Alban Schachleiter

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Alban Schachleiter
Born (1861-01-20)20 January 1861
Died 20 June 1937(1937-06-20) (aged 76)
Bad Feilnbach

Alban Schachleiter (20 January 1861 – 20 June 1937) was a Roman Catholic Benedictine monk and musicologist. He was closely associated with the Nazis, and with Adolf Hitler personally.

Schachleiter first became closely associated with the NSDAP, and with Hitler, in late 1922. Originally from Mainz, he served as the long-time abbot of the Emmaus monastery in Prague before being forced out of that position in late 1918 following the establishment of the new Czechoslovak state.[citation needed] After brief stays at several Austrian monasteries, including St. Florian near Linz, by early 1920, he was at Munich's St. Boniface's Abbey. By September 1922 he was noticed for the radicalism of his anti-Semitic agitation and his involvement with groups like the volkisch Bund Bayern und Reich. He cultivated connections with members of Munich's Catholic elite, including w:de:Karl Alexander von Müller, professor of history at the University of Munich and Helene Raff, whose father was the composer Joachim Raff. With Muller he discussed politics and Gregorian chant. Through these connections he first met Hitler in late 1922; the pair were observed by both Muller and Ernst Hanfstaengl engaging in lively and lengthy conversation. It was the beginning of a relationship that ended only with Schachleiter's death in 1937. The meeting opened the way for Schachleiter to play an important propagandist role on behalf of the NSDAP in the summer of 1923.

Following the commemorative activities of 10 June 1923, which included a massive rally in honour of Albert Leo Schlageter, staged on Munich's Konigsplatz and attended by 20-30000 activists—a Catholic memorial mass was held immediately after the rally in St. Boniface Abbey, organised exclusively by the NSDAP which was presided over by Schachleiter. Hanfstaengl had sketched out for Hitler the symbolic impact a related Catholic-Nazi mass for Schlagater would have on Munich's Catholic population—Schachleiter could also consecrate the standards of the SA. Hitler quickly agreed. Schachleiter delivered a eulogistic sermon that was remembered as having a powerful impact—a young and devoutly pious Heinrich Himmler joined the NSDAP in the wake of Schachleiters eulogy.[1]

A year later however, Schachleiter was writing to Oswald Spengler lamenting the impact of Erich Ludendorff and his anti-Catholic followers on the movement—following the refounding of the NSDAP in early 1925 the stronghold of the Nazi movement in Bavaria would no longer be Munich but rather the Protestant regions of Mittel- and Oberfranken. Schachleiter increasingly distanced himself from the NSDAP in the mid-1920s, although he maintained an idealised image of Hitler personally.

Schachleiter continued for years to be angry at Ludendorff's anti-Catholic crusade following the putsch of November 1923—after maintaining his weekly Schola Gregoriana at the Allerheiligen-Hofkirche in Munich until 1930, he then moved to a newly built country house in Bad Feilnbach where he was still living when Hitler came to power in 1933. In late spring Schachleiter wrote to Cardinal Faulhaber—"it seems to me to be a catastrophe that the Holy Church stands aloof from the new freedom movement, whose triumph I foresaw, and that the massive uprising of the volk, which is now lifting our poor fatherland out of its misery and shame, may well go down in history as a triumph of Protestantism." [2] Faulhaber forbade Schachleiter from performing masses within the archdiocese, and Schachleiter reluctantly refused Hitler's request for him to come to Berlin on 20 March 1933 to perform a personal mass for the fuhrer. Hitler visited in mid-May to personally congratulate Schachleiter on his 50th anniversary as a Benedictine. His invitation to sit among the Nazi dignitaries at the Nuremberg party rally in 1934, which he accepted, (and an enduring image through Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will), showed him "on the sidelines as the Nazis' striking, yet thoroughly secularized, performative aesthetic played out before him." [3]

From 1933-1936 Schachleiter spent much energy campaigning against what he saw as peripheral Nazi personalities directing the Nazis in an anti-Catholic and anti-Christian direction—and particularly the ideology advanced by Alfred Rosenberg. Schachleiter regarded this as a restraint on a renewal of wide-ranging Catholic support for the NSDAP. Schachleiter eventually wrote more than two dozen appeals to a variety of Nazi officials, including Hans Lammers, but was ignored. In September 1936 he admitted privately to a friend that, "a believing Christian can no longer participate [in the NSDAP]; they do not want believing Christians in the party." Publicly he continued to profess loyalty to the Führer and to the church.[4]

Following his death in June 1937 the Nazis ordered a state funeral arranged by Bavarian minister-president Ludwig Siebert. A year later the editorial leadership of the Beobachter refused attempts to publish official commemorations. According to historian Derek Hastings, by 1937, Schachleiter's vision of a renewed Catholic-Nazi synthesis had become increasingly marginal.


  1. ^ Catholicism and the Roots of Nazism, Hastings p.133
  2. ^ Derek Hastings, p.170
  3. ^ Hastings, p.172
  4. ^ Hastings, p.173