Film: God On Trial

A 2008 BBC film set in Auschwitz, wherein the imprisoned Jews put God on trial for breach of contract. Some of them assert that God has broken the covenant with Israel by allowing the Holocaust. The play is almost set entirely in a single barracks, with almost all of the 'action' being the debate between the Jews.

Despite having a plethora of atheist arguments to pose against God's existence, even the Jews who conclude that God has abandoned them do not conclude that God isn't real, just that he is in breach of contract, or has sided with the Nazis, making a new covenant with a new chosen people.

The film has a framing device wherein modern-day visitors to Auschwitz are told of the story of the trial.

God on Trial provides examples of:

  • Author Tract: Completely averted. Both sides are represented, with a counterpoint for practically every point brought up, and both sides get a final scene. The last monologue is given by a man the whispering Rabbi claiming that God had forged a new covenant with the Nazis. The last scene in the World War II era camps, however, features a faithful Jew who lied to the Nazis in order to go to the gas chambers in place of his largely-agnostic son, and those that were led to the gas chamber died praying. The author himself was Catholic, but the debate is fairly well framed as a Jewish one, with the prisoners not posing any arguments based on the New Testament.
  • Downer Ending: The Jews conclude that God has abandoned them, the film ends with several of the prisoners being led to the gas chambers, and no one is confirmed to have escaped or survived until the liberation by Allied forces.
  • Foreshadowing: When arguing for reasons why the Holocaust might be for the greater good, one of the prisoners suggests a return to Israel.
  • Framing Device: The events of the film seem to be related to modern day visitors to Auschwitz by the tour guide.
  • Ghostapo: It's suggested during the final monologue that the Nazis owe their success due to having made a covenant with the God who abandoned the Jews.
  • God Is Evil: The jury ultimately decides God is in breach of contract, although whether they find him evil is not stated. The final monologue, however, features a man who is unequivocally of this position.
  • God Is Good: Argued by a decreasing number of the Jews as the trial goes on, but still maintained by at least one of the main characters until the end.
  • Sadistic Choice: One of the men, Lieble, is called forward as a counter-argument when free will was mentioned as a reason for evil, and that men make choices. He was forced to choose which of his three sons he wanted to remain with him, and which two would be taken away.
    Lieble: This gentleman... he said that we always have a choice. Which should I have chosen? The youngest? The oldest? The weakest? The strongest? ...Which should I have chosen? ...Excuse me, I don't want free will. I want my sons.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: They don't make a major appearance in general, but the movie seems to make a point of show-casing the 'normalness' of the Nazis, to emphasize the casual brutality of the Holocaust.