by Michael C. Wells
It was April 16, 1945. Zhukov, the Russian commander, launched his final attack on Berlin. The Allied troops, that had been bombing Berlin, were closing in on
the city. The Americans informed Stalin that the city was theirs to overrun while they liberated the concentration camps. On the 25 th of April, Soviet and American troops met at Torgau on the Elbe. The Soviets had surrounded Berlin and were pounding. the German forces. No mercy was shown by the Soviet troops, and German soldiers hastened to surrender to the American army for fear of being slaughtered by the Russians. The city was falling. All hope for a greater Germany was literally laid waste before their eyes. They had been promised a new, more powerful Germany and a united Europe under Hitler’s rule. Now all they could see was destruction, death, and anguish.
So demoralized was Hitler, that on April 30, 1945, he committed suicide in his own bunker. He had cherished great plans of kingly authority and unlimited power. He had seen early success and a unity of the German people. Everything seemed to be going his way, and then all of a sudden things began to change. What had happened? Why did Hitler lose the war? He had resources, manpower, loyalty, money, and power, to perform any task, yet he failed to unite Europe, with Germany as its leading state.
When Hitler first started his campaign, he worked so subtly that some European nations turned the other cheek and even signed peace accords with Germany. Russia was one of these countries. On September 1, 1939, when Germany attacked Poland, the Soviet Union had already signed the 10- year Nazi- Soviet Pact of nonaggression, a month before. A secret protocol had given up Poland and the Baltic States for division between Germany and the U.S.S.R. We can see the ramifications of this policy even today. Division and war have ever been constant in these regions.
Europe was in turmoil and nothing seemed to stop this killing machine of SovietNazi aggression. Hitler, though, had grander plans than just the occupation of a few little countries. He aspired to be Emperor of Europe. He, like many before him, wanted to see the unification of Europe. He quickly moved against Denmark and Norway, where he would find great wealth in ore, foods such as fish and dairy products, and an Atlantic harbor for his ships and submarines.
The Nazi machine continued to roll forward soundly defeating Great Britain and France at every turn. As the Allied troops tried to stop his advance, Hitler was way ahead of them in strategy and pure guile. On May 10, 1940, Germany pushed its Blitzkrieg through the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. With no real defense, they fell quickly and by the 28 th of May, they laid down their arms and surrendered unconditionally.
The Nazi War- Machine
Throughout the 1930s in Europe and America, the Great Depression had taken its toll. Americans did not want to enter into another European war, especially not since they were just starting to recover from the depression that had affected the
country so terribly. Europe, too, was trying to recover from a similar depression, and was unprepared for such an aggressive attack by a country that most thought could not rise up again after World War I. Yet, Hitler had rallied the people of Germany with nationalism and anti- Semitism. Everything from the poor economy to liberalism was blamed on the Jewish people.
One of the most interesting facts of Hitler’s rise to power and continued success is seen when we look at who backed him in his efforts. In photos during this time, Cardinal Pacelli (later to become Pope Pius XII) is seen presenting Hitler with a concordat between the Vatican and the Nazi party. Outdoor masses were held in Munich, in 1937, to bless the Nazi Party and the Fuhrer.
An Invincible Force?
Many times, Hitler tried to play down his aggressive tendencies and put the League of Nations at ease. But like a lion, who is lying in the sun, taking in the rays of a hot summer day, it is still aware of the prey around it. When you least expect it, he is up and attacking his prey, crushing it between his powerful jaws.
Hitler was like a sleeping lion. He came out with vengeance and used the Blitzkrieg to demoralize the countries he subjugated. With every defeat of the Allied armies, Hitler became stronger and looked more invincible than before.
The collapse of France was a major victory for Germany. England and France were the only major countries fighting against the Nazi killing machine. France was thought to have an unbeatable army, yet on May 16, 1940, Germany sent in its mechanized forces, surprising the Allies by attacking through the wooded Ardennes rather than the Belgian plain, and drove the British Expeditionary Force from the continent. On June 14, the Germans entered Paris, unopposed, and forced France to sign an Armistice on the 22 nd of June, 1940. When France fell to Germany, neutral Italy attacked southern France and declared war on the Allied troops. Again Hitler received help: this time in the form of troops from Italy. With Mussolini now on the side of Hitler, most of western Europe defeated, and part of eastern Europe in disarray, Hitler’s dream of being the ruler of Europe seemed as though it was about to become a reality.
The Nazi Fuhrer lost no time in establishing his new world order in Europe. His policy consisted of terror, forced labor, and concentration camps. Hitler was well on his way to realizing his dream. In order to fulfill his dream of an Aryan nation, Hitler started persecuting many different racial groups. While the persecution of the Jews had much to do with their religion, the persecution of groups like the Slays, gypsies, and blacks was based on not only religious views but on racial hatred. Hitler hated these ‘impure” breeds of people who had contaminated his precious Aryan Germany. He set up concentration camps and eliminated whole groups of people. He was determined to purge Germany of all whom he concluded were the cause of Germany’s failure to become a great nation in World War I.
With the subjugation of most of Europe complete, Hitler turned His attention towards North Africa. Through Mussolini, an invasion of Libya and Egypt were attempted, but the Italian troops are surprised by British troops, and Hitler had to come to Mussolini’s aid. While Mussolini was making his attempt at North Africa,
Hitler had decided that the alliance between Germany and the U.S.S.R. had outlived its usefulness. This pact was only a temporary arrangement, in Hitler’s eyes, until he had used the Soviets to fulfill his purpose. Now with a large measure of success behind him, Hitler plans for the invasion of the U.S.S.R.
In 1941, Hitler ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union. He pushed hard into Russia and within a few days, the Nazi machine had advanced 400 miles. Major losses were accrued by the Russian forces. The Germans had captured over 300,000 prisoners in no more than 18 days. Within the first 48 hours, Soviet forces had lost over 2000 planes and, by the middle of the month, the German army was only200 miles from Moscow.
Predictions And Defiance
Many people in 1940— 1941 were sure that Hitler was unstoppable. There was speculation that Hitler would overrun all of Europe. The German people as a whole were behind him, and many of the European nations, who had not been attacked, claimed the status of neutrality. Everyone was afraid that if they opposed Hitler he would turn his forces upon them. Countries such as Sweden and Switzerland worked secretly with the Germans through economics and by allowing passage rights through their countries to ease Hitler’s attacks on other nations. America would only involve itself in supplying arms and munitions to the Allies, and was determined to avoid full- scale involvement in this solely European war. Many were looking for the sure demise of divided Europe and the establishment of a new unified Europe with Hitler at the head.
Yet, there were some that were predicting that Hitler would not succeed, and would meet his demise. These predictions were made at the height of Hitler’s power and seemed to fly in the face of common sense. Arthur S. Maxwell, editor of The Signs of the Times, continued to predict Hitler’s defeat right at the time of the fall of France. His editorials were cutting and direct.
How did he know Hitler would be defeated? Mr. Maxwell was an avid Bible student and predicted the downfall of Hitler and the failed unification of Europe, through the study of the prophecies of Daniel 2. Amazing, you might say! How could anyone, through the study of the book of Daniel be able to predict, at the height of Hitler’s career, that he would be utterly defeated? What was the key to understanding this truth, and why did not anyone else come to these same conclusions?
Hitler made a statement in March, 1941, that was in open defiance to God. Speaking to the German people, he said, “See my people? We do not need anything from God! We do not ask anything from Him except that He may let us alone. We want to fight our own war, with our own guns, without God. We want to gain our victory without the help of God.” This was quite a bold statement! Hitler believed in the arm of flesh and not in the arm of God. His philosophy was based on selfishness and self- righteousness. He thought his power sufficient to overcome any odds, and, in 1941, it looked like he would see his dreams fulfilled. But Hitler had failed to read the Bible and study the prophecies that would affect his success.
After the German invasion of the U.S.S.R., the structure of the Allied forces had shifted. Churchill, the new Prime Minister of Great Britain, promised Stalin economic and technical assistance against the Axis powers. This offer was accepted by Moscow, and Stalin signed a mutual- aid pact with London in July of 1941. While the British and Russians were coming together to battle Hitler’s Nazi regime, the United States was busy changing its home policy about this European war. President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill came together to form what was called the Atlantic Charter, which the U.S.S.R. and fourteen other non- Axis countries endorsed. The Atlantic Charter was designed as a counter thrust to a possible new Hitler offensive as well as a statement of postwar aims. Hitler did not know it yet, but the God of heaven was about to throw a “monkey wrench” into his plans of world conquest.
December 7, 1941, was a fateful day, the consequences of which became a determining factor in the downfall of Hitler. Early in the morning of that lazy Sunday, Japanese fighter- bombers, from an aircraft carrier far out at sea, wreaked havoc on a small Hawaiian island. The objective was to destroy the American fleet of ships at Pearl Harbor in one stroke. Little did Hitler realize that when his ally, Japan, attacked the United States it would lead to his ultimate defeat. Hitler was secure in the knowledge that this was a European war that the United States did not want to be involved in, and he was not planning to confront American servicemen and armament in Europe.
Hitler did not realize that the greatest Protestant nation on the earth was about to alter the policies and directives, which he had laid out in his new world order. America now became busy putting two forces together, one for Europe and one for Asian contingency.
Never think that God is not in control over the affairs of men. His all- knowing eye is upon each one of His people. We cannot always understand the workings of God, but never doubt that He is working for the best interest of His people. By bringing the United States into the war, God was showing His disdain for the policies that Hitler was pushing forward.
The battle was still being lost, as a whole, for the Allied armies even with the insurgence of the American army. As Hitler’s tanks plowed through Northern Africa and Eastern Europe, the German bombers were trying to level London. The Germans had used their time well in establishing fortified bases of operations. Planning for invasion by Allied troops, Hitler had beachheads mined, covered with barb wire, and protected by pillboxes and artillery guns. Several times Allied troops were cut off from advancements or literally backed into the sea. Hundreds of thousands died on those beaches, yet the Allies kept coming back for more. Hitler was confident that his strategies were sound and his positions were secure; yet back in America, Arthur Maxwell was still predicting the eventual defeat of Hitler. What was it that he knew that most people did not? In order to explain Mr. Maxwell’s certainty of Hitler’s defeat, we will have to go back into the prophecies of Daniel and read how this prophecy unfolds.
A King Dreams of Empires
In Daniel chapter 2, we read the story of King Nebuchadnezzar and the dream that fascinated him so much that he was determined to discover its meaning. Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon, the Emperor of the known world, the head of the most powerful nation on the face of the earth, at that time. He was accustomed to getting his way and did not like to be played for a fool. So, when he had his dream, he called all of his wizards, magicians, sorcerers, and Chaldeans (the elite of his counselors) to explain his dream. However, these professed “revealers of the future” had a problem. The king could not remember the dream, and it plagued him because he knew it was important to understand.
I am sure you have had a dream that you wanted to remember, but it just slipped away from you as you awoke. This was what happened to King Nebuchadnezzar, and much to the dismay of his counselors, the king demanded that they tell him the dream, on penalty of death if they failed. Of course, none of these spiritualists could interpret a dream of unknown content. They had been ‘playing” the king for years with their tricks and spiritualism and had no real knowledge of the future. Only God knows the future, for He says, “Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.” Isaiah 46: 9, 10.
Daniel was being trained to be one of the elite in the kingdom, and because of this, his head was also to roll if the dream was not made known.
Daniel, of course, did not know any more than the rest of the counselors, but he was not a pagan idol worshipper like the Babylonians. He was a Jew who had faith in the God of heaven. He had determined in his heart to honor God above all else. And so, when Daniel went to the Lord in prayer and asked to be shown the dream, it was granted him to present it to the king as a witness of future events.
You see, the God of heaven had sent this dream to a pagan king for the same reason he sends the Holy Spirit to convict our hearts. He was trying to bring this king to repentance, and He knew He had quite a work to do. Through this dream, the Lord was attempting to awaken King Nebuchadnezzar out of his spiritual slumber.
As Daniel presents the dream and the interpretation to Nebuchadnezzar, he first makes known to the king from where it came. “Daniel answered in the presence of the king, and said, ‘The secret, which the king has demanded, the wise men, the astrologers, the magicians, and the soothsayers cannot declare to the king. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days. Your dream, and the visions of your head upon your bed, were these:
As for you, O king, thoughts came to your mind while on your bed, about what would come to pass after this; and He who reveals secrets has made known to you what will be. But as for me, this secret has not been revealed to me because I have more wisdom than anyone living, but for our sakes who make known the interpretation to the king, and that you may know the thoughts of your heart.”
Daniel 2: 27— 30. Notice that Daniel takes no credit, but points to the magnificence of God. Daniel continues by telling the king that he has been shown a great image of awesome splendor. “This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay” Verses 32,33. What an image! The king knew immediately that this is exactly what he saw. As he was thrilled with the realization that Daniel actually knew his dream, Daniel continues: “You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Verses 34,35.
Being an idol- worshipping king, Nebuchadnezzar was quite impressed with this image in its magnificent splendor, but was dismayed at the destruction of such a beautiful piece of workmanship. To think that this image of precious metals would be crushed by a huge stone was at the very least distressing. Then Daniel tells the king “You, O king,. . . you are this head of gold” (verses 37,38). This delighted the king that this golden head represented him, but Daniel was not done yet. “But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others.” Verses 39,40.
King Nebuchadnezzar was the ruler of the Babylonian Empire. The head of gold represented him. Yet, the king found that his kingdom was to be replaced by one inferior to his. This was unsettling to this pagan king that prided himself on his city of gold. As a matter of history, not too long after the death of Nebuchadnezzar, his kingdom did fall to the Persian Empire, which in turn fell to Alexander the Great (Greece), and, as God predicted, the fourth kingdom as strong as iron, crushed all others before it. We know from history that this world kingdom was the Roman Empire. Rome has always been called the iron monarchy, and it did beat down its adversaries showing no mercy to its enemies. By the time Rome was at the height of its power, all of Europe was under its control.
Europe – Forever Divided?
But notice what else was in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar. “Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay.” Verses 41 – 43.
God had predicted the downfall and division of Rome. In 476 A. D., Rome began its long descent into a divided Europe. Out of the Roman Empire emerged ten kingdoms, which are represented by the ten toes of the image. We can still see most
of them today in such countries as England, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal, etc. These European nations have fulfilled this prophecy to the letter, as it was predicted that they would “mingle with the seed of men, but they will not adhere to one another.” In order to bring peace and unity in Europe, arranged marriages among the ruling families were common during the Middle Ages. The thought being that if all of the royalty were related to one another, no one would fight against their own flesh and blood. Unfortunately, greed and sinful desires have always been stronger than blood. So although these kingdoms “mingle with the seed of men,” God said, “they will not adhere to one another.” In other words, these kingdoms of the late Roman Empire, which is now called Europe, will never become one empire again.
Humanistic mankind loves to try to prove God wrong, but the Lord has never been proven wrong. Why? Hebrews 6: 18 says, “that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”
Throughout the past centuries, men have tried to reunite Europe. In the eighth century, Charlemagne, proclaimed heir to the Roman Empire, tried to reunite Europe into one empire. In the sixteenth century, Charles V tried the same thing, and again in the nineteenth century, Napoleon made a valiant effort to unite Europe again. Napoleon proclaimed to the people “I wanted to found a European system, a European code of law, a European court of appeals.” Yet, God said, “They will not adhere.” When God gives a vision, no man can change it. The Lord of heaven predicted only four world empires and the continued separation of Europe. Nothing could change that and nothing will change it.
War after war has been waged in Europe to bring unity into this continent. Even today, we see nation fighting against nation, kingdom against kingdom just as Jesus predicted in Matthew 24.
Notice here in Daniel 2: 42,43, that the ten toes would be a mixture of strong and weak countries. If you look at Europe, you will see just how true this prediction is today. Europe is a very diversified continent with wealthy countries, struggling democracies and socialist states. Because of the different cultures, religions, and political agendas, it is not hard to imagine why Europe is so divided. God knew of these problems and wrote in the prophecies of Daniel for all to know. Europe will never unite!
In 1939, Hitler thought he could change the structure of Europe. As his bombers dropped bombs on England, and his tanks rolled through France, he entertained ideas of grandeur. As his German scientist worked on the V2 rocket in the later years of the war, Hitler still held out hope for a greater Germany, but even he could not change what God saw in the future for Europe. Hitler had marked success for quite a few years, but on April 30,1945, Hitler saw that his dreams of a united Europe had failed and he took his own life. Seven days later the German army formally gave an unconditional surrender. Hitler’s Third Reich had come to an end.
If Hitler had understood the prophecies of Daniel he would have been forewarned of his eventual defeat. However, like most people of today, he had no interest in
what God had to say and paid the price for rejecting the knowledge of life that God gives to every person who will search for His will in their lives. Hitler did not lose the war because of the entrance of the American army into the war, or because of the stiff opposition that the U. S. S. R. gave to the invasion of their country or because of bad strategy on his part, but because the God of heaven, King of Kings, Majesty of the Universe, the one who declares the beginning from the end, said Europe would never unite again.
The More Sure Word of Prophecy
Why was Arthur Maxwell so convinced that this prophecy was true and would work out just as he said? We can read his assurance in Daniel 2: 45: “. . . the dream is certain, and the interpretation is sure.” God gave that assurance to him through these two words. If God says it, we can be sure of it, for God cannot tell a lie. God’s word is always certain and sure, and it cannot be changed by erring, sinful men. Today again we see men trying to unite Europe into one nation. Again we see some marked success, but again, men are trying to go directly against the knowledge of God. They are trying to establish a union that does not have the blessing of heaven.
Did you know that the Lord even predicted that this would happen in the last days? Look at what He says will happen in the last days of these kingdoms, when they try to unite themselves into one body. “You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” Daniel 2: 34,3 5.
Here we see a stone destroying the image and crushing it into dust. We can find out what this stone is by looking at Bible definitions. The Bible always interprets itself As Jesus tells a story to the chief priests and people, in Matthew 21: 33— 44, we gain understanding into this prophecy by studying another prophecy. Here in Matthew 21 :42, Jesus refers to Himself as the, “Stone which the builders [Jews] rejected.” Then He gives us more insight into this stone and image of Daniel when He says, “And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” Verse 44. If our pride and selfishness is broken on the Chief Cornerstone (Jesus), our willfullness and self- exultation will be broken. But if we do not submit to Him, when He comes, He will crush us into powder. We shall be destroyed by the brightness of His coming. (See 2 Thessalonians 1: 7— 9; 2: 8.) “And in the days of these kings (kingdoms) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” Daniel 2: 44.
The God of heaven is ever interested in the events of human history. One inspired writer expresses this thought this way: “In the annals of human history, the growth of nations, the rise and fall of empires, appear as if dependent on the will and prowess of man; the shaping of events seems, to a great degree, to be determined by his power, ambition, or caprice. But in the word of God the curtain is drawn aside, and we behold, above, behind, and through all the play and counter- play of human interest and power and passions, the agencies of the All-merciful One, silently, patiently working out the counsels of His own will.” Prophets and Kings, p.499, by Ellen G. White.
The facts of Hitler’s defeat are clear. With overpowering forces, armament, and resources, he went forth to conquer the world. He systematically brought country after country to its knees, but the fact remains that he was doomed to failure. The God of heaven knows the beginning from the end. He can see down the streams of time and knows how to fulfill His purposes.
We are on the verge of the last and final battle to take place on this earth. We see the countries of Europe hastening to bring Europe back to the greatness it had during the days of the Roman Empire. As the great men of the world, labor to reunite Europe once again, the prophecies of Daniel ring louder and louder in our ears. In these last days, when men once again try to go against God, He will come back and destroy the kingdoms of this earth. “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever. The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth.” Revelation 11: 15,18.
Men do not realize that they are fighting against the God of heaven. They are blinded to the truth of what is happening in the world today. But God has given a warning to every man, woman, and child. “Fear (respect) God and give glory to Him.” Revelation 14: 7. All He asks of you and me today is to obey and honor Him, and if we do, He has promised to protect us and be our God. He is ever trying to work out His plan in our lives, using every means possible to encourage, guide and instruct us in the paths of righteousness.
As earth’s history comes to a close and time grows short, He is saying to each of us, “Behold I stand at the door and knock If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3: 20. Do you hear Him knocking?
As the nations become angrier and war becomes more common place, will you follow the world of Hitlers and Napoleons, or will you serve the God of heaven who has sacrificed His only Son for you? It is a life and death decision that we must make today. I leave you with one question. Who will you follow today?
- Conway, J. S., The Nazi Persecution of the Churches.
- J. T. C., Smokescreens. Grolier 1997 Multimedia Encyclopedia
- Maxwell, Arthur S., The Signs of the Times.
- White, E. G., Prophets and Kings.
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