Centre for Dialogue and Prayer in Oświęcim

Bishop Klaus Hemmerle - „They set the house of my Lord on fire“

Bishop Klaus Hemmerle - „They set the house of my Lord on fire“


They set the house of my Lord on fire
- and my own people did it.
They took it away from those who introduced the name of my Lord
- and my own people did it.

They took away their own houses from them
- and my own people did it.
They took away their property, their honour, their names from them
- and my own people did it.
They took away their lives
- and my own people did it.
Those who call the name of the same Lord remained silent
- yes, my own people did that.

People say: Let's forget and be finished with it.
What we forget comes back unexpected, unrecognized.
How can we be finished with what we forget?
Shall I say: it was my people, not me?
- No, my own people did that.

What shall I say?
Lord, have mercy!
What shall I say?
Keep Your name alive in me,
keep their names alive in me,
keep their memory alive in me,
keep my shame alive in me:
Lord, have mercy on me.

Klaus Hemmerle (1924 – 1994), Bishop of the German diocese of Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) – prayer spoken on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Night of Pogrom – November 9th, 1988, Town Hall of the City of Aachen.

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