Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Church resistance to Hitler

Posted on 10/06/2005 7:27:27 AM PDT by david ford

I'll reply to this with a 25 October 1945 memo regarding Protestant and Catholic church opposition to Hitler.


1 posted on 10/06/2005 7:27:29 AM PDT by david ford
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

from the closing pages of the Part IV PDF file. The unpolished English version below was translated from the German version, also in the PDF. I inserted several paragraph breaks.

25 October 1945


Subject: Relationship of the German Churches to Hitler.
To: General Donovan.

1.) _Introductory Note:_

Besides small sects there were and there are only two Christian Churches of importance in Germany, the Protestant and the Catholic church. The Catholic Church was politically represented by the Center-Party (Zentrumspartei), the Bavarian People's Party (Bayerische Volkspartei) and the Christian Trade-Unions (Christliche Gewerkschaften). Since these three groups stood in opposition to Hitler from the beginning, the Catholic Church before 1933 found itself in quite an obvious emnity towards the Nazis. As for the Protestant church, this was not true in the extent it was in the Catholic church. Because there are no politics in the Protestant church. Therefore it may be said that before 1933 there was no relationship, either of a friendly or of an enemy nature, between Hitler on one hand and the two churches on the other hand.

2.) _Relationship of the Catholic Church with Hitler since 1933_:

Immediately after Hitler had seized the power, National Socialism showed itself as an ideology plainly opposed to Christianism. Only a minority among the princes of the Catholic Church like for example Bishop Berning from Osnabruck and later Cardinal Innitzer from Vienna tried to show a friendly attitude towards Hitler. The majority of the princes of the Catholic Church left no doubt in their declarations and pastoral letters that there was no bridge between Naziism and the Catholic Church. As the years went by, the Attitude of the Catholic Church became ever clearer. The rejection of Hitler became more and more obvious.

Because of the hierarchic organizations of the Catholic Church, the denunciation of Hitler was propagated by the majority of the Catholic clergy in the land. The result of this was that the enmity towards Hitler was promulgated not only by the high clerics, but was also carried to the masses by the low clerics. This decisive credit for this attitude ought to be given to Cardinal von Faulhaber from Munich and whose personal sermons branded Naziism as the enemy of Christendom. Both princes of the church did not shun the gravest danger but managed to voice their opposition to Hitler in such a way so clever that the Gestapo had no opportunity to silence them. By their example these two dignitaries of the Church have swept along with them those groups within the Catholic Church which still hesitated. On the other hand quite a number of the lower clerics ended up in prison or in a concentration camp.

Also in the political resistance movement did the representatives of the Catholic Church play an important role. Here the pater of the Jesuites Delp ought to be mentioned before all others; he participated in the conspiracy that led to the 20th July [1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler -df]. Later on Delp was executed by the Gestapo.

A particularly important part in the struggle of the resistance movement against Hitler played the lawyer Joseph Muller who lives in Munich, Gedonstrasse 4. He had been the political representative of the Arclidiocese [sic] Munich. At the beginning of the war, Joseph Muller became a Captain in the CI-section under Admiral Canaris. In this function Joseph Muller was to influence the attitude of the dignitaries of the Catholic Church against Hitler and also to negotiate with the Vatican. The aim of these negotiations was to find out thru the Vatican under what conditions a Germany liberated from Hitler could make peace. On the part of the Vatican the negotiations were conducted by the personnal [sic] secretary of Pope Pius XII, Padre Leiber. In the course of years, the negotiations were exceeded also to the diplomatic representatives at the Vatican, the powers at war with Germany. In this the English representative Osborn played a major part.

The negotiations were recorded in writing. The documents were finally assembled by Admiral Canaris. Later, a part of them was discovered by the Gestapo. The result was that Canaris and his collaborators were hanged. Joseph Muller escaped by luck. He is the only person who possesses detailed information on the complex of these questions. At the same time Joseph Muller had orders from the Catholic Church to negotiate with representatives of the Protestant Church in order to harmonize their measures in the struggle against Hitler.

3.) _Relationship of the Catholic Church with Hitler since 1933_:

The Protestant Church in Germany does not have hierarchic but a democratic constitution. Apart from that, it is constituted by 28 provincial churches. Therefore it did not have the congeniality and strictness of the Catholic Church. That is why the struggle of the Protestant Church against Hitler became much more difficult. If it was the clerics that bore the brunt of the struggle within the Catholic Church it was the congregation which became the nest of resistance within the Protestant Church.

The man who was the first to see Hitler as what he was, and thru whose example large sections of the Protestant church were incited, is without doubt pastor Martin Niemoller. Many Protestant ministers supported him in this struggle. Here are to be named: Pastor Asmussen, Pastor Gruber, General Superintendent Dibelius, Bishop Wurm. All these men had taken up the fight against Hitler in speeches and writings. But the majority of them was silenced by being put into the concentration camp or by being prohibited to speak or write. That did not prevent their followers from continuing the struggle. Bishop Wurm, in a memorandum to Minister Frick opposed the killings of the insane, ordered by Hitler.

In spite of all prohibitions the Protestant Church under the leadership of Pastor Gruber in Berlin created an organization which helped to save the life of thousands of Jews. Initial in this action was Assessor Perels, Justiziar of the Confessional Church entered the political struggle more and more. In this the following personalities played an important role:

Pastor Dietrich Bonhoffer, Konsistorialrat Gerstenmeier, Pastor Schonfeld, Pastor Freudenberg, Pastor Bethge, Pastor Lilje and others. While in the Catholic camp Joseph Mullner kept up the contact with politics, Dietrich Bonhoffer played the sane role in the Protestant camp. They cooperated with Joseph Muller. This way the struggle of the Catholic and of the Protestant Church were coordinated.

Dietrich Bonhoffer also entered into the services of the CI-section under Admiral Canaris. Bonhoffer undertook many trips to Switzerland and to the Skandinavian countries. This way he contacted the Protestant churches in Europe outside of Germany, informed them about the events in Germany and so created a common bond between resistance movements in Germany and Hitler's enemies outside of Germany.

By this Bonhoffer became an important figure in the preparations for the Coup d'Etat of 20 July 1944. He was later executed. Dr. George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, possesses information on all the details of their work. 1st Lt. Steltzer worked in the same direction. He held contact with the Norwegian bishop Berggrave, who can certify as to the correctness of this statement.

4.) _Conclusion_.

The resistance movement of the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Germany has covered the following:

A. The Churches have furnished the political resistance movement with spiritual and religious weapons.

B. The Churches have carried the idea of the resistance against Hitler into the large masses of the people. Many ministers of both churches have become martyrs because of their resistance.

C. The Churches, thru their connections with foreign countries, have informed the world of the events that took place in Germany and have constantly kept contact with non-German resistance-groups.

[in the German version: signature]

v. Schlabrendorff


[MC]"German Lutheran and Catholic churches.... didn't lift a finger over... the persecution of Jews"

Father Lichtenberg, in
2-pronged role of Darwinian thought in Holocaust's arrival

Goebbels: "Goering... addressed a sharp letter to Bishops Galen... and Berning"

Nazi mob beat up Lutheran Pastor Julius von Jan for denouncing Kristallnacht

_The End of Illusions: Religious Leaders Confront Hitler's Gathering Storm_
Joseph Loconte

2 posted on 10/06/2005 7:28:12 AM PDT by david ford
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: david ford
I am reading Bonhoeffer's biography. It is scary how many clerics, Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed, initially thought Hitler was a savior for Christianity.

The Catholic hierarchy didn't like him from the start, but many local priest were in the beginning sympathetic to the Nazi's. The Lutheran pastors and clerics were split. Many in the seminaries wanted peace at all costs, and were prepared to accommodate the Nazi's. More than a few leading theologians like the idea of an Aryan only church.

Most local pastors though, were scared. They didn't know what to do and how to resist. So many went the quiet road until it was to late.
3 posted on 10/06/2005 8:19:30 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

Ping for (deeper) reading

4 posted on 10/06/2005 10:07:36 AM PDT by Alex Murphy (Psalm 73)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: redgolum

"The Lutheran pastors and clerics were split."
Yes: if I recall Shirer correctly, at one point following Hitler's rise to power, 1/3rd of Protestant churches were pro-Hitler, 1/3rd anti-Hitler, and 1/3rd were undecided/ in the middle.

I suspect that the 1/3rd that were pro-Hitler had drifted very, _very_ far from orthodox Christianity. So much so that they ought not be regarded as 'Christians.' To illustrate:

Krause was the Berlin district leader of "The German Christians' Faith Movement," and proposed that the Old Testament be abandoned, and advocated that Jesus' New Testament teachings be revised
along lines [Krause]"corresponding entirely with the demands of
National Socialism."
Shirer, William L. 1960. _The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich_
(Fawcett Crest), 1599pp., 326, 328, in the chapter "Life in the Third
Reich: 1933-37," in the section "The Persecution of the Christian

Darwin's 1859 _Origin of Species_ contributed much to the severe weakening of Christiandom, most notably in European Protestant churches.

2-pronged role of Darwinian thought in Holocaust's arrival

"It is scary how many clerics, Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed, initially thought Hitler was a savior for Christianity."
Hitler was a proficient liar.
Even so, his _Mein Kampf_ is manifestly (to me at least) a thoroughly godless/ anti-Judeo-Christian-God document, despite its occasional phony invocations of Christianity.

Hitler was an adherent of atheism and engaged in homosexual activity

5 posted on 10/06/2005 11:45:30 AM PDT by david ford
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson