“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” declares Tolstoy in War and Peace. The truth – and consequence – of that statement has revealed itself time and time again throughout the travesties in mankind’s history.
Sadly, it was true of an entire church in Nazi Germany.
In his book Hitler’s Cross, Erwin Lutzer makes a powerful point about buckling to fear by recounting an event in the life of Penny Lea, a pro-life spokesperson. She had just challenged a group of listeners to take action when an elderly man approached her with his own regrettable story of a time when he had failed to do so.
I lived in Germany during the Nazi Holocaust. I considered myself a Christian. We heard stories of what was happening to the Jews, but we tried to distance ourselves from it, because, what could anyone do to stop it?
A railroad track ran behind our small church and each Sunday morning we could hear the whistle in the distance and then the wheels coming over the tracks. We became disturbed when we heard the cries coming from the train as it passed by. We realized that it was carrying Jews like cattle in the cars!
Week after week the whistle would blow. We dreaded to hear the sound of those wheels because we knew that we would hear the cries of the Jews en route to a death camp. Their screams tormented us.
We knew the time the train was coming and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church we were singing at the top of our voices. If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly and soon we heard them no more.
Years have passed and no one talks about it anymore. But I still hear that train whistle in my sleep. God forgive me; forgive all of us who called ourselves Christians yet did nothing to intervene.
The lesson is crystal clear from Scripture: “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins,” writes James (4:17).
Hitler’s Cross by Erwin W. Lutzer. Moody Publishers, 1998, Page 100.
Topics Illustrated Include:
Taking a Stand
World War II
(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)