New film exposes rise of anti-Semitism in U.S., Europe

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Michael F. Haverluck (

While alerting America that anti-Semitism is rising to new heights in Europe and the United States, Franklin Graham is showing his support for the new film Return to the Hiding Place. The film – a sequel to a film his father, world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham, produced in the 1970s – gives a historical account of the Holocaust.

A Closer LookThe younger Graham recognizes the persecution-driven exodus of the Jewish people from Europe to Israel as well as the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Movement sweeping across American college campuses designed to weaken Israel so that it will succumb to the demands of the Palestinians. Still, he believes the new limited-release movie will put things into proper perspective for Americans.

"This release is very timely and has modern-day application as anti-Semitism is rearing its head again in many parts of Europe and the United States," said Graham, the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).

After seeing the film, Graham has nothing but accolades for the latest installment of his father's film, which tells the heart-wrenching story of a Dutch Christian who was imprisoned for helping many Jewish people escape the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.

"Peter Spencer has done an incredible job in creating the new film Return to the Hiding Place," Graham expressed. "It is a great piece, well-produced and powerful. Return to the Hiding Place is a true story that tells another side of the historical account of Corrie Ten Boom in the original The Hiding Placefilm."

Based on Corrie ten Boom's book with the same title, Billy Graham released The Hiding Place in 1975 to pay tribute to her and her family, as well as to bring to life the true nature of the atrocities suffered by the Jewish people in Europe's Nazi concentration camps. This year's new installment was created to show the heroic bravery of a secret student army of untrained underground resistance fighters who countered the carnage brought upon by Hitler's invading Nazi regime.

"The film — a true story — tells [of] the powerful events of the famous Hiding Place from the perspective of Hans Poley, a young physics student forced into hiding for refusing to sign an oath of loyalty to the Nazi Party," the movie's release states. "Hans joins a student resistance led by Piet Hartog and guided by Corrie. Hans was the first person to hide in Corrie's home, followed quickly by over 800 Jews cared for and transported to safety by this resistance army of youth who risked their lives for total strangers."

Lights, camera, awards

The cinema release — produced by Spencer Productions in partnership with EchoLight Cinemas — has already won at least 19 festival awards and film honors, along with a screening hosted by the BelAir Film Festival and A2E during Sundance 2014. Furthermore, during Return to the Hiding Place's test run last spring, it ranked fifth in America for the three-day weekend average per screen — just below Godzilla.

Starring John Rhys-Davies — best known for playing Sallah in the Indiana Jones series and Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy — Return to the Hiding Place is not only endorsed by Franklin Graham, but also by Rabbi Mendel Schwartz of the Chai Center and Rabbi Yanah of Pico Shul in Los Angeles. It is also recognized by Yad Vashem — the World Center for Holocaust Research.

The film takes moviegoers into the midst of the pall that covered Europe during Hitler's onslaught for world domination.

"When Corrie ten Boom realizes the rising Nazi empire will swallow Holland and create the holocaust of every innocent Jew in secret death-camps, she faces the deadly threat of these 'Death-Skull Storm Troopers' with a surprising remedy: an army comprised of untrained teenagers," the movie's official website summarizes the plot. "Around that same time, brilliant young physics student, Hans Poley, chooses not to join the Nazi party. To protect him, his parents force him into hiding in the home of Corrie ten Boom. While in hiding, he witnesses the atrocities toward the suffering Jews and decides he must do something."

Never again

Earlier this year on International Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27, 70th Anniversary events across Europe commemorated the end of the Holocaust and the liberation of the Jewish people from the Nazis in Auschwitz — a concentration camp where more than one-million Jewish victims were exterminated. On this day, numerous world leaders addressed participants — excluding U.S. President Barack Obama, who decided to schedule a meeting with Saudi Arabian King Salman instead.

Among the world leaders speaking against modern-day anti-Semitism at the commemorations was British Prime Minister David Cameron, who pledged £50 million to set up the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation.

"It is time for Britain as a nation to stand up to say we will remember," Cameron proclaimed at the end of the Holocaust Memorial Service event in London. "We will not allow any excuse of anti-Semitism in our country. We will not allow any form of prejudice to disrupt the multi-faith democracy we are so proud to call our home."

World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder sent the sobering warning that Europe has entered into its next dangerous phase of anti-Semitism.

"Once again, young Jewish boys are afraid to wear yarmulkes [skullcaps] on the streets of Paris, Budapest, London and even Berlin," Lauder addressed the crowd.

At the Holocaust Memorial Service in England, Prince Charles also addressed the tragedy as not only a dark spot in world history, but as a modern-day warning.

"[The Holocaust is] an unparalleled human tragedy and an act of evil unique in history," the Prince of Wales declared to the London crowd. "The Holocaust is not just a Jewish tragedy, nor merely a dark page from the Second World War, but a warning and a lesson to all of us of all faiths at all times."

In bring his speech to an end, Prince Charles left the British crowd with a three-line anonymous poem that was scratched onto a wall by a victim of the Holocaust:

"I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining … I believe in love, even though I don't feel it … I believe in God, even when he is silent."

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