Updated: Mar 26, 2022
How Christians applaud the Holocaust and similar atrocities
On June 28, 1942, early in the morning a 12,000 strong division of the fascist Ustaša-regime of Croatia swept through the predominantly Muslim Bosnian town of Granjašanice in a stealthy operation against its unsuspecting citizens. Part of the overall design to create an expanded Croatian territory, this Ustaša division was particularly deployed to systematically empty towns and villages of their indigenous population so they could later be resettled by Croatians. Soldiers of this particular division were chosen because of their undying loyalty to their country and party, and because of their religious zeal.
By noon of that summer’s day, the Ustaša troops had defeated all the men who resisted them without a single casualty on their side. It was but the start of a brutal genocide. Without regard for the religious affiliation or ethnicity of Granjašanice’s citizens, the invaders went on a killing spree. They massacred all the elderly men, all the remaining men who hadn’t participated in the fighting, all the people they found in the town’s hospital and all the boys aged 12 and above. In all, they killed 96,000 people. The Ustaša rounded up all the women, young boys and girls of the town and herded them back to the town of Lunavica Ridjka from where they operated, some 10 km northwest of Granjašanice. Once there, they locked all their prisoners in a concentration camp on the edge of Lunavica Ridjka; a camp that was not designed to house so many slave laborers.
Faced with the sheer number of captives and the logistics it would require to manage them, the Ustaša commander and religious leader bishop Moysei Bogdan ordered all the women and boys killed by any means possible. On this order, another 48,000 people lost their lives. The boys were shot or beaten to death; women were riddled with bullets, including the pregnant ones who were subsequently sliced open "to make sure their fetuses would die with them". Babies were simply stomped to death or smashed against the barracks’ walls. Of Granjašanice’s population, only 32,000 young girls aged 6 to14 were allowed to live; half of them were shipped off by trucks and trains to be distributed among Croatian families to serve as work and sex slaves. By the end of World War II, only a few hundred of the girls were still alive, while their hometown was annexed by Croatia and, as planned, resettled by Croatian immigrants.
Seven decades after the atrocities took place, a Christian preacher and contributor to the website of GotQuestions.org who had read an account of the events by a survivor, particularly commenting from a moral perspective, had the following to say:
“When we look at the command to kill the male Bosnian children, there are two perspectives we might take. One is the more understandably temporal. During the timeframe in question, […] warfare was rampant. It was highly likely that the male Bosnian children would grow up and seek revenge for their fathers and grandfathers against Croatia. Avenging the death of one’s father is a commonly accepted necessity in every culture and even in popular fiction—it’s what motivates Hamlet in Shakespeare’s classic play and what energizes Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride.
Further, the utterly disgusting depravity in which these Bosnian boys had been raised is well documented. Regular behaviors among the Bosnians included child sacrifice, cult prostitution, and bestiality. The divine prohibition of these acts was codified, and the acts were known to the Croatians. […]. Male inhabitants carrying on the lineage of this culture would have been a perennial problem for Croatia.
The other perspective we should consider is the divine. Now, we cannot know the mind of God or comprehend the depths of His wisdom (Isaiah 55:8–9). But we can know that, given the depravity of the Bosnians, God’s command to kill the Bosnian boys might have been an act of divine mercy. In His perfect knowledge—including His knowledge of what would happen in the lives of those young Bosnians, had they lived—it’s possible that God brought them to Himself before they had the opportunity of choosing to reject Him. It is highly possible that, had these males grown to maturity, they would have embraced the wanton rebellion and idolatry of their fathers. From God’s perspective, it may have been better for them to die at a young age than to endure a life of depravity and the attending temporal (and eternal) consequences.
In all this, we must remember that God is goodness. He is not simply a good moral agent like humans are commanded to be; He is not beholden to or measured by a standard outside of Himself. We cannot look at God’s actions as being in any moral category like human actions. God is not a man (Numbers 23:19). The very nature of God is such that He cannot do evil. “The LORD is righteous in all his ways” (Psalm 145:17). This is the point by which we must reconcile passages such as Numbers 31:17 with the likes of John 3:16.
Moreover, a major mistake we sometimes make is to think that our lives are our own. We are creatures, not the Creator. We could not exist for one moment without God’s willing our existence (Hebrews 1:3; Acts 17:28). We should not think that God owes us anything, be it a long life, a life free of suffering, or anything else. God desires our ultimate good, which is everlasting union with Him (2 Peter 3:8–10). Our ultimate good may not be realized in a long life or one devoid of pain and suffering. As strange as it may sound, the ultimate good of the Bosnian males may not have come about without their being killed by the Croatians in warfare. This is “brass tacks” and gets to the root of whether one thinks that man was made in the image of God or whether one makes a god in the image of man.
It is difficult to discuss these topics rationally because emotions often take over, and proclamations of “the innocence of children” grow loud. We sometimes hear things like “I could never believe in a God like that.” We are correct in the visceral reaction to children suffering and dying. At the same time, we must differentiate the cause and circumstance of the young Bosnians’ deaths from current situations. Suffering today is not brought about by God’s people taking possession of their promised land against a morally depraved and militant people group.
Also, we are profoundly incorrect when we start embracing notions like “if I were God, I certainly would not have done that.” God does not see human events as we do; He sees them as only God can. Thus, we have no basis by which to say that God would not have a humanly understandable, morally sufficient reason for commanding the death of children during the conquest of Bosnia.”
The above disgusting justification is a copy of the complete article posted on GotQuestions.org, save for the following:
The described Second World War event is a paraphrasing of a biblical story. I opted for the name of the commander because it means “God-given Moses”. Any similarity to a real person, living or not, is unintentional.
In the comment, the cursive terms Bosnian/Bosnians are replacements for the Midianite / Midianites on the one hand and the cursive Croatian / Croatians are replacements for the Israelites / Israel on the other.
The comment of the dangerously deranged and depraved Christian author is a defense for the genocide described in Numbers 31, a chapter in the "good book".
"Off to receive divine mercy in the gas chambers of Auschwitz!"...at least that's how GotQuestions.org describes it.
Both stories, my own and the bible story in Numbers are luckily fictional, but genocide isn’t and neither is the insane justification offered by this repulsive …I’m sorry, I don’t have any insult offensive enough to describe the author in question.
If only we could leave it at that, but it gets worse. Numbers 31:12 reads: “The Lord said to Moses, “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites.”"
So what is it the Midianite men, women, children, babies and fetuses did that deserved such punishment? Turns out, nothing at all! Let’s recap the chronology of events leading up to the war crimes ordered by god, which started in Numbers 25:
Some Israelite men have sex with some Moabite women.
These Moabite women enticed some of the Israelite men to worship Moabite gods.
God sends a plague upon the Israelites.
On god’s order, Moses orders the murder of all men who had worshipped the Moabite gods.
While this is going on, one Israelite has sex with one Midianite woman.
The Israelite priest Phinehas kills the couple while they are having sex.
This pleases god and he lifts the plague, by which time 24,000 Israelite men were either killed by the plague sent by god or by their fellow Israelites.
It is for these crimes of the Israelites that God orders the slaughter of the Midianites.
One Midianite woman has sex with an Israelite man. There is no mention of her leading this Zimri to idolatry (she was not given the time, nor does the possibility of her doing so necessarily lead to her doing so). But if the fact of an Israelite having sex with a Midianite is itself enough reason to be murdered, then why is no one murdering Moses? After all, he had sex with a Midianite woman multiple times as he married one and had (at least) two sons with her. It is but a minor detail perhaps, but by ordering the death of all Midianite men and boys, Moses also sentenced his own two sons with Zipporah to death. Given the depravity of their father, it was probably for the better.
Fictional stories or not, they are repulsive. And that would be okay, if the bible would be classified in libraries under the (adult) category fantasy, historical fiction or mythology. But as shown by the deranged anonymous Christian here, this book continues to be an inspiration for many people and worse, is promoted as a contemporary moral guide; hence its danger to a humane society and humanity itself.
Richard Dalet PHD, May 21, 2021
Notes, sources, references:
Original article: “Why did God command the Israelites to completely destroy the Midianites in Numbers 31:17?”, GotQuestions.org, https://www.gotquestions.org/Numbers-31-17-Midianites.htm
Bible quotation is taken from the New International Version and compared with KJV, NET and LSG.
Photograph source: "The struggle to survive Auschwitz", January 26, 2019, Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, https://mjhnyc.org/blog/the-struggle-to-survive-auschwitz/
Since the author of the article is not named, I can not state that it was written by Michael Houdmann, the founder of this ministry. Given that the article is on his website however, I assume he endorses it. I opted not to respond to each and every argument, although the assertion that god doesn't owe us anything is very tempting to address. However, in the face of such derisive and offensive rhetoric it is very hard to remain factual and objective, so for fear of stooping to the level of Got Questions I left the post as it now is. I do wonder though how he would feel if he came home one day to find his wife and children hacked to pieces, and a note left by the killer quoting him: "Out of divine mercy; better for them to die at a young age than to endure a life of depravity."