It’s rare to find a Christian perspective from inside Nazi concentration camps but this book is exactly that. A beautiful perspective on horrible history.
The Gift of Story
As a young girl, whenever my family moved, I felt story to be one of the greatest gifts in my life. Through stories I could enter other times in history and pretend worlds. I could leave my circumstances for a short time and connect to a world not my own.
In our recent move, Rose Warmer’s story recounted in the book Rose’s Journey: A Christian in the Holocaust has been that for me. I was sad to finish it. `
This book was given to me a few months ago with the simple statement that I would enjoy it.
During those few months busyness ensued and I didn’t start it right away.
Feeling the pressure of the move I decided to start reading it because I thought I could plow through it quickly.
Instead it has taken me a month to complete. This is not because the story is not good (it’s amazing!) or because it is poorly written (it is beautiful). This is simply because whenever I read about the Holocaust I find myself lost in a world that feels too close in history yet so far from my own reality.
I’ve read many books about the Holocaust over the years but I’ve never read a perspective like this one.
Rose Warmer’s Story
Rose Warmer walked through the horrors of Auschwitz not only as a Jew but as a Jewish Christian.
She faced the same almost unspeakable horrors as so many others. She lost nearly her entire family. She was beaten daily, she had no food or clothing, she was treated far worse than any animal ought to be. And yet, she faced these circumstances with Christ as her constant companion and aid.
Coming into the story I thought I would walk away primarily with the reminder that the difficulties I face aren’t all that bad. While that is certainly true when I compare my circumstances to the Holocaust, I gleaned much more from this book as well.
The book starts from Ruth’s youth and recounts her spiritual journey. Her conversion story is truly remarkable and, as the Western skeptic I often am, I struggled with it at first. Suffice it to say, her radical transformation is akin to the man in Matthew 8 who Jesus cast a legion of demons out of.
After her beautiful salvation, the Lord gave her a heart for her family and for the Jewish people that would carry her through the Holocaust in the most incredible way. As the Holocaust progressed, Rose was actively praying and seeking counsel about whether or not to volunteer herself to be taken to a concentration camp because she wanted to share the gospel with her people, wherever they were.
The choice was made for her but what she faced was beyond her worst imaginings. Not only did she face the horrendous circumstances of Auschwitz from the SS officials. She also faced persecution from her own people.
Because the Nazi’s said they were Christians, the Jewish people blamed all Christians for their suffering and they treated Rose with contempt. The persecuted were persecuting her. Yet her compassion remained.
Whenever opportunity arose, she spoke of Christ’s sacrifice and His Work on their behalf. She shared Scripture with them and relished any opportunity that was afforded her to speak of the hope that existed in their despair.
I read most of these pages through tears as I thought of this dear sister of mine and all that she endured while remaining faithful to Christ in it all.
I left with so many things to glean.
The Bible Meant Everything
The first thing I want to emulate is Rose Warmer’s intense love for Scripture. She missed her Bible so desperately in the concentration camps that it caused her physical distress. And I wept along with her as she recounted what it was like to get her own copy of the New Testament smuggled into her in the night.
She clung to her copy of Scripture like it was the only food, water or air she needed. She had nothing else but she had Christ and that was enough.
Oh, that we would treasure God’s Word like that!
Evangelism at Any Cost
The second thing that stood out to me was Rose’s intense passion that Christ be exalted and shared.
She understood well the transformation the Lord had worked in her heart and she wanted everyone to experience that same freedom.
This meant she dedicated her life to sharing the Gospel. She made it her mission to get gospel tracts into the hands of every Jew who had gone through the concentration camps. She considered that her own personal mission field. She was happy to share about Christ whenever opportunity arose with whoever would listen.
I left deeply convicted and desiring to be more like her – to have such a passionate love for Christ and people that I would gladly give up the comfort of relationship for the chance to make Christ known.
A Hero Worth Remembering
The church needs stories like this one. We need to remember these heroes in the faith who have gone before us, shining light in the darkest of places.
The biggest lesson I was reminded of through Rose Warmer’s life is that the gospel is beautiful and worth giving up everything for.
The beauty God gave the church through Rose Warmer’s Story is something remarkable and worth remembering.
He was at work in the Nazi concentration camps, bringing His Word, comforting through His presence, and saving souls. That isn’t a perspective we often hear but it is beautiful.
Take the time to read this missionary story and rejoice at God’s bringing good even in the midst of such pain.
You will be glad you did.