Southern Circuit film tour opens with success

In a packed University Center Theatre on Tuesday, Sept. 13, hundreds of students and staff gather to watch the first documentary in the Southern Circuit film tour entitled Surviving Hitler: A Love Story.

Jutta and Helmuth are German citizens when Hitler rises into power, but despite Jutta’s newly discovered Jewish nationality, and Helmuth’s military status, Jutta and Helmuth find their love beating the odds.

With home videos of WWII, love letters and first person narrative, the story of Jutta and Helmuth’s love unfolds within the context of the war.

As the war continues to escalade, Jutta writes to Helmuth of the genocide and control that Hitler has gained.  Soon after, Helmuth is injured and returns home to recover. It is at this time that the audience learns of Jutta and Helmuth’s plan to join the German resistance, and with the help of close friends, they successfully become part of a deadly operation.

“We had to make sure that we could trust people, just as much as they had to make sure to trust us,” recalls Jutta in the film.

As the story evolves, Jutta and Helmuth become involved in Operation Valkyrie, the infamous plot to kill Hitler.

After Operation Valkyrie fails, Nazi leaders begin hunting down those involved in the operation and the resistance.

Although Jutta and Helmuth aren’t prominent figures in the resistance or Operation Valkyrie, Helmuth was put on trial for his involvement, almost facing death. Jutta, after being on the run, eventually turned herself into the Gestapo to save her parents.

Thanks to an American air strike, the Battle of Berlin and the end of the war coming, Helmuth’s trial never happens, Jutta is freed from prison and Jutta’s mother is returned to Berlin from a concentration camp.

Jutta and her mother were the first to be reunited, but amongst the happiness, there was also a sad note.

“We thought we had lost the most important men in our lives, so we were depressed as one would expect,” said Jutta.

But unexpectedly, the door to their house opened and Jutta’s father walked in. A few hours later: Helmuth.

Director, John-Keith Wasson maintains that although Jutta and Helmuth had a happy ending, not everybody was so lucky.

“It really is a remarkable story about four separate individuals who came together and defied the odds,” said Wasson.

There are times of laughter and times of tears during the film and the audience is left applauding Wasson’s work.

In the end, Helmuth and Jutta are married, the first marriage in Berlin after the war. Helmuth and Jutta moved to the United States in 1952, started a family and pursued their passions together. Helmuth passed away in 1972. Jutta, almost 91, lives in Connecticut.

“When you set your mind to it, no matter what, you can make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Even something as big as bringing down Hitler’s regime,” said Wasson.

The next film in the series, MARS, will come to Western Carolina on Tuesday, Oct. 11, in the University Center Theater. The Southern Circuit schedule can be found here.