Is America anti-semitic?

by Michael Foust |

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – Would you have risked the lives of yourself and your family during World War II to hide Jews from the Nazis?

Although a majority of Americans say they would, a third say they would not, according to a new Barna survey that coincides with the DVD and digital release of "Return To The Hiding Place." That film is based on a true story and recounts the heroic efforts of the college students and young adults who helped Corrie ten Boom, a Christian woman in Holland, hide Jews after Hitler invaded the Netherlands.

Thirty-one percent of Americans said they would not while 69 percent said they would.

Barna surveyed 1,000 adults and asked: "Think back to World War II when Jews in Europe were forced into concentration camps and many were killed by the Nazis. If you were living in this time period, would you have risked the possible imprisonment and death of yourself and your family to hide Jews?"

Ten Boom's story was made popular by her 1971 book "The Hiding Place," which sold more than 2 million copies and eventually was made into a movie under the same name.

The newest film, "Return To The Hiding Place," continues that true story through the eyes of Dutch college student Hans Poley and his small "army" of friends who refused to join the Nazis and instead formed a resistance movement that sheltered Jews. By doing so, they themselves became targets who had to hide from the Nazi army, even as they guided Jews to ten Boom's home. It is based on a book by Poley.

Mimi Sagadin, who plays Corie ten Boom in the newest movie, said that today's Christian youth need stories like "Return To The Hiding Place," particularly in a culture that is increasingly hostile to faith.

"We need the voice of Christian youth – to not be afraid, to stand firm and to speak what they know is true," Sagadin told the Christian Examiner. "The youth during World War II truly made a difference in saving over 800 lives, helping Corrie ten Boom."

Rated PG-13 for violence and disturbing thematic material, "Return To The Hiding Place" won more than a dozen awards at various film festivals the past two years. The film raises a host of issues that are often discussed in Christian ethics classes, including: Was it biblically permissible to lie in order to hide Jews? And: Was violence by citizens against Nazis ethically permissible in the name of rescuing Jews?

The Christian Examiner spoke at length with Sagadin about the movie. Following is a partial transcript:

Christian Examiner: Why do you think this story needed to be told? Some people would say, "We've already had one Hiding Place."

Sagadin: It needs to be told because the perspective is from the point of the view of the youth. It's about Hans Poley, who is a physicist going to a university at the time, and how he and his fellow students rose up against Hitler's army and saved lives at the risk of their own lives. I think it's important for our culture to have a film that encourages the youth to stand for what is right – to be a voice, and to tell them that their voice is necessary.

Christian Examiner: I'm assuming that you are a Christian?

Sagadin: I am wholly sold out for Jesus Christ, yes. I have been since I was 18, and my calling from the Lord over 25 years ago was to be an ambassador for Christ in film and theater. He's equipped me and taken me on this journey to give Him glory in the projects that I'm in and to be involved in stories that give hope to the audience and hope to the audience culture.

Christian Examiner: What can we learn from this story – from not only the heroic woman you portrayed but also from these heroic young adults as well?

Sagadin: We need the vitality, enthusiasm and strength of young adults. I think in this culture, though, the youth are very vocal, but they're vocal for things that are very anti-Christian. We need the voice of Christian youth – to not be afraid, to stand firm and to speak what they know is true. The youth during World War II truly made a difference in saving over 800 lives, helping Corrie ten Boom.

Christian Examiner: More specifically, how do you see this film applying to young Christians?

Sagadin: The marriage issue is a very heated topic. People of faith believe it is between a man and a woman. It's been that since the beginning of time. I think they need to be encouraged to stand up for the truth, to say that we don't have to go along with the culture. It can be hostile at times because we have a differing opinion, but this is what America is about – we can have differing opinions. We as Christians don't need to be afraid to go against the culture. You're not going to win a popularity contest, but it's about sharing the truth, sharing the love of Christ that radically changes your life and fills that void that everyone is looking for. We know the truth of the living God. Either Jesus is alive and He rose from the dead or it's all a lie. There is no in between. Are we going to live like we believe that He rose from the dead? We have the same power that rose Jesus from the dead. We don't see that power being utilized often. I just encourage the youth to stand up for what they know is the truth. And I'm meeting amazing youth around the country, and a lot of them are coming out of the homeschool movement. So I'm encouraged.

Christian Examiner: What was it like to portray Corrie ten Boom?

Sagadin: I auditioned for it, never anticipating that I would be cast as Corrie ten Boom. I always tell people I would have been happy to play a tree in the corner of Corrie ten Boom's home – just to be involved in such a great project. The Lord gave me the privilege and honor of portraying this Christian woman who was a Christian giant.

For more information about the film, visit Hide-Movie.com. It contains no sexuality or coarse language.