The real Anita Dittman has lived in the United States since shortly after World War II. Homeschooled actors and actresses performed the story of her life from 1933 to 1945 on the stage of the Cookeville Performing Arts Center last Thursday through Saturday.
When the curtain opened, young Anita Dittman performed a solo in a ballet recital on a German stage. Soon twenty or so other ballet dancers joined her. When the performance was over, mothers came onstage to congratulate their daughters and escort them offstage. Anita told her mother Hilda that she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up—a famous ballerina.
The next day Anita’s mother read an account of the ballet in the local newspaper. Her joy at the reporter’s praise turned to sorrow when she read that even though Anita performed beautifully, Germans no longer wanted to be entertained by a Jew.
Meanwhile, Anita was dancing around the apartment (on the side stage) that she shared with her mother and sister and saying excitedly that someday she would dance in Berlin and Paris and London and New York City! Mrs. Dittman’s face showed Anita and her sister that something was wrong. Their mother read the reporter’s comments to them.
Anita was crushed and threw herself on her bed crying. Her mother offered words of comfort. Anita asked if she could still take ballet lessons. Her mother explained that they really couldn’t afford it now that their father had left the family. “Why did he leave us?” Anita asked. Her mother explained that the Nazis had encouraged him to leave because she was a Jew.
Anita told her mother about the religion class they had in school that day. She said that hearing about Jesus made her feel safe. Anita said that she sometimes talked to Jesus and that she felt like He heard her.
Anita’s bitter older sister Hella asked her mother why she didn’t try to stop Anita from believing in Jesus.
Mrs. Dittman explained that she was a Jew and their father was an atheist. She said that she wanted her girls to have the freedom to seek the God of their choice. She told them that she was once interested in Jesus, too, when she learned about Him in school.
A noisy crowd on the main stage outside interrupted the Dittmans’ conversation.
They had gathered on a dark night to burn books. The actors and actresses stood in dark shadows while menacing red lights bounced behind them to portray the bonfire of burning books. Individuals in the crowd shouted:
“Who needs the old ideas?”
“Burn the past!”
“Let the old ways become ashes!”
Hella asked her mother what they were doing. Mrs. Dittman explained: “They are burning books that have any ideas that are different from the ideas of Hitler.”
Young Anita said that she thought things would be different if people listened to Jesus instead of Hitler. “Then,” she said, “maybe I could be a ballet dancer after all.”
The scene ended after the large crowd loudly sang the German national anthem while shaking their fists in the air.
The contrast was powerful. Anita’s faith shown in the brightly-lit apartment. The faceless crowd who blindly followed Hitler stood in the dark.
I encourage you today to lead your children to the light.
This is the message we have heard from Him
and announce to you, that God is Light,
and in Him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5
And I encourage us all to beware of bandwagons.
You shall not follow the masses in doing evil . . .