A HEBREW MARTYR*
[* NOTE.] Mr. Isaac Feinstein was a missionary of the Norwegian Church,
and these are extracts from his wife’s letter to their children after his death - ED. DAWN.
In the small hours of Sunday, June 22, 1941, war began. We could hear the thunder of artillery from
The same evening your father held his last meeting in our hall. There were only a few present; the awful roar and thunder of artillery were a grave and sinister accompaniment to the service. In a composed, unwavering voice your father spoke his words of encouragement to his congregation. It was as though he knew it was the last time. He put his whole heart into it when he said, “Who knows what awaits us in the next few days and where we shall all be next Sunday, but ...
“God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea”
(Psa. 46: 1, 2).
We spent the nights that followed and most of the days in our air-raid shelter in the cellar. Instead of harmless A.R.P. exercises, we were facing grim reality. We hardly had time to go upstairs to our kitchen to fetch something to eat before having to return to the cellar. The crash of the explosives was terrible. Every time we thought it was our house that had been hit. We could hear the tinkle of broken window panes as explosion followed explosion.
Your father’s calm and self-control were an example to us all. No sooner had the raiders passed over than he wanted to be on the street with a pick and shovel to rescue or help others, wherever the need might be. He would not be stopped by our entreaties, but simply said, “You can’t know; perhaps some child is buried in the debris and is calling for its mother. I must go and help, and God will bring me safely back.”
At first dawn a friend came and implored your father to hide himself. He said there was a plan to arrest or kill al1 Jews. This, too, I only heard later; otherwise I would have begged him to hide with Christian friends. But he had made up his mind that he could never do this, for it would have brought us and others into danger. So, slowly morning drew on, the morning of the saddest day in your short lives. The shooting and the roar of artillery grew a little weaker, but we had another air raid.
Father came downstairs in the early morning and told us to remain all day in the cellar. My task was to quieten and comfort you and find you something to do. You had to be engrossed with trivial things, while above our heads on the streets of the cruel city terrible things were taking place. All the Jews were being driven together, and every house was being searched for them. One could see long columns among them, being led through the streets to the police headquarters. They had to go with hands held above their heads; if any through sheer weariness let them drop or just could not go any farther, the soldiers who were escorting them beat them with their rifles or prodded them with their bayonets. I have heard that terrible things happened. Old women who could go no farther were killed on the spot and left lying in the gutter. A Rumanian priest could stand these horrors no longer; he begged them to stop, but was shot by his own people. German officers and soldiers stood on the pavement, jeered and photographed the miserable columns with great satisfaction.
I was not able to watch it for long. In any case it was almost over by then. Your father had been marched off with one of these tragic columns and I followed him to let Sister Olga know what was happening. All forenoon we had sat in our cellar without any suspicion of what was happening up above. I did go upstairs to father’s study once to see how he was getting on; I asked him why he was so pale and whether he would have something to eat. He smiled sadly and said, “You will know why later.”
At the end of September, three months after your father had been taken away, it became known in the city that a number of Jews had been released from a concentration camp to help in demolition work. The same evening two men asked to see me, saying they had something to tell me. I recognized them as men who used to attend our meetings and knew I could trust them. Their story almost paralysed me with horror. This is what they had to tell.
“We were with your husband that Sunday. To all imprisoned with him in the cellar at police headquarters he was a help. In the evening we were taken out into the courtyards of the headquarters. There were so many of us that we lay packed one on top of the other like sardines. We suppose our persecutors hoped we would be hit by bombs, but though they exploded all around us, unfortunately we remained untouched. In the early morning we were taken in long columns to a concentration camp. Feinstein was in the same truck as we. We were packed so tight we could neither move nor breathe - there were 140 of us in a cattle truck that would have taken 40. Doors and windows were shut, all cracks and holes were sealed, and steam was driven in from below. It was a gruesome journey of death. Many went mad, and the cries of those in torment were terrible. From time to time the trucks were left standing for hours in the burning summer heat. Awful things happened which we can never tell. Those of us who survived are haunted by our memories.
“Your husband probably did not have to suffer very long. It was not long before he began to repeat psalms in a loud voice, and his face was like the face of an angel. Then he fell asleep and woke no more. During the night at a small Moldavian station the trucks were opened and the corpses fell out. They thought that everyone would have been suffocated on this journey of death. But there were six of us who were only unconscious who were injured as we fell out. Seeing us bleeding they brought us back to life and consciousness with injections; they gave us something to eat and then forced us to bury our dead friends in a common grave. While we were doing this we found our dear Mr. Feinstein. We dug him a separate grave. Before burying him we went through his pockets in the hope of finding his documents or something else to send you, but nothing, not even his watch, was left. He had been stripped of everything beforehand.
“They put us in a camp there with many others; we had to work hard and led a miserable life. Often we were sorry that a renewal of life had been granted us. Now they have brought us back here into the city, but nothing good awaits us.”
A few days later these two men did me the service of appearing
before the court to testify what they knew of my husband’s death, so that I
could get a death certificate. Without
this we should never have got a passport and should not have been able to leave
the country. In this way your dear father’s death proved your salvation, and you
were able to go to
‑ The Hebrew Christian.
* * *
1. The description above, of what happened to one of Christ’s disciples during the Second World War, is a foretaste of what will happen to some of His disciples during the Great Tribulation under the Antichrist:-
“Take heed that no man lead you [‘disciples’ (3)] astray.” … “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines and earthquakes in divers places. But all these things are the beginning if travail. Then shall they deliver you up unto tribulation, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake:” (Matt. 24: 4, 7-9, R.V.).
“The Church of today must be the Enoch of our world. We Christians must show the people of our time what the good life really means: it is the reproduction of the life of Christ by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Such an example will not be popular, but it will please God, to whom one day we must render an account. It may also earn Enoch’s reward: translation to Heaven without passing through the [Great Tribulation and] portal of death. But we have Enoch’s testimony to give, namely that Christ will return to this earth to set up the Golden Age. Two world wars have sharpened the interest of many people in the truth [of selective rapture, and] of the Second Coming of Christ; but this interest has been divided into two schools of thought. One of these is linked with the name of J. N. Darby, and holds that the Church will entirely escape the tribulations which precede the Return of Christ. The other school of thought is linked with the name of B. W. Newton, just as brilliant a scholar as Darby, and these friends hold that the whole Church must endure the tribulation. May it not be that the golden mean of these two antinomies is the truth? If we exercise the faith of Enoch in a humble walk with God and a clear testimony to His Word, we may “prevail to escape” [Luke 21: 36, R.V.] what is coming upon the world. ‘Watch and pray that ye may be accounted worthy to escape’ (Luke 21: 36).”
- FRANK V. MILDRED.
2. LONGING FOR HIS COMING
Beloved, are we longing for the coming of our Lord, or shall we meet Him with grief and not with joy? Shall we open to Him immediately, or shall we want more time to prepare? Is He coming to us as a judge, or is He coming to us as the Bridegroom of our hearts and the blessed Hope of all our life?
This is the special work of the Holy Ghost in preparing His Bride for the coming of the Bridegroom, and, unless we have this expectant love for His appearing, it is certain that we are not in the right state of heart.
As the Lord’s coming draws nearer, it will doubtless be somehow revealed to the hearts of His children, who are waiting and watching for Him, in such a way that, while they will not know the day nor the hour, they will at least be ready, and something within them will be going out to meet the Bridegroom.
When a great magnet approaches a lot of little bits of steel and iron filings in a box of sand, they become agitated, and a quivering movement is seen along the whole line. They almost seem to be conscious of something in the air attracting them upward; and when the magnet comes a little nearer, they just leap up to meet it and cling to it by the subtle attraction of the magnetic fluid. And so, as the Lord’s coming draws nearer, the hearts of His people will become strangely conscious that the Bridegroom is at hand, and they will be drawn out to expect Him and prepare for Him in a manner which they themselves may not understand. “When these things begin to come to pass,” He said, “then lift up your heads and bend yourselves back,” in the attitude of preparation for flight, “for your redemption draweth nigh.”
Sometimes we have seen on a branch a bird standing, almost ready to fly, with wings just fluttering, and its whole attitude poised and prepared to spring from the branch and sweep away into the sky at the call of its distant mate. So should the Bride of the Lamb be waiting with fluttering wing, uplifted eye, and all her being poised and ready at the first call to mount on high and be transported to the Beloved of her heart.
A. B. SIMPSON, D.D.