Survivor’s Guilt: A Devotion

Carolyn’s Online Magazine



SCRIPTURE: Exodus 1:22  Then Pharoah commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile… (RSV)

Matthew 2:16  Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.  (NKJV)

REFLECTION: Bob Mendler survived the Holocaust, a slaughter meant to exterminate the Jewish population.

“Why did I survive, of my 89 family members?” he asks. “Guilty, I feel so guilty. I have everything I want: a beautiful wife, children. I’m unhappy with that, it bothers me.”

He overcomes frequent suicidal thoughts by asking: “What am I going to gain by it? If God let me survive, live through it…I want to live, to leave a legacy.”


Two previous mass slaughters resulted in the murder of male babies. They were meant to exterminate Moses and Jesus, who also survived.

What effect did the child slaughters have on these two males? Did they too suffer from survivor’s guilt? Was a part of the intensity of their missions a result of survivorship?

Although we’ll probably never be able to answer those questions, Bob may provide some insight. His mission is to leave a legacy in the form of a Holocaust remembrance in hopes to prevent a future extermination recurrence.

What motivates us to leave a legacy for future generations? It’s unlikely that most of us have a motivation as strong as these three men had. Yet, we all leave some sort of a legacy. What will yours be?

PRAYER: Lord, keep all your children safe in this world. Bless the remaining Holocaust survivors, easing the guilt pangs they feel so they can live a fuller life. And guide us as we consider what our legacy to future generations will be. Amen.

Read more devotions in the regular Devotions Category and/or Easter/Holy Week Devotions Category


About carolyncholland

In several if my nine lives I have been a medical lab technician and a human service worker specializing in child day care, adoptions and family abuse. Currently I am a photo/journalist/writer working on a novel and a short story. My general writings can be viewed at My novel site is
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One Response to Survivor’s Guilt: A Devotion

  1. merry101 says:

    Carolyn, thanks for sharing Bob’s life story. Its hard for me understand child slaughter. ~/


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