Son of SS officer shares platform with son of Holocaust survivor
An unnatural quiet settled over the crowded room. No buzz of private conversations preceded the night’s program – just a sense of expectation to hear the stories of these two sons of the Holocaust. A legacy of hatred could have made them enemies, yet they stood side by side on the platform, united by their love for the Jewish people and by their love for the Jewish Messiah, Jesus.
The venues were Jesus Haus (in Düsseldorf) on January 26 and the Lighthouse (in Essen) on January 27. The occasion? Juden für Jesus (the German branch of Jews for Jesus ) was commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day. Some 250 people attended each night, including several Jewish seekers that I know of. Our featured speakers, the “Two Sons of the Holocaust” were Werner Oder, a pastor and evangelist, and Barry B., a missionary from Jews for Jesus London.
Werner Oder spoke first. He told how his father had personally trained many members of Hitler’s death squads, the Einsatszgruppen. He spoke of the climate of hate that characterized his childhood in post-war Linz, the hometown of Hitler and Eichmann. And he described how the knowledge of his father’s crimes had tormented him, psychologically and spiritually, for years. But then Werner spoke of something else: the freedom he found in the forgiveness of the Savior. Finally, he spoke of how the Lord gave him a love for the people he’d been raised to hate – the people of Israel.
Barry B. related his own journey as the son of a woman who had escaped death thanks to the Kindertransports that took thousands of Jewish children out of Nazi Germany. He too, spoke of the hatred he once held for anyone he considered an enemy of his people, including Nazis who had committed so much violence against us “in the name of Christ.” But Barry’s hatred died when he encountered Yeshua and experienced His love and forgiveness. Now he could speak of the love that Jesus has given him for others, even for his enemies.
Each had learned to hate from an early age, and would once have regarded one another as enemies. But at the end of the evening, the two men embraced. Reconciled. But only because of Yeshua.
The event was a great time for German and Jewish believers in Jesus to praise God together for the reconciliation only He can bring. Praise God, one German woman who came on the first night prayed to receive Jesus … and we hope you’ll join us in praying that the gospel seeds that were sown in other hearts that night will bear the fruit as well (See photos of the event below.).
There is much talk about reconciliation between Christians and Jews. And there’s a great need for reconciliation, especially as anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise throughout Europe and the world. But true reconciliation goes much further than ceasing open hostility, further even than building bridges of friendship. True reconciliation, true peace, can only come through Jesus. Why? Because He is our peace. Only He can reconcile us to the Father – and to one another, by making us one family in Him. We’re grateful to you for helping us tell about His power to reconcile, here in Germany and all over the world.
Read Avi Snyder’s thought provoking article about what the Holocaust proves.
Find out more about Avi Snyder.
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Avi Snyder is a veteran missionary and director of the European work of Jews for Jesus. He pioneered Jews for Jesus’ ministry in the former Soviet Union, before launching works in both Germany and Hungary. He will share with you what is happening in Jewish evangelism in Russia and Eastern Europe. Avi received his theological training at Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Ruth, have three grown children, Leah, Joel and Liz.