The unifying theme of the[masked] Goethe Center Film Series is “German experiences of the War: A Different Perspective”. This season we are showing films that highlight the complex issues surrounding World War II from a decidedly German perspective. Far from trivializing the crimes of the Nazis, relativizing the suffering of their victims, or deflecting moral questions of guilt and responsibility this series instead seeks to take a closer look at perspectives often left out of the American discourse and its film culture, namely the specifically German experience of its greatest historical catastrophe.
The last film of this year’s season is The Ninth Day. After having focused on films that centered on the suffering of ethnic Germans in the former Yugoslavia, women civilians in Berlin, and the fate of POWs in the Soviet Union, this film deals with the plight of the German religious interned in Nazi concentration camps. Henri Kremer, a Catholic priest from Luxemburg, is imprisoned in Dachau. He experiences the horrors of the camps, including the crucifixion of some of his fellow prisoners, when one day he is given an unexpected leave of nine days. He returns to his native city, where the young SS officer Gebhardt tells him that he should convince his bishop to cooperate with the Nazis. Gebhardt, himself a former candidate for the priesthood, tries to convince the priest that the role of Judas is just what God wants from him. Kremer is confronted with a hard decision: Should he betray his Church or should he return to the concentration camp? "The Ninth Day" has a strong moral dilemma which echoes that of "A Man for All Seasons." Both films involve questions of conscience in which the protagonist wrestles with what German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer -- himself executed by the Nazis -- called "costly grace." The story is based on a portion of Pfarrerblock 25487 the diary of Father Jean Bernard (1907–1994), which was translated into English by Deborah Lucas Schneider as Priestblock 25487: A Memoir of Dachau and released in 2007.
We look forward to a lively discussion about the film itself, its reception of the war from a modern perspective, and its impact on contemporary German and American audiences. The film is at 2.00 pm at the University of Dallas 1845 East Northgate Drive in Irving TX. The showing is free for DGC members and guest and open to university students. The Film will be shown in Lynch Auditorium (building #2) with parking available in front of the auditorium.
This film is in German with English subtitles.