The New York Times featured a stunning, gut-wrenching report over the weekend that highlights new research detailing the scope of the holocaust. The bottom line: the breadth of misery was far worse than scholars originally believed.
The article notes the scope of the atrocity:
The researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945.
The figure is so staggering that even fellow Holocaust scholars had to make sure they had heard it correctly when the lead researchers previewed their findings at an academic forum in late January at the German Historical Institute in Washington.
“The numbers are so much higher than what we originally thought,” Hartmut Berghoff, director of the institute, said in an interview after learning of the new data.
“We knew before how horrible life in the camps and ghettos was,” he said, “but the numbers are unbelievable.”
The documented camps include not only “killing centers” but also thousands of forced labor camps, where prisoners manufactured war supplies; prisoner-of-war camps; sites euphemistically named “care” centers, where pregnant women were forced to have abortions or their babies were killed after birth; and brothels, where women were coerced into having sex with German military personnel.
Let’s put it this way: if every Southern Baptist church were instead a Nazi ghetto or camp, it would barely match the total that actually existed during the third reich.
A problem with evil is it’s difficult to account for its scale. With the holocaust, for example, what was already widely-regarded as one of the worst human rights atrocities in history is now seen to be on an even greater scale than previously imagined. It’s like an inverse of the majesty of the grand canyon–a chasm so great that it is hard for the untrained eye to perceive its scale accurately.
If scale is a problem with the human forces of evil, it is much more so with the spiritual forces of evil. To put it simply: the scope of Satan’s dark enemy is even greater than we realize.
So, what does this mean for us as believers? If our spiritual enemies are greater than we thought, it means that our Savior King is a greater conqueror than we thought.
The expanded scope of the Holocaust has shocked experts. But recognizing how great the evil was from these human forces of darkness sheds light on how significant the victory over them actually was.
How much more so with the gospel: understanding the magnitude of the kingdom of darkness helps us to appreciate the superior magnitude of the kingdom of light. Our spiritual enemies are great; but that shows that our conquering king is even greater!