From the outset I want to make it very clear that although I am writing this on a Holocaust-related subject, I certainly do not presume to understand the ‘mechanics’ of the Holocaust, as that is just far too big and broad for any individual to grasp.
One thing I can tell you though, this is the most difficult research study I have ever undertaken, as the Holocaust is the totality of all that is evil in mankind. I have already suffered several meltdowns from this undertaking, overwhelmed by the evil and darkness associated with it.
Jeremiah was right when he wrote:
‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately evil;
Who can know it?
~ Jeremiah 17:9
Reasons for writing the book
The reason I wrote the book Bazyli & Anna Jocz — Jewish Christian Victims of the Holocaust, is due to a request two and half years ago by my former colleague David Pileggi, the rector of Christ Church Jerusalem and the director of the Conrad Schick Library and Archive there.
David wanted me to record the history of the Jewish followers of Jesus during the Holocaust, and especially to determine the names of those who lost their lives.
Christ Church is owned by an organisation named CMJ, Church’s Ministry among Jewish People, and many Jewish Christian victims of the Holocaust were associated with CMJ, especially in Poland. One of those victims was Bazyli Jocz.
This joint research study between Heritage Resources Pty Ltd, in which I am involved, and the Conrad Schick Library, is entitled ‘The Jewish non-Aryan Christian Research Study.’ I am also indebted to others such Mitch Glaser, Richard Harvey and Gerson Nerel who are also interested in the same subject matter.
The term Non-Aryan Christian was used by the Nazis to classify Jewish people who were associated with the Church. These Jewish people were often completely assimilated, while some regarded themselves as Hebrew Christians or Jewish Christians. At that time, Jewish followers of Jesus were not known as Messianic Jews.
Our desire in this research study is to record details about these people, and to honour their memory. How many people today even know that there were possibly tens of thousands of such victims, let alone honour their memory?
These victims of the Holocaust were often triply maligned: by many in the general population because they were viewed as being Jewish; by many Jewish people because they were viewed as being converts and apostates and therefore not Jewish anymore; and even by some in the Church, as they were viewed as being ‘non-Aryan Christians’, that is, Jewish, and therefore not welcome in the Gentile Church.
The Israeli historian Havi Ben Sasson wrote of this group of Jewish people for the Journal of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Israel:
“It is a basic Jewish principle that even a sinful Jew still remains a Jew. Thus, a Jew remains affiliated with the Jewish community at large (for better or worse) irrespective of his/her actions. During World War II, this tenet of the faith took on practical significance.
With the occupation of Warsaw, obviously, the Jews of the city and its surroundings fell into the clutches of the Nazis. However, some 2,000 converts to Christianity who, despite their non-Jewish way of life were perceived by the Nazis as full-fledged Jews based on a racial definition of a Jew, were also at risk.”
~ Christians in the Ghetto: All Saints’ Church, Birth of the Holy Virgin Mary Church, and the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, in Yad Vashem Studies XXXI, edited by David Silberland, (Yad Vashem Jerusalem, 2003), pp. 153-45.
A Hebrew Christian pastor, and later a leading Messianic Jewish academic named Jakob Jocz, wrote of this group in 1941:
“From what we know of conditions in Poland at the present moment, the lot of the Jewish-Christian believers must be even worse than that of the Jews. The Nazis, who condemn every Jew as a pariah, irrespective of creed, have probably driven the Hebrew Christians back into the Jewish ghetto. But within the ghetto the Hebrew-Christian is again a pariah, this time in the eyes of the Jews. He can scarcely expect any help or sympathy from the Jewish community. His plight must be terrible.
Thus the young Hebrew Christian groups in Poland are going through a time of testing and great trial… Their temptation to deny or renounce Christ must be great. Some of them will probably lapse. We pray that many may endure and remain faithful.”
~ Hebrew Christianity in Poland, cited in The Hebrew Christian, Volume XIV, 1941-9142, p. 65.
The publication looks, in part, at these Jewish or Hebrew Christians, mostly through the lens of one Hebrew Christian family, the Jocz family of Poland.
Personal connection with the subject matter
I have no familial connection to the subject matter. I am not Jewish, and therefore had no family members who experienced the Holocaust.
During my 24 or so years in Israel, however, I came to know many Messianic Jews, including the two pastors of the Messianic congregation I was part of who were children of Holocaust survivors.
But when I was a young boy growing up in Babakin in rural Western Australia, I became aware of the Holocaust, especially by reading about it initially in Purnell’s History of the Second World War encyclopaedia. There was one whole section dedicated to Hitler’s final solution to the Jewish problem.
As a young boy, I was intrigued by the horrific photographs attached to the text, and a question became entrenched in my young mind: “Who were these people and why were they being treated so badly?”
Also by the age of ten, I had become aware of Israel, due to the Six Days War and the presence of an Israeli family, the Fleischers, on a nearby farm at Babakin.
On one occasion, while on a visit to the local newsagency in Corrigin, when I was going to purchase either a cricket or football magazine, I noticed a book entitled Treblinka. Treblinka was one of the five Nazi death camps. I purchased that book instead. Now what twelve-year-old boy with no Jewish background would do that?
Then in my late teen years, I read such books as Mila 18 about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and QB VII, also about the Holocaust — books which were purchased by my brother Grant and cousin Lindsay. Seeds were being sown relating to the subject matter.
While gallivanting around Europe in 1978, I visited a number of Holocaust-related places in Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union, including Dachau concentration camp and Warsaw, including the former Ghetto — where Mila 18 had been located.
When I finally arrived in Israel in early 1979, the reality of the Holocaust became even more profound. Wherever I went, I met people whose entire families had perished, including those of my kibbutz parents. These were the remnant.
One of the first places I visited in Jerusalem was Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum. It was not an easy place to visit, but over the following years I found myself returning there often. That question ‘Why’, was always there, but there was never a desire to try to answer that question.
After becoming a follower of Jesus I moved to Jerusalem, and for a short time looked after a Holocaust survivor. This man had been badly beaten by the Nazis, yet had survived, although he was mentally damaged ever since.
Later I worked in a psychiatric and geriatric hospital in Jerusalem, and twice a week I was invited to go into the closed ward to assist with the dance and music therapy group. Numerous Holocaust survivors were located in this ward.
This was a somewhat challenging and occasionally a frightening experience, but one that I shall always remember.
Each year, everyone living in Israel was confronted and reminded of the actuality of the Holocaust in a special way on Yom HaShoah — Holocaust Day. Holocaust deniers really are from another planet.
Then in 2006, I joined with David Pileggi on a tour of Eastern Europe and visited numerous Holocaust related sites, including Auschwitz. Visiting an actual death camp is quite different from visiting either Yad Vashem or a concentration camp.
At this point I should explain the difference between a death camp and a concentration or internment camp. There were literally hundreds of concentration and internment or work camps spread throughout Nazi-occupied Europe. Many Jewish people were held in those camps, but also many non-Jewish people including Polish intellectuals and Catholic priests, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roma and Sinta peoples (Gypsies), homosexuals and political opponents.
Lexie’s grandfather AAL Rutgers, for instance, was a political opponent of the Nazis in the Netherlands and was interned for some time in Buchenwald, while her uncle Lex was a member of the Dutch underground and was interned at Sachsenhausen.
But there were five specific camps designated to murder Jewish people. These were Auschwitz, which had initially been a Polish army barracks; Chelmno, which was mostly a mansion and burial grounds in nearby forests; as well as Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka.
Once while on a visit to Warsaw, I took the train out to Treblinka and spent half a day walking through where the camp had been, as well as the surrounding forest. It was one of the eeriest experiences I had ever had. Between 700,000 to 900,000 Jewish people were sadistically murdered in that location.
BUT despite such visits and exposure, I still had no desire to get too close to the subject of the Holocaust, no desire to go past a certain point.
When you do investigative research, you will often invest yourself in the subject matter in order to better understand the mechanics of what you are researching. This way you can hopefully communicate not just head knowledge, but something from the gut, communicating a message with passion and understanding.
When I was doing the research for the Light Horse and Anzac involvement in the Middle East for instance, I often needed to take some risks, and make a considerable investment of time and finances to go and locate relevant battle-sites etc, and this way be in a better place to communicate the subject matter.
Concerning the Holocaust, however, I didn’t want to get too close to the subject matter because — well, who would voluntarily choose to better understand the mechanics of the most heinous and demonic crime in world history?
But then in April 2018, I felt it was right to accept David Pileggi’s request to undertake this research study. I felt the time was right to be willing to go past that certain point, to step out of my comfort zone and try to discover information about those Jewish people who had the same faith as myself and had been victims of the Holocaust.
From the outset, though, I often felt disqualified to undertake this study. How can I, from a Gentile background, who never personally experienced these horrific events — research, write and even speak about them?
The subject of the Holocaust is just so terrible, especially for the Jewish people.
You see, if any Jewish person happened to be in Europe then, and this included Allied POWs, they would all be under the sentence of death. Can we Gentiles comprehend this? But Jewish people have to constantly live with this reality. People can hate them and want to harm them just because they are Jewish.
The Holocaust is a difficult and contentious subject matter. But so too is the subject matter of Jewish followers of Jesus, especially for the Jewish community, and also to a lesser degree, for sections of the Church. This research study and present publication deals with both of these matters together.
Since undertaking this research study, I have spent countless hours reading and researching at home, as well as doing some research here in Australia and conducting three very intense overseas research trips.
1. The first of these was in mid-2018 to Israel and included considerable time in the Conrad Schick Library and Yad Vashem. Then it was on to Poland for a Holocaust-related tour organised by David Pileggi. This tour included time in a number of former ghettos, especially Warsaw, as well as visiting burial sites in the forests.
Many people are not aware that perhaps two million or more Jewish people were actually shot, mostly in Ukraine and Belarus, and were buried in mass graves in forests or at Jewish cemeteries. Many were also murdered in this way in Poland, and there are many such mass graves there.
On this tour four of the five death camps were also visited, namely — Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec and Auschwitz, as well as the notorious concentration camp of Majdanek near Lublin.
2. The second research trip was to the UK, Canada and USA in November-December 2018, when I visited about seventeen archives and collections, mostly from British and American Evangelical Christian organisations which had functioned in Europe prior to the Second World War.
There was a large number of Jewish Christians spread throughout Europe pre-1939. Although the majority were associated with the Roman Catholic Church, there were also many associated with the Orthodox, Uniate (or Greek Catholic) and Protestant Churches.
There were also many evangelical Protestant missionary societies from Britain, the United States and numerous European countries, operating throughout Europe and especially in Poland. Many of these societies have historic collections and archives.
Two of those archives are located in Toronto, Canada and were related to Jakob Jocz. One such archive was in the possession of Philip Jocz and his sister Anne, Jakob’s children.
Jakob had been the minister of the large Anglican-based Hebrew Christian community in Warsaw in Poland before the War. That community, numbering over 100, was almost completely destroyed by the Nazis and their sympathisers, either in the Warsaw Ghetto or in Treblinka.
This community of Hebrew Christians was associated with CMJ. Prior to World War Two, CMJ operated two ministry centres in Poland; one in Warsaw and the other at Lwow, which is now Lviv in Ukraine, where Jakob’s parents, Bazyli and Anna and brother Jan lived, and where Pawel (Paul) later served.
When Poland was defeated by the Germans, it was divided into three regions: one region was annexed by the Germans; one region, which included Lwow, was annexed by the Soviets; and one region, named the General Government, which included Warsaw, remained under German control.
While one of Jakob’s brothers, Jerzy, remained in Warsaw and probably endured the Ghetto experience, the remainder of the family were in Lwow.
Although life was difficult under the Soviets, it was manageable. But then on 22 June 1941, the Germans invaded the Soviet Union, and then life suddenly became unbearable for the Jewish people in that region, including the Jocz family.
In order to survive, Bazyli was hidden in a woodshed at the home of a Gentile Christian from their Evangelical congregation. Anna remained in their house, which was commandeered by the Germans, and passed herself off as a Polish Christian.
They lived under these circumstances for over two and a half years, until, unfortunately, Bazyli was discovered in February 1944 and summarily executed.
Two and half years being hidden in a woodshed. Can you relate to that? How could someone retain their mental faculties in that situation?
How did the Gestapo agents know that Bazyli was Jewish? Because they conducted a body search. There is no greater sign of a person’s Jewishness than the sign of circumcision.
In that encounter, Anna was badly beaten by the Gestapo agents, yet survived the ordeal but was paralysed from the waist downwards thereafter.
After the War and aided by her son Pawel, or Paul, Anna quite miraculously managed to get out of Soviet-controlled Poland and made it to Britain, where she lived with Jakob and his family.
Then in 1956 Jakob moved with his family, including Anna, to Canada, and hence the reason for Jakob’s archives being located there.
While in Toronto I met Jakob’s son, Philip, at his sister’s house and he brought out lots of material related to his family, some of which they had just recently found. Included was a large file, of which Philip said something like: ‘I don’t know what to do with this file, it is all in German, and have even thought of throwing it out’ — or words to that effect.
Thankfully Philip had not thrown that file out. Virtually all of the above related information was found in what I call “The German File”.
During all the years that Jakob had been caring for his partly paralysed mother Anna, he had not received any government assistance. But then, in 1957, Jakob attempted to obtain financial compensation from the German Government for the injuries sustained by Anna at the hands of the Gestapo agents.
As you could imagine, the German government would want to ascertain if Jakob’s claim was true, and so they had a legal team attached to the case. Jakob also had a legal representative in Canada. This file contained all of the correspondence relating to these deliberations spread out over many years.
Despite my poor German, as I flicked through the 200 or so pages, I noticed lots of biographical material. These pages were then photographed and later given to Deborah Pileggi to translate into English, which she did over a period of time.
The analysing of all the material from the Jocz collection and the German File though needed to wait.
3. The third major research trip was a solid ten-week period in 2019 which took in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Austria, and the Czech Republic.
On that trip I visited all five death camps, including the Chelmno Camp, and literally dozens of other former ghettos, concentration and detention camps, museums, memorials and libraries associated with the subject matter in all the above-mentioned countries.
Collating the research materials — two models
Thus far, I have collected many thousands of pages and photographs of research material. Early on I had difficulty knowing how to catalogue the materials, not so much physically, but thematically, so that I would not get lost.
As a result, I have developed two models to assist me.
The first model relates to Jewish non-Aryan Christians.
In the Nazi world-view there were Aryans and there non-Aryans. Germans were Aryans, or as otherwise defined, as Nordic or even Caucasian peoples. Jews (as well as Roma and Sinta peoples) were non-Aryans, that is, non-Europeans.
According to the Nazi race laws promulgated at Nuremberg in 1935, the Jocz family were 100% Jewish. Yet the entire Jocz family were also 100% Jewish followers of Jesus, and were part of the Church, albeit in Poland.
To the Nazis, all German institutions were to further the Nazi worldview. The Church was one such institution. So it had to be brought under Nazi control. A tough ideological battle then occurred within the German Church between those holding to a Nazi worldview, and those upholding a Biblical, evangelical worldview. This struggle is associated with Martin Niemoller and Dietrich Bonhoffer.
What then about the Jewish people who were associated with the Church? For the Nazis they were Jewish — because the issue was NOT one of faith, but one of bloodline.
Oftentimes in my research, mention is made of the ‘converts’ or other terms, meaning of course the Jewish non-Aryan Christians. Some of these references could be quite derogatory.
However, I have discovered there were at least seven categories of Jewish non-Aryan Christians:
- Someone who was genuinely convinced before 1 September 1939 that Jesus was the promised Messiah of Israel. The entire Jocz family were in this group.
- Someone who ‘converted’ and was baptised and became a member of the Church mostly for socio-economic reasons, seeing this as being the best avenue for progressing in the host Gentile (or ‘Christian’) society.
- Someone who ‘converted’ and was baptised into the Church because they were marrying a Gentile or Christian spouse. This person may or may not have had a genuine faith in Jesus as the Messiah.
- Someone whose parents or grandparents had ‘converted’ and were baptised, from categories 1, 2 or 3, and who now as a second or third generation person outside of the Jewish community did not perceive themselves as a member of the community of Israel. They were for all intents and purposes fully assimilated, into the Gentile world.
- Someone who ‘converted’ and was baptised after 1 September 1939 due to war-time expediency, perceiving this as bettering their chances of survival. There were instances where baptismal certificates were issued which provided their Jewish recipients with the opportunity to survive, and many did. Some from this category might thereafter have continued in the Church, while others in time re-joined the Jewish community.
- Someone who as a child after 1 September 1939 was entrusted to Christian individuals and institutions for safekeeping. This group created considerable angst after the War as some of the children did not want to return to the Jewish community, and some of the Christian people or institutions did not want to return the child to the Jewish community.
- Someone who after 1 September 1939 in the midst of the War was genuinely convinced that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel.
There may well be more sub-groupings, but this is my working model, in this publication as well as in my general research.
My second working model relates to how the Holocaust happened.
In brief, the Holocaust was the plan of the Nazi German leadership to systematically and completely murder some 11 million Jewish people in Europe and surrounding regions.
But I do not believe this was their initial objective when they gained power in 1933.
There were, as I can see, seven phases or stages of the Holocaust. These are not rigid and there is overlap between them, and this is my own personal working model:
Phase 1 Until 1933 — Foundations laid.
The Nazi worldview was built upon foundations which ran very deep into history.
Those foundations included historic anti-Semitism as found in the established Churches, including the teachings of some of the Church Fathers and Martin Luther, especially from his vitriolic book The Jews and their Lies. The Nazis later used sayings from the Church Fathers and from Luther to justify their racial policies against the Jewish people.
Then there were other contributing factors such as
- rampant nationalism, especially of the Pan-German variety;
- the influence of the Age of Reason, especially on the Protestant Church which led in some places to a more liberal form of Christianity;
- and the influence of the occult. Some Nazis even wanted to return to the pre-Christian Germany, and they invoked the ancient Germanic deities.
- A very strong influence upon the Nazi worldview was Darwinism, with its emphasis upon superior and inferior races of people.
- Then there were the particular personality traits of Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels and other Nazi leaders.
Phase 2 1933-1939 — Intimidation, exploitation and emigration.
Following the Nazi takeover of power in Germany, and later Austria and Czechoslovakia, they increasingly pressured and exploited Jewish people, denouncing and de-legitimising them, and encouraging them to leave the Reich.
There were three major significant events in this process: the passing of the law forbidding Jewish people from working in the civil service in April 1933; the passing of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, which basically eradicated Jewish citizenship in Germany; and a nationwide pogrom on 9-10 November 1938, known as Kristallnacht.
Phase 3 1939-1940 – The Lublin & Ghettoization Plan.
This was the policy after the Germans invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. They divided the defeated Poland into three regions, one region was annexed by the Germans, one region, which included Lwow, was annexed by the Soviets, and one region, named the General Government and which included Warsaw, remained under German control.
The Nazis planned to move all the Jewish people under their control to a specific area within the General Government region around the city of Lublin. Initially though most Jewish people in captured Poland were relocated into ghettos, the largest being in Warsaw.
This Lublin and Ghettoisation Plan in time became quite unworkable and a new solution was sought.
Phase 4 1940-1941 — The Madagascar Plan.
I had never heard about this plan until beginning this research study, particularly when I read of Jewish people, including non-Aryan Christians, being taken from Western Germany all the way down to the south of France and placed in a large detention camp named Gurs, at the base of the Pyrenees.
From there they would be moved to the French colonial territory of Madagascar, the first of all four million Jewish people then under Nazi control, one million a year. The person entrusted with developing this plan was Adolf Eichmann.
Last year, while on a CMJ-related speaking trip to France, I went down to that region and located Gurs. Although there is little infrastructure remaining, there is though a very large cemetery there with mostly Jewish graves, which is quite unusual in the context of the Holocaust.
I even found evidence of congregations for both Jewish Catholics and Jewish Protestants at Gurs.
The Madagascar Plan ultimately failed though because the Germans could not defeat the British, who controlled the seas, so a new policy was required for the Jewish people.
Phase 5 1941 — The Eastern Plan.
When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 in Operation Barbarossa, they had orders to shoot Soviet Commissars, (who were Bolshevik representatives). As Hitler equated Bolshevism with the Jews, this order included the indiscriminate shooting of Jewish males of a certain age group.
It was most likely at this time that Bazyli was hidden in the woodshed.
The Eastern plan also involved the transfer of Jewish people in western Europe to captured regions of the Soviet Union. They would later be removed over the Ural Mountains into Asia and therefore out of Europe, thus satisfying Hitler’s desire to create a Judenfrei Europe.
Phase 6 1941-1942 — Initial implementation of Genocide.
But several months after the invasion the Nazi murder squads, especially the Einsatzgruppen, began to indiscriminately shoot Jewish women, children and older men. This was an ominous sign.
It was then that Himmler, the head of the SS, ordered that other methods of mass murder apart from shooting be developed.
This resulted in the development initially of the gas vans (which were used at Chelmno) and ultimately of the permanent gassing facilities at the other four Death Camps, namely Auschwitz, Belzec, Treblinka and Sobibor.
Phase 7 1942-1945 — Complete implementation of Genocide.
The final phase began with a Conference in Wannsee House near Berlin on 20 January 1942.
At this Conference, the decision was made to systematically murder all eleven million Jewish people in Europe and surrounding regions. No Jewish person would be spared.
Simon Rufus Isaacs, the Marquess of Reading, who wrote the Foreword of the book, told me that he was earmarked for death even as a small child living in Britain — solely because he was Jewish. Thankfully, he said, the Germans did not conquer Britain.
Following the Wannsee Conference, Jewish people throughout Europe were transported to one of the five death camps or were murdered in other ways, especially through shooting. The murder of the remaining millions of Jewish people in Poland was named Operation Reinhart.
The Jewish non-Aryan Christians were caught up in these various phases of the Holocaust.
These two models as presented above have enabled me to place much of the information gleaned in a manner that has assisted me, in part, to better understand the subject I am researching.
But, as you could well imagine, there is then the challenge of being able to communicate this information in such a way that the message can be understood.
How could this be done?
After returning from that extended research trip in 2019, I had literally thousands more visuals and pages of photographed material to sift through. The first task was to compile the names of all the Jewish followers of Jesus from the Netherlands who were victims of the Holocaust. It would seem there were at least 431 Jewish non-Aryan Christians from the Netherlands who died, mostly in Auschwitz and Sobibor.
Then I again looked over the materials from the Jocz collection, including the translated documents from the German File. It was then that I realised that here was the possibility of communicating the broader subject matter by following the lives of this entire family of Jewish followers of Jesus from Poland.
Here was a family, who according to the Nazi laws promulgated at Nuremberg in 1935 were 100% Jewish, yet the entire Jocz family were also 100% followers of Jesus.
After receiving the endorsement and permission from Philip Jocz, this task then began in earnest earlier this year.
The theme of the book
In the book there are a number of introductory chapters which endeavour to lay a foundation for understanding how and why some Jewish people followed Jesus and why most Jewish people did not; how and why Jewish people arrived in Poland; and how and why the Jocz family came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
These chapters also then endeavour to paint a picture of life for the Jocz family within the region of Poland during the years leading up to the outbreak of World War Two.
Throughout the chapters on the Second World War period mention is often made of the challenges facing the Jocz family, as well as the sufferings of other Jewish followers of Jesus, including the deaths of numerous leaders of the various congregations and ministries; in the Warsaw Ghetto; in the pogrom in Iasi (Jassy) in Romania, and being shot in the forests of Belarus and Lithuania.
One particular situation was the deaths on one day of some 200 Jewish Christians at Chelmno. These were part of Leon Rosenberg’s Bethel Mission in Lodz as well as many from the Messiah’s Chapel in Berlin.
The bulk of the narrative though revolves around what was happening in Lwow, and in particular about how Bazyli, Anna, Pawel and Elzbieta or Elizabeth were trying to survive.
To aid me in my understanding of the situation in Lwow I have resorted to a book written by Rabbi David Kahane entitled Lvov Ghetto Diary. Rabbi Kahane survived the Holocaust and later became the Chief Rabbi of the Israeli Airforce.
He survived, as too did his wife and daughter, because of the courageous role played by the Greek Catholic Archbishop, Andrei Sheptytsky, who at the risk of his own life, harboured them, as well as many other Jewish people.
At one point, Sheptysky said he would take in Jewish children, but it would be difficult with the Jewish boys. If the Nazis did a spot check and noticed that a little boy was circumcised, they would take the child away. Sheptytsky is indeed one of the heroes of the narrative.
The strain upon those in hiding, including Bazyli and Anna, must have been immense. What is quite amazing also is that Anna somehow managed to hide a young girl, presumably a Jewish girl, also during this time. She survived.
Unfortunately there was an informant who told the Gestapo about Bazyli, and he was arrested just a few months before the Soviets recaptured Lwow.
It is not known what became of the Gentile Christian who had hidden Bazyli, but he too is certainly a hero.
Apart from Anna, Pawel and Elzbieta, I have not located evidence of what happened to the other Jewish Christians in Lwow.
The majority of those associated with the CMJ work in Warsaw perished however, including Victor Weisman and his family. Weisman was a close associate of Bazyli.
There is evidence of some survivors from Warsaw. One of these wrote to Jakob after the War stating:
‘I do not know what impression my letter will make upon you, but I can assure you that it is not a ghost who is writing but a living person who regards Dante’s hell as nothing compared with what has been taking place in our midst during the reign of the “ingenious” madman.
But I am the same person … who used to attend your Services … on Sundays.
Pastor … I am so discouraged, as nothing will convey in human language my experiences, and yet there were others who suffered more. I [can] therefore modestly hold my peace.
One thing, however, I know with certainty, the Great Spirit of Love accompanied me everywhere & kept me; in order to manifest His Power to those who put their whole trust in Him. I have learned to be happy in suffering, to give thanks for it, & even ask for more if so be His will…’
Another survivor, Ruth Kucinska, whose father had worked for CMJ, sent a detailed letter with a graphic account of her experiences, including the death of her husband by starvation in the Warsaw Ghetto, but then of how she managed to get over to the Gentile side.
This was a challenge because of her Jewishness, and she finally had to place her 7-year-old son in a Protestant orphanage. But she wrote:
‘Unfortunately, after 3 months of stay there he was discovered by the Gestapo and taken away for ever.
At the same time in 1943 the Warsaw ghetto was liquidated and my mother found her death at the hands of the German Hitlerites.’
All of the Evangelical societies had similar reports. The Mildmay Mission wrote:
‘First and foremost there is the naked fact that six out of seven workers in Poland and the Baltic countries have perished. The only survivor, Mr. R. Friedland, of Warsaw, lost his young wife at the hands of guards…’
~ Trusting & Toiling
It is very clear that the majority of the Hebrew Christians in Europe and especially in Poland, never survived. Europe had the largest number of Jewish Christians pre-1939.
It now seemed that alongside the Jewish community at large, the Hebrew Christian movement was gone.
Many of the Holocaust survivors left Europe and established new lives for themselves, especially in Eretz Israel and in North America. Then the clear sign of Almighty God’s covenant relationship with the nation of Israel was manifested on 14 May 1948 when the State of Israel was proclaimed.
Indeed Am Yisrael Hai — the Jewish people live.
Many Hebrew Christian survivors also left Europe, some going to Eretz Israel, but most, like Rachmiel Frydland, went to North America, where he later became a Messianic Rabbi.
Jakob and Paul Jocz also went to North America, and they too became involved in the new and emerging Messianic movement there. Jakob even became the President of the International Hebrew Christian Alliance, which today is named the International Messianic Jewish Alliance.
The numbers of Jewish followers of Jesus is now higher than ever before in history, and in Israel itself there are dozens of Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregations.
The Nazi Hitlerites did not succeed in destroying the people of Israel, and they did not succeed in silencing the Hebrew Christian movement.
Anna Jocz, although badly beaten and paralysed from the waist downwards for the remainder of her life, lived to see the rebirth of both of these entities from the ashes of the Holocaust.
Then in late 1961, Jakob and the family moved to a larger house and Anna received a large room to herself with a balcony and view outside. This was a luxury for her. But then she fell ill and had to be moved to a nursing home.
Then news arrived that she would receive financial compensation from the German Government. But Anna never received any such benefits as she died peacefully, in Toronto, on 11 December 1961.
It was almost as if Anna had become so accustomed to the challenges and difficulties of life that she wasn’t seeking any such creature comforts. It was almost as if she was looking ahead to an inheritance which far surpassed whatever it was the world could offer.
This research study has left me with some challenges
As I have researched about Anna, the Jocz family, and the broader subject, I am left with a few personal challenges.
One is to do what I can to ensure that the memories of those who were victims of the greatest crime in world history should never be forgotten; and that the ideas which gave birth to the Holocaust should be exposed and made known. Ideas have consequences.
Another challenge relates to the character of the Church. There should be no anti-Semitism in the Church. Anti-Semitism is contrary to the character of the true Church.
The true Church is composed of Jew and Gentile, Aboriginal and white fella, rich and poor, and all are one and equal in covenant relationship with Almighty God.
Last Sunday, the collective Dutch Protestant Church officially acknowledged their failure towards the Jewish people during the War. Late, but nevertheless a step in the right direction.
But perhaps the biggest challenge for me from this research study is: ‘How would I really have reacted in such a situation as these people faced then?’ Would I have been like Archbishop Sheptytsky, or the Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Netherlands, Johannes de Jong who stood up to the Nazis, or the Polish Gentile Christian who risked his life to hide Bazyli Jocz?’
I really don’t know how I would have reacted if my life was endangered, or the lives of my family. I would hope that I would have done the right thing.
The important matter though is this: ‘If faced with a similar situation today would I do the right, and God honouring thing?’
Bazyli & Anna Jocz — Jewish Christian Victims of the Holocaust is available at Koorong and Vision Christian Media.