German Faith Movement

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The German Faith Movement (Deutsche Glaubensbewegung) was a religious movement in Nazi Germany (1934–1945), closely associated with University of Tübingen professor Jakob Wilhelm Hauer. The movement sought to move Germany away from Christianity towards a religion based on Germanic paganism and Nazi ideas.[1]

The Leader: Jakob Wilhelm Hauer[edit]

In 1933, Jakob Wilhelm Hauer started the movement as a way to gain financial footing for an institution within the religious shuffle. Hauer was initially not an obvious supporter of Adolf Hitler and started the Köngener Bund, a German Protestant youth movement, which attracted many young Germans due to its opposition of National Socialism as well as antisemitism.[2] His allegiance changed however, joining the Combat League for German Culture (Kampfbund für deutsche Kultur) in May 1933. Hauer then joined the Hitler Youth later that year, in December. The once liberal, anti-nationalist, was then inducted into the SS and SD in August 1934.[2] Hauer became the (Führer) of the German Faith Movement when it was constituted in May 1934.[2] His reign was short-lived, stepping down on April 1, 1936.[2]

History[edit]

In 1933, Germany's population of almost 60 million belonged to either the Catholic Church (20 million members) or the Protestant Church (40 million members).[3] Many Christians were initially drawn to supporting Nazism due to the emphasis on "positive Christianity," noted in Article 24 of the 1920 National Socialist Program.[3] However, two distinct Protestant factions emerged as German Christians were divided along political lines. "German Christians" (Deutsche Christen) emerged from the German Evangelical Church, adhering closely to the nationalistic and racial teachings of the Nazis and ultimately deferring to the Fuhrer's authority. The second faction was "Confessing Church" which opposed the "German Christians" and swore allegiance to "God and scripture, not a worldly Führer." [3] The Confessing Church to counteract the NS's grouping of all German people into a singular Protestant church (German Christians) in order to 'de-Judaize' Christianity.[2] Jakob Wilhelm Hauer founded the German Faith Movement in response to the Nazi Governments intended indoctrination of children with Christianity and attempting to outlaw all critiques of the faith.[2] Hauer was very of traditional Christianity but was compelled to create the German Faith Movement as a way to preserve freedom of conscience.[2] Groups like the German Faith Movement arose due to the lack of consensus within the German Protestant church. It was thought and feared by the Confessing Church that the theology taught by Karl Barth was too polarizing leading young Germans to stray away from traditional Protestantism and join more radical groups like the German Faith Movement.[4]

Movement Composition[edit]

The movement initially invited various different groups, including: religious free-thinkers (included Jews), racialists, and even socialists, to join a seemingly antagonistic group to the Nazi Church.[4] However, racialists, including Hauer, did not believe Jews should be included in the movement, thus leaving only racialists and those who had abandoned German Christianity (i.e. unconventional) to compose the German Faith Movement.[4]

Peak Era and Rituals[edit]

The movement's ceremonies involved sermons, German classical music and political hymns.

In his 1936 essay "Wotan" Swiss psychologist Carl Jung speaks of Ergriffenheit, explained in the English version as "a state of being seized or possessed",[5] and characterizes Germany as "infected... rolling towards perdition".[6] However, Jung sees the German Faith Movement as "decent and well-meaning people who honestly admit their Ergriffenheit and try to come to terms with this new and undeniable fact." He commends Hauer's book Deutsche Gottschau as an attempt "to build a bridge between the dark forces of life and the shining world of historical ideas".[7]

The movement had around 200,000 followers at its height (less than 0.3% of the population). Following the Nazi accession to power, it obtained rights of civil tolerance from Rudolf Hess, but never the preferential treatment from the Nazi state for which Hauer campaigned. However, in the years that followed Hauer's abdication of his (Führer) title, the Movement largely served as a NSDAP appendage.[2]

The development of the German Faith Movement revolved around:

  • the propagation of the 'blood and soil' ideology
  • the syncretism of Christian ceremonies with pagan equivalents; the most favored pagan deity being the sun, as can be seen from the flag of the faith movement
  • the cult of Hitler's personality.
  • the spread of Norse paganism throughout Germany.

Similar movements have remained active in Germany since 1945 outside mainstream educational and social structures.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richard Bonney (15 June 2009). Confronting the Nazi War on Christianity: The Kulturkampf Newsletters, 1936-1939. Peter Lang. pp. 62, 73. ISBN 978-3-03911-904-2. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Alles, Gregory D. (22 February 2011). The Science of Religions in a Fascist State: Rudolf Otto and Jakob Wilhelm Hauer During the Third Reich. p. 177–204. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b c "The German Churches and the Nazi State". Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Solberg, Mary M. (1 April 2015). A Church Undone: Documents from the German Christian Faith Movement, 1932-1940. Fortress Press. ISBN 9781451496666. Retrieved 8 November 2019.
  5. ^ Jung, Carl G. (1970); Collected Works, Volume 10; Routledge & Kegan Paul, London; ISBN 0-7100-1640-9; p 184.
  6. ^ Jung, p. 185.
  7. ^ Jung, p 190 - 191.

Sources[edit]

  • Hauer, William et al. (1937); Germany's New Religion: The German Faith Movement; London, George Allen & Unwin Ltd. Written with Karl Heim & Karl Adam; trans. from German by T.S.K. Scott-Craig & R.E. Davies.
  • Nanko, Ulrich (1993); Die Deutsche Glaubensbewegung. Eine historische und soziologische Untersuchung (German: the German Faith Movement - a historical and sociological examination); Religionswissenschaftliche Reihe Bd. 4. Diagonal, Marburg (Lahn). ISBN 3-927165-16-6
  • Poewe, Karla (2005); New Religions and the Nazis; Routledge. ISBN 0-415-29024-4