Once again, thanks to readers like you,
we’ve got your feedback to share …
New Film on Holocaust
Prompts Urgent Questions
and Enduring Spiritual Lessons
“HITLER’S HIDDEN HOLOCAUST” sparked messages from many readers. (If you missed it, here’s our story on this important new National Geographic documentary.)
Two different Jewish readers, who explained that their families suffered losses in the Holocaust, asked if we know more about the regions across eastern Europe depicted in this new documentary.
“This may sound like a long shot, but it does happen that people recognize things in TV news stories about the Holocaust,” wrote one reader from the Cleveland area, who asked that I not mention his name. “Someone could see a place they remember. I know of cases where people found long-lost friends. … I’ll be watching this carefully. My family came from what is now Romania and Ukraine, too, which you said is in the TV show.“
Thanks for that note. I know from experience as a journalist covering religious issues that there is truth to what this reader is describing. It’s one of the reasons such new films are very important to viewers with family histories tied to these locations.
In answer to these readers’ question: There are too many scenes and locations shown in this film to detail each one here, but I counted at least a half dozen different locations ranging from the Baltic to the Ukraine.
A second big question about the National Geographic documentary was: “How disturbing are the scenes?” This came from reader Mary Owen of Los Angeles who is a high school teacher.
Answer: The film does include black-and-white documentary film footage of an Einsatzgruppen mass killing. Here’s a link to Wikipedia’s Einsatzgruppen overview, including a photo of one such action on the right side of the Wiki page. You will see images like that Wiki photo in the middle section of this National Geographic documentary. Yes, the scene is disturbing.
Some readers responded with comments about the program.
One pointed comment came from reader Mares Hirchert: “The answer to, ‘How can neighbors watch neighbors being killed?’ is that we have allowed violence as a solution instead of non-violence. In the U.S. Civil War, we witnessed brother against brother. It was after this war that Mother’s Day took root. The hope was that mothers in the U.S. would not approve the killing of the sons of mothers anywhere in the world. Mothers of the World need to take over!”
This week, some members of an interfaith group carried on an Emailed discussion about the prevalence of some forms of violence in global conflict. I was sent a series of these private back-and-forth messages. One note in particular eloquently expressed the ideal role of religious groups in confronting large-scale violence. This was from a writer named Roger.
I think Roger’s words clearly express why stories about the Holocaust—and other forms of large-scale violence—do show up in the pages of ReadTheSpirit. He wrote:
“We need to be vigilant so that we do not fall into the
yawning chasm of fear and hate. If it were easy to pull ourselves back from that
abyss, we would not need religious groups.” The core contribution faith can make is to remember moral principles, to protect the vulnerable—and to teach peacemaking. If we do not, Roger wrote, “It seems to be a human
inclination to fight fire with fire—anger and fear directed at anger and fear—and to have our highest and best values and selves immolated in the
Thank you, readers! Very thoughtful questions and comments this week! Keep them coming. Feel free to Email us anytime with your reflections.
Shine in New Books …
… and White House Honors
WE DID OUR PART, this week, draw fresh spiritual connections between West and East in our profile of Madame Blavatsky, a spiritual godmother of modern interfaith movements. If you missed it, here’s a link to meet this mysterious, larger-than-life Russian author and tireless world traveler.
Then, news broke late this week about White House plans to honor 16 men and women, most of them Americans, with the Medal of Freedom.
One of the few non-American honorees is Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Prize winner for rethinking ways to help poor people around the world.
Here’s a link to the White House announcement about all 16 honorees, including Yunus.
Here’s a link to an OurValues.org story about trying to find an effective slogan for Dr. Yunus’ campaign. Take a look and share your thoughts!
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(Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)