Just down from the Brandenburg Gate is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. During one morning of my recent stay in Berlin, I visited the information centre, underneath the memorial.

The first room gives an overview of the Nazi policy to exterminate Europe’s Jews. The accounts are chilling not just because they contain detailed descriptions and photographs some of the events but also because it gives a glimpse of the mentality of those over seeing the ‘policy’. At different times new things were tried and didn’t quite kill the numbers they wanted or with the efficiency that was craved.

The next room contained letters, diary extracts and postcards from victims, giving a voice to the victims. After this came the Room of Families. Family photographs from all over Europe were accompanied by details of the family’s life. Each display gave details of the fate of each person. One family fled to the French border, where the mother and son received visas, while the father and daughter were turned away. Another photograph showed a wedding. It struck me as the bride wore a headdress in the same style as my grandmother at her wedding. Personal stories,  personal voices, personal faces. At this point I was aware of people sighing. It was as if we had been giving a huge burden to carry and we were sighing with the weight of it.

One of the last rooms gave accounts of the sites of camps. A map showed the whole of Europe. Camps and places where atrocities happened went from Norway to North Africa, from Western France to Lithuania, the Ukraine and Greece in the East. What this gave was the scale involved. The first room had made it clear that nationals of most of the countries the Nazis occupied joined in. It would not have been possible with out the co-operation of people across Europe. In Denmark most of the Jews were saved because that didn’t happen, a whole nation worked together to save lives. This was a European problem, a human problem.

I found my visit over-whelming. Being faced with such a great evil shook me to the core. At it’s heart is the rejection of human dignity. Dehumanising people makes it far easier to kill them. It is a rejection that people’s worth come from knowing they are created, sustained and loved by God.

In the midst of all these images, extracts and stories I was faced with the knowledge that evil induces fear in me. I have little doubt that in such a situation my response would have been to keep my head down and keep my family safe. Yet to do so is to allow evil its way.

So much has to be faced, the truly terrible nature of evil, how easy it was for it to happen and how difficult to defeat. The numbers are huge and the personal details over-whelming. The gift of free will, given to us in order that we might love, produced a hatred so cold and calculating and powerful, that it is difficult to know how to respond.