Many who ask these questions have suffered extreme personal loss and seek not just answers but solace. Others see the Holocaust as the height of human evil, and they struggle to believe in God.
Common misconceptions about God and the Holocaust
Myth: It’s wrong to ask why God allowed the Holocaust.
Fact: People of great faith have questioned why God allows evil. For instance, the prophet Habakkuk asked God: “Why do you allow violence, lawlessness, crime, and cruelty to spread everywhere?” (Habakkuk 1:3, Contemporary English Version) Rather than rebuke Habakkuk, God had the questions he asked recorded in the Bible for all to read.
Myth: God doesn’t care about human suffering.
Fact: God hates wickedness and the suffering it causes. (Proverbs 6:16-19) Back in the days of Noah, God “felt hurt at his heart” because of the violence spreading in the earth. (Genesis 6:5, 6) No doubt, God also felt tremendous pain over the Holocaust.—Malachi 3:6.
Myth: The Holocaust was God’s punishment of the Jews.
Fact: God did allow Jerusalem to be destroyed by the Romans in the first century. (Matthew 23:37–24:2) Since then, however, God does not single out any ethnic group for special favor or for punishment. In God’s view, “there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles.”—Romans 10:12, Good News Translation.
Myth: If a loving and all-powerful God existed, he would have prevented the Holocaust.
Why did God allow the Holocaust?
God allowed the Holocaust for the same reason that he has permitted all human suffering: to settle moral issues that were raised long ago. The Bible clearly indicates that at present the Devil, not God, rules the world. (Luke 4:1, 2, 6; John 12:31) While the article linked to this topic provides a full discussion of why God allows suffering, two basic facts from the Bible can help explain why God allowed the Holocaust.
Whose free will caused the Holocaust? God told the first humans, Adam and Eve, what he expected of them, but he did not force them to obey. They chose to decide for themselves what was good and bad, and their bad choice—and similar choices by people throughout history—has brought horrible consequences to mankind. (Genesis 2:17; 3:6; Romans 5:12) It is as the book Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism says: “Much of the world’s suffering directly results from our misuse of the free will granted to us.” Rather than revoke our free will, God has given humans time to try to manage their affairs independent of him.
God can and will undo all the damage of the Holocaust. God promises to bring back to life millions who have died, including Holocaust victims. He will also eliminate the pain that Holocaust survivors feel because of horrific memories. (Isaiah 65:17; Acts 24:15) God’s love for mankind guarantees that he will fulfill these promises.—John 3:16.
Many Holocaust victims and survivors were able to maintain their faith and find meaning in life by understanding why God has allowed evil and how he purposes to undo its effects.