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 (still used in universities today – I recall consulting it at the University of London), began working for the Nazis to find a “moral” rationale for the destruction of European Jewry.
This 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?