Every time something very bad happens, people used to say, where is God, and why God allowed this to happen. In fact, God has nothing to do with such incidents in history. Let's see the presence of God in Auschwitz.
Did God exist in Auschwitz?
The answer to this question is definitely yes. God is omnipresent! Then why God allowed the Holocaust, especially that the majority of people (Jews) are considered to be His favorite people?
As human beings, we cannot understand God's logic, but there is one thing definite. He works for the savior of the soul and the major goal is to take as many people as possible next to Him in eternal life.
Selection in Auschwitz Birkenau Ramp
In many cases, self-help arose on the basis of comradery and solidarity among prisoners from the same locality, but it was also strong among similar careers, and also between people who had a common fate, but even people totally unknown between each other.
God was living in Auschwitz every single day as He was living in the heart and actions of many thousands of prisoners and local people from the surroundings, who risked their own life in order to rescue or help someone.
In the same way, as the Devil occupied the heart of the Nazis, leading them to execute the Holocaust, torture, and murder children, women, and older people believing they are serving their nation. In this same way, God existed in people's hearts, trying to help everyone around them.
Interior of the gas chamber in Auschwitz I
The postwar memoirs, testimony, and accounts of Auschwitz contain a great deal of information about the different forms that self-help could take and many hundreds of known cases and testimonials exist.
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From the time people arrived at the hell of Auschwitz, their fate was more or less defined. The chances to stay alive were minimal and without any help, they could even count only a few hours at the camp before the end.
Of particular importance to the new arrivals at the camp were the warnings about potential dangers, protection, advice, friendly words, and kind gestures from other prisoners who had found themselves behind the fence earlier.
Also, help received during the registration process. Jews being registered as non-Jews, people age reduced or increased accordingly and even Jews were registered as the so-called "Aryans", being able to receive packages from their families and excluded from selections.
Arrived at the Hell of Auschwitz
Wiktoria Klimaszewska (Nr. 48517), a Pole, relates in her account how, when she was brought to KL Birkenau in November, a female prisoner working in the reception office purposely lowered her age when filling in her personal data, as the camp authorities believed that older people had no right to live.
God was living in the young Pole in Auschwitz who said that Auschwitz Hell is not for eternity and with his words tried to give strength to new arrivals in order to not lose their faith. The young Pole, smiled at the new arrivals and he began to talk to them, and, despite their weariness, they listened patiently.
«Comrades, you're in the concentration camp of Auschwitz. There's a long road of suffering ahead of you. But don't lose courage. You've already escaped the gravest danger: selection.
So now, muster your strength and don't lose heart. We shall all see the day of Auschwitz's liberation. Have faith in life. Above all else, have faith. Drive out despair, and you will keep death away from yourselves.
Hell is not for eternity. And now, a prayer or rather, a piece of advice: let there be comradeship among you. We are all brothers, and we are all suffering the same fate. The same smoke floats over all our heads. Help one another. It is the only way to survive».
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Sociologist Anna Pawelczyhska (Nr. 44764), a Pole, lists the following forms of self-help.
Among others, the concealment of the weakest in the middle of a row of prisoners (the ends of every row were very exposed to beatings), taking the place of the weakest in work, giving them the warmest clothes and sharing their food.
Also releasing tension in dangerous situations using humor, telling stories, singing, and laughing. Helping in making plans for the future so they get motivated to stay alive, and finding the most varied subjects or games to distract the attention from the present.
Sorting of women-child to the left and men to the right
Every proof of loyalty and sympathy, every hour of a shared life of the imagination (personal as well as historical), every moment of laughter, every joke was part of the arsenal of collective defense and thus an element of the resistance movement.
Very weak patients learned how they had to behave while selections were being conducted. They were taught how they had to respond to the questions that they were asked by the SS doctor and how to create the impression that they were strong and able to work.
Kazimierz Wrona (Nr. 20687), relates how, during an illness, he was able to overcome the crisis with the assistance of his colleagues, and without having to enter the hospital:
«On the way to work, as we went through the gates to the camp, where the SS men always counted the groups of five, my colleagues would brace me behind the shoulders, as was the case when we returned.
I had such a high fever that I did not have the strength to walk alone. At work, I was immediately led down into the pit, where a machine for carrying earth was being repaired by our work detail.»
Despite the opinion of many prisoners that was the "vestibule to crematorium", the HKB was also a place where self-help activity was highly-developed.
Men wait for the selection
The prisoners employed there, doctors, and nurses, as well as administrative personnel, made superhuman efforts to decrease the death rate among the ill. They strived to surround the patients with security and to create an atmosphere of comradeship and warmth.
A significant amount of food and medicine also reached the prisoners from outside the camp. Poles, the local population, charities, and the underground supplied them through secret channels.
Solidarity campaigns played a central role in the self-help effort. Such campaigns could take various forms. One campaign, for example, was based on the principle of providing food for those prisoners who had no possibility of receiving food beyond the rations at the camp.
Another example was the cigarette collection conducted by French prisoners for Christmas 1944. The collected cigarettes a total of 4,000 were distributed to ill prisoners and women. Note that cigarettes were very valuable and they could be easily exchanged with food and other necessary goods.
Nina Gusiewa (Nr- 65781), a member of the conspiracy among Russian prisoners at KL Birkenau, wrote about her experiences during her employment at the children's barracks in spring 1944.
On the way to the gas chambers IV / V
Around 200 Russian, Belorussian, Ukrainian, Polish, and Jewish children lived there under horrible conditions. The women prisoners who worked there, after explaining the conditions, turned to the prisoner community with an appeal for assistance to the children.
Gushieva later described what happened: «The men quickly responded to our appeal. The prisoners brought food, clothing, and shoes to our camp and sent bread, sugar, medicine, and underwear to the children.
The doctors Olga Nikiticma Klimienko, Lubov Alpatova, a Polish woman named Marysia, and Zoya Taralina, a student in her second year at the Rostov medical institute, visited the children every day, observed them, gave instructions about how we should care for them, and prescribed medicine.
We also turned to our female comrades for assistance, who, ignoring the fact that they were hungry and emaciated themselves, would share their last crumb of bread with the children.
Selection on the unloading ramp
Female prisoners who worked in the agricultural brigade brought us carrots, beets, potatoes, and other vegetables, which we secretly prepared in our barracks.
The women who received packages from their families helped us greatly. They were women, no-longer young, from Barrack 7: Maria Juryfiska from Warsaw, Jadwiga, Wanda, Zosia, and others. They sacrificed a significant portion of their packages for the children.
I will always remember the good eyes of the loving Mrs. Maria from Warsaw, who knew nothing about the fate of her three children because they had all been arrested before her. The Czechs, Yugoslavs, and French also helped the children. Women of all nationalities shared their scant rations with them».
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Maksymilian Kolbe / Others
A great example of a person who God was living within is Maksymilian Kolbe (Nr. 16670). He offered his life voluntarily, spending nearly 2 weeks of starvation in the basement of the Death Block (Block 11), and finally, he executed with a phenol injection, in order to take the place of a family man.
Before that, Maksymilian Kolbe would share his ration of camp food with others, often with people whom he did not even know.
We can say that God changed the heart of Jan Mosdorf (Nr. 8230) who used to have a pre-war antisemitic character. Mosdorf gave considerable assistance, saving the lives of many Jews.
Also, we can refer to Dr. Adelajda Hautval (Nr. 31802), who refused to work with the SS doctors in their experiments making an offensive statement against the Nazi doctors.
The German prisoner Otto Küsel (Nr. 2), who held the top office in the so-called Arbeitsdienst during the years 1940-42, one of the most important offices a prisoner could hold. Küsel answered to an SS man from the employment office, but, in most cases, made decisions regarding the employment himself.
Although he was a criminal prisoner, chosen by the camp authorities for the realization of their criminal goals, Küsel turned out to be a decent individual. Whenever he had the time and opportunity, he would help other prisoners, including those who were extremely emaciated, so-called 'Muslims'.
Zyklon B canister used in extermination
Pole Ryszard Dacko (Nr. 4044) said about Otto Küsel: «If he was not able to solve a problem, he would swear helplessly like a sailor.»
Let's not forget the SS man Viktor Pestek from Romania, who accompanied the Jew Siegfried Lederer (dressed as SS), to Prague by train, successfully escaping Auschwitz. Pestek was captured when he returned back to Auschwitz in order to organize another escape and executed on October 8th, 1944.
Finally, God was living in the heart of every single man and woman in Auschwitz, who did the minimum possible in order to save a life or make it a little better, despite the fact that he or she was living in the Hell of Auschwitz.
Most of the Jehovah's witnesses entered Auschwitz because they denied serving the Nazi killing machine for the reason their faith was not allowing them to go to the war.
It was the only category of Auschwitz prisoners who could simply sign a declaration renouncing their faith and regain their freedom. But most did not. Many of them believed that Auschwitz was a test to their Faith.
A survivor said: «I had read the story of Abraham in the Bible. He was told to sacrifice his son. And the Bible says he was ready to do it. But then our Creator, Jehovah, did not allow it. He just wanted to test his faith. That's what I was thinking».
Nazis used them to serve their homes and families because they knew they are people who they can trust and that they will be serving them without causing any issues.
Es watched the execution of two of Jehovah's Witnesses and he was speechless when he saw them raise their hands to the sky and calmly awaited their fate. He thought that the first Christian Witnesses must have walked in a similar way to their death.
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In the moments of despair throughout the history of mankind, humans used to turn back to God. Those were the moments that united the people of different nationalities against a common enemy and given them the opportunity to help their closest and win internal life.
We have seen in Auschwitz, people out of different nationalities to become one hand against the ultimate evil. Trying to achieve international solidarity in the struggle against Nazism and offer their help and services, risking their own lives to save the victims and the weakest.
God was living in all those people and through self-help, they were trying to motivate the prisoners to not give up and keep their strength in order to survive the temporary hell of Auschwitz.
We have seen the acts of Evil and the acts of people motivated by God. People kept praying in Auschwitz all together despite their religion. Many people never lost their hope and faith, praying until the last moment in the gas chambers. Who knows, maybe that prayer saved them.
Unloading railway platform Birkenau 1944
God gave everyone the freedom to choose whether to do good or evil. In many cases, prisoners and kapos in the fight for survival brutalized other prisoners, stepped on dead bodies, and treated others like animals. Some others refused to do so and persisted.
The little stories of the good people who acted in Auschwitz show the existence of God. Even in Hell on earth, these people chose to make good and help their nearby, just like the story of the «Good Samaritan» in the Bible.
Finally, let's hope this will never happen again in the history of mankind. It was not God who created Auschwitz and He has nothing to do with it, neither with any other crimes conducted by humans every day around the world.
Last but not least we should mention that the residents of the towns and villages through which the evacuation route of Auschwitz prisoners ran during the death march, offered great assistance to the prisoners with the danger of their own life.
A testimonial exists by Jan Wygas for a woman in Gliwice who offered water to a prisoner telling the SS man: «Let them drink, they are people after all». She got shot on the back of her head while she was leaving.
Many testimonials exist about people who kept escapes from the death march on their homes, with the risk of their own lives and families, feeding them, giving them a room to stay, and providing to them every possible assistance. After all, this is what God asked us to do.
God is Love and he will be always waiting for us to regret our sins in order to take us close to him at the end. What if the Holocaust is related to the crucifixion of Jesus?
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