The Dreyfus Affair III

Lead: Accused of spying for the Germans in 1894, French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus became the subject of a furious cultural struggle.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the last half of the 1900s France was a study in conflict. Little more than half the population even spoke the French language. Rural areas were suspicious of the more prosperous industrial cities. Railroads which would help bring the country together were delayed until late in the century. Many Frenchmen openly advocated a return to monarchy and deeply resented the so-called Third Republic, set up after the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Leading the call for monarchy were many Roman Catholics who felt threatened by republican attacks on Catholic schools.

The Dreyfus Affair II

Lead: The year was 1894 and a German spy was known to be at work in the French Ministry of War. Investigators accused Captain Alfred Dreyfus who became a target in great measure because he was a Jew.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Anti-Semitism has rumbled just beneath the surface of western culture since the twilight of the Christian era. Occasionally engaged in open persecution, anti-Semites considered Jews to be clannish and their religious practices more than a little subversive. Many Jews were involved in the professions of law, medicine, and when permitted, occupied key positions in national service. Because the Roman Catholic Church prohibited the charging of interest, Jews, not burdened by such regulations, gravitated toward finance, money-lending, and commerce. An added advantage of these occupations was that, in times of persecution, Jewish assets were portable. Cash crosses borders.

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.