Karma and the Holocaust
Katinka Hesselink, 2003
The question is often asked what bad karma the Jews had built up to deserve what happened to them in world war II. My answer is very simple: none. Nothing they did as a people or individually deserved for them to be massacred the way they were. To say they did do something is to say that massacre can be tolerated in certain circumstances. Well, it may be true that in a war a people has a right to defend itself, though I am very glad I don't have to make that kind of decision. But the fact is, the Jews were not at war with the rest of Europe. Unfortunately Europe at that time had a culture in which it was normal to be antisemitic. The Theosophical Society's first object (1) was designed to counteract that kind of thinking. Unfortunately those words weren't enough to counteract the antisemitic currents in Europe. Words seldom are. It takes actual practice.
Hitler may have been a criminal, but he was supported by a high percentage of Germans. And the thoughtsystem his actions were based on were shared by most of Europe at that time. This means that even those who did not themselves put people into the concentration-camps, or put gass into their chambers to kill them, were still co-responsible for what happened. I think karmically speaking only those who actively helped Jews and others from escaping death and did not have a shread of antisemitism in their consciousness could be called guiltless.
When discussing karma, the holocaust often comes up, still it is a question from the past and in that respect irrelevant to our present lives. The above is also a clear warning for the present. Are we cleaning our consciousness enough to be able to say: in those circumstances I would not be part of the culture of destruction? Do we reach out with hands, words and minds to those of different class, race, colour, sex, ethnic background, culture, sexual preference, eating habits etc., or are we just as intolerant as those who did not realize the damage their prejudiced thoughts, jokes, feelings and actions were doing in creating the kind of culture in which the holocaust was possible?
(1) The first object of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) is: To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour.