Forgiving Hitler?

From the Dean

A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.

Originally Published:
Jensen, P.D., 'Forgiving Hitler?'. The Briefing, issue 291, December 2002, pp. 5-6.

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From Phillip’s Foreword to the book ‘Forgiving Hitler: the Kathy Diosy story as told by Kel Richards’...

You have in your hands a most extraordinary book. The title itself warns you of its extraordinary character. Forgiving Hitler is about as obscene a title as one could imagine.

Then again, Kathy Diosy is a most extraordinary person—as you will come to discover. The story is not a complete biography. It does not tell you all the details of her life. It does not detail all the dreadful things that were done to her or that she has done. It doesn’t linger over the sordid details of an evil world for the entertainment of prurient or violent minds. While forgiveness is found in facing, not denying, reality—forgiveness is neither found nor expressed in the endless rehearsal of the details of offence. Forgiveness is the victim’s release from victimology.

Forgiveness is important in whatever the form it takes or level at which it operates. Forgiveness is about relationships, about improving relationships, about restoring relationships. This alone makes it important. In our litigious culture and in our age of war, hostility and divorce, learning how to mend and repair relationships must be important.

Forgiveness often helps the injured party as much if not more than the offender. It removes from the injured the sense of rage and bitterness, the sense of outraged injustice, the disappointment in life that colours everything else. It also removes from us that deception of divinity, as if the offender is the only person who has done something wrong in life and I, as the perfectly innocent sufferer, have the right to judge others.

Forgiveness is very difficult to achieve. Injustice is a reality not just a feeling—just as evil is a reality not just an opinion. It is a minor thing to forgive a minor inconvenience. But to forgive the betrayal of a hateful abuser of your trust—that is a pain almost unbearable to endure. It feels like being the victim twice over and then some.

Kathy’s journey in life was one that too many people shared in the horrors of Hitler’s rampage. She was one of that generation of survivors that we must listen to. We must hear the horror of the reality of evil and never be satisfied with the trite removal of ‘iniquity’ and ‘sin’ from our vocabulary by the spin doctors of ethical relativism. But we must also hear the story of how the survivors reconstructed their lives. We must hear the story of finding forgiveness.
I am also thankful to God, that he has dealt so kindly with my friend and sister, and given me the privilege of knowing such an extraordinary woman.

Jensen, P.D., ‘Forgiving Hitler?’. The Briefing, issue 291, December 2002, pp. 5-6.