Did the German church resist the Nazis? Did Dietrich Bonhoeffer lead the anti-Nazi movement within the church? Did German pastors resist or support Hitler in the years of the Third Reich?
"Theologians Under Hitler," "God With Us," and "Elisabeth of Berlin" each tell the story of the untold, fascinating, and yet horrifying history of the German Protestant churches during the Nazi era. Each tells a particular facet of the story: "Theologians Under Hitler," the story of three major theologians who gave their full support to Hitler and the Nazis; "God With Us," the story of the Church Struggle and the question of Christian baptism and its effect on race; and "Elisabeth of Berlin," the story of an unknown church woman who may serve as the best example we have for a true Christian response to the Nazi movement.
These films encourage conversation and reflection about not only an important historical period, but about the times we live in today.
- The Church and Genocide 8 mins
~A short preview portion~
Professor Hubert Locke is one of the founders of the Annual Scholars' Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches. Professor Locke is a retired professor and former dean of the Daniel J. Evans Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington.
In this interview he discusses the role of the churches in the Holocaust, the American Civil Rights movement, and his hopes for the church today.
Professor Locke reminds us how we must always keep the lessons of Germany and the Holocaust before us, lest we lapse into blind nationalism once again.
The full 40-minute video on DVD is available at vitalvisuals.com.
- Theologians Under Hitler 56 mins
In the days after World War II, a convenient story was told of church leaders and ordinary Christians that defied the Nazis from the beginning. Recent research has uncovered a very different story.
Rather than resisting, the greater part of the German church saw Hitler's rise in 1933 as an act of God's blessing, a new chapter in the story of God among the German people.
This film, based upon groundbreaking research, introduces the viewer to three of the greatest Christian scholars of the twentieth century: Paul Althaus, Emanuel Hirsch, and Gerhard Kittel, men who were also outspoken supporters of Hitler and the Nazi party. In 1933 Althaus spoke of Hitler's rise as "a gift and miracle of God." Hirsch saw 1933 as a "sunrise of divine goodness." And Kittel, the editor of the standard reference work on the Jewish background of the New Testament, began working for the Nazis to find a "moral" rationale for the destruction of European Jewry.
This provocative film asks: how could something like this happen in the heart of Christian Europe? Could it happen again? How does the scholarship of this period affect the church today? Does the church of today retain the ability to recognize profound evil?
Appearing in "Theologians Under Hitler:"
- Robert P. Ericksen, Pacific Lutheran University; author, "Theologians Under Hitler"
- Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth University; author, "The Aryan Jesus"
- Doris Bergen, Notre Dame University; author, "The Twisted Cross"
- Harmut Lehmann, Goettingen University
- Hubert Locke, Washington University
- Joerg Olemacher, Greifswald University
Duration 56 minutes. Full multi-session study guide available; please email us for details.
- Elisabeth of Berlin 59 mins
This groundbreaking film was created especially for the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi’s “Night of Broken Glass,” which many mark as the beginning of the Holocaust. After witnessing the violence of this pogrom against Germany’s Jews, Elisabeth Schmitz knew that life could no longer continue normally: her Christian faith compelled her to put her own life at risk in order to live on behalf of others.
Her most important writing was a twenty-four page memorandum that described, in detail, hardships endured by Jews across Germany. It was written to church leadership in order to urge them to take action. Because writing something like this was illegal in those days, she wrote it anonymously. Although it was well-known after the war was over, an archivist attributed its authorship to someone else.
Elisabeth Schmitz was forgotten until her handwritten draft was discovered in a dusty church basement in her hometown.
Elisabeth of Berlin features interviews with:
-Bishop Wolfgang Huber, Evangelical Church of Germany
-David Gushee, Professor, Mercer University, and co-founder of the New Evangelical Partnership
-Rudolf Weckerling, oldest surviving pastor of the Confessing Church, eyewitness
-Andreas Pangritz, Professor, Bonn University
-Gerhard Luedecke, discoverer of the handwritten draft of her denkschrift
-students and friends of Elisabeth Schmitz
This film is part biography, part historical narrative, and part detective story. It has brought fascination and inspiration to adults and children alike. Above all this film shows us the importance of always broadening our circle of friendships, especially during dangerous times.
Duration: 54 minutes.
- God With Us 59 mins
In 1933 Berlin Bishop Joachim Hossenfelder proclaimed the popular, pro-Nazi “German Christian” movement the “Storm Troopers of Christ.” Hossenfelder led the early phase of a movement that still echoes through the church today, even though the world has tried to forget.
This film uncovers a history few have remembered: a church of heroes and heretics, of selfless good alongside unspeakable evil:
-Ludwig Mueller, the bishop of the Third Reich
-Martin Niemoeller, the first to resist the Nazification of the church
-Karl Themel, a pastor who used baptismal certificates to send “Jewish Christians” to the concentration camps
-Werner Syltan, a pastor who died at Dachau because of his work on behalf of persons of Jewish descent
-Walter Grundmann, a reknown Biblical scholar and architect of the “Institute for the Study and Eradication of Jewish Influence on German Church Life”
Although Nazi Germany was vanquished in 1945, its legacy lives on in churches still struggling with the implications of history. Perfect for the Sunday school or university classroom, this film will inspire and inform you about a history you only thought you knew.