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Old 16 May 2013, 10:23 PM
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Icon18 Quote from concentration camp prisoner

Comment: This quote seems to be EVERYWHERE... twitter, Facebook, Reddit. Is it true?

“If there is a God, He will have to beg my forgiveness.” — A phrase that was carved on the walls of a concentration camp cell during WWII by a Jewish prisoner.
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  #2  
Old 16 May 2013, 10:25 PM
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Would a Jewish prisoner have used the name of God? I know there are different levels of orthadoxy, but I thought the less stringint ones were more recent.
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Old 16 May 2013, 10:44 PM
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There were entirely non-practicing Jews well before the Holocaust. (For that matter, there were people put into the camps for being Jewish, due to their ancestry, who didn't think of themselves as Jewish at all until they found themselves being hunted for it.) A non-practicing Jew might have written the word out in full.

In addition, even among practicing Jews, there's a tradition of "arguing with God". While a religious Jew might not have spelled the whole word out, it doesn't strike me as an implausible sentiment; and changing "G-d" to "God" in the quote doesn't change the sense, and might not have struck the quoter as important.

I haven't time to research the quote right now; but I'm fairly sure I've run into the general sense of it before. Whether anybody managed to carve it onto the walls in the camps might be a good question.

ETA: and Reform Judaism, as a formal concept, also dates to well before the Holocaust.

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/...m_Judaism.html
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  #4  
Old 16 May 2013, 11:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
Would a Jewish prisoner have used the name of God? I know there are different levels of orthadoxy, but I thought the less stringint ones were more recent.
In addition to what thorny locust posted, I doubt anyone expressing that sort of sentiment towards God would feel obliged to refrain from using his name, no matter what tradition they followed. In any case, assuming the grafitti was written anonymously and that's all we have to go on, I don't see how we would know whether or not the author was even Jewish. That may (assuming the quote is real, of course) have been an extrapolation on the part of the OP.
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Old 16 May 2013, 11:36 PM
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It sounds a little like Ellie Weisel--although Weisel is not asking for forgiveness.
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  #6  
Old 17 May 2013, 12:00 AM
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I very much doubt that it was written by a religious Jew. It sounds more like the writer was blaming God for the Holocaust. It implies that God made it happen. God does not make people do evil things. In fact, it grieves him. He created us humans with free will and responsibility. To blame God for human evil is blasphemous.

It sounds like something an extreme Calvinist would write, rather than a religious Jew.

Barb Rainey
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Old 17 May 2013, 12:16 AM
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No practising Calvinist would write that - hard core Calvinism is very clear that all evil is born from man not God

But is is something that anyone who lost their faith would write in the midst of suffering.

Dropbear
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Old 17 May 2013, 01:04 AM
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http://www.boblucky.com/Biking/Danube/day3.htm


Quote:
In the museum the attendant put on a movie in English just for us, and we sat by ourselves in an auditorium watching the history of Mauthausen. Another couple joined us part way through, but that was it. The line from the movie that both Len and I remembered most was a bit of grafiti scribbled on the wall by one of the doomed prisioners. "If there is a God, He will have to beg my forgiveness."
This blog attributes it to being from Mauthausen concentration camp- While not technically a death camp on the order of Treblinka, Auschwitz or Sobibor that existed solely to kill enemies of Nazi Germany as fast as possible, it used hard labor (along with executions by firing squads, gas chambers and trucks converted to pump exhaust directly into the prisoner compartments)such as the infamous quarry stairway.

Jewish prisoners were only about half the camps population which also included Allied POW's (mostly airmen) and various people the Nazi's wished to dispose of.
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Old 17 May 2013, 01:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avril View Post
It sounds a little like Ellie Weisel--although Weisel is not asking for forgiveness.
Yeah, that's what I thought of, but you're right, no mention of the wording from
the OP: http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/wi...-put-god-trial

Last edited by Steve; 17 May 2013 at 01:35 AM.
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Old 17 May 2013, 01:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barbrainey View Post
I very much doubt that it was written by a religious Jew. It sounds more like the writer was blaming God for the Holocaust. It implies that God made it happen. God does not make people do evil things. In fact, it grieves him. He created us humans with free will and responsibility. To blame God for human evil is blasphemous.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
None of the multiple rabbis quoted in the story Steve posted found it at all implausible that religious Jews might have considered and discussed the idea that God was responsible for allowing the Holocaust to happen -- even to the point of putting God on trial for it and finding God, if not precisely guilty, far from innocent in the matter. Neither do I find it at all implausible.

There's a very long tradition in Judaism of serious questioning of religious tradition, including questioning of the meaning of every detail of every passage in the Torah, and of the proper relationship between God and humans. This is not considered blasphemous by all Jews, and quite possibly not by most. There are stories in which rabbis disagree with clear statements from Heaven about the meaning of the law; and in which this disagreement is supposed to be delightful to God.
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Old 17 May 2013, 01:39 AM
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Does anyone have the original details of it. What language, (I'm assuming not English), any particular dialect or script etc.?

But saying a Jew would not write it is a prime example of the "No True Scotsman" logic fallacy. I'm an atheist, but I would not have any problem believing that someone could lose their faith in such horrid circumstances.
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Old 17 May 2013, 03:17 AM
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I'm pretty sure the Nazis didn't ask a person what they believed before sending them to the camps.
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Old 17 May 2013, 03:28 AM
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Also, not everyone in the camps was Jewish (although I think some camps were specifically for Jews). How are we to know that this quote was supposed to come from a Jewish prisoner, and not someone else? Some other prisoner? (Gypsy, political prisoner, etc.?) Even a guard? Or someone else, just too horrified to comprehend it--like an Allied soldier who came to liberate them?
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Old 17 May 2013, 04:05 AM
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This is "The Problem of Evil". I only took a first level philosophy class so I'm no expert, but I cannot see how God, as described in the bible could allow such things to happen. If God is all powerful, all seeing, and all good, then the existence of evil is of his creation, so yes God is to blame. He has the power to fix it, but chooses not to. Grieved? That would be something he had no power over, oh but wait he's omnipotent so he has all power.

Having said all of that I'm a pretty laid back atheist. However, when I see discussions about "free will" and the all good, all powerful, all knowing God. The same God allowing the sort of suffering and evil that occurred during the Holocaust, and "Grieving" about all the suffering, I just think some of this stuff should be pointed out.
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Old 17 May 2013, 04:50 AM
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The normal Christian answer to the problem of evil is that God created humanity with the power to choose and humanity chose to turn away from God. God gives humanity the choice to turn back to him through Christ.

Calvinists however are a bit stuck as they believe in predestination which screws up this response and they can only fall back on the "God is ineffable" schtick which is a hard thing to sustain. Especially when faced with things like the holocaust when people find that they are pretty much prepared to eff God very loudly.

Dropbear
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  #16  
Old 17 May 2013, 06:34 AM
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My problem with the free will argument (aside from not believe that there actually is such a thing) is that if it actually was so important to the Christians who are always invoking it, how come it never actually matters to them when it comes to passing laws about things like allowing women to have access to birth control and abortions or letting gay people get married? Aren't those things a matter of "free will?"
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Old 17 May 2013, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeptic View Post
Does anyone have the original details of it. What language, (I'm assuming not English), any particular dialect or script etc.?

But saying a Jew would not write it is a prime example of the "No True Scotsman" logic fallacy. I'm an atheist, but I would not have any problem believing that someone could lose their faith in such horrid circumstances.
Been trying to find a picture of it and came across another photo blog of someone's travels through Europe and they mentioned the quote in reference to Dachau. I'm wondering if the quote is something used in several of the former camps that have been turned into memorials/museums.

ETA: Found a 2nd travel blog that mentions the film shown to visitors of Mathausen that attributes the quote to come from there.

Quote:
We also watched a film about the camp. The thousands of men and women who followed Hitler disturb me. I am willing to accept that this world will produce monsters, but it is hard to comprehend why so many would be willing to follow one. The film had interviews of inmates who had survived the camp, and told of some graffiti found on the wall of one of the cells, stating "if there is a God, he will have to beg for my forgiveness." The fear and betrayal and confusion these prisoners must have felt! There was also an American GI interviewed, who told of having to bury some of the 15,000 dead bodies found at the liberation of the camp. He was sobbing uncontrollably, 40 years later. I was so sad for him
http://betsy.murphy00.tripod.com/Eur...ernEurope.html

It sounds like the phrase was obtained from interviewing former prisoners and might of been mentioned by a Jewish prisoner but doesn't mean it was written by one. Or that anyone would ever know who originally wrote it.

ETA2: Sorry at this point think I am done looking for a photo of the graffiti for a bit- The anger and sorrow that builds up looking through the photos needs time to disperse.

Last edited by firefighter_raven; 17 May 2013 at 11:26 AM.
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  #18  
Old 17 May 2013, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avril View Post
It sounds a little like Ellie Weisel--although Weisel is not asking for forgiveness.
Elie Wiesel. :-)
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Old 17 May 2013, 12:37 PM
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I visited Dachau and didn't see it, but it's always possible that I missed something.
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Old 17 May 2013, 12:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barbrainey View Post
I very much doubt that it was written by a religious Jew.
I don't think you know as much about Jewish theology and tradition as you think you do.
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