Edith Stein in The Holocaust.
“..As a child of ..Jewish people who ..by ..grace of God ..for ..past 11 years has also been a child of ..Catholic Church ..I dare to speak to ..Father of Christianity about that which oppresses millions. ..deeds perpetrated in Germany which mock any sense of justice and humanity ..not to mention love of neighbour. For years ..leaders of National Socialism have been preaching hatred of ..Jews.” Edith Stein.
Edith Theresia Hedwig Stein was brought to Auschwitz Death Camp, from the Carmelite Convent of Echt and dressed in the habit of her Order. As Sister Theresia Benedicta of the Cross, she was gassed upon arrival, August 8th. 1942. As to whether we should assume she was murdered for the profession of her Faith, for which she is being Canonised, or that she was simply murdered as a consequence of her Jewish antecedence, the debate lingers on.
“..Spiritually ..we are all Semites.” Pope Pius XI.
When a Church chooses not to do battle with the powers of racist and intolerant forces, Edith Stein remains benign in the face of Christ who demanded that we treat all our neighbours as we would treat ourselves. The Church then becomes the stagnating purveyor of its own decline if it does not act in that accord. Those, best able to confront anti-Christian morality must be condemned to immorality outside what Christ had demanded of us. Such a communion cannot ever invoke the encyclical of moral thought and the teaching of ethical being, without the cynicism of its position further undermining its example and its universal position.
A concordat with Hitler openly resolved the willingness of Hitler to murder the Jews of Europe and signalled from the Church an acquiescence that subordinated itself to the will of such hate-filled advocacy. When Edith Stein demanded of Pope XII that he act on behalf of the Jews, little did she know that there would be this almighty clamour to beatify her, afford her a saintly status, and within a movement that would overlook her beseeching concern for the Jews of Europe. That entreaty still seeks to sink the Catholic Church beneath a scandal seemingly condoning of the mass murder of the Jewish People.
“..responsibility must fall ..on those who brought (Jews) to this point and it also falls on those who keep silent in ..face of such happenings.” Edith Stein.
That mass murder, in The Final Solution, was equally ignored by the Church as was Edith’s plea to that Church. History still holds the Church with an amount of contempt that should have been heavily regarding of all Christian values and its proper charitable status! When we measure with this, in the starkest contrast, that the Church wishes to deliver an elaborate gift, and with such a great honour upon the former Jewish Philosopher, this Catholic Sainthood is surely otherwise motivated? For the Jews of Europe, and those whose conversion to Catholicism couldn’t even grant them security from a final solution, Edith’s Jewish antecedence certainly sealed her fate.
It would appear that the Catholic Church protest in Holland had such an adverse effect upon those Jewish converts, the SS moved more swiftly against them, and found Edith Stein awaiting the same fate as her Semite cousins. The case is well made, and thoughout our recourse to The Holocaust study, that the Jews, whether they were assimilated, Italian, German, French or Latvian, they were Jews first and foremost and victimised as a consequence. There is no doubt that Edith Stein was murdered, and though she dies a convert to Catholicism, that conversion was no more a guarantee of her safety than the many baptismal certificates that had betrayed so many other Jews.
When Edith’s voice was dulled to such an extent, so as not to allow her to speak on behalf of a beleaguered, a condemned and a devastated People, 6,000,000 Jews passed into an abyss. With a limited prospect of achieving any semblance of aid for her fellow Jews, how then can my Church so own an Edith Stein, or call her theirs when they so blatantly ignored her pleas for The Jews of the Time?
“..badge is attached ..but has not touched our consciusness. ..we are not ashamed of our badges. Let those be ashamed who have hung them on us.” Yitzhak Rudahsevski.
When we are set to judge how a convert to Catholicism might be treated in The Holocaust, it was Hitler’s system of illegality which defined who was a Jew and as such, who might be condemned. We surely must look to the former belief system of those Jews as to what marked them ahead of mainstream Catholics for The Holocaust of Destruction. What Elie Wiesel has said about such inequaliy, has a remarkable bearing upon how Edith was seen, how Edith was treated and why Edith was eventually murdered:-
“..While not all ..victims of ..Nazi’s were Jews ..all Jews were victims.” Elie Wiesel.
Herein lies the problem for those who might wish to attribute the martyrdom of such a wonderful lady to her Catholic ambivalence, she was considered above all else a Jew. Edith was murdered alongside countless other Jewish converts, all because they were Jews. When this Jewish convert asked the Holy Father to answer the call to conscience, she was ignored. The Jews were not just ignored, they were abandoned and posterity still deals with the consequences of 6,000,000 unanswered calls! Edith was finally arrested. After Catholic Church protests were raised over the detaining of converts from Judaism, a beacon of light would be switched off. It must have occurred to Edith, that while such protests arose over the fate of Jewish converts to Christianity, no such challenges were made over the Reich’s deliberrate mis-treatment of the Jews of the Jewish Faith.
As Catholics we need to continually ask ourselves, and our Church, not so much what was done, or what the Church say’s was done, but more what was not done to save the Jews. That more could have been done to at least alleviate their suffering or in some simple way afford them a fraternal look, have given them a sense that we understood what charity meant, or at a minimum what Christ would have demanded of us, betrays for us what duty in the Church has failed. When Edith herself knowingly sensed in Hitler a threat that would undo the Catholic Church, though less brutally than in dismantling the life of The Jewish People, that duty too surely betrays the wishes of St. Teresa Benedicta of The Cross.
“..fight against Catholicism will be conducted quietly and less brutally than against Jewry ..but no less systematically.” Edith Stein.
Read something of what it was like to be a Jew Convert damned by Hitler’s hatred!
Volume I Life in a Jewish Family.
Volume II Essays on Woman.
Volume III On the Problem of EmpathyI.
Volume IV The Hidden Life.
Volume V Self-Portrait in Letters.
Volume VI Science of the Cross.