Vol. 7, No. 10
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Rudolf was the product of a very religious home. As an adult, he was a quiet, mild-mannered family man.
History records that he was also an adept farmer. Much of his success in agriculture was due to a strict emphasis to detail, and not just his prowess with seed and soil. An acquaintance in government took note of Rudolf's proficiency in the field and offered him a position in the current administration. As expected, he proved himself to be a capable leader. In staccato-like fashion, Rudolf enjoyed a rapid series of promotions up the political hierarchy.
He was a man bound by habit. Each morning began with breakfast with his wife and five children. On his way to work, he would stop momentarily and enjoy the sweet fragrance of the blooms in his well-tended flower garden. He followed a strict work ethic; his days were filled with a routine of staff meetings, decisions, gathering information and issuing directives to his subordinates. At the close of his shift, Rudolf would return home to the warm embrace of his adoring helpmate. His children happily greeted him upon his arrival, because he often brought them little gifts from work.
His loyalty and dedication earned him the trust of the highest-ranking official in the party. In 1940, he was assigned to a post 37 miles west of Krakow at the largest factory of its kind in southern Poland. Despite the relentless demands of his employer, Rudolf was able to meet his daily quota of ten thousand units. In fact, he performed his job so well that he was commended in a report that called him "a true pioneer...because of his new ideas and educational methods."
From the bedroom window of his cozy home in the country, Rudolf could see the smoke stacks where he worked. The dark plumes that filled the air day in and day out served as silent testimony to his efficiency and diligence as a plant manager. Under his watchful eye (and the incessant prodding of his boss--Adolph Hitler), the Auschwitz death camp systematically exterminated somewhere in upwards of 2.5-3 million lives.
That's right. Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Hoess--"Death Dealer." The hard-working "business" manager. The loving husband. The gracious father who tucked his kids into bed each night. The man whose father had brought him up to be a Catholic priest. And the chief architect and SS Commandant of the largest killing center ever perpetrated against mankind.
In May 1941, SS Commander Heinrich Himmler informed Hoess that the Fuhrer had given orders for "the final solution to the Jewish question" (https://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1946hoess.html). Hoess understood and installed huge gas chambers and a crematoria. Within a short time, mass murder was conducted on an industrial scale. Hundreds of thousands were poisoned with cyanide gas Zyklon B. Hundreds of thousands were tortured, shot or burned to death. A half million or more died from starvation and disease. Still others, including children, were handed over to so-called camp doctors. "Patients" were forced into pressure chambers, injected with experimental drugs, castrated, frozen to death and exposed to host of other agonizing traumas.
How could Hoess not see the blatant inconsistencies in his life? How could he overlook the glaring moral contradictions? How could he count mountains of ghastly corpses, and then go home to the tender affections of his wife and five children? How could he be so incredibly brutal one moment, and yet so genteel the next?
The answer to these questions is profound. Are you ready for this? Rudolf Hoess "compartmentalized" his soul (James 1:8; cf. Proverbs 19:1). He separated his home life from his "vocational" life. He mentally differentiated between the inferno of Auschwitz and the quiet refuge of his residence in the country. He somehow embraced the intellectual dogmas of his religious upbringing as well as the rabid inhumanity of Nazism. In short, Rudolf Hoess lacked integrity.
Dear brethren, we cannot subdivide our souls. We cannot and must not partition our inner beings. Christian men are the same in every circumstance. We are authentic in either darkness or light. Whether under the discriminating eye of our family and peers, or alone in a quiet room, our actions are consistent, uniform and submissive to the revealed will of God. We harbor no duplicity within. There is no hypocrisy (1 Kings 9:4; Job 2:3, 9; 27:5; 31:6; Psalm 7:8; 26:1, 11; Proverbs 10:9; Titus 2:7):
We can't condemn beverage alcohol and then "join in" with our business associates at a local restaurant over dinner.
We can't sing "Purer in heart, O God, help me to be" and then surf the Internet to indulge in lustful fantasy.
We can't appear cool and collected in the office and then be volatile and explosive with our family.
We can't tell our children to be fair and honest, and then cheat on our own income taxes.
We can't offer a warm handshake to our brethren before worship and then verbally berate our spouses on the way home in the car.
We can't speak caring tones on Sunday and then fire off a string of profanity on Monday.
We can't support elders and preachers in public prayer and then verbally pick them apart when they are out of earshot.
We can't talk about the need for zeal and spiritual direction in the church, but then fail to offer long-term, legitimate effort on behalf of the church ourselves.
The Bible says, "The righteous man walks in his integrity..." (Proverbs 20:7). Think for just a moment, what are you really like "behind the scenes" (Psalm 139:23)? Are you sincere (1 Timothy 1:5; Phil. 1:10; cf. 1:16; 2:20; 2 Corinthians 6:6)? Are you genuine?