Marching nervously on the cold, gray gravel of the train yard of Auschwitz, a young man’s mind was forever branded by an image… legions of uniformed guards walking with dogs and monstrous chimneys in the background belching fire into the night air. The young man was Irving Roth, then 14 years old. More than half a century later Mr. Roth still remembers the ghastly vision of his family and friends who perished in those very flames. Although Auschwitz and later Buchenwald were hellish ordeals, it was the cancerous growth of hate in his hometown and elsewhere that sealed the doom of more than six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.
In 2015 Terri and I had the incredible honor of spending quality time with this man who literally lived through one of the most devastating time in the history, the Holocaust. Roth’s family moved to Hungary from Slovakia in 1943 where Jews were still safe. The tide of the war was turning against the Nazis. The Roths believed that the war would soon be over and they would survive. In the spring of 1944 Irving Roth celebrated Passover, the festival of the historical oppression and liberation of the Jews from under the reign of the Pharaohs, hoping that his own deliverance was on the way. In April of 1944 the Hungarian government decided to liquidate the Jewish population of Hungary.
While this chapter of history was being written in Irving’s life, on June the 6th 1944, over 160,000 troops from America, Britain, Canada, free France, Poland, and other nations landed along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast of France. It was the largest amphibious invasion force in world history, supported by 5,000 ships with 195,700 navy personnel and 13,000 aircraft.” NO one knew if it would succeed, NO one knew those things that only God could know. But all knew that they were called to stand, to fight and persevere. If they had failed another invasion, another effort would be months, or years off — the Nazis would likely have further perfected their rockets, their jet aircraft, and would have killed almost all remaining Jews in Europe.
The Supreme Commander of the June 6 invasion, Dwight D. Eisenhower sent his troops into battle invoking the protection of Almighty God. The American, the British, and many other peoples around the world went to their knees as they heard word of the invasion and the American President led his nation in prayer. The invasion, though thrown off schedule on several fronts like Caen, was successful and the nations once again went to their knees, this time in thanksgiving for the
end of the Nazi reign of terror.
History tells us that much of the early effort of the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler was devoted to redefining “right and wrong. Of redefining the “sanctity of life. And even on several levels redefining marriage and its purposes. There was the silencing of the confessing Church. The use of the media to mock those who held firm to Scriptural Truth, then using the “law”, finally using brute force. All of this Irving remembered. I will never forget what Irving said to me. This man, a holocaust survivor said “I see it happening again!” My Friend Irving died this past week. We would see each other many times since our first encounter and he would always greet me with a charming smile and a kind word. The world lost a giant and I lost a friend. His life and his amazing story though, marches on. We will never forget.
I thought of Irving this week as I read again the last steps of another giant, the Apostle Paul. As Paul reaches the last leg of his journey to Rome we can look back and see how God lead him each step of the way. Many get tired of the game of life because they can no longer see the goalposts. Paul never lost sight of the goalposts. “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
The book of Acts leaves Paul in bonds for Jesus. The book of Acts leaves Paul sharing Jesus wherever and however he can and interestingly enough, the book of Acts doesn’t seem to have an ending… in fact it’s still being written! Paul’s last words from prison still ring in our ears… “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” Our lives tell a story and our lives share a message. May the strong Message of Jesus Love and Redemption march on through our lives and our influence.
This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Director of Ministry for the Family Research Council. He can be reached at 740-935-1406