Posted by: davidlarkin | February 24, 2018

A Concentration Camp Prayer for Enemies

The Prophet Ezekiel by Michaelangelo, Painting in Fresco c. 1508-1512, The Sistine Chapel, Vatican City, Europe

Here is a supernaturally inspired prayer I found today in the Oxford Book of Prayer. No man or woman in such circumstances could show such love of enemies without the Spirit of God:

“Oh Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the sufferings they have inflicted on us; Remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to this suffering — our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this, and when they come to judgement let all the fruits which we have borne be their forgiveness.”

Prayer written by an unknown prisoner of Ravensbruck concentration camp and left by the body of a dead child, from the Oxford Book of Prayer, #367

Ravensbruck was a dismal evil concentration camp.


Ravensbrück (pronounced [ʁaːvənsˈbʁʏk]) was a German concentration camp exclusively for women from 1939-1945, located in northern Germany, 90 km (56 mi) north of Berlin at a site near the village of Ravensbrück (part of Fürstenberg/Havel). The largest single national group consisted of 40,000 Polish women. Others included 26,000 Jewish from all countries, 18,800 Russian, 8,000 French, and 1,000 Dutch. More than 80% were political prisoners. Many slave labor prisoners were employed by Siemens & Halske. From 1942-1945, medical experiments to test the effectiveness of sulfonamides were undertaken.

In the spring of 1941, the SS established a small adjacent camp for male inmates, who built and managed the camp’s gas chambers in 1944. Of some 130,000 female prisoners who passed through the Ravensbrück camp, about 50,000 of them perished, some 2,200 were killed in the gas chambers and 15,000 survived until liberation.

From Wikipedia.

I cannot imagine the moment when this suffering prisoner penned this prayer, with a dead child at his feet.

This prayer is reminiscent of Jesus words in Luke 23:34 (ESV),

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

The prophet Ezekiel reminds Israel that God does love all men, even the wicked, but Divine Justice requires penalty for wicked ways:

Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

Ezekiel 33:11 (ESV)

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