The Christian churches in the third reich and also outside the third reich had 3 approaches to the Nazis policies.
- They rejected the policies and actively resisted it.Churches like Confessing Church. and men like Dietrich Bonnhoefer. Or the catholic priest Hugh O’Flaherty resisted the Nazis and their ideologies and actively resisted the Nazi regime.
- They were indifferent and turned a blind eye to what was happening around them, often in plain sight. They just lived their lives as if nothing happened.
- They endorsed the Nazi ideology.Movements like “the German Christians” aligned themselves towards the antisemitic, racist and Führerprinzip( leader principle, the notion that some “gifted individuals” were destined to rule, the term was first coined by philosopher Hermann von Keyserling) ideological principles of Nazism
As a Christian myself I am especially ashamed of the last 2 groups, and although the indifference of the 2nd group can partially be explained that the indifference was borne out of fear, it doesn’t make it better. Although it is often misquoted it is appropriate in this context ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.’
The 3rd group were plainly as evil as the Nazis themselves, they may not have been involved in actual killings but they created an atmosphere which made it look okay to kill Jews.
In 1939 with the majority of the German Protestant churches agreeing to it, the Eisenacher “Institute for Research and the Elimination of Jewish influence on German Church Life” was founded, led by Walter Grundmann.It was officially opened in the Wartburg in Eisenach on May 6, 1939.
One of the institutes main tasks was to compile a “People’s Testament” in the sense of what Alfred Rosenberg called a “Fifth Gospel”, to announce the myth of the “Aryan Jesus”.
The institute produced a “dejewified” New Testament entitled “Die Botschaft Gottes” (God’s Message), in which all references to the Old Testament were deleted in 1941. The catechism “Deutsche mit Gott” (Germans with God), which included a revised version of the Ten Commandments, was published that same year.
Removing all Jewish references from the bible and portraying Jesus as a Nordic Aryan figure of course made it easier for some people to solve an internal conflict they may have had in mistreating their Jewish neighbors.
Georg Bertram, professor of New Testament at the University of Giessen, who was the head of the Institute from 1943 until the Institute’s dissolution in May 1945, wrote about its goals in March 1944: “‘This war is Jewry’s war against Europe.
Whereas nearly the entire Protestant and Catholic church bore a share of responsibility for the crimes against the Jews by remaining silent about the Nuremberg Laws and the Kristall Nacht and other pogroms as well as officially helping issue “certificates of Aryan descent”, the institute in Eisenach was guilty of complicity in the Holocaust.
Even though It is a hard truth for me as a Christian to face , a truth it is nevertheless.
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