Valkyrie - Movie Review
Given the chance, would YOU have assassinated Hitler?
Set in the dying months of World War II, Valkyrie tells the true story of a group of German soldiers and citizens who attempted to assassinate and overthrow Hitler and regain control of Germany from the Nazis. Led by outspoken Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (well portrayed by Tom Cruise) and Ludwig Beck (Terrence Stamp), a surprisingly large group of German politicians, soldiers and ordinary people put their efforts into staging a coup of sorts against the Nazi leadership and the notorious SS. It is a fascinating chapter in the history of Nazi Germany, and it is surprising that Hollywood has waited until now to tell the story.
The actual events surrounding the plot and execution of Operation Valkyrie are too long and complex to summarise here. Needless to say, anyone with a basic knowledge of modern history will know the eventual outcome long before the end of the film! Despite this, there is enough tension and pace to keep you thoroughly interested, and enough quiet moments to give pause for thought.
And it was during these slower moments that I couldn’t help thinking what I would have done in von Stauffenberg’s situation. He is a hot-headed risk-taker, and an outspoken critic of Hitler who is not afraid to tell others what he thinks. It is understandable that he drives the effort to assassinate Hitler.
It is suggested, though never confirmed, that von Stauffenberg might have been a Christian – he is seen with a cross around his neck; he is recruited while he sat in a church; he seems to be hoping for the rise of “sacred Germany.”
What should a Christian have done in such a circumstance? What would you have done?
I wish I could say there is an easy answer. But the truth is that Jesus’ words rarely make life easy for the Christian. In the famous ‘sermon on the Mount,’ Jesus tells his listeners: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:43-45).
Von Stauffenberg appeared driven to assassinate Hitler as if that was the only course of action left available to him, but I cannot help but think, that with God in control there is maybe always another way.
In the end, our job is to follow the words and example of our Lord, remembering that the evil and unjust will receive their ultimate judgment and punishment from God.
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