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May 19, 2015 3:58 pm

Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

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Actor Géza Röhrig, right, standing beside director László Nemes at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The actor believes God suffered alongside the victims of the Holocaust. Photo: Twitter.

The lead actor in Son of Saul, an Auschwitz thriller featured at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, told the UK’s The Guardian that he believes God was “holding the hand” of each Jew who died in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust.

“I do not for one nanosecond like to pretend that God is off the hook. He could and should have stopped it at a much earlier stage,” Géza Röhrig, 48, said. “But I would not be able to get up from my bed in the morning, let alone pray, if I didn’t fully believe that God somehow was there holding the hands of each and every Jew in the gas chamber – each and every Tutsi, Armenian, Kurd, Israeli, Palestinian who suffers unjustly.”

Röhrig added that Holocaust survivors have no right to deny the presence of God in the death camps since those who died are not available for testimony, The Guardian reported. Röhrig said there is cause for him to believe, “as irrational as it sounds,” that since God is capable of anything, he “suffered along and was there.”

“If I wasn’t able to believe this, I don’t know why I’d take my next breath,” he said.

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Son of Saul, Röhrig’s first film, is set in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944 among the Sonderkommando work units, made up of prisoners in death camps given a pass at execution to work in the gas chambers. The film portrays a Jewish prisoner who was tasked with body disposal after Jews went through the gas chambers. His job was to lead new arrivals into gas chambers, scrub down the walls and floors after they were killed, put their bodies into the incinerators and then shovel their ashes into a river, according to The Guardian. He finds moral survival when trying to salvage from the flames the body of a boy he believes is his son.

Röhrig said members of the Sonderkommando units were “not just equally victimized but more victimized” than other death camp prisoners. “They lived in the epicenter of hell,” the Hungarian actor said. “I think they deserve utmost respect. Some of them tried to make their way into the gas chambers instead.”

One of the Sonderkommando’s duties was to lie to Jews about why they were entering the gas chambers, a fabrication that Röhrig believes was justified, “as bad as it is.”

“To fool the Jews that they’re taking a shower…It’s graceful,” he said. “I don’t think they were obligated to tell the newcomers that in the next half-hour, they’d be gassed to death with their children and parents. For the rest of their functions…I see absolutely nothing I think is unethical. It was the only way for them to do their best to survive.”

Röhrig’s father died when he was 4 years old. At age 12, after some years in an orphanage, he was adopted by Jewish friends of the family, according to The Guardian. During high school he spent half a year in Paris and later studied Polish literature and then film direction. He lived in Israel before moving to New York in 2000 to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

The actor asserted that “it’s fair to say” that people have not learned anything from the atrocities of the Nazis at Auschwitz. “The cruelty exhibited there exists today against the Kurds and elsewhere. You have a feeling of insecurity about tomorrow. There’s a level of chaos because global powers do not agree on the most minimal consensus.”

If there is one thing humans can learn from the Holocaust, he said, it’s to not stand by idly when crimes occur.

“You have different societies in every country. But whichever group you belong to, you’re never exempt from taking a side when it comes to crimes against humanity,” he said. “That’s true in Syria and America and Israel and everywhere…One of the lessons of 1944 lies with the bystanders – we can’t just let things happen.”

Watch the trailer for the film below (Hungarian with French subtitles):

[iframe src=”https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/film/video/2015/may/20/son-of-saul-auschwitz-1944-video-trailer” width=”560″ height=”315″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>]

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  • I have had a long stab at what is wrong in this Article and the responses it has created. My efforts in ensuring deniers do not have the last word on The Holocaust sees their effort to submerge The Holocaust term under a series of assaults upon Israeli actions in Arab lands. This gives rise to Jewish antagonism toward their neighbours who, on the whole I suspect, hold no more animosity toward the Jewish People than we Catholics hold for Protestants. That is not to say hamas and other terror groups have a fixed sight on Jewish extinction. ISIS would led the charge. But this World has learned much and sees Israel as its strongest ally in the Middle East. The rhetoric of hatred and intolerances belong to many, but perhaps the Jews have learned better than we?

  • Lynn K. Circle

    I believe that in a universe constructed in such a way that moral beings have free will, God has necessarily constrained His own ability to intercede. Indeed, in a universe which contains the logical possibility for free will, God’s intercession would constitute a logical contradiction, and thereby destroy our universe.

    Instead, God can affect our universe only through the acts of moral agents who heed the still, small voice within, and which most of us dismiss most of the time as our own wild imagination, and so we do not heed.

    Obviously, this philosophic concept needs far more development than can be presented in a posting such as this. Therefore, let me conclude by saying that it is very possible God holds the hand of every victim of injustice, trying to provide solace, while within the rules with which He constituted our universe, is about all He could do.

  • The question of bad things happening to good people has been discussed exhaustively in the traditional literature; it’s not like the issue has been ignored. I sincerely wonder how many people who judge G-d have seriously studied the Book of Job, for example, with all its commentaries, to try to understand the issue in all its complexity. Not to mention all the kabbalistic literature that takes it to a higher level. Without at least an openness to think about this from a different perspective than the typical secular one, it is impossible to take responsibility for the enormity of “blaming G-d.” Despite the temptation to take the “moral high road” and blame the Creator for not adhering to the moral code that He Himself invented, we have to humble ourselves to admit how little of the ultimate equation we understand. That’s called a “test of faith.”

  • Luigi Rosolin

    Dear DR. Bernhard: “Why did God allow this to happen?” Why satan who rebel against God is here on earth? God had a purpose for everything he create and permit to choice. God was as the actor thing and survival of the camps: he was there in sharing the suffering, the crimes pass present and future are nail on the cross were Jesus stand redeeming humanity that choice the GRACE of Salvation. I sure you had read the new testament that is completing with Jesus the old testament that had forecast His coming. The apostle were Jews like most of the first disciples. They were teaching in the Jews first and many miracle happened. The old testament is clearly pointing to Jesus, Elijah had come and Jesus explain was John the Baptist. The enemy of God is satan that is deceiving many who prefers to listen to his lies instead of their conscience and Jesus. Ciao

  • zoro

    VERY INTERESTING and UNIQUE opinion, that nobody else before had the courage and guts to express it. God was with each one of the victims of the Holocaust.
    Thank you Mr. Roehrig!!!

    • I’m sorry luigi I understand what you are trying to do, making us Jews feel better though for myself your words are akin to those of nails scratching down a black board.
      our bible starts and stops with what you call ‘the old testament.’ it is not the old testament to us…it is the only testament called Talmud or the Five Books of Moses. you are taking the words from Isaiah and coating them with the coming of jesus. do you know anything about the Jewish religion. We are not looking for a Jesus type messiah. Our Messiah for which we look is fierce and strong and one who can protect Israel… a soldier, not someone who turns the other cheek.
      please do not take this as offensive as I have not taken your words as so.

    • Sorry! The only ones holding the hands of the Children as they took their last breath was a Parent, a Guardian. God was elsewhere minding his own business and allowing more than 1,000,000 Jews to be Murdered in Auschwitz.

    • Michele Amato Topp

      Yeshua (Jesus) was a Rabbi who taught about forgiveness and turning the other cheek because he is the new link to forgiveness from Hashem, the new blood atonement sacrifice. From Him the Gentile was grafted in. He shall return again, only this time there will be no mercy for the enemies of Hashem. He is The Fierce Lion of Judah, the Messiah, the Defender of Israel, Who shall rule as King over all peoples and tongues.

  • Anthropomorphic way of thinking and Christian influenced Judaism is in fact this one from Pharisaic Idea who influenced the creation of christianity…
    Judaism is “wordly” anthropomorphic but tells us all along the Tora, that God IS NOT REPRESENTABLE by Any way, NOR IMAGINABLE As HUMAN being is STRICTLY ABSOLUTELY SEPARATED FROM HIM….
    I believe that Concept but discuss absolutely its usefulness except for the Maturation of Human Mind. That Concept is a Mankind Revolution with a so called Abram from Ur in South Irak (kaldea) around the 16th century before C.E. But that anthropomorphic God and his Theology is absurd; whatever the Religion..
    I was exactly 3years 10 months old, when having a Wehrmacht Company in the Park of the Hotel in front of which we lived “hidden” (in Wolfs Mouth…) (father having been arrested 14 months before and sent “to east”….(ended in Sobibor..) I asked my mother Why Did Good-God make Rain on the German Cabbages?
    (in France, at these times, kids were told that Boys come from Cabbage and girls from Roses !!!!)
    So I did start my Theology reasoning………

  • Jackl

    As in many articles on the Holocaust there’s talk about the lessons learned and not learned. But it seems that the most important and obvious lesson is never among them. It is that the death of Jews is and continues to be the ultimate goal of Jew hatred (or antisemitism).

    The revelence of the Holocaust to the never ending history of antisemitism has given way to the lesson of “man’s inhumanity to man.” The six million Jews have not only lost their lives, but also the cause and motive behind their murder. It is simply that they were Jews.

    • It is pure and simple! If you were a Jew, hitler wanted you dead. For me also, it is a nonsense for anyone to suggest that a Survivor has no right to disclaim God from Auschwitz, or from the x5 other Death Camps or the Killing Sites. The Survivor is the only person with any right to what happened to them! What we cannot know from the 6,000,000 Murdered Jews, though some have left a Testimony, Anne Frank, Etty Hillesum to name x2, is the level of comprehension afforded by those Survivors who have lent their voice.

  • Michael Garfinkel

    It’s alarming that this comment, which reflects an astonishing moral idiocy, has gone without comment:

    “To fool the Jews that they’re taking a shower…It’s graceful,” he said. “I don’t think they were obligated to tell the newcomers that in the next half-hour, they’d be gassed to death with their children and parents. For the rest of their functions…I see absolutely nothing I think is unethical. It was the only way for them to do their best to survive.”

    So there you have it: to survive, one may engage, without limit – in betrayal, subterfuge, and the machinery of murder itself.

    This is an attitude that is beneath contempt.

    • Fear compelled the Sonderkommando. We do not judge them wrongly! Their work was a demand! hitler is the blame for The Holocaust! All effort to speed the Jews toward Destruction was hitler’s plan. Orchestrated by ss and Nazi officials and laboured over by some Jews of the Sonderkommando. There is something wrong in this article and what an actor has to say!

  • This harkens back to an earlier generation who posed the question, ‘Where was Man at Auschwitz’. Even when the USAF flew straight over Auschwitz concentration camp to bomb a synthetic rubber plant, the pilots were not ordered to bomb the gas chambers or crematoria or railway tracks to Auschwitz. When the USAF accidentally bombed several govt buildings in Budapest the transport of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz was stopped for some time out of fear of repercussions, but then resumed. At the Evian conference all the major ‘powers’ proved unable to find room for German Jewish refugees, convincing the Nazis that no one would care if Europe’s Jews went the way of the Armenian massacre. Mankind was tested and failed.

    • Ben

      Hitler could have been stopped a hundred times early on, just as the slaughters in Rwanda and Somalia and South Sudan and now with ISIS could have been. When all is said and done, more is said than done.

      As for blaming God; God created a perfect world, and the rules to keep it that way. Even today there are enough resources and space for everyone to live with comfort and enjoyment. The bottom line is greed and corruption and copping out.

    • joni

      I agree it was man who failed, not God. He seems to be blamed for the holocaust when it was evil that accomplished the deeds of men by their own hands. It is easier for MAN to blame God than take responsibility for it himself.
      Man forgets it is he that has a choice to do the evil or good, but God was(is) wise enough to let his creation use free will and not intervene in the lives of men. Clearly man chose evil work for his hands to do, and I am sure God wept.
      I believe God would say for any people to fight in the face of injustice and He would help them. He raised up Moses and David to do just that. I think he has raised up kings for this time, too.

    • Intolerance toward the Jews by hitler and his minions was largely assissted by many nation’s and their Indifference.

  • The Watchman

    What protects us Jews is the presence of a strong Israel and a lot of GUNS, planes and missiles. Oh yes and the sneaking thought, the fear in our enemies minds that if Israel is driven to it, their capitals and holy sites could end up as a sea of molten nuclear glass.

    • citizenstat

      Amen, chaver. Amen! Amen!

    • Leo Toystory

      THE WATCHMAN SPEAKS THE TRUTH!!!

    • Eco

      WHAT A B.S

      • The Watchman

        I suspect that “Eco” is a self deluding “green”, the type of human herbivore who thinks that laying down our weapons will encourage our enemies to do likewise. Sorry to be offensive, but you would be the first with a blade against your throat. The only thing that is keeping Israel and us safe is the thought in the enemies minds that they will be destroyed in a flash of Jewish heat and radiation. Its the ” Eco’s” of this world especially the leftist twats in Israel and the diaspora who are fuelling our destruction. If it should become so, I will move heaven and Earth that YOU “Eco” and your treacherous ilk, are the first victims. I and my family will not be sold out by excrement such as you. That is also what NEVER AGAIN” means.

  • The Watchman

    It’s a comforting but self deluding thought that I suspect wasn’t shared by the victims, the men women children & elderly who were beaten starved stripped and pushed into the gas chambers that big steal door clanging shut behind them. Keep deluding yourself about “God” when the next bunch of Islamic savages shout Allah Akhbar as they kill Jews or the dancing in the streets when a Palestinian Rocket of Peace kills another Jew. “God” has a very strange way of showing his love where we should suffer a persecuted life to then be rewarded after death. We are almost as bad as the Muslims except we expect reward for a good life, Muslims for killing rape and slaughter. Either way it’s ignorant blind faith from us insignificant flyspecks in an infinite universe. We keep believing this twaddle we’re fed and come back for more.

    • What we know of those who entered the gas chambers is that they were wasted. Their lives came to an end and more than 1,000,000 entire Universes have been wiped out. If that was God’s plan, the Jews need a new God. We Christians have watched as the Jews have been led toward Destruction and we see ourselves as safe? I don’t think so. It is History which now damns us for allowing much of what happened in The Holocaust to prosper those who looked the other way. The answer though is not pre-emptive. It is to continue with dialogue until there is to be no more talking!

  • When I recall the image of my mother, I cannot remember any time that she did not look older than her age. She worked in an ammunition plant, making bombs for the Nazis. My parents obviously did not wish to share things about the Holocaust which might hurt me emotionally, such as that my father was married before the war. I learned of this by overhearing a conversation when I was nine years old. His first wife and two children were murdered by the Nazis. Recently, I have been able to obtain names of some family members who were murdered.

    The questions I asked my parents were “Why did God allow this to happen?” and “Why did you allow me as an only child to leave home, move across the country and become a rabbi?” Now as a parent, I finally understand the loneliness they must have felt, having no other children. I always said to them “My heart tells me I should remain with you, but my brain tells me I must become ordained to make a difference in the Jewish world.” My father answered that the night before he was liberated from the concentration camp, he had a dream in which his father came to him and said, My son, today you will be liberated.”

    What do you think about God in the Holocaust?

    I have taught Holocaust studies for most of my life on the high school and college level. When I discuss the Holocaust and God, I share many possible views. In truth, after having written numerous books on the subject I don’t have an answer. I cannot in good conscience believe that the Jewish people were punished, because if I believe that, then I would not be a Rabbi, and probably be an atheist. One and a half million priceless Jewish children were murdered. What was their sin? The answer I give myself and others is that mankind caused the Holocaust, not God. . It is the only answer I can live with. Yet I just read Rabbi Avigdor Miller’s “Divine Defense of Hashem Madness In The Matter of the Holocaust ” and I remembered my father telling me the shoa is predicted in the Chumash, the tochahah .My students ask me “Can the Holocaust happen again?” My answer is a definite yes. A number of atomic bombs thrown at Israel by its enemies would annihilate the Israeli population. One is naïve to believe that anti-Semitism does not exist throughout the world. If we have learned anything from the Shoah, it is that it is possible for a madman to arise who wants to annihilate the Jewish people. Never fool yourself into believing that you are safe anywhere. We must always be alert and fight against prejudice wherever it may exist.

    • this reply was by Rabbi DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

    • Gunther Abrahamson

      There is a god? I escaped from Berlin on a Kinder Transport.

    • Elliott

      Man started the war, Man fought the war, Man committed all the atrocities in the war. Man continues to do so to this very day – look at Syria, Iraq, North Africa, Toulouse, Paris…

      The question is not “where was G-d”. The question remains: where is Man, and why does he continue to fail in his ethical and moral duty as enshrined in G-d’s Torah?

      To try and blame G-d is an act of bad faith – it is to try and get Man off the hook. For Man is guilty of the greatest crimes against himself, and G-d’s creation.

    • Thank You Rabbi Rosenberg. It is not a question of what God did or did not do but what mankind allowed to happen. WE have been given free will to act in accordance with Moral and Ethical acceptance and understanding. hitler and those who followed his cause left their moral probity at the gates of Death Camp, at Babi Yar and at home while they went to their Murderous day job, The Holocaust!

    • The Watchman

      To quote from the Passover Haggadah “I every generation there are those who will try to destroy us”. Of everything else, that line is the unequivocal truth and one that we must guard and be vigilant against, prepared to take whatever action to prevent it happening.

  • jarhmeal

    Forget about “god” what about the Pope, who got away with lying, like all genicidal antisemitic Popes, about his complete Concordat, even recruitment then hiding of Nazis, and their government. Hitler praised the Jesuits over and over, from early youth, Hitler was a Catholic alter boy. The Catholic authoroties went along with every banning of Jews from Jerusalem, in history, including the current one. They also find a way, and work really hard at it, to blame all the wrongs that they did on the Jews, maybe note a rich Jew. The new one is get their Islamic lackeys to repeat that the Jews have no history. Leftist Jews are a form of Catholic, with Stockholm Syndrome and a lot of money at this point.

    • Get this right! I do not hold with what my Church allowed to happen. But governments of the People by the People allowed the Jews to be marched to their Destruction. We cannot simply suggest that what the Church got wrong they will do so again.

      • The Watchman

        Quite right. But let’s look at what the POpe has just done in recognising a terrorist Palestinian State with no preconditions. All of this while the blood worshipping invaders are already at the vatican’s gate.

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