|The Ghost of Paley
Joined: Oct. 2005
Why is everyone focusing on Hitler's beliefs rather than his actions? Beliefs are hard to pin down; actions are a matter of public record. And the record indicates that Hitler was not fond of the Catholic Church:
|The main points of the concordat are|
The right to freedom of the Roman Catholic religion. (Article 1)
The state concordats with Bavaria (1924), Prussia (1929), and Baden (1932) remain valid. (Article 2)
Unhindered correspondence between the Holy See and German Catholics. (Article 4)
The right of the church to collect church taxes. (Article 13)
The oath of allegiance of the bishops: "(...) Ich schwöre und verspreche, die verfassungsmässig gebildete Regierung zu achten und von meinem Klerus achten zu lassen (...)" ("I swear and vow to honor the constitutional government and to make my clergy honor it") (Article 16)
State services to the church can be abolished only in mutual agreement. (Article 18)
Catholic religion is taught in school (article 21) and teachers for Catholic religion can be employed only with the approval of the bishop (article 22).
Protection of Catholic organizations and freedom of religious practice. (Article 31)
Clerics may not be members of or be active for political parties. (Article 32)
Here's another source.
Now let's see what happened after the treaty was signed:
|An "Editors Law" was passed in December 1933, forcing all editors to become members of the "Literary Chamber of the Reich" and to obey whatever directives might follow. This law made it an offense to give detailed accounts of pilgrimages, print liturgical calendars or even announce meetings of local Catholic clubs. In its definition of what constituted anti-State propaganda, the "Editors Law" was a death sentence for the large and thriving Catholic press. |
Mueller's documentation established a clear progression of anti-Catholic measures between 1933 and 1939, ordered by a State determined to force young Catholics into the ranks of the Hitler Youth. Catholic schools and trade unions were dismantled and clergy targeted for prosecution and imprisonment. Clergy were humiliated and punished in "Currency" and "Immorality" show trials throughout 1935 and 1936. (Laws had been passed from 1933 onwards to regulate the import and export of currency. Exporting currency was made "high treason" and "economic sabotage." These were familiar principles to those used to a totalitarian economic system, but the Catholic clergy were not.)
That Easter , pilgrims returning to Germany from Pius XII's blessing in Rome were punished at border checkpoints by Gestapo and SS units. They were put out of their trains and kept waiting for seven hours in pouring rain, while suitcases were ripped open and the contents scattered. Anything belonging to a "denominational organization" — flags, banners, books, tents, even knives and forks — was confiscated. Insults were hurled at the pilgrims: "So these are the Papists, the people who stabbed Germany in the back in 1918! They ought to be beaten and sent to a concentration camp... cutting their throats would be the best thing." In the teeth of outraged protests, the local police merely said they had been searching for illegal uniforms.
The Nazi strategy was, essentially, to destroy Catholicism by eliminating all organizations supported by the Church, from schools and children's groups to Catholic trade unions. By 1939, Catholic schools and trade unions were virtually destroyed. Replacing them were National Socialist Schools, the Nazi Labor Front and the Hitler Youth with its female counterpart, The German Girls League.
The initial attack on Catholic schools in Munich reduced the percentage of students from 84% in 1934 to 65% percent in 1935. In 1937, parents were forced to choose their child's school in front of two witnesses, usually storm troopers in full uniform. These witnesses warned of future trouble and loss of employment. The children themselves would also suffer. There would be no primary school prizes for them; prizes were funded only in State schools. Parents still in favor of Catholic schools might be told that, "your little ones will have to go to a school on the outskirts, miles away."
Meetings were regularly held to vote on the issue of Catholic or "Community" schools. In Speyer, a town of some 40,000 inhabitants situated on the Rhine, one working man gave his bishop details of how his "vote" had been obtained in 1937: "I was told to go to the Parish Council offices. On arriving there I declared, I want the Roman Catholic school' and prepared to leave. The local Nazi cell-leader held me back and wrote a note to my firm stating that because of my declaration I would be dismissed from my job. A police constable then told me if I didn't change my mind I would never obtain public work again."
The government in Germany funded all schools, Catholic and State. A councilor of the Bavarian Ministry of Education announced that in 1936 alone, of 1,600 teaching posts formerly awarded to nuns, 600 would be taken away from them and transferred to secular staff. The councilor did not bother to explain what would happen to the unfortunate 600. The economic effects of such enforced layoffs forced many religious houses to close. Nuns were driven into subsistence jobs. Some had to return to their parents or move in with sympathetic relatives. Yet others applied for jobs in industry. In Baden, in the summer of 1938, there were 41 nuns working in one textile factory, all former teachers. The government then announced that all nuns renouncing vows would be automatically entitled to State employment!
Thus, on October 27, 1938, Adolf Wagner, Bavarian Minister of the Interior stated with pride: "The denominational schools throughout the whole of Bavaria have now been transformed into Community schools." By January 1939, more than 10,000 Catholic schools had been suppressed in Germany, and by the end of April that year, the Catholic Herald (London) reported that a further 3,300 schools had been abolished by decree in what was described as "A Black Day for the Catholic Rhineland."
Catholic youth associations, with a collective membership in the hundreds of thousands, were attacked for being "un-German." Teachers were reminded that as employees of the State, they had a duty to encourage their pupils to join the Hitler Youth or German Girls League (GGL). One teacher told her girls: "Join the German Girls League. When you leave school you'll be wanting a boy friend and if you've not been in the GGL you won't get one. And then, when you get married, your husband will lose his job the second they find out you haven't been a member of the GGL." Thousands of Catholic employees were threatened with disciplinary measures or dismissal unless they ensured their children were enrolled in the Hitler Youth or German Girls League. Training guilds, such as the Prussian Master-Craftsman Association, began announcing from 1935 onwards that only those enrolled in Nazi Party organizations would be accepted as apprentices. German Railways, employing hundreds of thousands, passed a similar ordinance the same year. Even farmers began issuing notices to the same effect, with shops advertising part-time jobs following suit. The New York Times on June 1, 1937 reported a Hitler speech stating: "We will take away their children. They shall not escape us."
Now combine these incidents with Heddle's links.
Here are two sources that discuss Hitler's relationship with Protestant churches. Admittedly, Hitler backed off some of his major attempts to persecute unruly Protestant clergy:
|As resistance to his policies mounted, Hitler began to separate himself from the German Christians. He emphasized the separation between church and state, and took a less active role in intimidating other church groups. |
Muller, however continued to serve as Reich Bishop, even as Hitler's interest in the German Christians waned. In an effort to forestall the collapse of the German Christian Church, Muller declared that all Evangelical youth groups would be incorporated into the Hitler jugend. This created a furor among the opposition, because the Baldur von Shirach, the jugend's leader, was a declared atheist who placed the State ahead of all else. Muller also ordered the Gestapo to go to churches and monitor what was said.
By the middle of 1934, Protestant opposition to Hitler was well organized, and the German Christian Church became fraught with internal division. Without support from the government, the German Christians and Muller became totally ineffective.
This did not stop Jager from brutally oppressing pastors in Wurttemberg (although the strength of the resistance in Prussia handicapped Jager's ability to interfere with church operations), and continuing to spread propaganda denouncing the Protestant opposition. A Protestant Kulturkampf was instituted, and throughout Germany, with the exception of Westphalia, opposition was brutally repressed. Pastors were fired, arrested, and jailed.
In October of 1934 Jager was dismissed by Hitler, and all measures against dissenting bishops were annulled. Opposition leaders were summoned to Berlin, and Frick assured them that neutrality was now the official government policy towards the German Evangelical Church.
Some of these sources have obvious biases, so proceed with caution! Nevertheless, these links provide a little background to the debate.
Dey can't 'andle my riddim.