Program to Help Navy Chaplains to Learn and Teach Others About the Holocaust is Launched by U.S. Nav
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Program to Help Navy Chaplains to Learn and Teach Others About the Holocaust is Launched by U.S. Nav

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The United States Navy has launched an educational program designed to help Navy chaplains to learn and teach others about the Holocaust.

Recently, the Navy published a workbook and resource packet entitled “Horror and Hope: Americans Remember the Holocaust,” assembled by Navy Chaplain Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff. The material will be distributed to the more than 1,100 Navy chaplains throughout the world.

The project came in response to a request by U.S. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger to the heads of all military branches requesting they initiate programs to commemorate the Holocaust.


The packet is divided into five sections. The introduction defines what the Holocaust was and was not. It notes that the Holocaust was “a separate war . . . aimed not merely at killing Jews, but also at dehumanizing them in life, and degrading and denying their memory in death.” The introduction puts a special emphasis on the concept of resistance to combat Nazi myths that Jews did not resist.

The second section offers programming suggestions to Navy chaplains including a book of Liturgies on the Holocaust, produced by the Anne Frank Institute of Philadelphia. The book includes prayers for Jewish, Catholic and Protestant services.

Hundreds of pages of selected readings from Elie Wiesel and other Holocaust writings comprise the education section, published by the Anti Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. The readings, entitled “The Holocaust and Genocide: A Search for Conscience,” include excerpts from World War II documents.

The fourth section, theology, contains eight articles by Jewish and Christian theologians and ethicists provided for the chaplains. The material raises questions of faith after the Holocaust, religious perspectives on the period and issue of conscience.

The final section provides catalogues of resources for Holocaust study and a directory of Holocaust agencies.


Navy Chief of Chaplains (Rear Admiral) John McNamara, in his opening letter included in the packet, stressed the need to bear witness to the Holocaust. “Already some spread the lie that the Holocaust did not occur at all, that it is a hoax of some sort, that no death camps or ovens or crematoria existed, that no special effort was made to erase the Jewish presence from the earth,” McNamara wrote.

“Our nation, and our military personnel, were among those who liberated the death camps. We know the truth. And now our country has reaffirmed its commitment to remember the Holocaust, to ensure that it will not be forgotten; to vow that it will not happen again.”

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