European Leadership Forum

May 23, 2014

And Auschwitz Pre-Forum Conference

Rev. Dr. William Edgar will be participating in this year's European Leadership Forum, May 24-29. Also, he will lead a pre-forum conference on May 23-24 on the historical, moral, and theological significance of the Auschwitz death camp. Dr. Edgar will be leading afternoon workshops during the conference on Christian engagement in the world. His workshops include, "Entry Points for the Gospel in Europe Today: What are the Crucial Issues to Show the Gospel's Relevance and Truth" and "The Lord's Prayer as an Apologetic."

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Registration for the pre-forum conference has closed, however here is a description of the topics Dr. Edgar will be addressing:

One of the most harrowing phenomena in all of human history, the German death camps were created for the implementation of the Nazi’s “final solution” to the “Jewish problem.” There were some 300 concentration camps and six pure extermination camps. In these state-sponsored centers some six million Jews were murdered, representing nearly 80% of the Jews living in occupied lands during World War II. When one adds other “undesirables,” such people as ethnic Poles, Slavs, Romani, as well as disabled and homosexual people, the figures soar to well over ten million. What were the principal factors leading up to the Shoah? How could one of the most so-called advanced civilizations on earth devolve to such raw barbarism? Was it a novum or are there parallels anywhere else? How have Europeans processed and dealt with the consequences of these terrible camps, the largest and deadliest of which was Auschwitz? Most importantly, is there any meaning or theological sense possible in the face of such unspeakable evil? Is there a biblical interpretation of these events that brings any kind of sense to it, or were Christians accessories, if not complicit? We will explore these issues with presentations, discussion, and a visit to Auschwitz.

Dr. Edgar will speak on the significance of the largest and most destructive of the death camps during World War II. After setting forth the facts and dates, we will look at the immediate context in European history, hoping to gain some understanding of the possible causes leading up to the death camps. Of special importance will be the background of Germany between the two great wars, and the rise of the extreme right, with its particular agenda against the Jews. We will attempt to understand the minds of Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Rudolph Höss, and Joseph Mengele. Of particular interest will be the testimonies of a few who endured the Holocaust, including Primo Levi, Anne Frank and Etty Hillesum.

The Inquiry will be in three parts. (1) Friday evening lecture by Dr Edgar; (2) Saturday visit to Auschwitz; (3) Saturday afternoon de-briefing.