The Dreyfus Affair I

Lead: In the 1890s the trial and conviction of Alfred Dreyfus exposed the great divisions in France and in European society as a whole.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1870, the military powerhouse of northern Europe, Prussia, crushed the forces of French emperor, Napoleon III, in a swift military campaign. France was unprepared for the much more modern Prussian technology and tactics and was overwhelmed. The war brought important changes in both countries. The old Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck used the war emergency to force reluctant parts of Germany into a single German empire led by the Prussian King who was then crowned Kaiser William I at Versailles just outside of Paris in January 1871. Bismarck understood the value of the gratuitous insult. Nothing could be more humiliating to the French than to have the new German emperor crowned in the palace of France's greatest King Louis XIV.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer II

Lead: Faced with agonizing alternatives between his instinctive pacifism and participation in the violent overthrow of Adolf Hitler, German theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer made his choice.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In June 1939 Dietrich Bonhoeffer returned to Union Theological Seminary in New York. There in the relative safety of Morningside Heights, he would teach where he had previously studied, but by the end of the month he was on the way back to Germany. His conscience had claimed him. “Christians in Germany face the terrible alternative of willing the defeat of their nation in order that civilization may survive, or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose. But I cannot make that choice in security.”

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer I

Lead: The life of German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer demonstrated the practical, as well as the dangerous, consequences of moral leadership.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In his formative years, few would have considered Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a candidate for martyrdom. His upbringing and training, however, were of a somewhat more academic bent than most who aspired to service as German Lutheran pastors in the early twentieth century. His father was a professor of psychiatry at the University of Berlin and Bonhoeffer followed the academic path to Tübingen, Berlin, and New York’s Union Theological Seminary. Along the way, in addition to his scholarly pursuits, he served churches in Harlem, New York, Barcelona, Spain, and London. By 1931, as the political storm gathered in Germany, he was home lecturing and doing church work in Berlin.

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Hitler Comes to Power II

Lead: The voters who gave Hitler his chance at power were a strange mix.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1930 Hitler was determined to lead Germany, but having failed in one illegal attempt in 1924, the so-called Beer Hall Putsch, he wanted to be elected to office. The Great Depression offered him the chance. Votes for the Nazis soared as unemployment and social frustration made very appealing Hitler’s message, a neurotic mixture of militant socialism, national pride, and half-baked socio-babble.

 

Hitler Comes to Power I

Lead: In 1933 one of the most sophisticated, religious, cosmopolitan nations on earth selected as its leader one of history’s great thugs.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: How Germany could have allowed itself to become mesmerized by Adolf Hitler is a quandary. After World War I, a draconian peace settlement had been forced on Germany. Hitler played upon feelings of national humiliation. There was a loose, undefined conviction that the greatness of Germany was being denied by an international conspiracy of Communists, Jews, and others who were preventing the Reich from taking its legitimate place in the Sun. Hitler hammered away at these shadowy enemies of national splendor.

 

Wannsee Conference III

Lead: During World War II the Nazi extermination of Jews and other genetically undesirable groups was reduced to banal bureaucratic efficiency.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the summer and early fall of 1941, nearly everywhere German Armies were triumphant. The plains of Russia passed quickly under the tracks of German tanks pressing ever-eastward into the Soviet heartland. In this euphoric period of Nazi hubris when all the world seem to bow in deference to their ambitions, the decision was made to move in a more systematic way to accomplish one of Hitler’s great desires, the total annihilation of the Jewish race and all other groups considered by the Nazis to be genetically inferior.

Wannsee Conference II

Lead: In January 1942, a group of high-ranking Nazi bureaucrats met in the Berlin suburb of Grosse-Wannsee. Their host was Reinhard Heydrich, affectionately known as der henker, the hangman.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The men were in Wannsee to plan the implementation of one of Adolf Hitler’s great desires: the continent-wide extermination of the Jewish race and all other groups he felt were genetically subhuman. Heydrich’s career as a German Naval Officer had been cut short in 1931 after an aborted flirtation with his civilian superior’s daughter, and he joined the Nazi SS. His talents soon attracted the attention of Heinrich Himmler, and as a result Heydrich’s rise to power was swift and decisive. After the Nazis came to power he helped Himmler consolidate party control over national police forces. By 1939 Heydrich was in charge of the Reich Central Security Office in charge of all police functions including the secret police, the Gestapo.

Wannsee Conference I

Lead: On January 20, 1942, fourteen high-ranking Nazi officials gathered for a brief afternoon meeting in the Berlin suburb of Grossen-Wannsee. They met to organize the Holocaust.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Adolf Hitler’s leadership style was unique. He would give general orders to his associates and then set them against one another in a bizarre bureaucratic survival of the fittest. Each of his henchmen would compete to demonstrate within his sphere of authority just how vigorous was his support for the Führer’s vision. In no other endeavor was this more clearly demonstrated than in the final solution to Judenfrage, the “Jewish question.