As a young pastor, Bonhoeffer helped to organise the Confessing Church, Germany's only true organised challenge to the Nazi state. A prolific writer and acclaimed preacher, Bonhoeffer came to New York on a teaching fellowship and taught Sunday school in the famed Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. When Bonhoeffer returned to Germany in 1932 he brought with him a new awareness of racial prejudice and became one of the first clear voices to challenge the Christian churches to stand with the Jews in their moment of need. In the end, Bonhoeffer paid with his life for his beliefs. Three weeks before the end of World War II, the 39-year old Bonhoeffer was executed.
Through the Bonhoeffer story we see the Church of Germany in the 1930s, so anxious to ride the Nazi wave of popularity, that it ordained Hitler as the 'saviour' of the Germany people. Against Bonhoeffer's strong protest, the church clung to a false sense of patriotic nationalism when confronted with the reality of brutal Jewish oppression and in so doing, 'paved the way for the Holocaust'.
Through Bonhoeffer's own writings and the first hand accounts of those who lived the experience with him, we understand Nazism and the Holocaust in a new light and we see a creative model for the role of the church in a 'world come of age'.
Rarely seen archival film footage that captures Germany from the turn of the century through to the devastation of World War II has been culled from archives and private collections in the United States and Europe. Original photographs from the Bonhoeffer family private collection have been incorporated for the first time into a documentary.
Interviewees for the program include Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Eberhard Bethge, Bonhoeffer's biographer and best friend, family members, former Bonhoeffer students and fellow resistors, as well as an array of top historians and scholars.
"UNCOMMONLY DRAMATIC! An awesome assemblage of extremely rare footage of Hitler and, more insidiously, of the Catholic and Protestant hierarchies which openly supported his regime." - Variety.
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