O P I N I O N
by Michael Maass
The text of Pastor Michael Maass’s talk at the Sabbath dinner in Plungyán (Plungė), Lithuania, on 15 July 2011, during preparations for the commemoration ceremony at the nearby mass murder site on 17 July 2011. See also Abel Levitt’s speech here, and the imaginary speech of a Lithuanian official here (with further links at end of page).
Text provided by Pastor Michael Maass.
Good evening. We are Michael and Fausta Maass, the directors of the Lithuanian branch of the International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem. You might say we are ambassadors from the Christian nation to the Jewish nation. We represent millions of Christians in over sixty countries who love Israel and the Jewish people. We are honored to be with you tonight.
We believe that friendship between Jews and Christians is vitally important, especially in light of recent developments in the world. The legitimacy of the nation of Israel is under attack from many sides. Antisemitism is rising to a level not seen since the Second World War.
We must be diligent to learn the terrible lessons of history. On June 22nd 1941, war broke out in Lithuania, accompanied by a massive antisemitic propaganda campaign. The Jewish people were demonized as the enemies of society. Lithuanians were told that the deportations by the Soviets were all the fault of the Jews. So strong and continuous were the lies that they were largely believed. Such hatred was stirred up that many ordinary citizens turned against the Jewish community which had existed here for centuries. Some became collaborators in the Shoah, the most terrible crime in all history.
My remarks to you tonight are a public acknowledgment of a tragic moral and spiritual failure on the part of many people who lived in the so-called “Christian” nations of Europe. Yes, there were those who risked their lives and rescued their Jewish neighbors. I thank God for them. But there were many more who in various ways cooperated with the Germans. Very few spoke out against the evil that was happening. The silence was deafening. There can be no excuses. We ask forgiveness from God, and from the Jewish people of Lithuania and the world for what many of our forefathers did. We pledge to act differently. We are not content to remain silent while even a hint of antisemitism remains.
The only thing that can destroy a lie is the truth, boldly proclaimed. In September of this year we will host an event to be held all across Lithuania, called the “March of Life”. A large group of Christians from Germany will be coming here, in humble repentance for what their fathers and grandfathers did during the war. Lithuanian Christians will be joining them in these public events which will be a bold statement against antisemitism in all of its forms. We invite the Jewish communities of this country and the world to be our honored guests.
When God formed the nation of Israel He said to Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation, and that all peoples on earth would be blessed through them (Gen. 12: 2-3). And the people of Israel did become a great blessing to all of us. They stood at Mount Sinai and received the Ten Commandments and the Torah. They taught us of the one true God and gave us the Bible. Here in Lithuania, great blessing came from the Jews. Much of the infrastructure of the nation was built by its Jewish citizens. Businesses, commerce and trade, schools, hospitals, orchestras, literature, newspapers and magazines, famous yeshivas, all came from the Jewish people, the ones that God calls the “apple of His eye”.
We believe this history should be taught in every school in Lithuania. Sadly but importantly, the destruction of the Lithuanian Jews must be taught as well. The Christian Embassy has a program in the Czech Republic where the truth of the Holocaust is now taught in public schools, and funded by the European Union. Such education is vital here in Lithuania as well, not just as lessons of history, but to help cleanse the minds and conscience of a nation.
Thank you for letting us be here with you tonight. We have the deepest respect and love for the Jewish people of Lithuania and the world. May God bless you all.
- Michael and Fausta Maass
- International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, Lithuanian section