The Restless Conscience

Director: Hava Kohav Beller
Screenwriters: Hava Kohav Beller

Institute History

  • 1991 Sundance Film Festival


Nine years in the making, The Restless Conscience is a passionate and in-depth investigation of the Nazi resistance movement within Germany from 1933 to 1944. The film focuses on a dozen resistance leaders whose individual consciences led them to declare war on the overpowering German national consensus that had allowed Hitler to assume power and commit such atrocities. Through a combination of interviews and rare archival footage, we are provided a comprehensive portrait of the moti-vation, planning, and experiences of the individual resisters. The film outlines the origins and development of the anti-Nazi movement, as well as the diverse background of its members. It is also a moving portrait of the men involved (often by the women who survived them), and the turmoil they faced in trying, and failing, to bring justice to their country. Consisting of Reichstag leaders, lawyers, civil servants, conservative politicians, Lutheran ministers and disaffected party members and military officers, the members of the underground worked from within, at great risk to themselves and their families, to bring about an end to the social tyranny of Hitler's Germany. Driven by personal ethical codes, each one chose allegiance to his conscience instead of to the State.

While the film focuses on the more distinguished members of the anti-Nazi underground, it points out that they were not alone. In the eleven-year period from 1933 to 1944, over twenty attempts were made to eliminate Hitler from power. A failed assassination attempt on Hitler resulted in 170 German citizens being tried and convicted of conspiracy and treason in 1944. Thus, despite its wealth of information. The Restless Conscience documents only a small segment of resistance activity. However, the research that writer/producer/director Hava Beller committed to The Restless Conscience is exhaustive, and it endows the film with a strong sense of historical significance. More importantly, it is a deeply affecting work which evokes a deeper understanding of a recent bitter period.

— Alberto Garcia

Screening Details

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