Several years ago I read an interesting little book by best-selling author, Andy Andrews. The title of the book was How Do You Kill 11 Million People? He is referring to the innocent people killed by the Nazis between 1936 and 1945. This represents the institutionalized killings of both Jews and non-Jews. It does not include the 5.2 million German civilians and military war dead.
How do 11 million people allow themselves to be killed with no resistance?
Andrews asks the question; “How do 11 million people allow themselves to be killed with no resistance?” He says “If a single terrorist begins to shoot automatic weapons in a movie theater containing three hundred people, the lone gunman couldn’t possibly kill all three hundred. Why? Because when the shooting started, most of the crowd would run. Or hide. Or fight . . .
So why, for month after month and year after year, did millions of intelligent human beings – guarded by a relatively few Nazi soldiers – willingly load their families into tens of thousands of cattle cars to be transported by rail to one of the many death camps scattered across Europe? How can a condemned group of people headed for a gas chamber be compelled to act in a docile manner?
According to testimony provided under oath by witnesses at the Nuremberg Trials, the act of transporting the Jews to death camps posed a particular challenge for the man who had been named operational manager of the Nazi genocide. Adolf Eichmann, known as “The Master,” was directed by written order in December 1941 to implement the Final Solution.
An intricate web of lies, to be delivered in stages, was designed to ensure the cooperation of the condemned (but unknowing) Jews. First, as barbed-wire fences were erected, encircling entire neighborhoods, Eichmann or his representatives met with Jewish leaders to assure them that the physical restrictions being placed upon their community (in what later became known as ghettos) were only temporary necessities of war. As long as they cooperated, he told them, no harm would come to those inside the fence.
Also, Eichmann would appear before a gathering of the entire ghetto. Accompanied by an entourage of no more than thirty local men and officers of his own – many unarmed – he addressed the crowd in a strong, clear voice. According to sworn statements, these were very likely his exact words:
“Jews: At last, it can be reported to you that the Russians are advancing on our eastern front. I apologize for the hasty way we brought you into our protection. Unfortunately, there was little time to explain. You have nothing to worry about. We want only the best for you. You will leave here shortly and be sent to very fine places indeed. You will work there, your wives will stay at home, and your children will go to school. You will have wonderful lives. We will all be terribly crowded on the trains, but the journey is short. Men? Please keep your families together and board the railcars in an orderly manner. Quickly now, my friends, we must hurry!”
The Jewish husbands and fathers were relieved by the explanation and comforted by the fact that there weren’t more armed soldiers. They helped their families into the railcars. The containers, designed to transport eight cows, were each packed with a minimum of one hundred human beings and quickly padlocked.
At that moment they were lost. The trains rarely stopped until well inside the gates of Auschwitz, Belzec, Trablinka or Sobibor . . .
Hitler was the master of deceit.
“How fortunate for leaders,” He said to his inner circle, “That men do not think. Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”
In Mein Kampf, Hitler’s autobiography, he wrote, “The great masses of the people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than a small one.” The book was widely read by the German people at the time.
The masses believed him anyway.
So how do you kill eleven million people? You deceive them. You persuade them to believe what is false.
I realize this is an extreme example, but the point I want to drive home is that the consequences can be devastating when we are deceived and in the process develop false beliefs. This should cause us all to step back and ask the question; “Do I have any important beliefs or ideas that might possibly be in error?”
The reason this is such an important question is because we are generally unaware of our false beliefs until we get burned by the belief.
In the work that I do, I see many men whose lives turn out badly because of their false ideas about reality. Think about these issues:
- What is true success in life?
- What is true masculinity?
- What will lead to my ultimate happiness?
So many of us have definite answers to these questions, but learn over time we are dead wrong, and consequently pay a painful price in the process.
This was a truth that had eluded him all of his life
I think the most important area of life that we get wrong is in our spiritual lives. Jesus used the word “Beware” quite often. He almost always used that word to warn people of false teachings. In other words, Jesus saw one of the greatest dangers we face, is having false ideas about spiritual reality.
I have a friend, a local physician, who will tell you that his life was radically turned around spiritually when he heard these words spoken of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, Mathew 7:21-23:
Not everyone who calls me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the kingdom of heaven . . . Many will say to me on the judgement day: “Lord, Lord, did we not preach in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many great works in your name? . . . Then I shall tell them plainly, I never knew you, depart from me . . .
My friend said that when he heard those words, “I never knew you,” he recognized Christ was talking about him. He was, he acknowledged, “a good church-going man who believed in Jesus but did not know Him.”
This man will tell you today that he lived for many years with false beliefs about Christianity and being a Christian. He had attended church faithfully all of his life and had always believed that the Christian faith was nothing more than living a good life in hopes of winning God’s favor and gaining entrance into heaven.
He learned that true Christianity begins with the forgiveness of our sins which enables us to enter into a life-changing relationship with Christ. This was a truth that had eluded him all of his life.