I will give $50 to…

I will give $50 to the person who can provide me the DVD or Youtube link to a movie that I watched years ago that continues to make a profound impression on  my life.

The movie was set in Warsaw, Poland, during the years that Hitler was gaining power in Germany and continuing throughout WW2.  It revolved around a well-to-do Jewish family who lived in Warsaw and various scenes were the conversations this family had around their dinner table.  The family consisted of a husband and wife and at least two of their children, a boy and girl.

The father closely followed the rising political career of a nobody by the name of Adolph Hitler, mentioning at the dinner table this man’s frightening progress and ideology.  His wife did not share his concerns about Hitler and she was interested in table talk that was more conducive to family harmony and pleasantries.

As the years passed and this Austrian upstart gained ascendancy in Germany, the fathers concerns began to mount.  He wondered, during mealtimes, whether Jews would be a special target of this man’s anti-semitic leanings.

As usual, his wife took the opposite viewpoint and, as was her custom, silenced the reasoned opinions of her husband by telling him that his fears were unwarranted.  It was apparent who wore the pants in this family.

It became clear to this insightful father that Hitler, if he gained political power in Germany, would be a serious threat to the Jews; he began speaking of his idea that perhaps his family should move out of Poland.

His wife would have nothing to do with such talk, announcing her belief that the free world would never allow a man like Hitler to gain control of Europe.  She chastised her husband for scaring the children and shamed him into further silence.

Time past and disturbing events in Germany continued to unfold.  He began speaking again of fleeing from their home and finding sanctuary in another country, always opposed by his domineering wife.

Finally, in a last act of desperation, he announced to his family that they had one last chance to leave Warsaw, but they would have to leave that evening.  He had a friend that could smuggle them out of the city and eventually out of the country, but that night was their last opportunity.  The mother would hear nothing more of such talk…they were not going anywhere.

The next morning, this Jewish family awoke to the sounds and sights of the German army goose-steeping down the street in front of their home in Warsaw.  This good man’s fear had suddenly been realized in the German blitzkrieg against Poland.

The movie showed them being evicted out of their apartment, thrown into the newly made Jewish ghetto where families were forced to share an apartment with several other Jewish families; often, these were strangers…life had quickly turned upside down.  What soon awaited these Jews would make even this horrific ghetto existence to seem like an almost paradise in comparison to what awaited them at the death camps.

The story ended at the barb wire topped fence that separated the women from the men at Auschwitz.   Here, this Jewish mother and father met for the last time, their fingers clasping one through the fence openings.   She sobbed and begged her husband to forgive her for refusing to listen to his warnings about the murderous dictator now in control of most of Europe.

She turned away from him and he watched as she and their daughter walked into the gas chamber, the smoke and ash from the belching smokestacks raining down upon all the inmates as part of his family made their slow and painful way to their destiny underneath the cloud of Zyklon B.

He was the only way out of his entire family to survive.

This movie has haunted me ever since I saw it, but though I have searched for its title, I could never remember it or locate a copy.  It is possible that it is one of those low-budget foreign films that was made with sub-titles.

I often return to this film in my mind, for it has made a profound impact on my life.  And I ask myself, “Are we Americans living in the same delusion as this Jewish mother?  Are we refusing, like her, to heed the warning signs that are flashing all around us?  Will we, and our family members, possibly end up in a similar fate?”

I fear that we are.  Like this mother, we are refusing to listen or acknowledge that our country has entered a dangerous time unlike any other in our nations history.  Like this mother, all of us are enjoying the “good life”:  food, clothing, and entertainment  in overabundance, recipients of astonishing freedoms, spectators and users of mind-boggling technological advances and devices, etc.

This gravy train has gone on for so long that we believe it is our birthright, the way things will always be, that the glorious sun of overabundance, ease and comfort will never set on our Disneyland.

But we are refusing to listen to the warning signs that speak to us from many directions.  Certainly these voices of warning are not as loud and ubiquitous as those voices that continue to lull us to sleep in our beds of ease and comfort, but those voices are there, warning us that things cannot and will not and must not continue as they have been.

We are not listening to these warning voices in America, but are like the mother who insisted on pleasant table talk that would not “scare the children.”

I remember reading a story about the great Abraham Lincoln who was asked by someone whether or not he felt the North would prevail in the great battle of the Civil War.  He thought for a moment and then replied something to this effect:  “We have a greater population and vaster resources.  You simply have to do the math.”

In a similar fashion, we only have to “do the math” and compute that this country cannot survive in the direction we have been going in for the last fifty years.  Our moral landscape is undergoing dramatic upheaval, and soon, we will outpace the wickedness and depravity of Sodom and Gomorrah…unless we have long ago reached that sordid point.

We cannot continue to wrack up unthinkable debt that most people’s minds cannot fathom numerically.  And most importantly, we cannot mock God by living and conducting ourselves in such shameful manners that literally begs the Holy One of Israel to judge us.

What will be the sound of our custom made enemies goose-stepping down the streets of America?  When we peer through our blinds and drapes one morning in astonishment at what we see outside, what form will that take?

It will not be a pretty scene, friends.

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