Nazi persecution of the Catholic Church in Germany

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Roman Catholic Church suffered persecution in Nazi Germany. The Nazis claimed jurisdiction over all collective and social activity, interfering with Catholic schooling, youth groups, workers' clubs and cultural societies.[1] Nazi ideology could not accept an autonomous establishment, whose legitimacy did not spring from the government. It desired the subordination of the church to the state.[2] William Shirer wrote that "under the leadership of Rosenberg, Bormann and Himmler—backed by Hitler—the Nazi regime intended to destroy Christianity in Germany, if it could, and substitute the old paganism of the early tribal Germanic gods and the new paganism of the Nazi extremists."[3]

A threatening, if initially mainly sporadic persecution of the Church followed the Nazi takeover. Hitler moved quickly to eliminate Political Catholicism, and thousands were arrested. Despite continuing molestation of Catholic clergy, and organisations following the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor by President von Hindenberg, the Vatican was anxious to reach a legal agreement with the new government, in order to protect the rights of the Church in Germany.[4] The resulting Reich concordat was violated almost immediately. The Nazis moved to dissolve the Catholic youth leagues and clergy, nuns and lay leaders began to be targeted, leading to thousands of arrests over the ensuing years, often on trumped up charges of currency smuggling or "immorality". Catholic aligned political parties in Germany, along with all other parties, were outlawed in 1933, and Catholic lay leaders were targeted in Hitler's 1934 Night of the Long Knives purge. By 1937, Pope Pius XI's Mit brennender Sorge encyclical was accusing the regime of sowing "fundamental hostility to Christ and his Church".

By 1940, a dedicated clergy barracks had been established by the Nazis at Dachau Concentration Camp. Of a total of 2,720 clergy recorded as imprisoned at Dachau, the overwhelming majority, some 2,579 (or 94.88%) were Catholic - among them 400 German priests. Catholic schools in Germany were phased out by 1939 and Catholic press by 1941. With the expansion of the war in the East from 1941, there came also an expansion of the regime's attack on the Church in Germany. Monasteries and convents were targeted and expropriation of Church properties surged. The Jesuits were especially targeted.[5] The German bishops accused the Reich Government of "unjust oppression and hated struggle against Christianity and the Church".

In the Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany a severe persecution was launched from 1939. Here the Nazis set about systematically dismantling the Church - arresting its leaders, exiling its clergymen, closing its churches, monasteries and convents. Many clergymen were murdered. At least 1811 Polish clergy died in Nazi Concentration Camps. Hitler's plans for the Germanization of the East saw no place for the Christian Churches. The Church was also harshly treated in other annexed regions such as in Austria under the Gauleiter of Vienna, Odilo Globocnik, who confiscated property, closed Catholic organisations and sent many priests to Dachau; and in the Czech lands where religious orders were suppressed, schools closed, religious instruction forbidden and priests sent to concentration camps.

Background[edit]

Nazis rise to power

The Nazis disliked universities, intellectuals and the Catholic and Protestant churches. Their long term plan was to de-Christianise Germany after final victory in the war.[6][7] Their ideology could not accept an autonomous establishment, whose legitimacy did not spring from the government, and desired the subordination of the church to the state.[2] To many Nazis, Catholics were suspected of insufficient patriotism, or even of disloyalty to the Fatherland, and of serving the interests of "sinister alien forces".[8] Aggressive anti-Church radicals like Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann saw the conflict with the Churches as a priority concern, and anti-church and anti-clerical sentiments were strong among grassroots party activists.[9] In the short term, and from political considerations, Hitler was prepared to restrain his anti-clericalism, seeing danger in strengthening the Church by persecution, but intended a show-down after the war:[10]

In the 1920s and 1930s, Catholic leaders made a number of forthright attacks on Nazi ideology and the main Christian opposition to Nazism had come from the Catholic Church.[11] German bishops were hostile to the emerging movement and energetically denounced its "false doctrines".[12] They warned Catholics against Nazi racism and some dioceses banned membership of the Nazi Party, while the Catholic press criticized the Nazi movement.[13] In his history of the German Resistance, Hamerow wrote:[14]

The Catholic Church ... had generally viewed the Nazi Party with fear and suspicion. It had felt threatened by a radical ultranationalist ideology that regarded the papacy as a sinister, alien institution, that opposed denominational separatism in education and culture, and that at times appeared to promote a return to Nordic paganism. The establishment of the Third Reich seemed to portend the coming of a bitter conflict between church and state

— Extract from Theodore S. Hamerow's On the Road to the Wolf's Lair - German Resistance to Hitler

Persecution in Germany[edit]

Adalbert Probst, the national director of the Catholic Youth Sports Association, was murdered in the Night of the Long Knives purge. The Nazis interfered with Catholic schooling, youth groups, workers' clubs and cultural societies.

Hitler moved quickly to eliminate Political Catholicism. The Nazis arrested thousands of members of the German Centre Party.[15] The Catholic Bavarian People's Party government had been overthrown in Bavaria by a Nazi coup on 9 March 1933.[16] Two thousand functionaries of the Party were rounded up by police in late June, and it, along with the national Centre Party, dissolved themselves in early July. The dissolution of the Centre Party, a former bulwark of the Republic left modern Germany without a Catholic Party for the first time.[16] Vice Chancellor Papen meanwhile negotiated a Reich Concordat with the Vatican, which prohibited clergy from participating in politics.[17] Kershaw wrote that the Vatican was anxious to reach agreement with the new government, despite "continuing molestation of Catholic clergy, and other outrages committed by Nazi radicals against the Church and its organisations".[4] Hitler, nevertheless, had a "blatant disregard" for the Concordat, wrote Paul O'Shea, and its signing was to him merely a first step in the "gradual suppression of the Catholic Church in Germany".[18] Anton Gill wrote that "with his usual irresistable, bullying technique, Hitler then proceeded to take a mile where he had been given an inch" and closed all Catholic institutions whose functions weren't strictly religious:[19]

It quickly became clear that [Hitler] intended to imprison the Catholics, as it were, in their own churches. They could celebrate mass and retain their rituals as much as they liked, but they could have nothing at all to do with German society otherwise. Catholic schools and newspapers were closed, and a propaganda campaign against the Catholics was launched.

— Extract from An Honourable Defeat by Anton Gill

Almost immediately after signing the Concordat, the Nazis promulgated their sterilization law - the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring - an offensive policy in the eyes of the Catholic Church. Days later, moves began to dissolve the Catholic Youth League.[20] Political Catholicism was also among the targets of Hitler's 1934 Long Knives purge: the head of Catholic Action, Erich Klausener, Papen's speech writer and advisor Edgar Jung (also a Catholic Action worker); and the national director of the Catholic Youth Sports Association, Adalbert Probst. Former Centre Party Chancellor, Heinrich Brüning narrowly escaped execution.[21][22][23]

William Shirer wrote that the German people were not greatly aroused by the persecution of the churches by the Nazi Government. The great majority were not moved to face death or imprisonment for the sake of freedom of worship, being too impressed by Hitler's early foreign policy successes and the restoration of the German economy. Few, he said, paused to reflect that the Nazi regime intended to destroy Christianity in Germany, if it could, and substitute the old paganism of the early tribal Germanic gods and the new paganism of the Nazi extremists.[3] Anti-Nazi sentiment grew in Catholic circles as the Nazi government increased its repressive measures against their activities.[24] Hoffmann writes that, from the beginning:[25]

"[The Catholic Church] could not silently accept the general persecution, regimentation or oppression, nor in particular the sterilization law of summer 1933. Over the years until the outbreak of war Catholic resistance stiffened until finally its most eminent spokesman was the Pope himself with his encyclial Mit brennender Sorge ... of 14 March 1937, read from all German Catholic pulpits. Clemens August Graf von Galen, Bishop of Munster, was typical of the many fearless Catholic speakers. In general terms, therefore, the churches were the only major organisations to offer comparatively early and open resistance: they remained so in later years.

— Extract from The History of the German Resistance 1933–1945 by Peter Hoffmann

Targeting of clergy[edit]

Clergy, nuns and lay leaders began to be targeted, leading to thousands of arrests over the ensuing years, often on trumped up charges of currency smuggling or "immorality".[20] Priests were watched closely and frequently denounced, arrested and sent to concentration camps.[26] From 1940, a dedicated Clergy Barracks had been established at Dachau concentration camp.[27] Intimidation of clergy was widespread. Cardinal Faulhaber was shot at. Cardinal Innitzer had his Vienna residence ransacked in October 1938 and Bishop Sproll of Rottenburg was jostled and his home vandalised. In 1937, the New York Times reported that Christmas would see "several thousand Catholic clergymen in prison." Propaganda satirized the clergy, including Anderl Kern's play The Last Peasant.[28]

Heinrich Himmler (L) and Reinhard Heydrich (R) headed the Nazi security forces and were key architects of the Final Solution. Both believed that Christian values were among the enemies of Nazism.

Under Reinhard Heydrich and Heinrich Himmler, the Security Police and the SD were responsible for suppressing internal and external enemies of the Nazi state. Among those enemies were "political churches" - such as Lutheran and Catholic clergy who opposed the Hitler regime. Such dissidents were arrested and sent to concentration camps.[29] In the 1936 campaign against the monasteries and convents, the authorities charged 276 members of religious orders with the offence of "homosexuality".[30] 1935-6 was the height of the "immorality" trials against priests, monks, lay-brothers and nuns. In the United States, protests were organised in response to the sham trials, including a June 1936, petition signed by 48 clergymen, including rabbis and Protestant pastors: "We lodge a solemn protest against the almost unique brutality of the attacks launched by the German government charging Catholic clergy with gross immorality ... in the hope that the ultimate suppression of all Jewish and Christian beliefs by the totalitarian state can be effected."[31] Winston Churchill wrote disapprovingly in the British press of the regime's treatment of "the Jews, Protestants and Catholics of Germany".[32]

A senior cleric could rely on a degree of popular support from the faithful, and thus the regime had to consider the possibility of nationwide protests if such figures were arrested.[33] While hundreds of ordinary priests and members of monastic orders were sent to concentration camps throughout the Nazi period, just one German Catholic bishop was briefly imprisoned in a concentration camp, and just one other expelled from his diocese.[34] This reflected also the cautious approach adopted by the hierarchy, who felt secure only in commenting on matters which transgressed on the ecclesiastical sphere.[35]

From 1940, the Gestapo launched an intense persecution of the monasteries – invading, searching and appropriating them. The Provincial of the Dominican Province of Teutonia, Laurentius Siemer, a spiritual leader of the German Resistance was influential in the Committee for Matters Relating to the Orders, which formed in response to Nazi attacks against Catholic monasteries and aimed to encourage the bishops to intercede on behalf of the Orders and oppose the Nazi state more emphatically.[36][37] Figures like Galen and Preysing attempted to protect German priests from arrest. In Galen's famous 1941 anti-euthanasia sermons, he denounced the confiscations of church properties.[24] He attacked the Gestapo for converting church properties to their own purposes - including use as cinemas and brothels.[38] He protested the mistreatment of Catholics in Germany: the arrests and imprisonment without legal process, the suppression of the monasteries and the expulsion of religious orders.[39]

Suppression of Catholic press[edit]

Fritz Gerlich, editor of Munich's Catholic weekly, was murdered in the Night of the Long Knives. The Catholic press was muzzled in Nazi Germany.

The flourishing Catholic press of Germany faced censorship and closure. Finally in March 1941, Goebbels banned all Church press, on the pretext of a "paper shortage".[40] In 1933, the Nazis established a Reich Chamber of Authorship and Reich Press Chamber under the Reich Cultural Chamber of the Ministry for Propaganda. Dissident writers were terrorised. The June–July 1934 Night of the Long Knives purge was the culmination of this early campaign.[41] Fritz Gerlich, the editor of Munich's Catholic weekly, Der Gerade Weg, was killed in the purge for his strident criticism of the Nazi movement.[42] Writer and theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand was forced to flee Germany. The poet Ernst Wiechert protested the government's attitudes to the arts, calling them "spiritual murder". He was arrested and taken to Dachau Concentration Camp.[43] Hundreds of arrests and closure of Catholic presses followed the issuing of Pope Pius XI's Mit brennender Sorge anti-Nazi encyclical.[44] Nikolaus Gross, a Christian Trade Unionist, and director of the West German Workers' Newspaper Westdeutschen Arbeiterzeitung, was declared a martyr and beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2001. Declared an enemy of the state in 1938, his newspaper was shut down. He was arrested in the July Plot round up, and executed on 23 January 1945.[45][46]

Suppression of Catholic education[edit]

Catholic schools were a major battleground in the Church Struggle. When in 1933, the Nazi school superintendent of Munster issued a decree that religious instruction be combined with discussion of the "demoralising power" of the "people of Israel", Bishop August von Galen of Munich refused, writing that such interference in curriculum was a breach of the Concordat and that he feared children would be confused as to their "obligation to act with charity to all men" and as to the historical mission of the people of Israel.[47] Often Galen directly protested to Hitler over violations of the Concordat. When in 1936, Nazis removed crucifixes in school, protest by Galen led to public demonstration.[48] Hitler sometimes allowed pressure to be placed on German parents to remove children from religious classes to be given ideological instruction in its place, while in elite Nazi schools, Christian prayers were replaced with Teutonic rituals and sun-worship.[49]

Church kindergartens were closed, crucifixes were removed from schools and Catholic welfare programs were restricted on the basis they assisted the "racially unfit". Parents were coerced into removing their children from Catholic schools. In Bavaria, teaching positions formerly allotted to nuns were awarded to secular teachers and denominational schools transformed into "Community schools".[31] When in 1937 the authorities in Upper Bavaria attempted to replace Catholic schools with "common schools", Cardinal Faulhaber offered fierce resistance.[50] By 1939 all Catholic denominational schools had been disbanded or converted to public facilities.[51]

"War on the Church"[edit]

After constant confrontations, by late 1935, Bishop August von Galen of Munich was urging a joint pastoral letter protesting an "underground war" against the church.[47] By early 1937, the church hierarchy in Germany, which had initially attempted to co-operate with the new government, had become highly disillusioned. In March, Pope Pius XI issued the Mit brennender Sorge encyclical - accusing the Nazi Government of violations of the 1933 Concordat, and further that it was sowing the "tares of suspicion, discord, hatred, calumny, of secret and open fundamental hostility to Christ and His Church".[20] The Nazis responded with, an intensification of the Church Struggle, beginning around April.[9] Goebbels noted heightened verbal attacks on the clergy from Hitler in his diary and wrote that Hitler had approved the start of trumped up "immorality trials" against clergy and anti-Church propaganda campaign. Goebbels' orchestrated attack included a staged "morality trial" of 37 Franciscans.[9]

At the outbreak of World War Two, Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda issued threats and applied intense pressure on the Churches to voice support for the war, and the Gestapo banned Church meetings for a few weeks. In the first few months of the war, the German Churches complied.[52] No denunciations of the invasion of Poland, nor the Blitzkrieg were issued.[53] The Catholic bishops asked their followers to support the war effort: "We appeal to the faithful to join in ardent prayer that God's providence may lead this war to blessed success for Fatherland and people."[54] Despite such protestation of loyalty to the Fatherland, the anti-church radical Reinhard Heydrich determined that support from church leaders could not be expected because of the nature of their doctrines and internationalism, and wanted to cripple the political activities of clergy. He devised measures to restrict the operation of the Churches under cover of war time exigencies, such as reducing resources available to Church presses on the basis of rationing, and prohibiting pilgrimages and large church gatherings on the basis of transportation difficulties. Churches were closed for being "too far from bomb shelters". Bells were melted down. Presses were closed.[55]

With the expansion of the war in the East from 1941, there came also an expansion of the regime's attack on the churches. Monasteries and convents were targeted and expropriation of Church properties surged. The Nazi authorities claimed that the properties were needed for wartime necessities such as hospitals, or accommodation for refugees or children, but in fact used them for their own purposes. "Hostility to the state" was another common cause give for the confiscations, and the action of a single member of a monastery could result in seizure of the whole. The Jesuits were especially targeted.[56] The Papal Nuncio Cesare Orsenigo and Cardinal Bertram complained constantly to the authorities but were told to expect more requisitions owing to war-time needs.[57] The Nazi authorities decreed the dissolution of all monasteries and abbeys in the German Reich, many of them effectively being occupied and secularized by the Allgemeine SS under Himmler. However, on July 30, 1941 the Aktion Klostersturm (Operation Monastery) was put to an end by a decree of Hitler, who feared the increasing protests by the Catholic part of German population might result in passive rebellions and thereby harm the Nazi war effort at the eastern front.[58] Over 300 monasteries and other institutions were expropriated by the SS.[59]

On 22 March 1942, the German Bishops issued a pastoral letter on "The Struggle against Christianity and the Church".[60] The letter launched a defence of human rights and the rule of law and accused the Reich Government of "unjust oppression and hated struggle against Christianity and the Church", despite the loyalty of German Catholics to the Fatherland, and brave service of Catholics soldiers:[61]

For years a war has raged in our Fatherland against Christianity and the Church, and has never been conducted with such bitterness. Repeatedly the German bishops have asked the Reich Government to discontinue this fatal struggle; but unfortunately our appeals and our endeavours were without success.

— 22 March 1942 Pastoral Letter of the German Bishops

The letter outlined serial breaches of the 1933 Concordat, reitereated complaints of the suffocation of Catholic schooling, presses and hospitals and said that the "Catholic faith has been restricted to such a degree that it has disappeared almost entirely from public life" and even worship within churches in Germany "is frequently restricted or oppressed", while in the conquered territories (and even in the Old Reich), churches had been "closed by force and even used for profane purposes". The freedom of speech of clergymen had been suppressed and priests were being "watched constantly" and punished for fulfilling "priestly duties" and incarcerated in Concentration camps without legal process. Religious orders had been expelled from schools, and their properties seized, while seminaries had been confiscated "to deprive the Catholic priesthood of successors".[61] The bishops denounced the Nazi euthanasia program and declared their support for human rights and personal freedom under God and "just laws" of all people:[61]

We demand juridical proof of all sentences and release of all fellow citizens who have been deprived of their liberty without proof ... We the German bishops shall not cease to protest against the killing of innocent persons. Nobody's life is safe unless the Commandment, "Thous shalt not kill" is observed ... We the bishops, in the name of the Catholic people ... demand the return of all unlawfully confiscated and in some cases sequestered property ... for what happens today to church property may tomorrow happen to any lawful property.

— 22 March 1942 Pastoral Letter of the German Bishops

Annexed regions[edit]

The Nazi Gauleiter of Vienna, Odilo Globocnik. Following the Anschluss, he launched a crusade against the Church, and the Nazis confiscated property, closed Catholic organisations and sent many priests to Dachau.

Austria[edit]

The Anschluss saw the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in early 1938.[62] Austria was overwhelmingly Catholic.[63] On April 9 in Vienna, Hitler, speaking before a vote to endorse the Nazi annexation, told the Austrian public that it was "God's will" that he lead his homeland into the Reich and that the Lord had "smitten" his opponents.[63] At the direction of Cardinal Innitzer, the churches of Vienna pealed their bells and flew swastikas for Hitler's arrival in the city on 14 March.[64] However, wrote Mark Mazower, such gestures of accommodation were "not enough to assuage the Austrian Nazi radicals, foremost among them the young Gauleiter Globocnik".[65]

Globocnik launched a crusade against the Church, and the Nazis confiscated property, closed Catholic organisations and sent many priests to Dachau.[65] The martyred Austrian priests Jakob Gapp and Otto Neururer were beatified in the 1996.[66] Neururer was tortured and hanged at Buchenwald and Jakob Gapp was guillotined in Berlin.[67] Anger at the treatment of the Church in Austria grew quickly and October 1938, wrote Mazower, saw the "very first act of overt mass resistance to the new regime", when a rally of thousands left Mass in Vienna chanting "Christ is our Fuehrer", before being dispersed by police.[68]

A Nazi mob ransacked Cardinal Innitzer's residence, after he had denounced Nazi persecution of the Church.[63] L'Osservatore Romano reported on 15 October that Hitler Youth and the SA had gathered at Innitzer's Cathedral during a service for Catholic Youth and started "counter-shouts and whistlings: 'Down with Innitzer! Our faith is Germany'". The following day, the mob stoned the Cardinal's residence, broke in and ransacked it—bashing a secretary unconscious, and storming another house of the cathedral curia and throwing its curate out the window.[69] The American National Catholic Welfare Conference wrote that Pope Pius, "again protested against the violence of the Nazis, in language recalling Nero and Judas the Betrayer, comparing Hitler with Julian the Apostate."[69]

Czech lands[edit]

Following its October 1938 annexation, Nazi policy in the Sudetenland saw ethnic Czech priests expelled, or deprived of income and forced to do labour, while their properties were seized. Religious orders were suppressed, private schools closed and religious instruction forbidden in schools.[70] Shortly before World War II, Czechoslovakia ceased to exist, swallowed by Nazi expansion. Its territory was divided into the mainly Czech Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and the newly declared Slovak Republic, while a considerable part of Czechoslovakia was directly joined to the Third Reich. 122 Czechoslovak Catholic priests were sent to Dachau Concentration Camp. 76 did not survive the ordeal.[71]

Poland[edit]

Public execution of Polish priests and civilians in Bydgoszcz's Old Market Square, 9 September 1939. The Polish Church suffered a brutal persecution under Nazi Occupation.

Kerhsaw wrote that, in Hitler's scheme for the Germanization of Eastern Europe, "There would, he made clear, be no place in this utopia for the Christian Churches".[72] The invasion of predominantly Catholic Poland by Nazi Germany in 1939 ignited the Second World War. The Nazi plan for Poland entailed the destruction of the Polish nation, which necessarily required attacking the Polish Church, particularly in those areas annexed to Germany.[73] Historically, the church had been a leading force in Polish nationalism against foreign domination, thus the Nazis targeted clergy, monks and nuns in their terror campaigns—both for their resistance activity and their cultural importance.[74][75] According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1811 Polish priests died in Nazi concentration camps.[76]

Arthur Greiser, the Reichsstatthalter of Wartheland, led a radical attack on the Catholic Church. By late 1941, the Polish Church had effectively been outlawed in Wartheland.

Special death squads of SS and police accompanied the invasion and arrested or executed those considered capable of resisting the occupation: including professionals, clergymen and government officials. The following summer, the A-B Aktion round up of several thousand Polish intelligentsia by the SS saw many priests shot in the General Government sector.[74] In September 1939 Security Police Chief Heydrich and General Eduard Wagner agreed upon a "cleanup once and for all of Jews, intelligentsia, clergy, nobility".[77] Of the brief period of military control from 1 September 1939 – 25 October 1939, Davies wrote: "according to one source, 714 mass executions were carried out, and 6,376 people, mainly Catholics, were shot. Other put the death toll in one town alone at 20,000. It was a taste of things to come."[78]

Poland was divided into two parts by the Nazis: the Reich directly annexed Polish territories along Germany's eastern border, while and second part came under the administration of the so-called Generalgouvernement (General Government)[79][80] Nazi policy towards the Church was at its most severe in the territories it annexed to Greater Germany, where the Nazis set about systematically dismantling the Church - arresting its leaders, exiling its clergymen, closing its churches, monasteries and convents. Many clergymen were murdered.[81][82] The annexed areas included the Catholic archdiocese of Gniezno-Poznan and the dioceses of Chelmno, Katowice and Wloclawek, and parts of the dioceses of Czetochowa, Kielce, Cracow, Lomza, Lodz, Plock and Warsaw, which were all to be "Germanized". In these areas the Polish Church was to be thoroughly eradicated, though German Catholics could remain or settle there.[83]

Hitler intended to use Poland as a colony for settlement by Germans. The "racially inferior" indigenous Poles were to be cleared out to make room for German settlers. Following the defeat of Poland, Heinrich Himmler was appointed Reich Commissioner for the Strengthening of the German Race. Germanization of the annexed regions began in December 1939 with deportations of men, women and children.[84] In the Wartheland, regional leader Arthur Greiser, with the encouragement of Reinhard Heydrich and Martin Bormann, launched a severe attack on the Catholic Church. It's properties and funds were confiscated, and lay organisations shut down. Evans wrote that "Numerous clergy were, monks, diocesan administrators and officials of the Church were arrested, deported to the General Government, taken off to a concentration camp in the Reich, or simply shot. Altogether some 1700 Polish priests ended up at Dachau: half of them did not survive their imprisonment." Greiser's administrative chief August Jager had earlier led the effort at Nazification of the Evangelical Church in Prussia.[85] In Poland, he earned the nickname "Kirchen-Jager" (Church-Hunter) for the vehemence of his hostility to the Church.[86] "By the end of 1941", wrote Evans, "the Polish Catholic Church had been effectively outlawed in the Wartheland. It was more or less Germanized in the other occupied territories, despite an encyclical issued by the Pope as early as 27 October 1939 protesting against this persecution."[87]

Priests of Dachau[edit]

Prisoner barracks at Dachau Concentration Camp, where the Nazis established a dedicated clergy barracks for clerical opponents of the regime in 1940. Some 95% of inmates were Catholic clerics, mainly Poles. Over 400 German priests were sent to camp.

In effort to counter the strength and influence of spiritual resistance, Nazi security services monitored Catholic clergy very closely—instructing that agents be set up in every diocese, that the bishops' reports to the Vatican should be obtained and that the bishops' areas of activity must be found out. A "vast network" was established to monitor the activities of ordinary clergy: Nazi security agents wrote "The importance of this enemy is such that inspectors of security police and of the security service will make this group of people and the questions discussed by them their special concern".[88] Priests were watched closely and frequently denounced, arrested and sent to concentration camps, often simply on the basis of being "suspected of activities hostile to the State" or that there was reason to "suppose that his dealings might harm society".[26]

Many clergy were imprisoned at Dachau Concentration Camp.[89][90] The first theologian arrived at Dachau in 1935, but from 1940, Dachau became the concentration point for clerical prisoners of the Nazi regime.[91] Of a total of 2,720 clergy recorded as imprisoned at Dachau, the overwhelming majority, some 2,579 (or 94.88%) were Catholic. Among the other denominations, there were 109 Evangelicals, 22 Greek Orthodox, 8 Old Catholics and Mariavites and 2 Muslims. In his Dachau: The Official History 1933–1945, Paul Berben noted that R. Schnabel's 1966 investigation, Die Frommen in der Holle found an alternative total of 2,771 and included the fate all the clergy listed, with 692 noted as deceased and 336 sent out on "invalid trainloads" and therefore presumed dead.[92] Kershaw noted that some 400 German priests were sent to Dachau.[93] Total numbers are difficult to assert, for some clergy were not recognised as such by the camp authorities, and some – particularly Poles – did not wish to be identified as such, fearing they would be mistreated.[94]

Long term plans[edit]

In January 1934, Hitler had appointed Alfred Rosenberg as the cultural and educational leader of the Reich. Rosenberg was a neo-pagan and notoriously anti-Catholic.[3][95] In 1934, the Sanctum Officium in Rome recommended that Rosenberg's book be put on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (forbidden books list of the Catholic Church) for scorning and rejecting "all dogmas of the Catholic Church, indeed the very fundamentals of the Christian religion".[96] During the War, Rosenberg outlined the future envisioned by the Hitler government for religion in Germany, with a thirty point program for the future of the German churches. Among its articles: the National Reich Church of Germany was to claim exclusive control over all churches; publication of the Bible was to cease; crucifixes, Bibles and saints were to be removed from altars; and Mein Kampf was to be placed on altars as "to the German nation and therefore to God the most sacred book"; and the Christian Cross was to be removed from all churches and replaced with the swastika.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Theodore S. Hamerow; On the Road to the Wolf's Lair - German Resistance to Hitler; Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; 1997; ISBN 0-674-63680-5; p. 136
  2. ^ a b Theodore S. Hamerow; On the Road to the Wolf's Lair - German Resistance to Hitler; Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; 1997; ISBN 0-674-63680-5; p. 196
  3. ^ a b c d William L. Shirer; The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; Secker & Warburg; London; 1960; p. 240
  4. ^ a b Ian Kershaw; Hitler a Biography; 2008 Edn; W.W. Norton & Co; London; p. 295
  5. ^ John S. Conway; The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933-1945; Regent College Publishing; p. 255
  6. ^
  7. ^ Bendersky, Joseph W., A concise history of Nazi Germany, p. 147, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007: "Consequently, it was Hitler's long range goal to eliminate the churches once he had consolidated control over his European empire."
  8. ^ Theodore S. Hamerow; On the Road to the Wolf's Lair - German Resistance to Hitler; Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; 1997; ISBN 0-674-63680-5; p. 74
  9. ^ a b c Ian Kershaw; Hitler a Biography; 2008 Edn; W.W. Norton & Co; London; pp. 381–82
  10. ^ Alan Bullock; Hitler: a Study in Tyranny; HarperPerennial Edition 1991; p219"
  11. ^ The German Churches in the Third Reich by Franklin F. Littell, published by Yad Vashem
  12. ^ Joachim Fest; Plotting Hitler's Death: The German Resistance to Hitler 1933–1945; Weidenfield & Nicolson; London; p.31
  13. ^ The Response of the German Catholic Church to National Socialism by Michael Phayer; published by Yad Vashem
  14. ^ Theodore S. Hamerow; On the Road to the Wolf's Lair - German Resistance to Hitler; Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; 1997; ISBN 0-674-63680-5; p. 132
  15. ^ http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/education/courses/life_lessons/pdfs/lesson8_4.pdf
  16. ^ a b William L. Shirer; The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; Secker & Warburg; London; 1960; p. 201
  17. ^ Ian Kershaw; Hitler a Biography; 2008 Edn; W.W. Norton & Co; London; p. 290
  18. ^ Paul O'Shea; A Cross Too Heavy; Rosenberg Publishing; p. 234–5 ISBN 978-1-877058-71-4
  19. ^ Gill, Anton (1994). An Honourable Defeat; A History of the German Resistance to Hitler. Heinemann Mandarin. 1995 paperback ISBN 978-0-434-29276-9, p.57
  20. ^ a b c William L. Shirer; The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; Secker & Warburg; London; 1960; pp. 234–35
  21. ^ Peter Hoffmann; The History of the German Resistance 1933–1945; 3rd Edn (First English Edn); McDonald & Jane's; London; 1977; p 25
  22. ^ John S. Conway; The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933–1945; Regent College Publishing; 2001; ISBN 1-57383-080-1 (USA); p. 90–92
  23. ^ Lewis, Brenda Ralph (2000); Hitler Youth: the Hitlerjugend in War and Peace 1933–1945; MBI Publishing; ISBN 0-7603-0946-9; p. 45
  24. ^ a b Encyclopedia Britannica Online: Blessed Clemens August, Graf von Galen; web Apr 2013.
  25. ^ Peter Hoffmann; The History of the German Resistance 1933–1945; 3rd Edn (First English Edn); McDonald & Jane's; London; 1977; p.14
  26. ^ a b Paul Berben; Dachau: The Official History 1933–1945; Norfolk Press; London; 1975; ISBN 0-85211-009-X; p. 142
  27. ^ Paul Berben; Dachau: The Official History 1933–1945; Norfolk Press; London; 1975; ISBN 0-85211-009-X; p. 145
  28. ^ "Nazi Policy and the Catholic Church". Catholiceducation.org. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  29. ^ United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - Reihard Heydrich; web 23 may 2013
  30. ^ Joachim Fest; Plotting Hitler's Death: The German Resistance to Hitler 1933–1945; Weidenfield & Nicolson; London; p.373
  31. ^ a b "Karol Josef Gajewski; ''Nazi Policy and the Catholic Church''; Catholic Education Resource Centre; web May 2013". Catholiceducation.org. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  32. ^ Evening Standard Article of 17 September 1937, noted by Martin Gilbert in Churchill and the Jews; p. 139
  33. ^ Theodore S. Hamerow; On the Road to the Wolf's Lair - German Resistance to Hitler; Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; 1997; ISBN 0-674-63680-5; p. 133
  34. ^ Theodore S. Hamerow; On the Road to the Wolf's Lair - German Resistance to Hitler; Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; 1997; ISBN 0-674-63680-5; p. 196–7
  35. ^ Theodore S. Hamerow; On the Road to the Wolf's Lair - German Resistance to Hitler; Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; 1997; ISBN 0-674-63680-5; p. 197
  36. ^ Laurentius Siemer; German Resistance Memorial Centre, Index of Persons; retrieved at 4 September 2013
  37. ^ Memory of Spiritual Leader in German Resistance Lives On; Deutsche Welle online; 21 October 2006
  38. ^ Gill, Anton (1994). An Honourable Defeat; A History of the German Resistance to Hitler. Heinemann Mandarin. 1995 paperback ISBN 978-0-434-29276-9, p.60
  39. ^ Theodore S. Hamerow; On the Road to the Wolf's Lair - German Resistance to Hitler; Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; 1997; ISBN 0-674-63680-5; p. 289–90
  40. ^ Fred Taylor; The Goebbells Diaries 1939–1941; Hamish Hamilton Ltd; London; 1982 p.278 & 294
  41. ^ Peter Hoffmann; The History of the German Resistance 1933–1945; 3rd Edn (First English Edn); McDonald & Jane's; London; 1977; p. 14–15
  42. ^ John S. Conway; The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933–1945; Regent College Publishing; 2001; ISBN 1-57383-080-1 (USA); p.92
  43. ^ Peter Hoffmann; The History of the German Resistance 1933–1945; 3rd Edn (First English Edn); McDonald & Jane's; London; 1977; p.30
  44. ^ Gill, Anton (1994). An Honourable Defeat; A History of the German Resistance to Hitler. Heinemann Mandarin. 1995 paperback ISBN 978-0-434-29276-9, p.58
  45. ^ Pope sets seven people on the path to sainthood; beatification opposed by man's son; Seattle Times; 8 October 2001
  46. ^ Bl. Nikolaus Gross (1898–1945); Vatican News Service; retrieved 12 September 2013
  47. ^ a b Theodore S. Hamerow; On the Road to the Wolf's Lair - German Resistance to Hitler; Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; 1997; ISBN 0-674-63680-5; p. 139
  48. ^ Gill, Anton (1994). An Honourable Defeat; A History of the German Resistance to Hitler. Heinemann Mandarin. 1995 paperback ISBN 978-0-434-29276-9, p.59
  49. ^ Encyclopedia Online - Fascism - Identification with Christianity; web 20 Apr 2013
  50. ^ Theodore S. Hamerow; On the Road to the Wolf's Lair - German Resistance to Hitler; Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; 1997; ISBN 0-674-63680-5; pp. 200–202
  51. ^ Evans, Richard J. (2005). The Third Reich in Power. New York: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-303790-3; pp. 245–246
  52. ^ John S. Conway; The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933–1945; Regent College Publishing; p. 234
  53. ^ The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933–1945 By John S. Conway p. 235; Regent College Publishing
  54. ^ The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933–1945 By John S. Conway p. 234; Regent College Publishing
  55. ^ John S. Conway; The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933–1945; Regent College Publishing; p. 237
  56. ^ John S. Conway; The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933–1945; Regent College Publishing; p. 255
  57. ^ John S. Conway; The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933–1945; Regent College Publishing; p. 257
  58. ^ Mertens, Annette, Himmlers Klostersturm: der Angriff auf katholische Einrichtungen im Zweiten Weltkrieg und die Wiedergutmachung nach 1945, Paderborn; München ; Wien; Zürich : Schöningh, 2006, pp. 33, 120, 126.
  59. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/08/world/europe/08iht-germany.4.11787437.html?_r=1&
  60. ^ Joachim Fest; Plotting Hitler's Death: The German Resistance to Hitler 1933–1945; Weidenfield & Nicolson; London; p. 377
  61. ^ a b c The Nazi War Against the Catholic Church; National Catholic Welfare Conference; Washington D.C.; 1942; pp. 74–80.
  62. ^ William L. Shirer; The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; Secker & Warburg; London; 1960; pp. 325–329
  63. ^ a b c William L. Shirer; The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; Secker & Warburg; London; 1960; pp. 349–350.
  64. ^ Ian Kershaw; Hitler a Biography; 2008 Edn; W.W. Norton & Co; London; p. 413
  65. ^ a b Mark Mazower; Hitler's Empire - Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe; Penguin; 2008; ISBN 978-0-7139-9681-4; pp. 51–52
  66. ^ "Pope Beatifies Nazi Victims - from the Catholic Herald Archive". Archive.catholicherald.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  67. ^ "Priests Beatified - from the Catholic Herald Archive". Archive.catholicherald.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  68. ^ Mark Mazower; Hitler's Empire - Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe; Penguin; 2008; ISBN 978-0-7139-9681-4; p.52
  69. ^ a b The Nazi War Against the Catholic Church; National Catholic Welfare Conference; Washington D.C.; 1942; pp. 29–30
  70. ^ The Nazi War Against the Catholic Church; National Catholic Welfare Conference; Washington D.C.; 1942; pp. 31–32
  71. ^ Fighter Against Dictatorships - Cardinal Josef Beran; by Chris Johnson for Radio Prague; 23 December 2009
  72. ^ Ian Kershaw; Hitler a Biography; 2008 Edn; W.W. Norton & Co; London p. 661
  73. ^ Jozef Garlinski; Poland and the Second World War; Macmillan Press, 1985; p 60
  74. ^ a b "Education | Poles". Ushmm.org. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  75. ^ Phayer, p. 22
  76. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online - Stefan Wyszyński; Encyclopædia Britannica Inc; 2013; web 14 Apr. 2013.
  77. ^ Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, I.191
  78. ^ Norman Davies; Rising '44: the Battle for Warsaw; Vikiing; 2003; pp. 85–6
  79. ^ "Invasion of Poland, Fall 1939". Ushmm.org. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  80. ^ Norman Davies; Rising '44: the Battle for Warsaw; Vikiing; 2003; p.86
  81. ^ Libionka, Dariusz (2004). "The Catholic Church in Poland and the Holocaust, 1939-1945". In Carol Rittner, Stephen D. Smith, Irena Steinfeldt. The Holocaust And The Christian World: Reflections On The Past Challenges For The Future. New Leaf Press. pp. 74–78. ISBN 978-0-89221-591-1. 
  82. ^ "Poles: Victims of the Nazi Era". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  83. ^ Jozef Garlinski; Poland and the Second World War; Macmillan Press, 1985; p 60
  84. ^ Richard J. Evans; The Third Reich at War; Penguin Press New York; 2009; pp.28-29
  85. ^ Richard J. Evans; The Third Reich at War; Penguin Press New York; 2009; p.33-34
  86. ^ Mark Mazower; Hitler's Empire - Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe; Penguin; 2008; ISBN 978-0-7139-9681-4; p.92.
  87. ^ Richard J. Evans; The Third Reich at War; Penguin Press New York; 2009; p.34
  88. ^ Paul Berben; Dachau: The Official History 1933–1945; Norfolk Press; London; 1975; ISBN 0-85211-009-X; pp. 141–42
  89. ^ "Dachau". Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  90. ^ "Station 10: Camp Road". Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  91. ^ Paul Berben; Dachau: The Official History 1933–1945; Norfolk Press; London; 1975; ISBN 0-85211-009-X; p.143
  92. ^ Paul Berben; Dachau: The Official History 1933–1945; Norfolk Press; London; 1975; ISBN 0-85211-009-X; pp.276–277
  93. ^ Kershaw 2000, pp. 210–211.
  94. ^ Paul Berben; Dachau: The Official History 1933–1945; Norfolk Press; London; 1975; ISBN 0-85211-009-X; p.157
  95. ^ The Nazi War Against the Catholic Church; National Catholic Welfare Conference; Washington D.C.; 1942
  96. ^ Richard Bonney; Confronting the Nazi War on Christianity: the Kulturkampf Newsletters, 1936–1939; International Academic Publishers; Bern; 2009 ISBN 978-3-03911-904-2; pp. 122