75 Years, have We Learned?

I wish there was no need to write about such things, or even be reminded.

Memorials are underway remembering the atrocities of the holocaust 75 years ago. I visited Auschwitz in 2017. Here are some images to form a photo collage acknowledging our universal propensity to justify terrible atrocities – beyond imagination. Us is them….. we all have the frightening potential.

If the Israel/Palestinian situation was reversed what would be said, then? How can those who have survived such horror be so deaf to the cries of others? It’s repeated around the world on every continent; this act of destroying another for our safety, righteous indignation, even revenge. It’s even worse when these acts are justified, in the name of God.

God, revealed in His suffering servant son, Jesus, that He has no favorites. He weeps over every life lost in concentration camps, wars, suicides, hospitals, abortions, accidents, drug addictions and whatever else terminates life unnaturally.

We might not like to face what we can become in Auschwitz, Kigali, or in the secret thoughts of our own hearts, but is better to know. As we ponder our collective disgrace we are not left in condemnation no matter how much we deserve such a fate. Amazing grace transcends the worst of sin because of God’s great love for the sinner. Therein lies our hope, our source of inspiration in the midst of ashes, our resurrection.

Two of the many photos on site giving human face to the suffering

Jesus went to the Cross to take upon Himself all the punishment that we deserved, so that we could take upon ourselves all the goodness and kindness that was/is His. It’s not a fair trade, totally undeserved, liable to be misused and unappreciated, but given anyway. Amazing grace has been won for us, offered to us, released to us. The extent to which we receive and walk in grace will determine how readily we give it away to others.

First, we must have the courage to face squarely the evil, the wrongdoing, the fruit of humanity desensitized and cruel beyond comprehension. Without seeing the disgrace, there is no reality of experiencing meaningful, life-changing, culture-shifting, grace. These images could have been of you, or me, our children, our parents, or our friends.

On the way to the gas chamber – Auschwitz Birkenau
Gas chamber Auschwitz
“showers” – Gas canisters dropped through roof
Used canisters
Largest gas chamber in Birkenau blown up by Germans
Entrance to Birkenau within 5 miles of Auschwitz
Railway cart transporting ‘people’.

Over 75 years nothing much has changed when it comes to understanding how things work. As the AA manual advocates: until we can admit that we are powerless over our addiction and need the help of a Higher Power, we will remain in our addiction. “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

“Hello, my name is ‘human’, and I have a problem with sin, selfishness, fear, identity, power, anger, and a whole bunch of other stuff that I struggle to let go of…. But at least I’m not as bad as those who perpetrated Auschwitz.”

“As bad, are not the right words. The perpetrators were once where you are until their addictions escalated. There but for the grace of God go you and I, my friend.” Here’s a story of such grace from some survivors in the link below:


“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found…….”

To repeat. And therein lies hope for us, and for the world… even 75 years later than the Holocaust, or 26 years after the Rwandan Genocide, or what happened yesterday, somewhere…. Apart from God in Jesus we can do nothing. And even then it will be a challenge.

Even so, we remember….. Even better, Lord may we learn, change, and be part of the healing. Here’s a version of Amazing Grace that speaks of hope because nothing is too hard for God to redeem, even this which we have so painfully remembered after 75 years. And for all those who still are persecuted, exploited, and dehumanized all over the world.


John Cox

Christian Author

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