Hitler and the Churches

When the Nazis came into power, most Germans were Christians: They were either Catholic, who were strong in Bavaria and were led by the Pope, or Protestant, which had no single head.

Important aspects of the text are colour coded. Names are in PURPLE, dates are in PINK, key events and movements are in GREEN and places are in BLUE

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- Due to them having no single head, the Protestant churches were divided in their feelings towards the Nazis. Many Protestant churches 

+ BISHOP MEISER - head of the Protestant Church in Bavaria was an example of a Protestant Nazi- supporter

- However, many of the Protestant churches opposed the Nazis

+ CONFESSING CHURCH - a Protestant schismatic church that opposed Nazification

= A leader in the CC, MARTIN NIEMOLLER, who openly protested against the Nazis, was arrested and spent 7 years in Saschenhausen and Dachau

= Another leader, DIETRICH BONHOEFFER, tried to organise resistance against the Nazis during WW2, and was even in contact with the Allies

* In 1943, he was imprisoned in a concentration camp and, in 1945, was executed by the Gestapo

+ Nazi opposition had to choose between STAYING QUIET or BEING SILENCED

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- The Catholic Church supported the Nazis to begin with

+ Pope Pius XI signed the REICHSKONKORDAT with Germany on July 20 1933

= Meant the Catholic Church would be "left alone," provided the Church remained out of politics 

- However, the Catholic Church soon realised they could not trust the Nazis as the Church was NOT left alone, as stated in the Concordat

- THE CATHOLIC YOUTH, a well-supported youth organisation, was in direct competition with the HITLER YOUTH

+ In 1937, the Catholic Youth was made illegal


+ The Church ran a number of schools that were not subjected to Nazi propaganda. However, these schools were later removed from Church control

- CATHOLIC LEADERS - as many as 1 in 3 Catholic priests were persecuted by the Nazis, at least 400 being sent to DACHAU

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Nazi Religion

- To gain control of Christianity, the Nazis set up their own Christian church

+ Although some Protestants supported it, it was not a great success


+ Hitler decided to move people away from Christianity using a new Faith movement

+ Instead of the Bible, Hitler used a combination of Hindu and German literature, particularly his autobiography, Mein Kampf

+ Pagan traditions and rituals were upheld to relate more to Germany's Aryan roots

+ It stressed Aryan supremacy through Nordic myths

+ The German Faith Movement was also unsuccesful, with only 200,000 followers at its heigh (just 0.3% of the population)

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