Churches In Nazi Germany

Notes on Churches in nazi Germany, for Edexcel AS History, Nazi Germany module.

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Churches
Historical Background
There are 2 main churches Catholic and Protestant (1/3 of German Christians were
Catholics and lived mainly in Bavariarural)
In the 1870s the Catholic church had formed its own political party "The centre party" to
guard against state interference during the Kulturkampf
Bismark unified Germany in around 1870s. It was unstable to begin with
Kulturkampf "cultural struggle" Bismark's attacks against catholic Church
Causes defensive mentality amongst Catholic church
Protestant church was more strongly tied to the German state because the head of the
Catholic church was the Pope and it was international whereas the head of the
Protestant church was head of state
Aims
Policy towards Catholic church
July 1933 Concordat signed by Vice chancellor (Von Papen):
The Catholic church was guaranteed religious freedom and the right to conduct its own
affairs without interference from the state
The property rights of the church were guaranteed as were the legal status of the Clergy
and the Church's role in the appointment of bishops
Importantly for the church, it continued to have a key role in education
In return, Hitler was guaranteed that the Church would not interfere in politics. He won
considerable praise both at home and abroad for his diplomatic success. The concordat
acted to undermine support for the Centre party
Hitler very quickly breaks this agreement:
Catholic youth league harassed and forced to closecontradicts fact that church could have
key role in education and the right to conduct its own affairs without interference from the
state.
Church schools discouraged by trying to tarnish its reputation and by having people
knocking on doors and pressurizing them 65% in 1935 and only 5% in 1937again, same as
above
1935 prayer no longer compulsory in schoolssame as above
1935 Ministry of Church Affairs created to control practicing Christians
1937 Hitler condemns anyone loyal to anything but the party (at speech to 55 men,
Vogelsang castlecontradicts religious freedom) i.e. cannot be a good Christian and a good
Nazichurch was very offended by this
Catholic press was censored state controlcontradicts religious freedom
Between 1/3 and 1/2 of Catholic clergy were harassed and often arrestedalthough
church guaranteed religious freedom. Lots were accused (monks and nuns) of not being
celibate and stuff
Policy towards Protestant church
48 million protestants 28 different churches which divided church this is Hitler's
opportunity
4th April 1933Hitler unite all protestant churches into "the German Reich church"the
head of this is someone called Ludwig Muller
Elections for the leader were riggedin Hitler's eyes he was good because he was
nationalist and antisemetic.
November 1933speech at Berlin sports palace he wanted to take out all writings pf St
Paul because St Paul was Jewish (in the Bible). He wanted to put in that the Aryan race
was superior
SS men attending church promoting religion
1

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