AS Nazi Germany - Hitler and Churches

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­ Coordination of the churches into volksgemeinschaft posed serious challenges for the Nazi
regime for 2 main reasons:
> Germans were divided by faith ­ Protestant/Roman Catholic
> religious loyalties were very strong and deep-rooted and were therefore an obstacle to
the Nazi aim of making the Fuhrer the main focus of loyalty for all Germans.
Due to this, Hitler realised he must not trample over people's religious commitments and beliefs
and expect them to be loyal to him, he would have to proceed cautiously at first, with his initial
objective being to gain control over the Churches, before trying to weaken their influence.
> German Evangelical church which was divided into 28 separate state Churches. Despite this, Nazi's
saw it as an opportunity for uniting the Germans into a single national Church.
> Within the German Evangelical church there was a strong cooperation for the state as many
protestants were anti-Semitic and vigorously anti-communist, therefore many similarities between
Nazism and the Evangelical Church.
The German Christians
> A pressure group of Nazi supporters operating within the German Evangelical Church.
> Movement grew rapidly and by the mid-1930s it had 600,000 supporters, describing themselves
as the 'SA of the Church' ­ pastors wore SA or SS uniforms and hung swastika flags in their
> Fused Nazi racial ideology with their own religious faith and advocated an aggressive form of
> Their images of Christ portrayed him as a heroic figure(role-model for German men), and Hitler as
their national messiah.
The Reich Church:
> Summer of 1933 the Nazi regime began to coordinate the Evangelical Church into a single,
centralised Reich Church under Nazi control.
> German Christians with the support of Goebbels won victory in the Church election of 1933 and
were now in a position to 'Nazify' the church.
> The Church was re-organised on a leadership principle.
> Those pastors whom were racially or politically unreliable were dismissed.
> those who had not declared their allegiance to the regime were dismissed as well as all
> pastors who had converted from Judaism to Christianity were also dismissed
> By the end of 1933: the Reich Church had successfully been coordinated into the
The Confessional Church:
> Not all protestant pastors were willing to support these changes in spring/summer 1933, and in
September 1933 a group of dissident pastors established a Pastors' Emergency League, this
evolved into a breakaway Church.
> With the support of about 5,000 pastors ­ resist state interference in the Church and to
re-establish a theology based on the bible and not based on Nazism, like the Reich Church.
> Thus it was in opposition to the official Reich Church and the Nazi's attempt to coordinate
religion under their control was stretched.

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The Nazi's policy of gleichschaltung shows that the regime's attempt to coordinate the
Protestant Church was a failure, due to the uprising of the Confessional Church in September.
Attempts to remove this lack of conformity:
> Hitler youth was implemented in the 1933, but flourished in 1936 with the Law for the
incorporation of German youth which gave an it an official status of an education system equal to
schools.…read more

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Catholic newspapers were censored and Nazi editors imposed upon them
> In 1937, the pope decided that the Church should no longer remain silent in the face of Nazi
> He issued an encyclical entitled 'with burning grief' in which he condemned the hatred poured
upon the Church by the Nazi's.
> This was read out by priests in church during services across Germany.…read more


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