An increasing amount of people say that stories of the Holocaust are no longer relevant and should be left in the past. I don’t subscribe to that point of view, remembering the Holocaust is now more important then it ever has been.In a time where some politicians are making policies based on hate, it is relevant to remember it could cost the lives of millions.
The story of Edith Stein also has personal relevance to me. It is a story that intrigues me because it shows how much the Nazis hated the Jewish people, and I do apologize for the phrase but I don’t think there is any other way of saying it. to the Nazis once a Jew always a Jew. It also highlights an ignorance I had as a youngster.
I will not go to deep into the life of Edith Stein because so much is already written about her, and I will not be able to add any value to that.
Edith Stein was born to Jewish parents in Breslau on 12 October 1891, the youngest of 11. In 1921 she converted to Catholicism, as did her sister Rosa Stein.
Edith entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery St. Maria vom Frieden (Our Lady of Peace) in Cologne in 1933 and took the religious name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
In 1933 the Nazis also came to power, according to their Nuremberg Race laws both Edith and her sisters were considered to be Jewish, despite the conversion to Catholicism, therefor to avoid persecution by the Nazis, Edith and her sister were transferred to a monastery in Echt in the Netherlands.
As I mentioned my youthful ignorance before, Echt is only about 15 km away from my birthplace. It is a small town in the province of Limburg in the south east of the Netherlands. In my late teens and early twenties I would often frequent a nightclub’the Majestic’ in Echt. which was really a stones throw away from the monastery. I also would go there by train and would get off on the very same station which was used decades earlier to transport Edith and Rosa to Camp Amersfoort. And I was completely oblivious to all of that.
The Stein sisters were arrested by the SS on 2 August 1942. They were imprisoned at the concentration camps of Amersfoort and Westerbork before being deported to Auschwitz. A Dutch official at Westerbork was so impressed by Edith’s sense of faith and calm, he offered her an escape plan. She refused his assistance, stating, “If somebody intervened at this point and took away her chance to share in the fate of her brothers and sisters, that would be utter annihilation”
Edith and Rosa among 985 other Jews were sent to Auschwitz on August 7,1942. It is believed that Edith and her sister both died in the gas chambers on August 9th 1942.
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