The Anti-Semitism Of The Third ReichErwin W. Lutzer | October 16, 1994
Selected highlights from this sermon
The persecution of the Jewish people—God’s chosen people—never seems to stop, and it came to a cruel crescendo during the Third Reich. But what led Hitler and Nazi Germany to slaughter millions of Jews?
Reincarnation was viewed as the only real redemption from one’s racial inferiority. Hitler was mesmerized by this idea, seeing it as a sick “solution” to the Jewish “problem.”
In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye spoke for millions of Jewish people. As I recall, he came out of the barn and looked into the sky and said, “Oh God, I know that we are the chosen people, but why do You choose us so much?” That has been a question that the Jews have been asking throughout the centuries. It’s nice to be called chosen, but what’s in it for us? All that we get is persecution. All that we get is trouble. If this is what chosenness means, who needs it? And the Jews are chosen.
I want you to take your Bibles and turn to Deuteronomy chapter 7, where God, in fact, tells us not only that He chose the Jews, but that He did so simply out of sovereign love.
Deuteronomy, chapter 7, verse 6: “For you are a holy people in the Lord your God, and the Lord, your God, has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the people who are on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you or choose you because you are more in number of any of the people because you were the fewest of all the people. But because the Lord loves you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh, the kind of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord, He is God, the faithful God who keeps His covenant, and His lovingkindness to a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”
God made an unconditional covenant with Abraham. God said, “Abraham, I’m going to give you a seed, and they’ll occupy the land, and whether you are faithful or not, and whether your seed is faithful, ultimately I will do it.”
God says He swore by Himself because He knows He can’t trust humanity to enter into that agreement. But throughout all the centuries the Jews have been saying, “Where are the promises? Why are we chosen if being chosen means so much trouble?”
What I’d like to do today is to discuss with you something about the history of the Jews. I’m reminded of a Jewish friend of ours, a woman whom my wife and I met at a Bible study who was born into Judaism and grew up in the synagogue. And she said that while she was growing up, and being imbibed and being taught Judaism, she began to think about Jesus Christ in the New Testament. But she was terrified of the New Testament. And she said she used to pray and say, “Oh God, be anybody but Jesus.” Be anybody but Jesus!
Those of us who are Gentiles sometimes become impatient with Jews if they do not wish to at all discuss the claims of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. It is very easy for us to become impatient and say, “Well, why don’t you at least investigate?” But we must understand that many of them are hurting and they do not think of Jesus Christ as a brother. They think of Him as their enemy. And that’s why we’re going to move through this today, a bit of history, and then we’ll turn to the Word of God to see how it will all turn out.
First of all, Christianity and Judaism. The best place for me to begin is to take you on a little tour. We enter into the town of Wittenberg where Martin Luther did his reforming activity. We walk past the Castle Church where the Ninety-five Theses were posted and then we go through the town square where there are monuments and statues to Luther and Melanchthon. And then we come to the town’s church where Luther preached the Gospel to the German people in, of course, German. The other church services were in Latin.
And after we are in the church we go around to the outside and this is what we see. Here you have the wall and then you have the place where the roof and the wall come together. And we notice that there is a sandstone sculpture, and it is a pig. The pig is perhaps (and I estimate from the ground) two-and-a-half feet long and perhaps eighteen inches high. And the inscription says that it is a Judensau (Jewish sow). And we discover that this particular pig was put up there in 1305 to commemorate the expulsion of the Jews from the little town of Wittenberg.
Actually the inscription has a veiled reference to the name of God. Another sarcastic fact is that the Jews did not like to mention the name of God, and this inscription reminds the people of that.
I stood and looked at that Jewish pig, the Judensau, with great heaviness in my heart. I said, “How can a Christian church do this?” The only thing that alleviated my suffering a little bit was to notice that in 1989 a new monument has been put there on the ground immediately below the pig which is an apology for what happened in Wittenberg, and an apology for the pig that is still on the top of the church. Is it any wonder that sometimes the Jews pray, “Oh, God, turn out to be anybody but Jesus?”
And then I think of Martin Luther. And Martin Luther near the end of his life said some very terrible things about the Jews. He published three tracts against them, and some of us wish that Luther had died a little sooner than he did because in his old age, he said a lot of things that he should have never said. He’d have gone down in history a much greater hero if he had just died at 58 rather than at 62.
But this is what he said regarding the Jews. He said, “I suggest that their synagogues or schools be set on fire, that their houses be broken up and destroyed, and that they be deprived of all their cash and jewels and silver and gold,” and that’s only the beginning. I won’t read the rest of the paragraph where it says all of their holy books and everything should be destroyed, where they should be taught to do agriculture, and the rest of them should be sent to Palestine.
For four long centuries, Jews have quoted the words of Martin Luther and have said, “This is the great reformer; this is the great Christian.” What Luther said was despicable and indefensible, but I do think that we owe it to the great reformer to at least put his words in context. Years before he wrote those things he said and wrote, and I quote: “Therefore I request that we deal gently with the Jews. So long as we treat them like dogs how can expect any good work to be done among them? Again, if we forbid them to labor and do business and have any human fellowship with us, thereby forcing them into usury, how is that supposed to do them any good? We must be guided by the law of Christian love. If some should prove stiff necked, what of it? After all, we ourselves are not all very good Christians either.” And when the Jews in Luther’s day heard those words they were given hope. Why the change?
Well, you must understand that as Luther grew older, he was very, very naïve. He actually thought that because he uncovered the Gospel which had been hidden for so many centuries, he expected the Jews en masse to believe on Christ. He did. He thought that all the Jews would say, “Jesus is the Messiah.” And when they didn’t, he became very, very angry.
You have to understand also that Luther was living in a day and age when there was no freedom of religion. Heretics were burned at the stake. They were the ones that were taken and drowned. I mean even in the year 800, if you were baptized as an adult upon profession of faith, you were put to death because infant baptism was the glue that held church and state together. And they believed that if you were baptized as an adult, it would break up the whole Medieval order. And you’ve heard from this pulpit how the Anabaptists suffered during the time of the Reformation; whole villages massacred only because they would not have their children baptized as infants. It was an era of vicious intolerance.
And I might say that Luther was only following in the footsteps of other great Christian leaders. For example, a man like Justin Martyr wrote in the early centuries that the Jews were guilty of putting to death the Holy One and the Just One, and all of their mistreatment is really their due. Augustine essentially said the same thing, and said that they should be cursed by the church.
Chrysostom gave eight messages against the Jews in which he said some perfectly nasty, terrible, and vicious things. Is it any wonder that the Jews sometimes tell God, “Turn out to be anybody but Jesus?”
I read a book this past week on this whole topic and I need to say something with great clarity. I wish that Chrysostom, and Augustine, and Luther, and all the rest could come to this pulpit and apologize to the Jewish people. There are people who are listening to this, some in this congregation, who are Jewish. Some are listening by radio. Others will hear this message on cassette tape. And I need to say something to you, and I want you to listen to me. Not only is it true that we do not hate the Jews, but that we love the Jews, and we recognize that to you were given the oracles of God, and the Bible that we hold in our hands is a Jewish book, and most of all, it is through your lineage that we received a blessed Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Messiah, who was thoroughly and totally Jewish. And for that we thank you.
Now, having said that, we move now to a darker period of Jewish persecution. All of the persecution up until that time was actually religious persecution. Now we begin a period of persecution that is based on race. And some of you know that this is the third in a series of messages on the Third Reich, looking at it through the lens of Scripture.
And now we come to the time of Nazism. With Nazism there is a whole new basis of persecution. It is based now on the blood. It is based specifically on race. And there is so much that could be said, but the best place possibly to begin is to realize that when Hitler rose to power in Germany there was already a great deal of hatred against the Jews. And then a man by the name of Houston Chamberlain wrote a book. Chamberlain was [not] a relative of Neville Chamberlain who was the prime minister of Great Britain, and this Chamberlain was the son-in-law to the very antisemitic composer, [Richard] Wagner. And he decided to unite the words of Nietzsche, who believed in [a] “superman,” and the teachings of Wagner into a book which he called The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century.
You have to understand that Houston Chamberlain claims that he was inhabited by demons. In fact, he frequently refers to the battles that he would have with demons, and he says that his book was written largely when he was in a séance, and it was therefore written by what people call today automatic writing. And there are some books that are circulating being read right now that were done by automatic writing.
I think we should take Chamberlain seriously and realize that he was inhabited by demons, and his book was written, in effect, by the devil himself. What he said was that just as a pearl can be grown through the medium of artificial stimulation, so the German mind must guide the Aryan people to racial supremacy and to world domination. He talked about the inferior races and the need to speed up the process of purifying the race to bring about the superman. Regarding Jesus Christ, he says, “Whoever claims that Jesus was a Jew was either stupid or telling a lie.” He said, “Christ was not a Jew; Jesus was an Aryan.”
When Chamberlain met Hitler they got along very well and Chamberlain was impressed and he convinced Hitler to begin to rule the world on the basis of race and to speed up the process of the purification of the race of the German people.
You say, “Well, where did Chamberlain get his ideas?” Well, some of them were original, but many of them were based on ancient mythologies that had been around for thousands of years. For example, there was a myth that there was a place called Atlantis. And there in Atlantis there were various species of human beings that developed, and some were superior, and some were inferior. And then those human beings went and they came to Tibet. And they, of course, as you might recognize, became the basis for the ancient Hindu religion.
Hinduism is based on the theory of the caste system. There are four castes, and then there are some people who are not worthy enough to even fit into a caste, and they become the untouchables. They are subhuman. That’s why Gandhi, who was greatly misunderstood in the West because of propaganda, is thoroughly misunderstood, and people don’t realize that he nearly starved himself to death in opposition to giving untouchables representation in the Indian legislature and democracy. And so it was that there were beliefs that were circulated, number one, that there are some species of human beings who are really below human beings. They are subhuman beings.
And number two, the only way that they can be purified is to be reincarnated, because once you are born in that bloodline you are fixed. Karma has determined that you are where you are supposed to be, and therefore your redemption would be in being reborn, and maybe you will come back in a higher caste, or for that matter, in a lower one, or you might even come back as an animal.
It was these ideas that mesmerized Hitler. Even in the Hofburg Library in his early days the books that he checked out were on ancient Hinduism in which he would investigate the theory of race, and he became so impressed, and he believed that the process could be speeded up by taking care of the lower human beings, those who were really on the lower caste. By exterminating them the purification of the upper races, and the upper race for him, of course, was the Germanic race, could be speeded up in such a way that it could happen even in a generation or two. The swastika itself was an ancient Hindu symbol. If you go to Delhi today in India you can go and see a monument there that talks about the swastika, that it is the oldest most sacred Hindu symbol that goes back eight thousand years.
Now, if there’s anyone in the Third Reich who was more impressed with Hinduism than Hitler, it was Heinrich Himmler, the man who was responsible for the SS and the concentration camps. Himmler was into reincarnation, believing that he himself was a reincarnation of Heinrich the First. In fact, Himmler said that he frequently communicated with the dead. All kinds of spirits would come to him in which he would have occult associations and communication. You have to understand what his task was. His responsibility was to take German young people, many of whom were brought up in fine homes, sometimes fine Christian homes, who had a degree of sensibility and conscience and decency, and it was his job to transform them.
These young men had to be made into machines. They would have to become puppets who would do as they were told without any feeling. His goal was that there should be no sorrow, that there should be no sense of regret, no guilt, no conscience. And it was his job to transform them into those kinds of supermen. He taught them, for example, that the way in which this happens is if you violate your conscience and do what is wrong, and you continue to do that, you gain power, and that’s the way in which godhood is achieved.
But then he also taught them (indoctrinated them) in the idea that number one, that the people who they were killing were subhuman. You have to remember that Hitler said the Jews were not people at all. In fact, he said, “They are as far removed even from animals than human beings, like Germans are from animals. In other words, they are that far below the animal species, and so the concentration camps were not killing human beings. They were simply killing those who were beneath the level of animals.
Secondly, in killing them they could only destroy the body. They could not destroy the soul. The people could get on with their business of reincarnation and be reincarnated and thus be redeemed coming back in a future life and having supposedly a much better existence.
And then there was another teaching that they absorbed from Hinduism, and that is the view that reality is only a mirage, that it is really not real, and it is your responsibility to do your Karma without regard to the consequences.
My friends, today, if you do not understand these things then you do not understand how you could take SS troops who would go into the concentration camps, murder, pillage, and starve children, come home for Christmas, sing Christmas carols, go to church, and still think of themselves as pretty good Christians. And it happened because of this great transformation of the heart that was brought about in the Gestapo so that now we would find people without a soul, without a heart, who could act without a twinge of conscience.
Now I need to clarify that I am not blaming Hinduism for what Hitler did, but I do know that there are Hindus today who will say that even though they disagree with what Hitler did in many respects, nevertheless they do claim that he was an avatar. He was a god who had arrived on Earth, because many of them saw the destruction of Great Britain as judgment for Great Britain because of what they had done to India in a previous generation. So I’m not blaming Hinduism. I’m just simply saying that Hitler took a cruel doctrine and made it even crueler.
But is it any wonder that after six million Jews were put to death and others starved, and still many others survived with horror tales, that they began to say, “Where is God? How can we understand the faithfulness of God?” That many have become cynical. And many have said to themselves, “If this is what it means to be chosen, we don’t want to be chosen at all.” And many of them have prayed, “Oh God, turn out to be anybody but Jesus. Anybody but Jesus!”
But we turn now to a third phase of history, and that has to do with the Jews under Antichrist, and for this, the best passage of Scripture to turn to is the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation. Revelation, chapter 12, finally gets to the heart of the issue, and we see why there has been so much persecution of the Jews throughout the century.
I wish I had time to go through the entire chapter. We don’t, but there was a message preached on this here several months ago at the church by someone else. But there is a woman who appears who clearly is the nation Israel, and she is about to give birth to a child. You’ll notice it says in verse 2 she was with child, and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. “And another sign appeared in heaven and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away the third of the stars of heaven (This is Lucifer. This is Satan.) and he dragged them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth so that when she gave birth he might devour the child.”
Stop there and remember that when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem Herod was going to have him put to death, and he asked that all of the children under the age of two years old in that environment be put to death, hoping to slay the one who was born King of the Jews. And Jesus, you remember, had escaped to Egypt. Who was behind that vicious thing? Who was behind Hitler who wanted to exterminate the Jews and get rid of them once and for all? Who was it that was behind all this? The dragon, Satan! Why? Because God made a covenant to Abraham and said, “Abraham, to your seed I will give this land. I will bless you, and someday someone from your seed will reign over the earth.” And there are still some promises that God made to the Jews that have not yet been fulfilled, and the devil knows that if he could destroy the Jews, he could prove God to be a liar. Here is a God who made a covenant, but He can’t keep it. He told Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, “I will be with you. I will do X, Y and Z.” And now suddenly the Jews aren’t there and He can’t fulfill the promises that He gave, and so Satan has persecuted the Jews all of those years, and even used Christians, as we have learned, to bring about the alienation and the persecution.
The story goes on. During the middle of the tribulation period, which is when this happens, there will be some Jews which will have believed on Jesus Christ. And you’ll notice that the woman eventually is sent to the desert. She is sent there. We’ll pick it up in verse 13: “And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to earth he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place where she was nourished for a time, times and a half from the presence of the serpent. (That’s for three and a half years.) And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth (I take that to be antisemitism) so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. And yet the earth helped the woman. And the earth opened its mouth and drank up the water, the river which the dragon had poured out of his mouth, and the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring who keep the commandment of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.” A remnant of the Jews, the 144,000 Jews who preach the Gospel of Christ during the Revelation period, and how did they overcome the dragon? Well, you’ve guessed it. Verse 11: “They overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even unto death.” If you were here last time when we talked about the reign of Antichrist, that all who would dwell upon the earth would worship him except a remnant, and this is part of that remnant.
But notice what is happening. Once again there is unleashed upon the earth a flood of antisemitism. This is Satan’s last opportunity. It is his last chance to finally exterminate the Jews and humiliate God. Is God humiliated? No, the Jews are not exterminated. Even during the days of Hitler’s Final Solution the Jews were not exterminated, and three years after the Third Reich, you have the land of Palestine being turned into the land of Israel, and here you have the earth that is defending the woman, and there is a remnant that escape no matter what the devil does because God has to prove faithful. God has to prove faithful. He cannot deny himself.
Well, we come now to the fourth and the last phase that we’re going to talk about, and that is Judaism and Jesus Christ. Here you have a remnant of Jews believing during the tribulation period, and then you have the battle of Armageddon which is going to take place when all the nations of the earth shall gather there.
And you can turn, if you want, in your Bibles to the book of Zechariah, chapter 12, verse 10. Later on in the book of Zechariah we have an account of what the return of Jesus Christ is going to mean. All the armies are gathered, and the Scripture says that His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof towards the north and towards the south so that there shall be a very great valley, the Bible says. And Christ comes to defend His own people. He comes to defend the Jewish nation.
But in the midst of this, and that’s why I asked you to turn to chapter 12, verse 10. Zechariah, looking through the corridors of time, says, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look on me whom they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one who mourns for an only son. And they will weep bitterly over him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”
What is going to happen? Remember the story of Joseph in the Bible? Joseph treated his brothers roughly, and when he treated them roughly, the Bible says that he retreated into a room to weep because he could not contain himself. But all that they saw was his roughness because they did not know who he was.
Throughout the ages, the Jewish people have wondered who is this God? Why is it that we are being treated so roughly? Why all this persecution? Why all this anguish? And then, just as Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, so Jesus is going to return and to say, “Look at my wounds. I am your Messiah. I am your brother.” And would you believe that, at the end of the day, there’s a whole generation of Jews that will be living at that time who will recognize that God will turn out to be Jesus, and they will see Him in a new light. They will see Him as their brother. They will see Him as their King. They will see Him as the Lord, and they will look upon Him whom they have pierced. And all the promises of God will be fulfilled.
And after Jesus Christ returns, some of us believe that there’s going to be a literal kingdom still on Earth during the millennial kingdom. Now we will be there in our heavenly bodies because we will already have been raptured even before some of the events that we have talked about here, and we will reign nevertheless with Christ. And there in the millennial kingdom God is going to take the Jews, and He is going to take the Gentiles, and He is going to unite Jew and Gentile.
Roy Schwartz, would you come and stand on my left side for just a moment? I want people to get a good look at you. Roy Schwartz is thoroughly, on both sides of his family, of Jewish blood. As you might guess, with a name like mine, Roy, the name Lutzer, I am thoroughly German. I meet all the requirements for Aryan blood. But do you know what? This is how the millennium is going to look. (applause) The Jews and the Germans, and all the Gentiles that have believed on Jesus as Savior, and the Jewish people who recognize Christ to be Lord, are going to be one. And Jesus is going to say to the Jews, “You blew it but I love you, and here you are, and I have kept my promises.” And He’s going to say to the Gentiles, “You sinners, you blew it, but I kept my promises, and here we are together in the millennial kingdom.”
And then, you see, I think the words of Isaiah will finally be fulfilled. “Many shall go and say, ‘Come ye. let us go onto the mountain of the Lord, onto the house of the God of Jacob, for he shall teach us his ways, and we shall walk in his paths, for the Law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations and shall rebuke many people, and they shall beat their swords into plow shears and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
And at the end of the day, Jew and Gentile will say, “God was faithful. Though we believed not, yet He abideth faithful. He cannot deny Himself.”
And if you will, let us pray.
Our Father, as we think about Your people whom You have chosen, and we think about their disobedience as well as their restoration, we think, Father, of the Gentiles. We think of the Germans, the Nazis, my lineage who were so strongly used by Satan to try to stamp out your people. Oh God, forgive us. Forgive us! And we pray that in these moments we may see Christ as the Messiah of Jew and Gentile. We thank You that, at the end of the day, millions of Jews are going to recognize that God has turned out to be Jesus. But until we see You, help us as a church and as individuals to be agents of reconciliation in this great city. Help us to be able to reach out to those who are Jewish, and to those who are Gentiles, and say, “Behold your God and behold your King.”
And even in this congregation and over the radio there may be those who have never personally believed in Christ as Messiah, and if they want to be there in the great reconciliation party, we pray that at this moment they may savingly trust Christ.
And so I say to you today, you may be Jewish or you may be a Gentile. It makes no difference. There is one mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus Christ. As I close this prayer, why don’t you pray and say, “Oh God, I know that I am a sinner, and at this moment I trust Jesus as my Messiah, as my Savior. I thank You that He shed His blood for me, and I accept Him as my own and look forward to His sign in the sky, His great appearing and the great reconciliation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”