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Against Indifference

Four Christian Responses to Jewish Suffering during the Holocaust (C. S. Lewis, Thomas Merton, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, André and Magda Trocmé)

Carole J. Lambert

Against Indifference analyzes four responses to Jewish suffering during the Holocaust, moving on a spectrum from indifference to courageous action. C. S. Lewis did little to speak up for victimized Jews; Thomas Merton chose to enclose himself in a monastery to pray for and expiate the sins of a world gone awry; Dietrich Bonhoeffer acted to help his twin sister, her Jewish husband, and some other Jews escape from Germany; and the Trocmés established protective housing and an ongoing «underground railroad» that saved several thousand Jewish lives. Why such variation in the responses of those who had committed their lives to Jesus Christ and recognized that His prime commandment is to love God and others? This book provides answers to this question that help shed light on current Christians and their commitment to victims who suffer and need their help.
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Chapter 5. André and Magda Trocmé


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“Aimez-vous les uns les autres.” (Inscription above the doors of the Trocmés’ church in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, France)

Protestant Pastor André Pascal Trocmé and his beautiful, courageous wife Magda repeatedly and unreservedly risked their lives to rescue and protect Jews during the Holocaust. They represent the highest point of compassion and justice on my spectrum of responses to Jewish suffering during the Holocaust. Their exemplary response had numerous inner motivations which will be explored in this chapter: (1) they always viewed Jews as human beings in an environment that communicated daily, via propaganda and force, that they were less than human; (2) the Trocmés had themselves suffered the horrible early deaths of their own mothers and understood the lifelong devastating effect this could have on Jewish children whose parents were deported; (3) the Trocmés believed in and obeyed the Great Commandment inscribed above their Protestant church’s door in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon (“Aimez-vous les uns les autres.” [“Love one another.”]); (4) the Trocmés had themselves experienced a form of “homelessness,” André as a child refugee on a Belgian farm, after having been forced to evacuate his home in St. Quentin in northeastern ← 117 | 118 → France during World War I, and Magda in her strict, austere Italian Catholic boarding schools, while feeling unwanted by her father and new stepmother; (5) both were committed pacifists filled with passionate energy to fight Hitler’s evil through loving and protecting the people he...

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