Sigi Ziering Institute
Gabriel Wilensky’s Six Million Crucifixions is a powerful and passionate indictment of the Vatican for acts of omission and acts of commission, made all the more important by his understanding that individual prelates and Roman Catholic officials did far better than Church leadership. He does not spare Protestant Churches in this indictment, but clearly the full force of his work is directed toward examining once again the role of Roman Catholic Church before, during and after the Holocaust; a topic worthy of analysis and an analyst worthy of the topic.
The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Dr. Carol Rittner
Some books about the Holocaust are more difficult to read than others. Some books about the Holocaust are nearly impossible to read. Not because one does not understand the language and concepts in the books, not because they are gory or graphic, but because such books are confrontational. They compel us to “think again,” or to think for the first time, about issues and questions we might rather avoid.
Gabriel Wilensky’s book, Six Million Crucifixions: How Christian Antisemitism Paved the Road to the Holocaust is one book I found difficult, almost impossible to read. Why? Because I had to confrontthe terrible underside of Christian theology, an underside that contributed in no small part to the beliefs and attitudes too many Christians – Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox – had imbibed throughout centuries of anti-Jewish preaching and teaching that “paved the road to the Holocaust.”
As Abraham Joshua Heschel once said, the Holocaust did not begin with Auschwitz. The Holocaust began with words. And too many of those hate-filled words had their origin in the Christian Scriptures and were uttered by Christian preachers and teachers, by Christians generally, for nearly two millennia. Is it any wonder so many Christians stood by, even participated in, the destruction of the European Jews during the Nazi era and World War II?
I recommend Six Million Crucifixions: How Christian Antisemitism Paved the Road to the Holocaust because all of us Christians – Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox – must think again, or think for the first time, about how to teach and preach the Christian Scriptures – the “New Testament” writings – in such a way that the words we utter, the attitudes we encourage, do not demean, disrespect, or disregard our Jewish brothers and sisters, that our words do not demean, disrespect, or disregard Judaism. I hope the challenge is not an impossible one.
Dr. Geoffrey Cocks
A clearly written and passionately argued indictment of centuries of antisemitism that contributed to Nazi extermination of the Jews. Wilensky has read widely, thought deeply, and writes persuasively in placing the Holocaust into the larger context of the history of Western Christianity. What he concludes is deeply disturbing and must be confronted seriously by scholars and public alike. Six Million Crucifixions is an important book for our-—or any—age of religious conflict and intolerance.
West Chester University
Dr. Jonathan Friedman
Gabriel Wilensky’s book is an excellent introduction into the history of antisemitism in Europe. His words will rightly unsettle those who have yet to come to grips with Christianity’s role in shaping European attitudes and policies towards Jews into the 20th century.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Karl A. Schleunes
How was it possible for one group of people to hate another group virulently enough to slaughter six million of them? Gabriel Wilensky’s answer is disturbing and will evoke controversy. The origins of that hatred, antisemitism, he places squarely in the lap of Christianity, beginning with its earliest teachings about Jews. He examines how during the centuries to come those teachings came to be solidified into doctrines justifying prejudices and persecutions that eventually bore their bitter fruit in the Holocaust. Here is an indictment that catalogs a long history of hateful preachments and practices directed against Jews. This is an indictment that must be confronted. It cannot be ignored or wished away.
University of Rhode Island
Robert G. Weisbord
Wilensky’s book is a fascinating and disturbing historical account of the theologically-based anti-Semitism that served as a backdrop to the racially-based Nazi persecution of Jews. It is thoroughly researched, clearly written and insightful. The material on Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII and his much criticized, less than saintly conduct during the Holocaust is especially good. This thoughtful book is highly recommended.
University of Cincinnati
An argument rages today between those who assert that a person cannot live a good life without religious faith, and those who think religious belief is the root of all bigotry. Into this complex world where faith and reason, xenophobia and acceptance, and compassion and indifference fight each other, Gabriel Wilensky’s book challenges us to consider the role of religion in enabling genocide. A succinct analysis of the official attitude of the Catholic Church towards Jews and Judaism before the Holocaust can easily lead to the notion that there is an inevitable link between Calvary and Auschwitz.
One of the virtues of this study is in demonstrating how the Christian churches reconciled their doctrines and institutions, which evolved over the centuries, with support for Nazism and/or Fascism, which some theologians comfortably assert was a quintessentially pagan movement. One Fascist official in Italy was comforted to know that the decisions made by Mussolini’s government to persecute the Jews, which he regarded as a political act, were backed up by Church theology; such revelations help the reader understand how religious people could then accept the Final Solution. On the other hand, devout Christians also protected their Jewish neighbors, acting in a way that seemed to contradict these religious traditions and this reminds us not to paint with too broad a brush. Continuing to read how religious beliefs can give justification or cover to genocide requires determination in the reader, and while theologians and historians have grappled with this issue for years, Wilensky writes for the general reader, making the complex issues accessible to a wide audience. Agree or disagree with his conclusions, it brings the subject down to the basic question: why did the Holocaust happen and how did so many people who regarded themselves as Christians either participate in its implementation or stand by while it happened?
Fordham Law School
In the never ending saga of Holocaust complicity, Gabriel Wilensky takes aim at the Catholic Church, where moral failure was abundant despite claims to a higher moral authority, and where men and women of the cloth followed Christian teachings but failed to honor Christ, whose memory was forever corrupted by six million crucifixions.
Rochelle L. Millen, Ph.D
Gabriel Wilensky’s volume is an excellent historical survey of the persistence of antisemitism and its roots in Christian teachings. It will prove useful for both students and the general public.
Professor of History
Pacific Lutheran University
Robert P. Ericksen
Christians have often employed semantics to achieve distance from the Holocaust. Centuries of Christian “anti-Judaism” may have been bad, according to this view, but it was “racial antisemitism” which led to the German murder of six million Jews. Gabriel Wilensky walks us through two thousand years of history to reveal the flaws in such a claim. Christian complicity was substantial. By the early twentieth century, too many Christians viewed the persecution of Jews with equanimity, or even with enthusiasm. This is a sobering but important book.
Simon Wiesenthal Center
Gabriel Wilensky reminds us that Hitler did not invent satanic notions about Jews, but rather, built the furnaces of Auschwitz on a foundation of spiritual materials provided centuries earlier, in largepart, by the Church. While not all princes and clergy of the Church can be blamed for the Holocaust, there can be little doubt that the murder of six million Jews did not take place in a historical vacuum; it was the culmination of the anti-Jewish animus that had been fostered for nearly twenty centuries by the Church, including by some who are venerated as saints. Nor can it be said that the Vatican during the Hitler era had clean hands with regard to the persecution and mass murder of European Jewry. While tens of thousands of Jews may well owe their lives to individual priests and nuns who selflessly risked their own, the silence of Pope Pius XII was painfully deafening. Six Million Crucifixions is a very informative book. If there were a Seder to recall the Holocaust, portions could rightfully be incorporated into its Haggadah.
Catholic Theological Union, Chicago
John T. Pawlikowski, OSM, Ph.D
Six Million Crucifixions: How Christian Antisemitism Paved the Road to the Holocaust presents a powerful challenge to the Christian community to take seriously its legacy of antisemitism. Hopefully it will generate continued efforts to cleanse Christian theology and religious education once and for all of this longlasting shadow over the Cross which both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have termed sinful.
Bowling Green State University
Beth Ann Griech-Polelle
Gabriel Wilensky has done a phenomenal job in tracing the role of Christian anti-Semitism, specifically the role of the Roman Catholic Church, in the persecution of the Jewish people. His work reveals the foundation of myths, legends, and stereotypes about Jews that were bandied about throughout the ancient world to the modern-day era and he shows the dire consequences of these falsified stories and myths, culminating in the Holocaust.
For scholars of this time period, I can see using Wilensky’s book as a reader for undergraduates who are new to the topic of the long history of anti-Semitism, particularly since the work also features many pictures and charts which would help to reinforce the anti-Jewish images so prevalent throughout these time periods. I believe students would find Wilensky’s work to be persuasive in its argumentation, and it would provide an excellent source for class debates on the role of anti-Judaism versus more modern versions of anti-Semitism and how all of these varieties of attacking Jews were utilized by the Nazi regime to convince others of the need to annihilate the Jewish people. Wilensky’s work will contribute to the ongoing debates of the role of organized religion in bringing about the greatest tragedy of the 20th century.
Fuel for Thought
Ideas to Power a Better World
Fuel for Thought: Ideas to power a better world shows readers what factors are detrimental to human progress and the well-being of society, and makes far-reaching recommendations of things parents, educators, policy-makers and any intellectually-minded people can do to make the world a better place.