How many Nazis were Christians

National Socialism and the Church - "You just kept going"

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Protestant churches were actively anti-Semitic during the Nazi era. For a long time there was no talk of shame and repentance.

It has been known for a long time: the Protestant churches in Germany collaborated with the Nazis. And they even took an active part in National Socialism.

Very few theology professors pinched the oath on the Fiihrer. The parish registers were opened to the Nazis and thus helped to extradite baptized Jews. Ultimately, the church excluded “non-Aryan” people from its community. Traditional church anti-Judaism easily followed the racial anti-Semitism of the Nazis.

In 1939, eleven German Protestant regional churches founded the “Entjudungsinstitut” in Eisenach. The goal: Everything Jewish should be deleted from the Bible, hymn books and church rooms, painted over and removed. An undertaking that is absurd not only from today's point of view: Even the Nazis had recognized that the Bible is a thoroughly Jewish book, which, from their point of view, could not be saved anyway.

Nevertheless, National Socialist theologians like Walter Grundmann in Eisenach continued to work feverishly to make the Church compatible with National Socialism.

"Protestants without protest"

The Lutherhaus in Eisenach has now thoroughly researched this. The current exhibition “Exploration and Elimination. The ecclesiastical "Dejudification Institute" 1939-1945 "explains about it.

At the entrance to the exhibition there is a so-called Hitler bell with a large swastika. It had been rung until the beginning of 2019. This is not an isolated incident.

Exhibition notice

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The exhibition «Exploration and Elimination. The ecclesiastical “Dejudication Institute” 1939–1945 ”can be visited in the Lutherhaus Eisenach, Link opens in a new window until December 2021.

At the beginning of May, the Thuringian regional bishop unveiled a memorial at the Luther House in the presence of the regional rabbi: "We went astray," it says. This is also a political statement in East German Thuringia, where the AfD was elected with 23.4 percent.

But it was not just East German churches that supported National Socialism in the “Third Reich”. "Protestants without protest" was aptly named the study by the Evangelical Church of the Palatinate on its past during the Nazi era.

Gabriele Stüber is director of the Palatinate Church Archives and was co-author of the 900-page study. Since its publication in 2016, the Palatinate Church has been striving for follow-up projects - and is also looking to the period after 1945.

Glossed over past

In Germany this was generally characterized by unpleasant continuities: «Jurists who had passed Nazi judgments came back into office afterwards. You had none else, ”explains historian Stüber. “It was exactly the same in church. You just kept going. "

Post-war Germany and its churches remained completely self-absorbed for many decades after the end of the war. It was about reconstruction, about the repatriation of war criminals who were euphemistically called "war convicts". It was about digesting doom.

Why now?

The fate of the former Jewish neighbors, the Holocaust and the church's complicity in it was hardly discussed until the 1980s. It was also difficult because the protagonists of the Nazi era were still alive. Today most of those involved in history have died. Those who remained loyal to their fathers are also no longer in office.

This helps the scientists to read the sources anew and with an open mind. It is only now that the misrepresentation of history that leading clergymen from the 1930s to 1960s had fabricated in their memoirs is now becoming apparent.

The time lag is the main reason for the current wave of processing. European archive laws also stipulate that many of the archive files in Germany, France and Great Britain may only be fully opened after a gap of 70 years. The sources from the 1940s can only now be properly researched.

The East German churches have only now really begun to deal with this inglorious chapter of their history. During the GDR era, the church was preoccupied with surviving under communism. The anti-Semitic theologian Walter Grundmann, for example, was allowed to continue teaching here.

30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the SED dictatorship, the time is ripe for an honest reappraisal. Especially in an environment where neo-Nazis are marching today.

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  • Comment from Walter Matzler (wmatz)
    Every Eurasian religion claims to be the right one and each has repeatedly abused social, economic and political structures for its own ends. In addition, different directions have developed such as Catholic / Reformed, Sunnis / Shiites etc. which in turn claim the truth for themselves and some of them are still fighting each other in bloody fashion today. As far as anti-Semitism is concerned, it seems to me that everyone has a mess. And all in the name of God.
    Agree Agree to the comment Select answers to reply to the comment
  • Commentary by D. Becker (The other view of things)
    1. On the belt buckle of the Wehrmacht soldiers - above the eagle and the swastika: "God with us" - NO COMMENT !!!
    2. From my recruiting school in 1987 until the (over) fulfillment of my compulsory service in 2002, the use of the term "Gstampfte Jud" for canned meat was common practice. It was parroted thoughtlessly.
    It's so subtle, and that's how you slip in. Subtly raised by the Nazis, relieved by latent anti-Semitism, then as now ...
    Agree Agree to the comment Select answers to reply to the comment
    1. answer from martin blättler (bruggegumper)
      I also used this term without thinking
      also the "jewel", the shit about gluggling, is mine
      I was never an anti-Semite, but thought about it
      I only made myself when I got through my company with
      Swiss Jews came into close contact and also openly how
      otherwise hardly able to argue with them. That would be the best
      Vaccination against anti-Semitism, but ours could too
      Jewish fellow citizens do more.
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. Show answers
  • Comment from Walter Matzler (wmatz)
    Not only in the church and not only in Germany there were Nazi-friendly anti-Semites. Back then, as small children, we heard derogatory sayings about Jews on the street. We did not understand them, but after babbling and nobody was bothered by it. This is still being suppressed in Switzerland today. Nobody claims to have been a Nazi or an anti-Semite, even though there were thousands of them.
    Agree Agree to the comment Select answers to reply to the comment
    1. answer from Alex Volkart (Lex18)
      One must not forget that in Switzerland Jews were sent back across the border when our government at that time already knew what was happening in Auschwitz and elsewhere. This is what my grandfather told me, who served on the border during World War II. I didn't think so for a long time to be honest.
      Agree agree to the comment
    2. Show answers

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