Why was the Nazi relationship with the Church complicated?

This essay examines why the relationship between the Nazis and teh Church was complicated.

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Why was the Nazi relationship with the Church complicated?
The Nazis had a very complicated relationship with the churches as they could prove a
threat to them as well as being a benefit to them. The Nazis saw the churches as a threat as they
wanted total control over German life, and the churches stood in the way of this. One reason the
churches were a threat was that the Protestant Church had more members than any other
organisation in Germany, including the Nazis. Secondly, as religious beliefs were powerful ones,
people who believed in God might be less likely to worship Hitler as the leader of Germany, and
lastly the Nazis alleged that Church meetings could be used for spreading the antiNazi
message. It was for these reasons the Nazis argued for destroying the Churches as they did with
all other independent organisations.
On the other hand, the Nazis needed the churches. Many church members had voted
for Hitler, Protestants in particular. Protestant church pastors were among the most popular and
successful Nazi election speakers. There was also much common ground between the Christian
and Nazi ideals such as the importance of family life and the importance of the military. The local
churches were often power bases for the Nazis. If they could build on them, they could become
even stronger.
In June 1933, the Church signed a concordat with Hitler, in which Hitler promised that
the Catholics could carry on their religious work, and the Catholic schools and youth groups
would be left alone. Hitler then tried to unite all the Protestant churches into one Reich church
under the proNazi Bishop Muller. However, many Germans still felt that their true loyalties lay
with their local churches rather than with the stateapproved Church. The Protestants who
united under Hitler, became known as the German Christians. Their slogan was `The swastika
on our breasts and the cross in our hearts.'
I believe that the main reason why the Nazi relationship with the Church was
complicated was because of the fact that they could in a way hinder the Nazis, but in another
way they could benefit the Nazis because of the power they had over people.


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