Marietta First United Methodist Church

Bearing Witness to the Truth

By Rev. Lori Ethridge
Minister to Senior Adults

Lately it seems that I have been immersed in history surrounding World War II and the European Theater.  My father was an infantryman in Patton’s Third Army, and landed in Normandy ten days after D-Day. In late February 1945, just shy of his twentieth birthday, he was severely wounded and lost his foot as a result; therefore, I have always been interested in this tragic period of history.  My monthly book club has recently read three works of historical fiction set in France and Germany during wartime. I highly recommend All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. While these books are compelling stories, they are still fictionalized accounts.  However, my father’s experience and the experiences of Dr. Mort Waitzman are all too true. Dr. Waitzman and his wife, Aviva, were the docents for my visit with the senior adults to the Breman Museum of Jewish History in downtown Atlanta last Sunday. Dr. Waitzman shared photos and narrated his personal journey through northern France, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and finally into Germany where his outfit liberated several Nazi work and concentration camps.  Following his presentation, the couple led us through the permanent Holocaust exhibit within the museum.

Throughout our visit I had great difficulty imagining the atrocities that occurred at the hands of the Nazi regime. I was struck by the stark contrast between truth and propaganda, and I wondered, “How could it have happened?” Regrettably the seemingly unbelievable accounts were true. Sadly there are still those who deny that the Holocaust ever happened. According to Dr. Waitzman, this fact was the catalyst that prompted him to speak up and to share his experiences of what he had witnessed in 1944-1945 in northern Europe. His presentation can be accessed through “Bearing Witness” on the Breman Museum website, www.thebreman.org, under the tab “events archive”. The program entitled “Bearing Witness” is an ongoing platform through which Holocaust survivors share their stories. A couple of weeks ago Dr. Matthews preached on the witness of John the Baptist. After hearing his sermon, and after visiting the Breman Museum, I am more firmly convinced of the vital importance of bearing witness to the truth. There is a saying, “The truth hurts” however, from what I saw and heard at the Breman Museum, and from the witness of Dr. Waitzman, it is much more dangerous and hurtful to deny the truth than to declare it.