Jim Denison: Here’s What Our Reaction to Hitler’s Home Movies Are Being Digitized Says About Us

Adolf Hitler is wearing a white double-breasted jacket and black trousers. On his arm is a red band with a black swastika. In another scene, he wears a gray suit with a fedora and talks with Heinrich Himmler, the overseer of the Holocaust camps.

These are some of the home movies shot by Eva Braun and her friends at the Berghof, Hitler’s retreat in southeastern Germany. Braun was Hitler’s longtime girlfriend and briefly his wife. The Alpine scenery in the background is stunning.

We know about these movies because the National Archives is restoring and digitizing them. The entire four hours of footage should be completed this month.


When you saw today’s headline and read the accompanying story, what was your reaction?

Mine was one of disgust mixed with curiosity. No figure in modern history conjures (or deserves) more revulsion than Adolf Hitler. At the same time, to see him as he was, recorded by friends in a relaxed environment, is historically unique.

What I didn’t feel was fear.

Neither I nor anyone in my family was threatened personally by the Holocaust. I was obviously not old enough to fight the Germans in World War II. Due to my longtime love for Israelis, I grieve for them when Hitler’s name and legacy come up. But I feel no existential angst.

For most of us, most of the bad news in the news feels the same way.

gas explosion yesterday in a North Carolina building killed one person and injured seventeen others. A twenty-year-old college student in South Carolina died after what is being called an “accidental fall” at a fraternity party last weekend.

We feel sorrow for these victims and their families, but unless we know them personally, they don’t touch us personally. Even reports that California is overdue for a major earthquake don’t affect us viscerally unless we live in California or know someone who does.


You and I live in a day when technological advances have insulated us from the constant threat of death. Or so we think.

There was a time when hunger, disease, war, natural disasters, and predators were an ever-present reality for most humans. Today, government programs keep even the most impoverished of us from starvation. Medicine is more advanced than ever.

Wars are fought overseas by volunteers and technology. Natural disasters still endanger us, but modern buildings and response systems are better than ever. Predators are seldom an issue for urban and suburban dwellers.

As a result, death seems less a present-tense threat than perhaps at any time in human history. Of course, this appearance is not reality. It is still “appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). It is true for each of us that “you do not know what tomorrow will bring” (James 4:14).

There’s another crucial spiritual principle here as well.

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Source: Christian Headlines