German Bishops Say There Are Still Wounds to Heal

Declaration for 60th Anniversary of Liberation of Auschwitz

MAINZ, Germany, JAN. 27, 2005 ( The German bishops’ conference says the process of healing for the Nazi-era atrocities is still ongoing, 60 years after the liberation of the death camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau.

The episcopate issued a declaration remembering the victims of the Nazi genocide and warning about the emergence of new anti-Semitic tendencies.

“As no other place, Auschwitz represents the symbol of the annihilation of European Judaism,” the bishops write in the document issued Monday, to mark the anniversary of the Jan. 27, 1945, liberation of the camps by Soviet soldiers.

The prelates also recall the “hundreds of thousands of nomads and Gypsies,” all victims of the “mass murder under the sign of National Socialist racial madness” or of “pseudo-scientific experiments.”

The prelates further mention the many thousands of Red Army soldiers, forced to work in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps and then systematically murdered.
document “We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah” inspired the appropriateness of asking oneself “if the persecution of Nazism in regard to Jews was not facilitated by the anti-Jewish prejudices present in the minds and hearts of some Christians.”

The bishops also mention the Catholic Church’s admission of guilt before the world on March 12, 2000, pronounced by John Paul II.

“Let us pray that, in recalling the sufferings endured by the people of Israel in history, Christians will be able to recognize the sins committed by not a few of them against the People of the Covenant and of the Blessings, and so purify their hearts,” the German prelates exhort.

The prelates evoke, moreover, John Paul II’s gesture during his visit to the Holy Land in 2000, when he paused for a long time at the Yad Vashem memorial.

“This act of the Pope has become a source of renewal,” they write. “The Pope proceeds with determination in his efforts to improve relations with Judaism and encourages the whole Church to find common ways with our ‘elder brothers in the faith.'”

“Because of this, we thank all those who, often with great commitment, exert themselves for the dialogue between Judaism and Christianity,” they continue.

“The memory of Auschwitz makes us ask ourselves for how long Germany and Europe have learned from this catastrophe,” write the prelates, putting Germans on guard in regard to the anti-Semitic tendencies that continue to manifest themselves.

Expressing their gratitude for the fact that “in the last years many Jews have had the courage to come to Germany,” the prelates recognize that they still have “a long way of purification,” but are “guided by the hope that the encounter in faith will enrich all and will bring us to the common God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”