Valkyrie: Lessons for Humanity

This past weekend, I took my wife to see  the film Valkyrie.  Featuring Tom Cruise, Valkyrie is already ranked among the top five films of the season. Valkyrie details the plot of July 20, 1944 devised by German officers to assassinate Adolph Hitler. Cruise played the mastermind of the plot Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg.

I make no claim to have a depth of understanding of Hitler’s National Socialism and the details of the War effort. However, I was raised by a father who was a World War II veteran who was present on D-Day and both uncles served in the European theater during that great War.

When the film displayed the efforts to depose the Nazi leaders, I found himself wondering why the German leaders didn’t go along with the efforts. Why did the matter stand or fall on Hitler’s survival or his death? Obviously, the force of his personal leadership was able to determine that the coup failed and Hitler remained in power. After viewing the film, I checked in with Jeff Massey, Oklahoma Attorney and World War II scholar who confirmed that German soldiers had, prior to Hitler’s rise to power, pledged allegiance to the Fatherland. Hitler re-wrote that pledge so that soldiers, entering the German military, were to pledge allegiance to the Fuhrer.

My mind began to swim at the blind loyalty to men who likely would not have consented to Hitler’s agenda, but  as many claimed at Nuremberg, simply took orders. With the Fuhrer alive, the country would follow the path of death and tyranny. With the Fuhrer dead, Germany would restore a humane approach to government.

Frankly, this angers me. Right is not determined by the life or death of a leader. Principles stand the test of time, not individuals.

This is the genius of the American system. Our officials and our military pledge, not to a President, not even to a government, but to the US Constitution. That which makes America is not George Bush or Barack Obama. America is the great nation we are because of our principles— principles that were founded on limits of government.

The United States was founded by individuals who knew that man is inherently self-interested, hence too much power in one place is dangerous. The rights of the people are protected from a big government. The next step is an almost religious devotion to a person or a national cause, rather than to right principles. In Hitler’s Germany, Hitler changed the principles. When principles are based on moral absolutes, then those principles do not change.  Personalities come and go, movements move on, but principles are eternal.

I pray that Valkyrie causes viewers to see the danger of a government with too much control and also the danger of blind allegiance to that government. My allegiance is always to principles, and then ultimately to God.


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