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1.. Ideological Tensions The Nazis tended to see Christianity as tainted by Judaism – a product of Jewish culture Hitler is quoted in 1933 as promising.

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Presentation on theme: "1.. Ideological Tensions The Nazis tended to see Christianity as tainted by Judaism – a product of Jewish culture Hitler is quoted in 1933 as promising."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Ideological Tensions The Nazis tended to see Christianity as tainted by Judaism – a product of Jewish culture Hitler is quoted in 1933 as promising ‘to stamp out Christianity’ Early radical Nazism was hostile to Christianity – 24 point programme 1920 talked about promoting a new form of ‘positive Christianity’ involving a rejection of Jewish inheritance, rejection of traditional churches and the adoption of ‘Aryan’ and ‘pagan’ rituals The influence of radical Nazism can be seen in the German Faith Movement which in 1934 became the official religion of Germany

3 3 Why the Nazis needed the churches Many church members, mostly Protestants, voted for Hitler. Protestant pastors were among the most popular election speakers. The church was the local power base for the Nazis. The church supported the Nazis’ emphasis on the military; priests accompanied troops during the Rhineland invasion. The Church was also fanatically anti-Communist The Church was under pressure as like other organizations in Germany that could make a slight threat towards Hitler’s aim.

4 The German Faith Movement Set up and led by Jakob Wilhelm Hauer Sought to move Germany away from Christianity towards a religion based on "immediate experience" of God The development of the German Faith Movement revolved around four main themes: the propagation of the 'blood and soil' ideology the replacement of Christian ceremonies by pagan equivalents; the most favoured pagan deity being the sun, as can be seen from the flag of the faith movement the rejection of Christian ethics the cult of Hitler's personality. Never caught on – never more 200,000 followers – less than half of 1% of population. Hitler therefore still had to ‘deal’ with the traditional Roman Catholic and protestant Churches in Germany both of which maintained significant following and loyalty.

5 5 The Catholic Churches In 1933 Hitler signed a Concordat with the Catholic church. The Catholic Church was very strong in Bavaria: the heartland of Nazi support This stated that Hitler would leave the church alone and let them keep their schools if the church would stay out of politics.

6 The Terms of the Concordat The RC Church guaranteed its ‘religious freedom’ and right to conduct its own affairs free from government interference. 2.RC Church property was guaranteed and the legal status of clergy guaranteed. RC Church to retain the right to appoint its own clergy. 3.RC Church allowed to continue its role in education. 4.RC Church not to be subjected to GLEICHSLATUNG. (co-ordination) 5.In return the RC Church promised not to interfere in politics and accepted the disbanding of its own political party The Centre Party. The Pope thought he had won a great victory whereas Hitler knew he had bought some time

7 Hitler Ignores the Concordat Very quickly it became apparent that the Concordat meant little to the Nazis... SA continued to harass Catholic clergy and Youth Groups By the mid 1930’s the Concordat had broken down completely

8 The Nazis and the Protestant Churches 28 protestant churches in Germany with over 45 million members – largest the Lutheran Church with 18 million Divisions and lack on international dimension arguably made Protestantism easier to ‘Nazify’ In April 1933 Hitler appointed Ludwig Muller as National Bishop or ‘Reich Bishop’ as a first step to ‘coordinating’ Protestantism Hitler also set up a new Reich Church headed by Muller in which the Jewish origins of Christ and Christianity were rewritten and an attempt made to marry Nazi ideas to protestant ideas. Hitler called on all protestant pastors to join the new church – only around 2,000 of 17,000 did so.

9 9 The Reich Church Hitler tried to unify all Protestant churches into one official Reich Church, but because of this the Protestant Churches split into two groups. Churchgoers either supported the Nazis or did little to oppose them. After all the Protestant Churches were united they started to wear Nazi-style uniforms and used the slogan « The swatsika on our breasts and the cross in our hearts »

10 The Confessional Church This was a direct response to Hitler’s attempt to Nazify the Protestant Church and was a breakaway independent church set up by Martin Niemoller. 7,000 protestant pastors joined the Confessional church The Confessional church openly and publicly criticised the Nazis throughout the period leading to many arrests and executions. Niemoller himself was arrested and spent 7 years in Sachensenhausen and Dachau concentration camps. Originally Niemoller had welcomed Nazism because of its opposition to communism – only became a critic when he witnessed Hitler's religious plans in operation.

11 Ministry for Church Affairs The failure of Muller and the growth of the Confessing Church prompted Hitler to set up the Ministry of Church Affairs in 1935 Its main role was to harass, arrest and imprison critical Christians – Niemoller himself arrested in 1937 It was partially successful – even the confessing Church remained silent in the face of the Final Solution Some heroic exceptions e.g. Dietrich Bonhoffer – active resistance fighter and member of the Confessing Church – eventually executed 1945

12 Conflict with the RC Church In 1937 Pope Pius XI issued a public letter or encyclical called ‘Mit Brenneder Sorge’ in which he condemned Nazi paganism, condemned the lack of human rights in Germany, condemned the absence of ‘law’, condemned the Nazis racial policies and describe Hitler as ‘arrogant and dangerous’.

13 Hitler’s Response Hitler told catholic Germans to make a choice between their religion or Nazism He handed ‘religious affairs’ to the SS to monitor – persecution, harassment increases Removed all crucifixes from classrooms All Church youth and voluntary organisations closed down All this triggered serious opposition in catholic areas such as Bavaria

14 14 Criticisms of Nazi Religious policy Pastor Niemöller, along with Dietrich Bonhoeffer formed an alternate protestant church. Niemöller was arrested and spent 7 years in a concentration camp for resisting the Nazis Bonhoeffer preached against the Nazis, but was stopped by the Gestapo in He became involved with army intelligence members, who were secretly opposed to Hitler. He helped Jews escape from the country. In 1942 he contacted the Allies and asked what peace terms they would offer for overthrowing the Nazi government He was arrested in October 1942, and hanged in April 1945, shortly before the end of the war. The Catholic Bishop Galen criticized the Nazis and in 1941 led a protest against the Nazi policies of killing disabled people Since Galen had many supporters, the Nazis thought it was too risky to silence him, to avoid trouble during the war. The Euthanasia campaign was stopped: a rare climbdown for the Nazis

15 15 Paul Schneider Schneider was a pastor who criticized the Nazis, especially Josef Goebbels. In 1934 he was arrested and told not to make anti-Nazi speeches, but he ignored this warning. In 1937 he was sent to a concentration camp, from where he continued to send letters telling the church not to compromise the Nazis. He was tortured, but refused to stop preaching. He was locked in a cell, from where he prayed aloud for all the prisoners. When the SS guards attacked the prisoners, he would shout “I have seen this! And I will accuse you of murder before God’s judgement seat!” He was signing a hymn when they finally shot him

16 16 Timeline 1935 onwards 1935 – Hitler set up a new department to control churches. The Gestapo arrested 700 protestants who opposed him – Nazis ran campaigns discouraging children to attend church schools. Catholic nuns and priests were charged for offences such as illegal currency dealings or homosexuality – Christmas carols and nativity plays banned from schools – Priests stopped from teaching religious classes in schools – All remaining church schools abolished.


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