A KEDS publication exploring the role of the European churches in the Holocaust has been shortlisted for an important Christian book prize in Australia. The book, entitled They Conspire Against Your People: The European Churches and the Holocaust, was authored by Colin Barnes and published by KEDS..
Barnes' book explores the extent to which the European churches and their theology contributed to a mindset that permitted the genocide of six million Jews during the Holocaust. The Holocaust was a progression of increasingly lethal measures: vilification, boycotts, deportation, ghettoization and mass murder.
This pattern echoed the European churches’ own historical Jewish policy and underpinned their support for earlier Nazi Jewish policies. Thus, instead of opposing genocide they opted for a guilty, deliberate silence.
Particularly significant is how the book moves beyond an examination of Catholic responses to explore also Protestant, including Evangelical, responses and actions.
KEDS first became involved in the project in late 2009 when the author, having come across KEDS Principal Dr Calvin Smith's personal website and his work in the field of Jewish-Christian Studies, contacted Dr Smith with a copy of his manuscript (which was the product of a research degree dissertation). Barnes explained how none of the Christian publishers he had approached had expressed an interest in the manuscript. Dr Smith recalls:
When Colin contacted me and I first read through the manuscript, which provides a well-documented and researched study examining the role and mindset of Christians during the genociude of the Holocaust, I could understand why many Christian publishers would be unenthusiastic about publishing and trying to sell a book setting out another shameful episode of Christendom's treatment of the Jewish people.
Yet we felt that Colin's research yielded an important story that needed to be told. Thus, after a lengthy peer-review and production, process beset with delays and problems - not least raising the funds to publish such an unpopular topic - the book was eventually published. Importantly, it has been endorsed by several well-known scholars recognising the scholarly nature of the research it contains. I am delighted that it has since been shortlisted for this important Christian book prize.
Colin Barnes is now a tutor at KEDS contributing to modules in Jewish-Christian Studies.
The 2016 Australian Christian Book of the Year award is organised by SparkLit (the new name for the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge [SPCK] Australia). This is the 35th annual event, with 57 entries in 2016. The winner of the final shortlist of ten titles will be announced on 18 August in Blackburn North, Victoria.
Full details of the book and how to purchase it are available on the book page of our website. A Kindle version is also scheduled for publication at the end of this month.