A discovery was made in 2004 in a dusty church basement outside Frankfurt, Germany that re-wrote history. Before the briefcase full of papers was found, only a friend knew for sure that Elisabeth Schmitz was perhaps the most forceful voice of Christian resistance against the Nazis. This discovery connected a forgotten woman to the most tumultous events of the 20th century. Who was this courageous woman?
Candler School of Theology proudly hosts a premier screening of "Elisabeth of Berlin," the latest film by director Steven D. Martin, on Wednesday, November 12th at 11:00 am in CST room 252. Rev. Martin has produced three films on the role of the Protestant church in the Third Reich, beginning with the breakthrough "Theologians Under Hitler." This event is part of a series of screenings across the United States and Germany in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht (the "Night of Broken Glass").
"Elisabeth of Berlin" tells the forgotten story of a schoolteacher who pleaded with church leaders to take a stand on behalf of the Jews of Germany. When the oppression of the Jews turned violent in November of 1938, she took early retirement, objecting that she could no longer teach her subjects according to the Nazi worldview. For nearly five years after she put her life at continuous risk by sheltering Jews in her Berlin apartment and in a small house in the country.
Elisabeth Schmitz recognized the danger of Nazism long before others in the churches. While most church leaders embraced Nazism, and others regarded Hitler with more caution, Schmitz understood the catastrophe from the very beginning. "Elisabeth of Berlin" 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.
Vital Visions Incorporated is a non-profit organization that uses films to bring about conversations that make for a more peaceful world. More information can be found at www.vitalvisions.org.