* Lew’s review of BYSTANDERS – Conscience and Complicity During the Holocaust

Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 6, 2013




Bystanders - cover

BYSTANDERS – Conscience and Complicity During the Holocaust … by Victoria Barnett


This is probably the most thought-provoking book I have yet read in my research for my new novel. By examining the motivation and behavior of bystanders, and including the Catholic and Protestant churches as bystanders, Barnett clearly demonstrates how and why these bystanders were not neutral observers, but were instead complicit in furthering the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis. I will return to this book many times as I write scenes for my German and Polish characters related to these issues.

a few quotes (among so many that could be chosen) …

… The Christian community not only failed to stop the Holocaust … to a horrifying degree it had passively watched and even participated … it had consistently emphasized obedience to the Nazi state, not resistance on behalf of of its victims

… Elie Wiesel: If Christianity hadn’t taught anti-Semitism and hatred of the Jews, the Holocaust would not have happened

… For the victims, indifference and silence of bystanders had the same consequences has the active hatred of perpetrators

… many people thought that even if Jews shouldn’t be killed, they weren’t worth saving

… Christian teachings predisposed Germans to view Jewish suffering with indifference

… In 1941, the International Committee of the Red Cross began to receive reports that Nazi concentration camps were in fact killing factories for hundreds of thousands of European Jews … Red Cross leaders decided that the importance of their organization’s humanitarian role outweighed any possible benefits of taking a public position against Nazi authorities

… The churches supported state policies and carried out state orders … Such cooperation with the Nazi regime encouraged complicity and blocked effective resistance … no opposing voices were heard

… By not protesting Nazi measures against Jews and by allowing church records to be used as proof of racial purity the churches tacitly authorized state violence against the Jews … laying the foundation for death lists and gas chambers to follow






4 novels + author


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