European Protestant

Dialogika Resources

Declaration of Guilt towards the Jewish People

We feel it a matter of deep shame that the most comprehensive and terrible attempt at the forceful extermination of Jewry that world history has ever known was undertaken in the name of the German people. Millions of Jews – men, women, and children, a third of the total Jewish population worldwide – were destroyed by us. It need hardly be said that this stands in deepest contradiction to the Christian principles of justice, tolerance, and neighbor-love. But it would be too easy to push off the responsibility to the ruling authorities of that time, towards whom God's judgment has been fulfilled. Insofar as racial hatred has been fostered among us or simply has been tolerated without vigorous resistance, we share in the guilt.

Also our Saxon church contributed to the persecution of Jews, even including Christian Jews. Starting in 1933, the church leadership of that time proceeded methodically to expel Jewish Christians from the Christian community. Many pastors and congregations remained silent about this; indeed, many even personally assumed this attitude. Even though there were some conscious Christian efforts to counteract this, the fracture of church community with the Jews led in fact to a denial of the essential nature of the church.

As we bow under this guilt, let us pray God for the forgiveness of sins against the Jewish people, committed or tolerated. May our Jewish fellow citizens and fellow Christians also forgive us!

For the future, we owe the Jewish people :

justice, to which we are unconditionally obliged;

compassion, especially towards Jewish Christians, who are excluded from the help of the world Jewish community;

the Gospel of Jesus, who is the Christ also of the Jewish people. We are assured that where witness is borne to the gospel with repentance and faith, it will reveal its power also to Jewish hearts.

We must devote greater attention to these tasks than before, also for the sake of our people. We ask God for wisdom, strength, and love to fulfill them.