DOES HISTORY REALLY MATTER?
I dreaded history in school. Too many names, dates, and complex events that I didn’t care enough to understand. It all felt like a world away. Insignificant. Boring.
Imagine my surprise when, decades later, historical fiction began calling to me. Not only to read, but to write. As I began researching for a manuscript I was working on, all of a sudden history came alive. It mattered. The boring names were suddenly humans with real personalities and reasons for doing the things they did.
I hope everyone comes to understand just how important history is, for the purposes of knowing where we came from and where we’re going; knowing what to do, what not to do; when to take a stand, and when to let things blow over. We can only discern these things and work together to benefit our families and country when we know how it has all played out before.
THE POWER OF CANDLES HOLOCAUST MUSEUM
I recently visited CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute, Indiana. CANDLES stands for: Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments, and the Center was started by Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, who lived most of her adult life in Indiana. She passed away in 2019, but spent the last thirty years of her life campaigning for forgiveness and hope.
It’s hard to fathom, but true: In Eva’s later life, she officially declared her forgiveness of Hitler—the one responsible for her horrendous childhood. She forgave the Nazis—those who killed most of her family in gas chambers. And more directly, she forgave Dr. Mengele—the Nazi doctor known for performing medical experiments on twin children in the Auschwitz concentration camp. He performed horrific and often deadly experiments on nearly 1,500 sets of twins, including Eva and her twin sister Miriam, when they were nine years old.
The Holocaust should never have happened, and yet it did. Why? Because Hitler understood how to systematically get people to abandon their core beliefs in favor of what he was convincing them to believe. Much of the public gladly went along with his ideas, as you can see in the image below, taken with permission from CANDLES Museum.
And once Hitler had his followers, it was simple to band together and carry out his goal of purging the human race of those he believed to be inferiors: Jews, homosexuals, Roma, disabled, or anyone else deemed an “asocial”. In the image below, also from the museum, you can see the specific, calculated steps involved in accomplishing the goal.
That intense level of dehumanization and trauma affects each Holocaust survivor uniquely, and many live the rest of their lives with unforgiveness in their hearts. I can’t say I blame them.
THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS
But Eva chose a different path. Eva chose forgiveness. See below to read what forgiveness meant to her:
Maybe we haven’t been traumatized like the Holocaust victims, but we probably all have someone who takes negative residence in our minds and hearts. Someone who makes our anger rise just by thinking about them. We encounter situations time and again that require us to either forgive or live with the frustration that comes with withholding forgiveness.
When we face a person or situation that seems too big to move past, we would all do well to remember Eva, the nine-year-old girl who lived through nightmarish situations most of us can’t even begin to comprehend…and the grown woman who decided enough was enough and finally released the hate, anger, and bitterness in exchange for personal freedom and hope.
We can endeavor to move forward from wherever we feel stuck toward a place of peace and hope. With God’s help, that is. God is the master of forgiveness and fresh starts, and his power resides in us, giving us supernatural strength to do the seemingly impossible—like forgive.
YES, HISTORY DEFINITELY MATTERS
I love the famous quote by George Santayana that says: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” If each of us educates ourselves on history, we will be strengthened and empowered to stand up against whatever the world may throw at us next, and together we can keep history from daring to repeat itself. We can also be empowered to forgive when the world does us harm. This is my prayer for each of us.
HISTORY THROUGH FICTION?
One way I love to engage with history is through historical fiction—it makes past events come alive. Let me recommend two favorites.
Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin is historical romance that tells of the underground resistance in Paris during the Nazi takeover. It’s an incredible story that I highly recommend.
The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom is a true story and offers lots of awe-inspiring details regarding how her family helped Jews hide out and escape the Nazis, and how Corrie herself survived a concentration camp seeing God’s hand everywhere she looked. This is a remarkable book I wish everyone would read.
And I’d love to share my free WW2 ebook novella, Love on a Whim, with you. You’ll dive into Yvonne’s life on a unique part of the homefront, working at a Canteen, feeding hungry soldiers as they pass through. As she struggles to see where God is leading, a friend’s quick decision just might change her life forever. Just follow the link above, enter your email, and the ebook will arrive in your inbox.
Thanks for reading, and let me know in the comments your thoughts, questions, or what historical fiction book YOU recommend!