Religion in Nazi Germany

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  • Religion in Nazi Germany
    • Introduction
      • Conflicting views on how to deal which churches: Destroy them - the Nazis saw churches as a threat to their own total control over Germany. in 1933 nearly all Germans were Christians, people who worshipped God were less likely to worship Hitler as a leader, Churches could spread anti-Nazi views.
        • Use them - The Nazis needed churches, many churchgoers had voted for Hitler, they also shared common ground e.g: the importance of family life. The church was the local power base for the Nazis
      • When Hitler came to power in 1933 he chose not to provoke conflict with the churches until he was sure he could win.
    • The Catholic Church
      • In 1933 Hitler signed a Concordat (agreement) with the Pope, stating that the Nazis wouldn't interfere with the Catholic Church, in return the bishops took an oath of loyalty to Hitler.
        • Hitler had no intention of keeping this agreement. Church schools were shut down and the Catholic Youth League closed down.
        • In 1937 the Pope protested by issuing an encyclical (letter read out in churches) condemning Nazi action. Yet this had no effect and priests were put in concentration camps.
    • The Protestant Church
      • Hitler united all the Protestant Churches into one Reich Church. under a pro-Nazi Bishop, Muller. They became known as the German Christians and adopted Nazi style accustoms: uniforms, saltues, marches, and their slogan was 'The swastika on our breasts and the cross in our hearts'
      • Many Protestants despised this. A group of pastors led by Martin Niemoller broke away and set up the Confessional Church, challenging Nazi power. 800 pastors were arrested and Niemoller and others put in concentration camps.
    • Other Groups
      • Some religious sects refused all cooperation with the Nazis e.g: Jehovah's Witnesses, in retaliation the ** imprisoned whole families
      • The Salvation Army, astrologers, faith healers and fortune tellers were all banned, many non-Christians sects arose, which were racist and pro-Nazi, this was the Nazi-style worship, which worshipped the sun.
    • Did the Nazi's succeed in controlling the churches?
      • Yes: After 1935, once they felt secure in their overall control of Germany, the Nazis became bolder in their attempts to control the churches
        • 1935 - The Gestapo arrested 700 Protestant ministers opposed to Nazis
        • 1937 - Christmas carols and Nativity plays were banned from schools.
        • 1939 - All remaining church schools were abolished
      • No: Policy was chaotic,the Nazis improvised and changed their minds lots, and bowed into public pressure, their success varied from place to place, some SA men beat and murdered priests, others sang in churches. Most of the 3M Nazis still payed Church Tax and registered as Christians.


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