The Persecution and Resistance of the German Evangelical Church 1933-1945
Britton, Constance J.
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In the history of the Third Reich and the National Socialist regime under Hitler between 1933 and 1945, the resistance offered by the Christian churches has been a neglected subject. A few reasons may be suggested for this oversight. First, there are those who blindly seek to condemn the whole of the German people for allowing the atrocities and tragedies of the Third Reich to have happened. They would burden the German people with the responsibility of a "collective guilt for the Nazi activities. Such an attitude, of course, would be closed to the revelation that a significant resistance did exist within the churches. Secondly, there are those who would assert that the Church itself did not remain untainted by National Socialism. It is not difficult to find instances in which churchmen did bend under the influence of National Socialism and, indeed, did give their support. However, this does not obviate the fact that there were those Christians who did speak out against Nazism and did recognize its dangers. Finally, there are those who claim that the Church's resistance was, in fact, not directed against National Socialism itself, but was rather a selfish struggle for the survival of the Church between radical forces seeking its control. All these reasons, I would suggest, stem from a basic lack of recognition and understanding of the Church Struggle. It is this understanding which I hope to achieve in this paper.