Tag Archives: Auschwitz


BLOG 310 July 11, 2016

A poignant example of one of the vast difference in values between the East and West emerged this past week. On one hand, an article appeared in the New York Times, July 3, 2016, describing how ISIS planned violence and killing. With recent terrorist incidences in Paris, Canada, Bangladesh, Turkey, etc., we need to be aware. In contrast, the world mourned the passing of Elie Wiesel, one of the towering figures of the 20th century and a survivor of the Holocaust who passed away at the age of 88. The difference between Elie Wiesel and ISIS is a contrast in life and death.

A Romanian-born American Jewish writer, professor, political activist, and Nobel Laureate, Wiesel was the author of 57 books, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. Wiesel was a professor of humanities at Boston University, and helped establish the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. He campaigned for victims of oppression in places like South Africa and Nicaragua and genocide in Sudan. He publicly condemned the 1915 Armenian genocide and remained a strong defender of human rights. He will always be remembered as person who stood for the sacredness of life and that all living persons of every race are to be valued.

I met Elie Wiesel a number of years ago in Oklahoma City when my friend Rabbi David Packman brought him to the city. A tall, thin man, I remember he had large hands and long fingers. In a quiet voice, he described the importance of human dignity. On several other occasions, we talked by phone about issues that affected people in the Middle East.

Elie Wiesel valued all humanity. ISIS values none.

The New York Times article described the radical Islamist agenda for taking life. ISIS has advised its operatives to kill “anyone and everyone” particularly in countries that oppose their operations in Syria and Iraq, women and children included. They single out religious groups. Suicide bombers are sent into Shiite mosques. Converts to Christianity are their favorite targets. In both Syria and Iraq, they have carried out a campaign of wholesale slaughter conducted in front of cameras.

Many in the Muslim community are quick to point out that the ISIS radicals violate the true principals of Islam and are heretical. However, ISIS justifies every act by verses in the Koran. The situation continues to be a violation of all human rights.

Can anyone escape a comparison of what Elie Wiesel barely survived in Auschwitz and Buchenwald? The radical Muslim terrorists are the 21st century’s version of Nazi intentions. As I prepared this blog, the media blasted the week’s stories of police killings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and Dallas, Texas. When will we ever learn Elie Wiesel’s lesson about the value of all humanity?

The world can not write ISIS off as only a military presence. They are the epitome of evil in our time. Elie Wiesel exposed the meaning of these extremists. In contrast, we must continue to toast and salute “the L’ chaim,” to life, and not allow its precious value to be diminished!

                                 AN ADDITIONAL NEW BLOG STARTS JULY 18!


Each week Robert Wise talks with, interviews, and follows everyday people who have encountered miraculous interventions in their lives. Their amazing stories are described and explored to understand how these encounters occurred. No one theological view or          denominational perspective is involved.


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BLOG 237 January 27, 2015

Across the world, Jews and Gentiles paused on Tuesday to observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 70th year date of the liberation of Auschwitz. I have been to both Dachau Concentration Camp and Auschwitz. I know well what these death camps were like.

My visit to Auschwitz came in January. When I stood out on the assembly ground in the freezing weather, I wondered how anyone could have survived these conditions. The Jews who stood there for hours and went to the gas chambers had committed no crime. They had done nothing wrong – they were just Jews.

My books The Pastors Barracks and the Bitter Road to Dachau chronicles the story of Christian Reiger, a Reformed Christian German Pastor, who was sentenced to Dachau for nothing more than speaking out against The Third Reich and the Nazis. From my time spent listening to Christian, I leaned a first hand story of his five year struggle to survive. More than one third of all Polish Roman Catholic priests died in Dachau. By the time he was released, Christian had lost 100 pounds.

Another story comes from Israel. Marta Wise was a 10-year-old Slovakian Jew in Auschwitz when she heard the sound of soldiers marching toward the death camp. Marta assumed they were Germans, but soon saw the red stars on their uniforms that said they were Russians. Only by their intervention was she saved. Marta has a black and white photo taken by the Russians showing her standing with a group of children in their rags behind a barbed wire fence. By the time the picture was taken Marta weighted only 37 pounds.

Marta and her sister Eva survived but they still cannot understand how they did so. Today at age 80, she lives in Jerusalem. The number A-2702 remains tattooed on her arm.

Survivors Max and Rose Schindler, 85-years-old, took an hour and a half bus trip from Krakow to Auschwitz. They said Kaddish and prayed for their murdered loved one who died in the camp. While praying, some survivor cried out, “I don’t want to come here anymore!”

Rose had come for one final visit to remember her parents and four siblings who died there. She remembered that among those who died were gypsies, homosexuals, and others who were caught under the heel of the Nazi boot. Rose reflected that the only ones who could tell the entire story of Auschwitz were silenced by the crematoria. So, she must do her best to relate the story that only a survivor can.

I will never forget walking through the grass in a field behind the crematorium. I looked down and thought the ground seemed strange. When I kicked the grass aside, I realized I was standing on white ash.

Let us remember so that the world will never forget that it may never happen again.

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