Martin M. van Brauman


The martyr dies to give us, the Remnant, an atoned future, a new day, wonderful like every morning in which God renews His creation.[1]  Franz Rosenzweig considered Jewish history as the history of the Remnant of Israel:

From Israel to the Messiah, from the people that stood on Sinai to the day when the Temple in Jerusalem ‘shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,’ [Isaiah 56:7] a concept can be traced that originated with the prophets and has been governing our inner history ever since: the concept of the remnant. The remnant of Israel, of those who remained faithful, of the true people within the people, guarantees at every moment that there is a bridge between the two poles.  Though in all other instances Jewish consciousness may fluctuate wildly between the two poles of life established in the first inner turning of the pagan man into man open to and resolved upon revelation, the pole of the inner-most experience of divine love and that of a devoted activation of love in holy living, the idea of the remnant represents both together: acceptance of the ‘yoke of the commandments’ and acceptance of the ‘yoke of the kingdom of God.’[2]

The Holocaust may have driven the Jews to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, but only God has the power to keep them there.  Neither the secular nor the religious Jew would have found a home in Israel were it not for God’s purpose.

 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan,  . . . the Lord  said to Abram . . , “Raise now your eyes look out from where you are: northward, southward, eastward and westward. For all the land that you see, to you will I give it, and to your descendants forever.  I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth so that if one can count the dust of the earth, then your offspring, too, can be counted.  Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth!  For to you will I give it.” Genesis 13:12-15.

 Although the Jews did not always possess the Land during the centuries of exile, the nationhood of Israel and the Land of Israel have always been destined under God’s Promise.[3]  As it is impossible to “count the dust of the earth,” it is impossible to count the total Jewish population from all of the generations of the eternal nation that has and will flourish throughout history.[4]  As “the dust” outlives all who tread upon it, so God promised Abraham that his offspring would outlive all the nations that would persecute the Jewish people.[5]

 Thus said the Lord, Who gives the sun as a light by day and the laws of the moon and the stars as a light by night; Who agitates the sea so that its waves roar; the Lord, Master of Legions, is His Name: If these laws could be removed from before Me – the word of the Lord – so could the seed of Israel cease from being a people before Me forever.  Thus, said the Lord: If the heavens above could be measured or the foundations of the earth plumbed below, so too would I reject the entire seed of Israel because of everything they did – the word of the Lord. Jeremiah 31:34-36.

God did not cause the Holocaust, but man’s free will.  The Holocaust relied entirely on human savagery.[6]  Evil is grounded in the freedom that God has given man to choose between good and evil, “free will.”[7]  Evil is a human choice, not a divine choice.[8]  Man is born to sin and sin will bring Divine punishment.  The commandment that You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your possessions is not possible without “free will,” otherwise, man would not have the choice to love God or not. Love does not exist without that freedom and God created man with free will, because He wants our true love.

Just as Cain killed Abel, the evil of man devoid of God is more than enough to invite Satan to rule in the world.  The design of man’s heart is evil from his youth.[9] God knows the actions of men before they are born and the prophecies from the Word of God also foretell the future actions of the evil that men will do, not God.

The question is not where was God during the Holocaust, but where was humanity?  Richard Rubenstein wrote that “the Holocaust bears witness to the advance of civilization.”[10]  The Holocaust was “a state-sponsored program of population elimination made possible by modern technology, political organization, and highly educated intelligence.”[11]  The Holocaust occurred by “one of the most scientifically advanced, technologically competent, philosophically sophisticated, and even theologically steeped cultures of all human history.”[12]

The Nazis used the new IBM Hollerith machines, the computer of the 1930s and 40s, to identify, isolate, target and destroy the Jewish people and its culture off the face of the earth.[13]  After the Nuremberg racial laws were passed in 1935, the Nazi government requested the churches to prepare demographic data for the Hollerith machines to identify those who were and were not Christian and who had converted from Judaism.[14]  The cooperation of the churches implicated them in Nazi segregation, persecution and destruction of the Jewish people.[15]  The Hollerith machines were “an advance in civilization.” Where was humanity and where is it now?

When God asked Cain, “Where is your brother?” in Genesis 4:9, God was asking Cain, “Where is your soul?”[16]  When God asked Cain, “What have you done?” in Genesis 4:10, God was asking Cain, “What have you made of your soul?”[17]  Cain set out to kill God by killing his brother and in killing Abel killed his substance and identity, his soul, and evil is unmasked and it is ego.[18]

There is an eternal struggle by Amalek, the consummate evil.[19]  Amalek’s enmity against Israel is based upon its legacy as the grandson of Esau and from what the Amalek’s nation represents.[20]

Now Esau harbored hatred toward Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him; and Esau thought, “May the days of mourning for my father draw near, then I will kill my brother Jacob. Genesis 27:41.  Edom’s . . . anger tore perpetually and he kept his wrath forever. Amos 1:11.

The prophet Balaam considered Amalek as the first among nations in Numbers 24:20, in which Amalek is the leading force of evil in the world and the struggle of Israel and Amelek is the eternal struggle of good versus evil.[21]  The only reason for Amalek’s cowardly and unprovoked attacks on the nation of Israel, traveling out of Egypt during the Exodus, is to “show its brazen denial of God and His power, which is a perpetuation of the ancient legacy of Esau’s hatred for Jacob.”[22]

The Amalekites were the Nazis who wish to obliterate every trace of morality from the world and now are the Islamic suicide bombers who target innocent civilians in cowardly and unprovoked attacks.  For God maintains a war against Amalek from generation to generation until the eternal swords of the enemy [Amalek] have come to an end, the name and memory of Amalek is completely eradicated by God’s wrath and God’s Judgment Throne is complete.[23]  For Balaam declared in his prophecies, Amalek is the first among nations, but its end will be eternal destruction. Numbers 24:20. I shall surely erase the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Exodus 17:14.

As Rabbi Irving Greenberg said that it one thing to kill Jews, but it is something else to cut in half the gas supply per chamber in 1944 to bring down the cost to less than one-half cent per person to gas Jews while taking twice as long to kill in agony and then to save that one-half cent, they threw Jewish children alive into the crematorium.[24]  Such decisions go beyond murder to deny the image of God and testify to life’s worthlessness.[25]

How would the world have judged the Jewish people, if the survivors of the Holocaust had gone the path of complete assimilation with Jewish life ending after Auschwitz?[26]  The assimilation would be a turning away from God and Judaism.[27]  The Jewish faith in God at that moment in history did not end, but at that moment in history Isaac was indeed sacrificed and his blood shed by the hand of man.[28]  In 1944, traveling in a cattle car from a Czechoslovakian Jewish community to Auschwitz, a daughter asked her Papa, where are they taking us and Papa said to his family:

My children, once there was an altar on Mount Moriah in the holy city of Jerusalem.  God commanded a father to take his only, beloved son and sacrifice him upon that altar, in order to test his faith in God.  As the father was about to fulfill God’s command and lifted the knife, the Lord God spoke to Abraham and said, ‘Lay not thy hand upon the lad.’

Today, my children, there is another huge altar, not on a sacred mountain but in a profane valley of death. There, man is testing his own inhumanity toward his fellow man.  The children of Abraham are again a burnt offering, this time by the command of men.  But man, unlike God, will not stop the knife. To the contrary, he will sharpen it and fan the altar flames so that they may totally consume their sacrifice.  A man-made fire, a knife held by man, must be stopped by man, by a human voice, a human hand.  My children, be human in this inhuman valley of death.  May the merit of our Father Abraham protect you, for whoever saves one Jewish soul, it is as if he saves an entire universe.

On the eve of the holiday of Shavuot, Ida and her family arrived in Auschwitz.  The skies above Auschwitz were red.  Ida’s father spoke as if to himself: ‘On this day, millenniums ago, God came down to man in fire and smoke and gave his commandments.  Today, man is commanding in fire and smoke, Thou shalt kill!’[29]


Abraham Heschel said that we all died in Auschwitz, yet our faith survived; otherwise, repudiation of God would have continued the holocaust.[30] I have placed life and death before you . . . and you shall choose life, so that you will live, you and your offspring – to love the Lord, your God. Deuteronomy 30:19-20. To choose life, means “we understand death to be part of the process of sanctifying life through words and deeds of loving kindness” and death is “a moment in the life of the nefesh [soul]” that “abides beyond death.”[31]  Heschel’s theology, rooted in biblical vision and 2,000 years of rabbinical wisdom, emphasized that “[t]he central thought of Judaism is the living God” and the “craving for God has never subsided in the Jewish soul.”[32]

During the Holocaust, Jews were killed for the simple reason that they were born Jewish.  After Auschwitz, there are only religious reasons to remain or claim to be a Jew and raise one’s children as Jews.[33]  Without God and the Torah at the center of a Jew’s identity and as the basis of his values, being a Jew still is not just another ethnic identity but an identity that brings anti-Semitic violence from the most evil people and the most evil religions and governments in each generation.[34]

Elie Wiesel has commented that “there are Christians who like Jews only on the cross.”[35]  The demonic hatred of the Jews and their suffering can only have a theological explanation that as the chosen people of God they are the sign of the Suffering Servant, of the Jesus Christ who endured the hatred of all men and the wrath of God for all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men for all men both Jews and Gentiles.[36] He was persecuted and afflicted, but he did not open his mouth; like a sheep being led to the slaughter or a ewe that is silent before her shearers, he did not open his mouth. Isaiah 53:7.

John Cornwell, a well-known author on Catholic and Vatican affairs, wrote that during the Holocaust, the isolation of the Jews parallels with Jesus alone in Gethsemane, Jesus alone on Golgotha.[37]  Elie Wiesel wrote “alone with no allies, no friends, totally, desperately alone . . . The world knew and kept silent . . . Mankind let them suffer and agonize and perish alone.  And yet, and yet they did not die alone, for something in all of us died with them.”[38]

 Instead of choosing to assimilate at all costs from anti-Semitism, Jewish people all over the world continue to renew and intensify their Jewish existence and to have and raise Jewish children.  Knowing of the fate to which this decision exposes them and aware of how little the world really cares, such an act can only come from faith and trust in God.  To be Jewish is to be part of a four-thousand year old community of memory that recognizes what we owe to those who have come before us.[39]  The recognition that one is Jewish unavoidably implies that one has obligations.[40]

Elie Wiesel has stated to be a Jew in the post-Holocaust world is to be a witness, for Jewish eyes have seen and Jewish ears have heard the awe-inspiring revelation at Sinai and the overwhelming anti-revelation at Auschwitz.[41]  The role of witness is not limited to the actual victims or actual survivors, but all Jews are victims and survivors.[42]  For under the tradition of the Passover Haggadah, in every generation each Jew must regard himself or herself as personally going forth out of Egypt.[43]

Christians have long preferred a spiritualized “Judaism” instead of having to deal with the Jewish people.[44]  The anti-Semitism of traditional Christian replacement theology fights against the legitimacy of an independent Jewish political existence in Israel as a Jewish state and resents the Jew no longer being subordinate to but rather a master of his fate.[45]

The rebirth and survival of the State of Israel is the assurance of the messianic fulfillment of history.  The survival of the Jewish people and of Judaism in spite of 2,000 years of persecutions and exterminations is the mystery of all ages.  Dr. Eliezer Berkovits stated in God, Man and History: A Jewish Interpretation that “Israel’s suffering is the measure of man’s failure to become a ‘partner’ with God in the task of human salvation.”[46]  Israel’s survival is by itself the proof that God’s purpose in history will not be defeated and the day of redemption and salvation is coming.

The mainline Christian churches lost their moral authority long ago by their apathy and indifference to Jewish suffering and their moral decline is reflected in their dwindling members. For these churches, the Holy Bible is read through the prism of church dogma and cannons.  If, after Auschwitz, Christians still cling to the continuing responsibility for the conversion of the Jews, then it is questionable whether they have learn anything from the events of history.[47]

These prophets prophesy falsehood in My Name! I did not send them nor command them nor speak to them. A false vision, divination, emptiness, and the deception of their heart are they prophesying to you. Jeremiah 14:14.

In Exodus 34:9, Moses’ request to God called his people a stiff-necked people, and You shall forgive our iniquity and error, and make us Your heritage for the time will pass when their stubbornness will attach to their faith in God.  Rabbi Yitzchak Nissenbaum, who died in the Warsaw ghetto, wrote of Moses’ words:

Almighty God, look upon this people with favour, because what is now their greatest vice will one day be their most heroic virtue.  They are indeed an obstinate people.  When they have everything to thank You for, they complain.  Mere weeks after hearing Your voice they make a Golden Calf.  But just as now they are stiff-necked in their disobedience, so one day they will be equally stiff-necked in their loyalty.  Nations will call on them to assimilate, but they will refuse.  Mightier religions will urge them to convert, but they will resist.  They will suffer humiliation, persecution, even torture and death because of the name they bear and the faith they profess, but they will stay true to the covenant their ancestors made with You.  They will go to their deaths saying Ani ma’amin, ‘I believe.’  This is a people awesome in its obstinacy – and though now it is their failing, there will be times far into the future when it will be their noblest strength.[48] 

The Holocaust was a direct refutation of much of the Enlightenment philosophy that has shaped Western society.[49]  The Enlightenment of the 19th century was a lie exposed by Auschwitz, which transformed the human being and the Divine image into the Nazi creation of the Muselmann.[50]  When the Auschwitz inmate discovered the corpse of his friend, “he saw the value of all humanity’s teachings, ethics and beliefs, from the dawn of mankind to this day     . . . He bent down, stretched out his hand and caressed the head of the Twentieth Century.”[51]  In the end, Franz Rosenzweig stated in The Star of Redemption that Western philosophical tradition can recommend only suicide after replacing God with Man.[52]

The roots of the Holocaust lay in the mainstream of liberal Western culture to create a person truly liberated from all physical, mental and cultural deficiencies, a universal ideal for all humanity with man replacing God.[53]  The Holocaust was aimed to free humankind from the shackles of a “God concept” and its attended notions of moral responsibility, redemption, sin and revelation and transfer theological ideas into anthropological and political concepts.[54]  Jean-Francois Lyotard stated that “the Jews were murdered in Auschwitz not because of their ‘race’ but because of their constant remainder to Western religious and political thought of its failure in the effort to deny human dependence on the Holy One.”[55]

European enlightenment was an assault on both the living God of Torah and the revealed Word of Torah and since 1948 the Jewish movement of return to the Holy Land because of Torah infuriates the enlightened modernist and enlightened postmodernist, who still attack the living God and the Word of Torah as it denies their egocentric theories and their freedom from a living God.[56] The universalism of the Age of Reason conflicts with the particularism of Judaism. Left-wing intellectuals and the liberal media hate Israel and what it represents – the existence of God.

Can one erase two thousand years of persecution endured under the shadow of the Christian cross?  Elie Wiesel answered No, one cannot; nor should one.[57]  Only if we forget nothing will we succeed in abolishing what divides Christians and Jews.[58] With discussions of the Holocaust, the Catholic Church and other traditional churches have only partly admitted to the sins of certain church leaders, but not of their church dogma itself.  There has been no such repentance or major change in anti-Semitic church dogma.  Otherwise, such actions would fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah in which “[t]he sons of your oppressors will go to you submissively, and all who scorned you will prostrate themselves at the soles of your feet.” Isaiah 60:14.

However, it has been the evangelical Christians, who have sought to fulfill that prophetic role by facing up to the Christian church’s history of anti-Semitism.  Evangelical Christians have sponsored in Israel aliya flights, helped to build hospitals, fed destitute families, supported Holocaust education and many other charitable causes and supported pro-Israel political issues without any religious conditions of conversion.  Though these acts of love and kindness can never restore the generations of Jews who were murdered in the name of Christianity, they can foster true friendship and begin to end the Christian silence against anti-Semitism for the first time in history.

Today, many evangelical Christians may say their denomination was never anti-Semitic and may even say that they support Israel, but how do they view the current People of the Book.  Although anti-Semitism may never be overt, it may be subtle.  Sadly, many evangelical churches still preach a modified form of replacement theology or dispensationalist theology, in which they claim that the world is now in the time of the Church and God has set aside the Jews.  If there is another Holocaust, then it is to be.  In the end times, God will offer the Jews another chance to accept Jesus for their salvation.

What makes them any different than the medieval pagan Church that persecuted Jewish communities over the last 2,000 years?  They see no purposes in Christian dialogue with the Jewish people, unless the Jews want to accept the Christian way of salvation.

From the foundation of Israel as a nation, God’s relationship to it was direct and personal, without an intermediary.  When it was time to seal His covenant with His people by freeing them from the land of their enslavement, God did not delegate the task to any other. Maharal.[commentary to Exodus 12:12].

Many Jews thought that the lessons of the Holocaust would finally destroy European anti-Semitism for all time.  How naïve is that belief.  Amalek is Durban I, II and III, it is the pious posturing of the NGOs which call self-defense war crimes for Israel; it is the biased media coverage of events concerning Israel and the Jews; and it is Iran and its proxies bent only on the destruction of Israel, the state and the people and Amalek is fostering into the world the politically correct Islamo-pandering climate.  The worldwide rise of Islam against Judaism and Christianity in every country represents the spirit of the Anti-Christ with its spewing forth of vile anti-Semitism.

Rabbi Greenberg said that only after the Holocaust can one understand the true message in the Book of Ruth, in which out of faithfulness comes hope, out of suffering comes redemption and out of love comes renewed life.[59]  The story of Ruth opened up the covenant and the Jewish people to others who share its values; for a marriage followed, a child was born who became the grandfather of King David and from such a line would come the Messiah.[60]

The day will come, when people will no longer swear by the God who took the children of Israel out of Egypt but when all people will take the oath by the God who brought the children of the house of Israel from all the lands to which God had banished the Jewish people and brought them back to dwell on their own Land. Jeremiah 23:7-8.

In furtherance of their missions, Jews and Christians must come together to support Israel and to stand united against all forms of theological, cultural and political anti-Semitism as disseminated by the world.  Anti-Semitism is an assault against God, as well as against the Jewish people.

Come let us go up to the Mountain of the Lord, to the Temple of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His Ways and we will walk in His paths. For from Zion will the Torah come forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:3.

Let not the foreigner, who has joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, “The Lord will utterly separate me from His people.”. . And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord to serve Him and to love the Name of the Lord to become servants unto Him, all who guard the Sabbath against desecration, and grasp My covenant tightly – I will bring them to My holy mountain, and I will gladden them in My house of prayer; their elevation-offerings and their feast-offerings will find favor on My Altar, for My House will be called a house of prayer for all the people.  The word of my Lord, the Lord/God, Who gathers in the dispersed of Israel: I shall gather to him even more than those already gathered to him. (Exiled Jews and many gentiles will rally to the Messiah). Isaiah 56:3-8.  

Out of the Holocaust, a Remnant returns to God as prophesized in Isaiah.[61]  As a Jew today one must ask, why did a catastrophe that devoured six million of our people not reach me and prevent me from even being born, a Remnant?[62]  A miracle allowed some of our family to survive in a catastrophe, which raged all over the world.[63]  In belonging to the Remnant, to those saved by the miracle, we must have God in our heart so we can return to Him.[64]


[1] Ignaz Maybaum, The Face of God After Auschwitz, (1st ed. 1965), p. 59.

[2] Nahum N. Glatzer, Franz Rosenzweig: His Life and Thought, (1st ed. 1953), pp. 360-361.

[3] The Chumash, Genesis 13:15 [commentary].

[4] Ibid., Genesis 13:16 [commentary].

[5] Ibid.

[6] Jocelyn Hellig, The Holocaust and Antisemitism, A Short History, (1st ed. 2003), p. 33.

[7] Yehuda Bauer, Rethinking the Holocaust, (1st ed. 2001), p. 187.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Genesis 8:12 (Rashi).

[10] James S. Pacy and Alan P. Wertheimer, Perspectives on the Holocaust: Essays in Honor of Raul Hilberg, (1st ed. 1995), p. 172.

[11] Ibid., p. 171.

[12] Ibid., p. 172.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid., p. 173.

[15] Ibid.

[16] David Patterson, Overcoming Alienation: A Kabbalistic Reflection on the Five Levels of the Soul, (1st ed. 2008), p. 38.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid., p. 138.

[19] Exodus 17:16.

[20] The Chumash, Exodus 17:8-15 [commentary].

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Exodus 17:14-16 (Rashi).

[24] Irving Greenberg, For the Sake of Heaven and Earth: The New Encounter between Judaism and Christianity, (1st ed. 2004), p. 169.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Abraham J. Heschel, Israel: An Echo of Eternity,(1st ed, 3rd Printing 1969), pp. 112-113.

[27] Ibid., p. 113.

[28] Ibid., p. 112.

[29] Yaffa Eliach, Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust, (1st ed. 1982), pp. 134-135.

[30] Heschel, Israel: An Echo of Eternity, p. 112.

[31] Patterson, Overcoming Alienation: A Kabbalistic Reflection on the Five Levels of the Soul, p. 76.

[32] Abraham J. Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism, (1st ed. 1955), pp. 25, 29.

[33] Judea Pearl and Ruth Pearl, I Am Jewish, Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl, (1st ed. 2004), p. 140.

[34] Ibid, p. 141.

[35] Elie Wiesel, A Jew Today, (1st ed. 1978), p. 16.

[36] Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin, Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism, (2nd ed. 2003), p. 34.

[37] John Cornwell, Hitler’s Pope, the Secret History of Pius XII, (Penguin ed. 2008), p. 294.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Judea and Ruth Pearl, p. 195.

[40] Ibid., p. 213.

[41] Michael Berenbaum, Elie Wiesel: God, the Holocaust, and the Children of Israel, (2nd ed. 1994), p. 141.

[42] Ibid., p. 143.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Franklin H. Littell, The Crucifixion of the Jews: the Failure of Christians to Understand the Jewish Experience, (1st ed. 1975), p. 77.

[45] Robert S. Wistrich, A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad, (1st ed. 2010), p. 502.

[46] Eliezer Berkovits, God, Man and History: A Jewish Interpretation, (1st ed. 1959), p. 156.

[47] Harry James Cargas, When God and Man Failed: Non-Jewish Views of the Holocaust, (1st ed. 1981), p. 155.

[48] Jonathan Sacks, Covent & Conversation: Exodus: The Book of Redemption, (1st ed. 2010), p. 254.

[49] Cargas, p. 168.

[50] Patterson, Overcoming Alienation: A Kabbalistic Reflection on the Five Levels of the Soul, pp. 134-135.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid., p. 136.

[53] Cargas, p. 169.

[54] Ibid., p. 170.

[55] David Patterson, A Genealogy of Evil: Anti-Semitism from Nazism to Islamic Jihad, (1st ed. 2011), p. 255.

[56] David Patterson, Emil L. Fackenheim: A Jewish Philosopher’s Response to the Holocaust, (1st ed. 2008), p. 53.

[57] Elie Wiesel, And the Sea Is Never Full: Memoirs, 1969 –, (1st ed. 1999), p. 175.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Greenberg, The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays, pp. 88-89.

[60] Ibid., p. 89.

[61] Maybaum, The Face of God After Auschwitz, p. 59.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Ibid.







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