Their only fault

As I wrote to the Bishops of Poland in 1989, “the Second World War made all people aware of the magnitude, previously unknown, which contempt for man and the violation of human rights could reach. It led to an unprecedented marshalling of hatred, which in turn trampled on man and on everything that is human, all in the name of an imperialistic ideology”.
It can never be sufficiently repeated that the Second World War changed the life of so many individuals and peoples for the worse. The point was reached where hellish death camps were built, where millions of Jews and hundreds of thousands of gypsies and other human beings met their death in atrocious conditions; their only fault was that they belonged to another people. . . .

We have not yet entered the “promised land” of peace. The memory of the painful journey of the War and of the difficult journey of the second post-war period is a constant reminder of this. This journey, in the dark days of the war, in the trying post-war years, and in our own uncertain and problematic times, has often shown that in human hearts, including those of believers, there is a strong temptation to hate, to despise others and to deceive them. But on this same journey the Lord has not failed to help us; he has brought about attitudes of love, understanding and peace, and a sincere desire for reconciliation and unity. As believers, we know that man lives by everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord. We also know that peace takes root in the hearts of all who open themselves to God. Remembering the Second World War and the subsequent post-war decades cannot fail to evoke in Christians the desire for a new heart, capable of respecting man and of promoting his true dignity.