IT WAS only when the gates of the Nazi death camps were thrown open that the industrial scale of Hitler’s killing became known.
Western diplomats had received scattered information about Nazi massacres of Jewish people and “undesirables” in occupied Poland and Russia but it was difficult to confirm.
Yet just 70 years since the end of the Second World War, a genocide is taking place once again, this time against Christians.
Scores have already been murdered by Islamic State and thousands forced to leave ancient Christian communities in northeastern Syria and western Iraq as the extremists demand they either convert to Islam, pay an extortionate rate of tax or face execution.
Some have even been crucified.
Despite concerns being raised by religious leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the plight of Christian refugees is largely being ignored by the western world.
Now a charity, which is being funded by Jewish peer George Weidenfeld, who escaped Nazi-occupied Austria with the help of British Christians, is taking matters into its own hands by mounting a series of rescue missions to save the Syrian Christians.
Lord Weidenfeld, who was smuggled to safety by Quakers at the age of five, said: “I have a debt to repay.”
So far the charity, the Barnabas Fund, has liberated 158 Christians from Syria and found them a new home in Poland.
Its founder and international director Patrick Sookhdeo has recently returned from a visit to eastern Europe, where he was seeking refuge for the hundreds of thousands of Syrian Christians who continue to live under the tyranny of IS.
According to Mr Sookhdeo, Britain’s offer to take up to 20,000 Syrian refugees inadvertently discriminates against the Christian communities most victimised by the Islamic State butchers.
He said: “The British government has said it will take 20,000 refugees and we have said, ‘Will you not take some Christians?’ But we have had no reply.
“We have even put out a joint statement with Muslim Aid to the Government saying both communities are suffering, can’t you look after both?
“What David Cameron is doing, we believe, is unfair.
“He has said he will go to the camps to get the refugees, but the problem is that the Christians don’t like to live in the camp.
“What they prefer to do is to live in church halls or else with families and the reason is that it is safer for them. What we are saying to the Government is that you need a broader based approach.
“By all means take the most vulnerable people but don’t just take them from the camps because you are only going to get one kind of people. When it comes to other countries they all say that European legislation means you can’t discriminate between one religious community and another but we say surely the most vulnerable are the ones you have got to be taking in.”
In areas controlled by IS, Christians have been crucified, beheaded, raped and subjected to forced conversion.
Christian children are also being sold as slaves.
Mr Sookhdeo added: “It is like going back 1,000 years seeing the barbarity that Christians are having to live under. I think we are dealing with a group which makes Nazism pale in comparison and I think they have lost all respect for human life.
“Crucifying these people is sending a message and they are using forms of killing which they believe have been sanctioned by Sharia law.
“For them what they are doing is perfectly normal and they don’t see a problem with it. It is that religious justification which is so appalling.”
Read more: express.co.uk