Things in Germany were never the same after that, especially for the Jews. It triggered the beginning of a reign of terror. Since Hitler's propaganda masters had already trained the masses to hate, it took only a spark. Yet that brief moment has continued to serve as a tragic reminder of the power of tyrants and the speed of change.
I'm seeing the potential for a sudden, destructive transformation of America. One act of violence committed by one unstable person could become a catalyst, a useful crisis for unscrupulous politicians. They could do the equivalent of pouring gasoline on the fire, in order to use that crisis to trigger (and/or stage) events that give the President an excuse to declare martial law. And that could result in a de facto dictatorship.
Bonhoeffer was deeply concerned about the sickly state of much of the church in Germany. We have the same problem here in America, ranging from worldliness and lukewarmness to a level of apostasy that is just "unthinkable." Many (if not most) American church goers are neither willing nor prepared to take a stand against evil.
There are a variety of reasons for this. Some church goers are what Spurgeon called "professers" -- people who profess to be Christians, but are blind to His gospel. Others are weak Christians who have become confused or compromised by false teachings. And others are people who are outright apostate. They have no idea what true Christianity is.
Some so-called Christians are "practical atheists." Neither their personal life or their beliefs show the influence of God's Word or Spirit. Perhaps Hitler fit into that category. Notice his words and remember his "works" as described in Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy :
Gullible and unprepared, the masses were easily deceived by Hitler's promises and resigned to his rules. At first, he seemed so wise, hopeful and "Christian." Few recognized the lies, discerned the evil, or anticipated the coming tyranny until it was too late. Would we have done better?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."
May the Lord give us the grace to "endure to the end" and to "be faithful unto death." (Mark 13:13 and Revelation 2:10)
1. Kristallnacht: http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/knacht.htm
2. Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy-- A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich, ( 2010 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2010)."The quote is from the inside back flap of the cover. http://www.ericmetaxas.com/books/bonhoeffer-pastor-martyr-prophet-spy-a-righteous-gentile-vs-the-third-reich/