Page 57 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 38

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A. ROY ECKA RD T
Recent Literature on
Christian-]ewish Relations
M
a n y
p u b l i c a t io n s
over the past decade tha t bear significantly
upon the encoun ter o f Christians and Jews transcend tha t delim­
ited subject.
THE HOLOCAUST AND CHRISTIAN ANTI-SEMITISM
In the period und e r survey the Holocaust has been a dom ina t­
ing focus. While it is so that much o f the massive literature on the
shoah
is written by Jews, the latter direct their work in lesser
measure to the Christian-Jewish relation as such, in comparison
with Christian writers. Christian materials are addressed p r im a r­
ily to the question o f Christendom ’s responsibility for the anti-
Semitism that culminated in
the Endldsung,
as well as for Nazism
itself. We are here rem inded tha t Jewish and Christian motiva­
tions in the dialogue are at once the same and different. Shared
concerns are linked to the need to live with others, ex tending to
those who d iffer from us culturally and religiously. These con­
cerns derive as well from moral imperatives common to Judaism
and Christianity. But Christian participation in the dialogue en ­
tails an additional factor: the moral and psychological com­
plexities associated with guilt for centuries o f Christian deroga­
tion and persecution o f Jews. How can it be that so horrible an
event as the “Final Solution” had to take place in o rd e r fo r the
Christian world (yet no more than a relatively small pa r t o f that
world) to acknowledge the evil character and implications o f its
“teaching o f con temp t” (Jules Isaac) for the Jewish people?
Recent studies reinforce the finding that the so-called church
struggle against Nazi policies was in fact minimal, and tha t Chris­
tian support for the anti-Semitic p rogram was pervasive. See
Richard G u tteridge’s excellent work,
Open Thy Mouth fo r the
Dumb!: The German Evangelical Church and the Jews 1879-1950
(Blackwell, 1976); also, Ernst Christian Helmreich,
The German
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