Praying at Auschwitz | Letters | Chicago Reader

Praying at Auschwitz 

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To the editors:

"Inexplicably."

According to a recent Reader item [Calendar, November 10], the nuns at Auschwitz are, "inexplicably," still there. Well . . . It's about time someone did some explaining to the seeming thousands of short-memoried American liberals bashing the Catholic church and (inexplicably, I might add) the convent at Auschwitz. May I remind all of you that the largest number of Catholic religious ever collected in one place were forcibly interned at Auschwitz during the war? Over 300,000, if I remember my figures correctly.

Jews were the main, and first targets of the death camps (though the handicapped and retarded were targets of euthanasia first). But Catholics such as Edith Stein were rounded up because the Catholic bishops in Holland had condemned the Nazi atrocities. As this was not the only instance of Catholics being persecuted by the reich, I find it difficult to understand the media's condemnation of the Polish nuns for praying at Auschwitz. (Though I can understand Jewish annoyance at having their conversion prayed for. Even then, however, be assured the nuns have everyone's best interests at heart.)

There have, admittedly, been unfortunate and condemnable instances of anti-Semitism in Poland. But aside from these, the Jewish people and Catholics should look upon the Holocaust as something we can unite in our feelings about, not as a source of division. It has become such recently, and I urge all who have allowed it to become so (be they Catholic or Jewish) to re-examine their views and re-read their history books.

Liam T.A. Ford

W. Midway Park

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