John Weidner, Part 2 [updated]

I’ve written previously about John Weidner and the Dutch-Paris (link). To learn more about him, I got three books recommended by Megan Koreman:

(1) The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe (Samuel & Pearl Oliner, 1988). After skimming through it, this looks like a fascinating study. Although it doesn’t address individual participants, making it difficult to learn specifically about Weidner himself, readers gain insights into the thoughts and experiences of those who were involved in actions such as Weidner’s network, the Dutch-Paris. It is my understanding that Weidner participated in the study. (Of course the stories at the bottom of page 82 would catch my attention while skimming.)

(2) Rescuers: Portraits of Moral Courage in the Holocaust (Gay Block & Malka Drucker, 1992, pp. 80-85). This short chapter (4.5 pages of stories, 1.5 pages of pictures) is a useful overview of Weidner’s story.

(3) The Hand of Compassion: Portraits of Moral Choice during the Holocaust (Kristen Renwick Monroe, 2004, pp. 101-137 + subsequent sections). As the length suggests, of the three books, this is the most in-depth account of Weidner’s thoughts and experiences. Where numbers don’t match between this book and #2 above, it’s hard to know which is more accurate. Recurring themes include (a) the need to develop our hearts and not only our heads, (b) the developmental influence of his parents, and (c) the duty to do what one can to help others. To me these are powerful stories, a mix of beauty/love and horror/evil.

Here are two excerpts found early in this third source (so hard to choose only two):

As a Dutchman, I was very unhappy to see Hitler take over Holland…. Hitler and the Nazis were teaching hate, resentment, vengeance, and violence, all the things we are so against in my own concept of life and family. The basis of our beliefs is love to our God and love to our neighbor. The way to serve the Lord was to serve your neighbor. That was the basis for our beliefs in the church and at home. That and also the concept of personal freedom and respect for human beings. (p. 102)

One lesson that you have to learn from the horrible Holocaust… To arrest people because of race, what is the lesson? Why did it happen? It happened because people had hate in their hearts instead of love. If all these people had love and compassion, then they would have never done anything to Jewish people. If we want to learn something, and hope it will not happen again, look at hate. You have to learn that you have to love your neighbor. He can be Jew. He can be Arab. He can be an American or German, anyone. We have to love our neighbor. If our hearts are not developed, the hearts of children, to love and have compassion, and to respect human life and beings, then we will not learn very much. (pp 108-109)

Bonus quote about religion and love:

I don’t know that you had to be religious. An Adventist, a Catholic, or a Jew, you had to have love in your heart. How does love come into your heart? I don’t know exactly. But I know I have to have love. If I don’t have it, then I have to ask the Lord to give me it. I need more love, more affection, more consideration for others, and more desire to help others, and be less selfish. (p. 117)

I highly recommend this chapter for the thought-provoking stories and the insightful reflections on his experiences. It’s dark, but very meaningful. For more on this topic, see Part 1.

UPDATE: Adventist Peace Fellowship posted a story on 16 February 2014.

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2 Responses to John Weidner, Part 2 [updated]

  1. Doug Morgan says:

    Very grateful for the Weidner quotes and references — inspiring to say the least!

  2. Pingback: Anti-Defamation League Honors John Weidner Posthumously | The APF Blog

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