The Rev. Louis Bauman (1875-1950), pastor of the First Brethren Church of Long Beach, CA from 1913 to 1947, was one of the few prominent Christian theologians who sought to publicize the plight of the Jews under Hitler.
Rev. Bauman was an influential teacher, speaker, and writer among evangelical Protestants nationwide. In addition to his work as leader of his own congregation, Bauman was closely associated with the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, and was a founder of the Grace Theological Seminary. He wrote for various national Christian publications.
Bauman’s writings focused on the argument that contemporary events constituted fulfillment of biblical prophecies. Believing that a mass Jewish return to the Holy Land is a necessary part of the messianic process, Bauman saw the Nazi persecution of European Jewry as part of the Divine plan. His intention was not to justify the Nazis’ behavior, but to place it in the context of evangelical Protestant theology.
Bauman’s writings about the Jews sometimes stirred opposition. In 1933, a Missouri Lutheran periodical, The Concordia Theological Monthly, criticized some of Bauman’s articles for allegedly exaggerating the mistreatment of German Jewry.
In the May 1934 issue of The King’s Business, Rev. Bauman wrote: “Once, not so long ago, Germany was regarded as the most cultured nation on earth. One’s education was not complete unless it was climaxed in Germany. But, lo! How are the mighty fallen! Germany seems to have disposed of all the cerebrum stuff she once possessed–shipped it to Palestine! And what can be expected from the cerebrum she may have left! A change like this–an insane anti-Semitic outburst in that which was tooted [sic] to be man’s most advanced culture–in light of the clear word of prophecy–how tremendously significant! After studying the situation on the ground the editor of the Catholic ‘Commonweal’ exclaims: ‘A persecution of the Jews, which in its extent probably surpasses any recorded instance of persecution in Jewish history!’ ”
In the January 1940 issue of The King’s Business, he wrote: “[T]he expression, ‘Jews in Germany,’ now means not only those in the Germany of a year ago, but the millions that a year ago were in Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. The slow tortured-to-death methods now being used by the Nazi government may not seem so bloody, but are infinitely more cruel than the quick death by the sword. Antiochus Epiphanes was far more kind than Adolph Hitler.”
Rev. Bauman’s articles sometimes contained statements repeating classic antisemitic prejudices, especially references to Jews spreading Communism. Yet he also authored a signed editorial in The Brethren Missionary Herald on July 3, 1943, in which he asserted: “Now, if there is any such thing as a ‘Jewish world coalition’ will someone please tell us where its headquarters are? Who is its head? Wherein has it power? Millions of agonizing, dying Jews would like to know where they can go for a bit of help.”
Sources: Ross, So It Was True, pp. 39, 44-47, 150-151, 178-179.