Archbishop of Canterbury visits Auschwitz
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Archbishop of Canterbury visits Auschwitz

Justin Welby said the former Nazi death camp 'defies description' as he toured the site for the third time

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during his landmark visit to Auschwitz in January 2017
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during his landmark visit to Auschwitz in January 2017

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written a moving account of his recent visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, saying the Nazi death camp “defies description”.

Archbishop Justin Welby toured the site as part of an Anglican delegation last week, wearing snow boots in freezing conditions, with temperatures dipping to -14 degrees.

Reflecting on the cold experienced by both his party and the camp’s inmates, he wrote on Facebook: “We had layers and layers of clothing, hats, gloves, scarves, yet it worked through and we were cold to the core. They wore the equivalent of pyjamas and clogs. We were there for five hours, they were out for 12. We were fed, they were starved.”

The senior leader of the Church of England said there were “so many statistics about Auschwitz-Birkenau, but it defies description,” later adding: “I’ve come away with too much to write, and no words to write it.”

Among the aspects he said would “stay with me” was “the way that the perpetrators at Auschwitz tried to dehumanise their victims… In a way that actually cost the humanity of both,” he wrote. “It worked to some extent. Prisoners killed others in order to live – and were then killed themselves.”

The visit, the first in a new programme designed for clergy to receive in-service training, prompted the delegation to reflect on the human capacity for evil, said Welby, and the need to both recognise and challenge this wherever it appears.

“We must protest to the limit against evil: before it occurs, as it happens, and in its aftermath,” he wrote. “But there is also a need for silent reflection – in which we honour the victims, mourn our capacity for evil, and learn to beware.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments