Nazi Dictatorship: Persecution of the Churches GCSE Edexcel History 2A


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  • Nazis glorified strength, violence, recial superiority but Christianity taught otherwise.
  • 1/3 of all German Churches were Catholic.
  • However, allegiance was to the Pope.
  • Catholics had their own schools.
  • Therefore, in July 1933, Hitler reached an agreement (Concordat) with the Pope:
    • Hitler agreed to:
      • Confirm freedom of worship for Catholics.
      • To not interfere with German Catholic schools.
    • The Church:
      • Agreed that priests would not interfere in politics.
      • Ordered German bishops to swear loyalty to the National Socialist Regime.
    • However:
      • Priests were harrassed/arrested and/or sent to concentration camps.
      • Catholic schools were brought in line with state schools or closed.
      • Catholic youth activities like the Catholic Youth League, were banned.
    • By 1937, Pope Pius XI realised that the Concordat was useless.
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  • At first, some Protestants were grateful of protection from anti-Christian communists and even allowed Nazi flags in churches.
  • Some formed the German Christian movement, with Ludwig Muller as the leader, who was made the Reich bishop of Germany in September 1923.
  • Many Protestants opposed Nazi policies though, and even spoke out against it.
  • The most fanous protestor; Pastor Martin Niemoller-1933; he was one of the Protestant pastors to set up the "Pastors' Emergency League" - the PEL, to campaign against the Nazis.
  • In 1937 Niemoller was sent to a concentration camp with the PEL banned.
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