Freedom and Thankfulness

In recent months, I’ve read numerous novels set in World War II and learned a great deal about Adolph Hitler’s reign of terror, the hallmarks of which were fear, uncertainty, control, and loss of freedoms. Hitler’s totalitarian dictatorship from 1933-1945, systematically created an atmosphere of fear and hatred, while invading other countries and taking away freedoms from specific groups of people, especially the Jews. Millions suffered greatly or lost their lives during this long war.

Many criticize America, this land of the free and home of the brave, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. We enjoy freedoms absent in many other countries. Let us never forget our freedoms, and those who paid a high price to ensure we remain free.

A few freedoms we enjoy:

Freedom to Assemble

In Nazi Germany, and occupied countries, citizens were not allowed to gather, thus limiting the chance for organized rebellion.

The freedom to gather with friends and family, for entertainment, meetings, or worship is something we take for granted because we have always been able to do so. Give thanks for the freedom to meet with others when and where we choose.

Freedom to Worship

Do you realize how blessed we are in America to worship? In many countries, worship is a dangerous underground activity, one punishable by death or imprisonment.

In Nazi controlled countries, the restriction on assembly, in most cases negated the freedom to gather to worship. In ghettos and prison camps, the freedom to worship was also absent. Prisoners were often required to work extra hours on the sabbath or holidays, making it impossible to follow religious practices.

Thank God for the gift of worship.

Freedom to Work

This morning, as I picked up food for our July 4th celebration, the woman helping me said, “Have a good 4th!” I asked if she would be able to celebrate later today. She said, “It doesn’t bother me to wait until tonight to celebrate the 4th. I’m thankful I have a job and happy to work!”

One of the first restrictions Hitler placed on the Jews, and others he considered enemies, was loss of jobs or businesses. Employers were required to fire Jews, and businesses owned by Jews were required to close, thus ending their source of income. Those involved in academia were also targeted, if their subject and teachings were considered anti-Nazi.

Give thanks for the freedom to work and earn.

Freedom of Choice

Freedom of choice was eradicated by the Nazi party. You were either a Nazi or subject to imprisonment or deportation. Many were denied travel visas, evicted from their homes, allowed only to shop in designated stores or markets, and prohibited from observing religious practices. Voting was nonexistent. Citizens were not allowed to associate with certain groups of people and subject to arrest if they did.

While we sometimes complain about delays, inconveniences, limited choices, or those with whom we do not agree, be thankful for freedom to make big and small decisions.

Freedom to Defend

In America, we are entitled to defense counsel when accused of a crime. That freedom was absent in Nazi Germany and Nazi occupied countries. People were accused of invented crimes and tried without representation. The verdict was imposed by a judge, without a jury, and usually led to imprisonment or death.

The Nazis also prohibited citizens from bearing arms.

Freedom of Speech and Press

Those who opposed Hitler were denounced as traitors. For those under Nazi rule, there was no freedom of speech or press. News was under the control of the government. Citizens were required to turn in their radios, and those caught with a radio or printing or reading underground newspapers were arrested.

The liberty to speak our beliefs and opinions is one of our greatest freedoms. While we may not agree with others, we, and they, are allowed to speak without fear of imprisonment. But be wise with your speech. Avoid using your freedom of speech for criticism, ridicule, or to stir up descension. Let all that comes from your mouth, or from your pen, encourage, elevate, promote thankfulness, and encourage forward motion.

“My friends, you were chosen to be free. So don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love” (Galatians 5:13 CEV).


Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including:,,,,, Focus on the Family,,, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).

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