Thanks so much to all of you who have purchased a copy of The Auschwitz Escape, and to all of you who have been telling your family and friends about the novel through Facebook, Twitter, your blogs and in all kinds of other ways.
As many of you know, I usually write political thrillers about worst case scenarios that might happen in the future. This is the first time I’ve written a work of historical fiction, inspired by true stories that happened in the past. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how this one would be received. But on behalf of Lynn and our boys, and the Tyndale House publishing team, let me say how deeply grateful I am — how grateful we all are — for your support and enthusiasm over this book!
As you know, I’ve been in Israel this past week, doing a series of meetings and interviews about the book. It has been a wonderful time. I return to the States on Tuesday for more interviews and several speaking opportunities in New York City. Here are a few of them. I’ll keep you posted on more when I get back. Thanks.
Opening with Daniel chapter three, I shared the biblical story of three Jewish men — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego — who were thrown in a fiery furnace by an evil tyrant because they refused to bow down a worship a false god.
Sharing some lessons from the Holocaust, I shared several true stories of the real heroes — Jewish and Christian — who inspired the novel, The Auschwitz Escape.
Then, noting that “darkness is falling” in Iran, North Korea, China, Russia and around the world, I also urged these students to love God and love their neighbors and stand boldly and courageously for Jesus Christ and the Word of God, no matter what the cost.
One of the most important elements of the message, for me personally, was reminding the students that in my lifetime, Americans have aborted 55 million babies. If this is not stopped, in the next few years, Americans will have murdered 60 million people.
“Consider the implications of that number,” I told them. “That will mean that Americans will have killed ten times more people than the number of Jews that the Nazis murdered during the Holocaust.”
We know the judgment that came upon Nazi Germany because of what they did, I noted. What do we think is going to happen to America?
Unless we repent, America will be judged. Unless we change course and God grants us mercy and forgiveness, America will implode. It’s only God’s grace that He hasn’t judged us already. I made it clear to the students that I don’t know when that judgment will come. That said, all the evidence suggests we are overdue.
We must study the Word of God and draw lessons from the stories of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. We must also study the Holocaust and draw lessons from the stories of the heroes like Rudolf Vrba, Fred Wetzler, Pastor Andre Trocme and others. But we must also look deeply into our souls and determine whether we are willing to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves. Are we willing to love and protect and rescue the needy and the poor and the suffering, even if they don’t believe what we believe, even if they never choose to follow Christ? Are we willing to resist the evil tyrants of our day? Will we refuse to bow down to false gods and humanist systems, even if we are imprisoned, tortured or executed?
The lessons from the Book of Daniel, and the lessons from the Holocaust, are not ancient history that have no bearing on our lives in our times. Evil is rising today. We, too, will face the fire, and the question is: Will we bow before Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image, or will we stand for Christ and His Word?
Please make plans to join us for a very special evening as we discuss the themes of the novel, some of the key lessons of the Holocaust, whether Christians risked their lives to save Jews, why many Jews felt alone during World War II, what Jews and Christians need to know about each other in light of history, and where Jewish-Christian relations stand today.
(Netanya, Israel) — Greetings from Israel. I’m here doing media interviews for The Auschwitz Escape, having various meetings, and trying to get a better sense of how Israeli citizens and leaders are viewing the crisis in Ukraine and the rising Iranian nuclear threat.
Rumors are swirling in the media here about a possible Israeli preemptive strike on Iran this year. Israeli officials at the highest level — including the Defense Minister — are reportedly coming to the reluctant belief that they cannot count on President Obama to take decisive action to neutralize the Iranian threat before it is too late.
She was right, but there is an even more ominous similarity between the actions of Iran and those of pre-war Germany.
On May 21, 1935, Adolf Hitler delivered his infamous “peace” speech. In his masterful history of Nazi Germany, “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” William L. Shirer quotes the Fuhrer’s remarks at length:
“Germany needs peace and desires peace.”
“Germany has solemnly recognized and guaranteed France her frontiers.”
“Germany has concluded a non-aggression pact with Poland.”
Shirer, a CBS Radio correspondent, called the address “one of the cleverest and most misleading of his Reichstag orations this writer, who sat through most of them, ever heard him make.” He observed the West seemed beguiled by the speech, noting the Times of London welcomed Hitler’s words “with almost hysterical joy.”
“The speech turns out to be reasonable, straightforward, and comprehensive,” stated the Times editorial. “No one who reads it with an impartial mind can doubt that the points of policy laid down by Herr Hitler may fairly constitute the basis of a complete settlement with Germany.”
Yet Hitler was lying to buy time. He would not bring peace, but a horrific war, annexing Austria, invading France and Poland, and ordering the extermination of six million Jews.
Indeed, Hitler’s lies were apparent less than a year after the speech. On March 7, 1936, the Nazis marched into the Rhineland, the demilitarized zone between Germany and France, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.
If the West had confronted Hitler then, it could have forced him out of the Rhineland with a limited application of military force.
Such history is worth noting in today’s showdown with Iran. Many in the West seem beguiled by the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. But are they….
Gearing up for the release of The Auschwitz Escape, and trying to understand how Americans’ fears of a “Second Holocaust” affects their views of current geopolitical issues, we asked 1,000 likely U.S. voters the following question: “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: ‘If the U.S. and our allies do not take decisive action, and the Iranian regime is permitted to build nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them, the Iranian regime will one day attempt to attack the homeland of the United States and bring about a nuclear holocaust’?”
68.1% agreed they fear a nuclear holocaust inside the U.S.
8.6% said they did not know
Here are some of the other results of the poll we discussed:
The big question remains: Will President Obama and the leaders of the P5+1 international powers be able to use diplomacy and sanctions to truly force Iran to dismantle and abandon its uranium and plutonium development programs and all its efforts to build nuclear weapons?
If so, that would be a great blessing to the peace of the world.
But if they cannot force Iran to change course, nearly seven-in-ten Americans say they are deeply concerned that Iran’s ayatollahs and mullahs to use nuclear weapons to kill millions of Americans here inside the homeland.
(Netanya, Israel) — An exclusive new poll reveals Americans not only fear a “Second Holocaust” if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, but also strongly support the White House ordering “decisive” military action to neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat, if diplomacy and sanctions fail.
Gearing up for the release of The Auschwitz Escape, and trying to understand how Americans’ fears of a “Second Holocaust” affects their views of current geopolitical issues, we asked 1,000 likely U.S. voters the following question: “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: ‘While I do not wish for war, if diplomacy and economic sanctions fail to stop Iran, and we have no other choice, I believe the President of the United States should launch devastating airstrikes to decisively neutralize the Iran nuclear threat, so long as we do not put U.S. ground forces into Iran’?”
Here are the results:
59.0% of Americans said they agreed with a U.S. military strike on Iran
9.9% said they did not know
Here are some of the other results of the poll we discussed:
At this point, it seems unlikely to me that President Obama would order such a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities unless there were dramatic developments that posed an imminent threat to the U.S. For the last several years, Mr. Obama has been withdrawing U.S. military forces from the Middle East, reducing military spending, and pressuring Israel not to launch a preemptive strike. What’s more, top White House and Pentagon officials fairly routine dismiss the idea of military action, while continuing to state for the record that “all options are on the table.”
That said, what I wanted to test with this poll question was not whether Americans believe the President really will strike Iran if there is no other choice. Rather, I wanted to understand whether the American public would support such a preemptive air attack (with no ground forces) if they believed there was no other choice. It turns out they do. Indeed, the fact that nearly six-in-ten Americans say they would support a U.S. first strike tells me their fears of a “Second Holocaust” are motivating them to support stronger American action against Iran than many in Washington appear to be seriously contemplating.
Discussing “The Auschwitz Escape” with Fox News anchor Shannon Bream from Jerusalem.
(Jerusalem, Israel) — On Sunday, Fox News Channel anchor Shannon Bream interviewed me via satellite from here in Israel about the new book, The Auschwitz Escape. She also asked me about the national survey we commissioned for the release of the book.
(Lynchburg, Virginia) — Who is Vladimir Putin, and what does he really want? Why exactly has he suddenly sent tens of thousands of heavily armed Russian troops into Crimea? Why did he invade Georgia in 2008? Why is he selling arms to bloodthirsty regimes like that of Bashar Assad in Syria? And why is selling both advanced arms and nuclear technology to a rogue terrorist state like Iran?
In the face of such questions, President Obama looks disoriented and confused. He and his national-security team have been painfully slow to understand the Putin threat. They’re now scrambling to develop a coherent and convincing policy to contain Putin, much less have a chance at rolling him back.
The American people now see Putin as a real and growing threat, and not just to the former Soviet republics but to the national security of the United States and our allies, including Israel.
This month, I engaged McLaughlin & Associates, a nationally-respected polling firm, to ask a series of questions of 1,000 likely U.S. voters. Among them:
Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: “In light of Russia’s invasion of southern Ukraine, and Russia selling arms and nuclear technology to Iran, and Russia selling arms to the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, I have come to believe that Vladimir Putin and the government of Russia pose a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States and our ally, Israel”?
In 2012, Mr. Obama mocked those who even raised such a question. Today, a remarkable 72 percent of Americans said they agreed with such a statement. Only 19 percent disagreed.
Are they right? Is Putin as serious a threat as Americans believe? To answer that question requires going beyond Washington conventional wisdom and listening carefully to what he has said in the past.
In 2000, three Russian journalists — Nataliya Gevorkyan, Natalya Timakova, and Andrei Kolesnikov — published First Person, which may prove to be one of the most important books ever written about Putin. It is useful not because the journalists offered their own insights or analysis into Putin, but because they simply let Putin speak for himself. They interviewed the Russian leader six separate times, each time for about four hours. The book is merely a transcript, and when it comes to understanding Putin’s ambitions and approach, it is a gold mine of intelligence.
Putin on his mission in life: “My historical mission,” he insisted, is to stop “the collapse of the USSR” (p. 139). To do this, he vowed to “consolidate the armed forces, the Interior Ministry, and the FSB [the successor to the KGB, the secret police of the Soviet Union]” (p. 140). “If I can help save Russia from collapse, then I’ll have something to be proud of” (p. 204).
On his style: “Everyone says I’m harsh, even brutal,” Putin acknowledged, without ever disputing such observations. “A dog senses when somebody is afraid of it, and bites,” he observed. “The same applies [to dealing with one’s enemies]. If you become jittery, they will think they are stronger. Only one thing works in such circumstances—to go on the offensive. You must hit first, and hit so hard that your opponent will not rise to his feet” (p. 168).
On the czars: “From the very beginning, Russia was created as a super-centralized state. That’s practically laid down in its genetic code, its traditions, and the mentality of its people,” said Putin, adding, “In certain periods of time . . . in a certain place . . . under certain conditions . . . monarchy has played and continues to this day to play a positive role. . . . The monarch doesn’t have to worry about whether or not he will be elected, or about petty political interests, or about how to influence the electorate. He can think about the destiny of the people and not become distracted with trivialities” (p. 186).
On his choice of history’s most interesting political leader: “Napoleon Bonaparte” (p. 194).
On his rise from spy to president: “In the Kremlin, I have a different position. Nobody controls me here. I control everybody else” (p. 131).
On his critics: “to hell with them” (p. 140).
Who is Vladmir Putin? The evidence suggests he sees himself not so much as Russia’s president but as a new czar for a new age. He is determined to expand Russian territory by taking back what was lost when the Soviet Union imploded and restoring the glory of Mother Russia. Sensing weakness in Mr. Obama, he is ready to “go on the offensive” and “hit first, and hit so hard” that his opponent “will not rise to his feet.”
This is precisely why Putin is so dangerous. Hillary Clinton recently compared the Russian leader’s tactics to those of Adolf Hitler. In some ways, she is correct. Putin is not building concentration camps, but he is hungry for power and territory and he doesn’t see a single leader in Europe or in Washington who has the courage to stop him. He is testing, probing, and finding no serious opposition.
If he is not stopped, the question is not whether Vladimir Putin will hit another opponent and seize more territory. The question simply is: When?
(Lynchburg, Virginia) — “To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.” As readers of this blog know, this has been a theme of many of my books over the years.
Now comes a fascinating piece of data. A surprisingly large majority of the U.S. population is deeply concerned that Americans are not being taught enough about the Holocaust or learning how to confront evil in our time. They especially concerned that young people aren’t being effectively taught what can happen when evil rises and we do not take decisive action to stop it.
These are among the findings of an exclusive new poll Tyndale House Publishers and I commissioned as we prepared to release The Auschwitz Escape.
McLaughlin & Associates, a nationally-respected polling firm, conducted the survey for us. We asked 1,000 likely U.S. voters the following question: “Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: ‘It has been almost 70 years since the end of World War II and the liberation of the Nazi death camps like Auschwitz, but I am concerned that Americans generally — and young people in particular — don’t know enough about the history and horrors of the Holocaust and aren’t learning the lessons of what can happen when evil rises and America does not take decisive action to stop it’?”
1.8% don’t know
Let us consider, therefore, how we can do a better job reaching all Americans — and especially young people — with the history and lessons of the Holocaust. After all, darkness is falling. We are facing rising evil all over the world and Americans are going to have to make hard choices very soon on how to deal with such evil.
In this context, it was an honor and a deeply moving experience today to be able to address 10,000 students at Liberty University today about The Auschwitz Escapeand the true stories that inspired the novel. It was webcast live. As soon as the program is archived, I will post a link.
I especially grateful for the invitation from Liberty because I know they have demonstrated a long-standing love for Israel and the Jewish people. They are actively seeking to educate young people about the horrors of the Holocaust and what lessons Christians should draw from World War II. They are also encouraging young people to identify with the persecuted Church and decide how to live more faithfully and courageously for Christ as evil rises in our time. Just last month, they had Holocaust survivor Irving Roth deliver a very moving address to the students. I was also encouraged that that Liberty had an Iraqi pastor from Baghdad share with the students before I spoke about the challenges of living for Christ in the midst of intense persecution. Indeed, this brother, Pastor Ghassan Thomas, said he is praying that America wakes up and lives for Christ more boldly as he said he has observed a decline in faith in the U.S. over the years he has visited and spoken here.