.... and morals.
Anyway, that's my rambling for this week. What does it all mean?
You decide.... Only as individuals can we decide when to resist and when to sing louder....