Statement from The Right Revd Damien Mead, Bishop Ordinary of the ACC Diocese of the United Kingdom:

We are presently looking back at the time when the suffering of millions was revealed to the World and ended as the Nazi Concentration Camps were dissolved by the American, Soviet and British forces. The Soviet troops had already liberated the Majdanak Camp in June 1944, but we also remember this year the liberation of Auschwitz on 27th January 1945, again, by the Soviet forces, of Buchanwald by the United States forces on 11th April 1945, and of Bergen-Belsen by British forces on 15th April 1945.

With the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, perhaps the most notorious of the camps, we are confronted with the dark face of Evil. Anyone who has been to Auschwitz in recent years will be very aware of the heavy atmosphere in a place where so many lost their lives so horribly for no other reason than being unacceptable to the Nazi Government by race or by some aspect of their personality. It is an evil which was confronted and ended by the armies through the grace of God.

Lest we forget, the British had set up their own concentration camps during the Boer War at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Though they were not operating a systematic slaughter as the Nazi camps did, these camps were deliberately designed to be inhospitable for the well-being of innocent women and children.

Recently I had the opportunity to listen to the actor George Takei, best known for playing Lieutenant Sulu in the TV series Star Trek, recount of his family’s experiences in an ‘enemy alien’ camp in the United States for Japanese Americans at the point the USA entered the Second World War in 1941. Although not extermination camps or even the camps in South Africa, nevertheless to his family and many thousands of ordinary American citizens they were life changing. He spoke with passion at the remembrance of those experiences.

All nations have aspects of history in which they are very clearly not on the side of good, aspects of which we collectively must bear in shame and aspects that we must examine in our consciences to ensure that never happen again. Of course, during war time and at other extreme moments in history, decisions are made, and action taken which in times of peace are perhaps unthinkable. But urgency and extreme circumstances should not mean we don’t examine and learn the lessons they teach ? in the case of the Nazi holocaust those lessons are a stain upon humanity. St Paul reminds us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Sometimes this fall is so far enough to be mind-boggling.

The example of Concentration Camps shows us that none of us is far away from an evil that we do not immediately recognise. It is easy for us to look down upon those who voted Adolph Hitler to power in 1933 and, yet, none of us know how the choices and votes we make may let evil into the lives of innocent people. I am reminded of St Peters warning “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1 Peter 5:8)

We must remain vigilant!

The fact of the Holocaust serves as a wake-up call to all people to the evil around us and how it creeps in unannounced. The fact of the liberation of the Nazi Concentration camps shows that we can stop evil if we are prepared to stand up, recognise it and actively fight it. Recognising Evil is the important first step to fighting it, and we can only know Good and Evil by listening, not to the arbitrary morality of human beings by which evil can spread as the camps demonstrate, but by following the moral path illuminated by the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We human beings must take ownership of the evil that we allow to propagate but we can be rid of it through the blood of Christ.

The Cross stands as a testament of Man?s inhumanity to Man, but also as a testament to the love of God Who will not allow those who perish to be forgotten but be raised from the dead to see perfect justice done and the Evil crushed on the Last Day at the hands of Almighty God.

The Light of Christ in the liberation of the Camps gives us hope in amidst the darkness of human sin. As we pray for the souls of those who died in their terrible, abject conditions, we look into the light of the One Who has remembered them, Who has wept with them and Who can restore them in His glory for Eternity.