Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Agents of Grace

In a similar albeit much less extreme vein of resistance to that of The White Rose and Dietrich Bonhoeffer the Dutch Churches felt they had to say something to the Nazi Government. This is a copy of the letter they sent. It is a good example of how one's faith demands action, especially in the face of tyranny. As we look back from our comfortable chairs, the events seem remote, tame and maybe even a little romantic. But if you ever have a chance to see either the movie The White Rose or Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace, you may be able to better appreciate the gravity of the situation. A gravity that caused lives to be sacrificed on both sides of the war.

The body of this letter is as follows (translated):

Dr. Seyss-Inquart, Federal Minister
Reichs Commissioner for the Dutch Occupied Territory, The Hague

The Christian churches in the Netherlands have already deemed it necessary to complain to your Excellency during the years of occupation, particularly in the matter of the Jewish citizens of our country, but there is something so terrible happening now that we cannot possibly refrain from addressing a word to your Excellency in the name of our Lord.

We have already deplored various acts of the occupying forces which are incompatible with the spiritual foundation of our people who, since their beginning have at least tried, with their Government, to live according to God's word.

In the last few weeks, a sterilization process has begun in so-called mixed marriages. God, however, who created heaven and earth and whose commandment applies to all people, and to whom your Excellency must also be accountable one day, has said to the people: Be
fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). Sterilization means a physical and spiritual mutilation, which is in direct opposition to the divine commandment that we shall not dishonour, hate, injure or kill our fellow man. Sterilization means a desecration of the divine commandment as well as human rights. It is the latest consequence of an anti-Christian and genocidal racial doctrine, an excessive presumption, a world and life philosophy which undermines a truly Christian and humane existence and, ultimately, renders it impossible.

You, Excellency, are currently the highest political authority in the Netherlands. You are entrusted, as the matter now lies, to maintain law and order in this land; entrusted not only by the leader of the German Reich, but also by God, through an inviolable dispensation as proclaimed by the Christian church in this world. The commandments of this God and Ruler of the entire world apply to you, as to all people, but to you especially, because you have accepted this high position.

Therefore, in the name of God, and based on His word,' the Christian churches in the Netherlands say to your Excellency: It is the duty of your Excellency to prevent this despicable sterilization procedure.

We have no illusions. We know full well that we can hardly expect that your Excellency will heed the voice of the church, meaning the voice of the Gospel, meaning the voice of God. But that which one cannot expect as a human being, one may hope for in the Christian faith. The living God has the power to bend even your Excellency's heart to conversion and obedience. We therefore ask God to bless your Excellency and our suffering people.

May 1943

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