Where was God during the holocaust?

An atheist is challenging me about the goodness of God. I need help responding. How could an all loving good God allow the unspeakable and horrific war crimes of the holocaust that resulted in the tourture and death of 6 million Jews and numerous other groups including ethnic Poles, those of African decent, the Romani, the mentally disabled, homosexuals, and many many more. How could God allow such evil? How could God allow the most evil and vile man to ever exist so far rise to power? Why didn’t God step in to prevent such despicable actions?

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Read Revelation. John depicts a war between Good and Evil – we have to expect casualties and suffering in war. It is up to US to defeat Evil – after all, the Nazis were humans and all humans have a share in their guilt.

Recognize that the Holocaust is only the tip of the iceberg – the Japanese had a similar Holocaust in China during WWII – about 11,000,000 died there.

Read about Biafra, the Collectivization Famine, the genocide of the Armenians in WWI, the Killing Fields of Cambodia, the massacres at Hue during Tet of '68.

That’s humanity at work and we have to change ourselves.


Free will.
God is love. Love only exists in freedom.

Is this person also bemoaning all the wonderful things that life has to offer and blaming God for those, or is he selective in his blame?


God was there. He is all present. God had a choice He could have made us slaves or He could give us free will. He chose to give free will because He loves us too much to make us slaves. If God interfered and prevented evil He would be taking back our free will.

People do not have to be perfectly consistent, God does!

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The free will argument will never fly with an athiest. They are able to punch holes in that, too.

I would suggest not trying to convince your friend with words. Convince your friend with your actions.


Well, they are not able to punch holes in the free will argument. They simply pretend it doesn’t exist.

It’s self evident that love only exists in freedom. That’s why rape is repugnant and considered evil. That’s also why locking your child in her room to prevent harm (or “evil”) is repugnant, or should be.
Most atheists simply have no real answer and sidestep free will.

And the other elephant in the room is that blaming God for evil reduces to whining, because God is not held accountable for all the good that life has to offer.
And whining is not an argument, it’s just whining.
(not to be confused with lament…lament is a spiritually profitable exercise that immerses itself in the evil and it’s weight with the end of helping solve and redeem it)

The basic tactic they use is to try to force THEIR definition of God on you. That’s called begging the question – asking you to accept something you reject in order to prove their point. The counter to that is to refuse to let them set your terms for you.

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Same place He was when His Son was being crucified – on the Throne.

Atheists are going to reject that out of hand, but sometimes that’s all you can say.



The Holocaust wasn’t even the worst thing to ever happen to the Jews. That’s a dumb argument, and God has used pagan/gentile violence and oppression to chastise the Jews all throughout the Bible. I’m not saying that’s what the Holocaust was but wondering where God was for that is like wondering where He was for the Babylonian exile, or the slavery in Egypt, or the expulsion from England, Spain, France, Russia, etc.

He’s there, and He’s executing His will.

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Pehaps God was in the concentration camps as prisoner.


The questions to ask are: Would the events of the Holocaust have occurred differently if there were no God? If so, how can that be shown?

I know I’ve already recommended it a number of times already on CAF, but I’m going to do it again :wink:

Check out a TV movie from a few years ago called “God on Trial”. It’s the story of a group of concentration camp prisoners who discuss whether God had broken his covenant with the Jewish people. It presents both sides of the argument well in my opinion.


Correct. That as why I say it is usually a wasted effort to try to convince with words in this type of case. Much better to convince with actions.

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Basically this is answered in the Catechism. The solution to the problem of evil basically is the Church. Text 309:

“Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer to this question… There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil.”

Elie Wiesel wrote something to that effect in his book Night. A boy prisoner was being hung, and the other prisoners were forced to watch. The boy was writhing and slowly dying.

Behind me, I heard the same man asking:

“For God’s sake, where is God?”

And from within me, I heard a voice answer:

“Where is He? This is where – hanging here from this gallows…”


That’s pretty much the conclusion that Elie Wiesel wrote in “Night”. Edited to add, Beryllos beat me to it.
I recently read some reviewer or blogger interpreting that whole scene as stating that “God is dead”. Way to miss the point.

I’m quite sure God was with St Maximilian Kolbe and St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross when they were dying in Auschwitz. I also don’t think they were the only two he was with.

It’s obvious that WWII resulted from the sins of man, including economic greed, hatred of one’s neighbor, and “good men” doing nothing to stop the bad behavior of others until damage had already been done. God didn’t zap the Holocaust into existence. Mankind did it themselves, brought it on themselves.


I’m crediting Dr. Peter Kreeft for most of my reply.

G-d was with every single victim of the Holocaust feeling their pains, both physically and spiritually. God was also with every single killer and enabler, trying every instant to reach them, to make them stop without violating their free will. Likewise, God is with every murdered baby who dismembered, acid burned, or pithed while within the place they should be safest, their mother’s bodies. Again, God is with every mother who decides and follows through with infanticide and the abortionists as well. God is there with every victim of prolonged painful death and likewise we are there with Christ at Cavalry.


I have trouble entertaining the “if God real why bad thing happen” argument, as it demonstrates a clear ignorance of our Blessed Lord and the Scriptures on their part. Why should God prevent every evil deed committed by Man? If that were the case, we would not have free will, and there would be an even greater lack of belief in God since there is no concept of good or evil… just a seemingly perfect world that remains that way regardless of whether or not the people have faith in the Lord. We’d all more than likely worship the Earth itself for being paradise, not God.

I would tell the atheist that God was, is, and always will be present during atrocities, but that those atrocities only occur because they’re carried out by a people that reject Christ and His teachings. That, and ask them to at least read Genesis and one of the four Gospel accounts so they gain a better understanding of who God really is… for a people that so confidently and boastfully reject God, atheists sure know so little about Him.

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For all we know, if Hitler had never existed, perhaps someone worse would have risen to power. Whenever someone says “How could God allow it?”, whatever “it” may be, I wonder “What was the alternative?” Only God knows. Maybe someday we too will see and understand:

CCC 314 We firmly believe that God is master of the world and of its history. But the ways of his providence are often unknown to us. Only at the end, when our partial knowledge ceases, when we see God “face to face”, will we fully know the ways by which – even through the dramas of evil and sin – God has guided his creation to that definitive sabbath rest for which he created heaven and earth.

Amen. We shouldn’t let the devil convince us that his doings are God’s doings. That’s one of his most sinister tricks.

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People nowadays don’t “get” or don’t accept or don’t like the idea of joining suffering to Christ on Calvary for a greater purpose.

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