Friday, August 31, 2018

From the confidential OSS report, The Nazi Master Plan Annex 4 The Persecution of the Christian Churches

When I decided to start posting passages from this document, I knew that what it said could be copied and pasted to provide a dishonest person fodder for lies and distortions but it's a mistake to allow liars to determine what you're going to do.  It is a very complex account even in this abbreviated telling, more complex than even most contemporary college-credentialed, TV-trained  people can seem to navigate.  It was a product of the pre-TV era, written by serious intelligence officers for the reading of serious people with serious responsibilities, not play-lefty blog rats.

Before posting this, I have to remind everyone at how, today, over and over again, as the Trump regime proceeds, Nazi style rallies and all, to break one law after another, one custom of government after another, of shocking long time journalists and lawyers and commentators and everyone, people are getting used to it, trying to adapt to it, even among the resistance to it.  We've seen that before in the Bush II regime after 9-11, which some compared to the United States' Reichstag Fire, only it's certain that that wasn't an inside job, though the opportunity the Republicans took to consolidate their hold on power and to wage war of questionable legality and justification were similar to the use that Hitler made of the fire his agents set.

It's certain that no one in 1933 had any idea yet, how far Hitler and his inner circle planned on going, how much of their fiery talk was just trash talking and how much of it was an indication of outrageous policy they would try to implement.  No one had any idea yet of plans they held close in secret and plans that hadn't been made yet.  Their policy on Jews was deportation - like Trump - their policy on the disabled wasn't their murder, in 1934 their eugenics lined up exactly with American style eugenics on which they had modeled their law.

Well after it became apparent that they were ready to start killing lots of people - Hitler's rhetoric became increasingly violent and explicit on that count during the 30s - major figures in science such as Charles Davenport and others were working with the German eugenics establishment.   As I pointed out many times, as late as April 1939, mere months before the official beginning of the Nazis mass murders, which the start of the war gave them their excuse to enact, the head figure of British eugenics, Leonard Darwin, was writing effusive articles praising German, that was Nazi eugenics for having turned things "in the right direction".   For all of the faults of Pius XI and others who tried to come to mollify Hitler in 1933, the date of the Concordat that wasn't worth the photons that you could read it with, they wised up to what Hitler was about a lot earlier than many who have gotten off on their part in encouraging them.  Lots of what American and British figures of science collaborated with Nazis on, right up to and, in the case of Americans after the start of the war, were the very things that the Catholic Church opposed them over.

And that doesn't get to those dear old commies we're all supposed to remember so fondly who, on the order of Stalin, as he came to his much later concordat with Hitler - not to protect anyone's rights, but to carve up countries between Germany and the Soviet Union - did a U-turn and started saying in 1938 what, by that time, the Catholics and so many other Christian churches realized you couldn't do, you couldn't trust the Nazis to keep their word for even a week, that there was no working with the amoral morally depraved Nazi regime, their first conclusions on that were the right ones, even as they had made a doomed effort to forestall the worst.  No matter how powerful the German churches might have been, they were no match for the power of the secular government which had the power to undercut them, gradually and systematically, exactly what the Nazis planned and began implementing immediately.  Their plans, after they won the war, were to destroy the Christian religion.   The situation in Protestantism, especially the Lutheran Church was even more complicated.  At every point, there were people who worked with the Nazis and those who opposed them, conducted resistance to them, even tried to assassinate Hitler while ordained ministers.

This first part deals exclusively with the Nazis attempts to weaken and destroy Catholicism as an independent entity in Germany.


The nature of the influence exercised by the Christian Churches varied considerably in the various regions under National Socialist control.  Policies adopted in an attempt to counteract the influence were correspondingly varied. 

A.  Policies Adopted in Germany Proper 

Persecution of the Christian churches in Germany proper gave rise to very special problems.  Since Germany was destined to provide the central force for the coming wars of aggression, it was particularly necessary that the German people be withdrawn from all influences hostile to the National Socialist philosophy of aggression.  This meant that the influence of the Christian churches would have to be minimized as thoroughly as possible.  On the other hand the predominantly conservative and patriotic influence exerted by the larger Christian churches was a factor of some positive value from the National Socialist standpoint, and insured those churches a substantial measure of support from conservative groups destined to play an important part in the National Socialist plans for aggression.  Persecution of the Churches in this region had therefore to be effected in such a way as to minimize their effective influence without destroying the capacity of the churches to fulfill their historic mission of conservative social discipline.  This could only be accomplished, at least the case of the major Christian churches by a slow and cautious policy of gradual encroachment.  

In accordance with this necessity, the Nazi plan was to show first that they were no foes of the Church, that they were indeed interested in "Positive Christianity," were very good friends of the Churches and did not at all want to interfere in religious matters or with the internal affairs of the different denominations.  Then under the pretext that the Churches themselves were interfering in political and state matters, they would deprive the Churches, step by step,  of all opportunity to affect German public life.  The Nazis believed that the Churches could be starved and strangled spiritually in a relatively short time when they were deprived of all means of communication with the faithful beyond the Church building themselves, and terrorized in such a manner that no Churchman would dare to speak out openly against Nazi policies.  This general plan had been established even before the rise of the Nazis to power.  It apparently came out of discussions among an inner circle comprising Hitler himself, Rosenberg, Goring, Goebbels, Hess, Baldur von Schirach, Frick, Rust, Kerrl and Schemm.  Some Nazi leaders or sympathizers, and some later collaborationists who were faithful Catholics or Protestants, such as von Epp, Buttmann and von Papaen, may have been left in ignorance of the real aim of Nazi church policy. 

The Problem of Proof.  The best evidence now available as to the existence of an anti-Church plan is to be found in the systematic nature of the persecution itself.  Different steps in that persecution, such as the campaign for the suppression of denominational and youth organizations, the campaign against the denominational schools, the defamation campaign against the clergy, started on the same day in the whole area of the Reich or in large districts, and were supported by the entire regimented press, by Nazi Party meetings, by traveling Party speakers.  As a direct evidence, the directives of the Reich Propaganda Ministry, if they have not been destroyed, would be most authoritative. If they have been destroyed, questioning of Nazi newspapermen and local and regional propagandists might elicit the desired evidence.  It is known that Hitler used to discuss the plans of his political actio with those members of his inner circle who were especially concerned with the respective problems.  Rosenberg Goring, Goebbels, Frick, Rust, Baldur von Schirach, Karrel, and Schemm are the leading Nazis who took a special intrest in the relationship of State and Church, (See Hermann Rauschning, in his chapter on Hitler's religious attitudes in The Voice of Destruction, and Kurt Ludeke,  I Knew Hitler.  Both witnesses, however, are to be used with caution.)

But even though the basic plan was uniform, the opportunities for carrying it into effect, and hence the specific policies actually adopted, differed substantially from church to church.  The principal churches to be considered in this connection are the following:

1.  The Catholic Church.  National Socialist relations with the Catholic Church fall into three clearly marked periods. 

a. The Period Prior to the Seizure of Power.  During this period the relations between the Nazi Part and the Catholic Church were extremely bitter.  As an opposition Party, the National Socialists had always violently attacked "Political Catholicism" and the collaboration of the Center Party with the Social Democrats in the Reich and Prussian governments, declaring that they could find no difference among the so-called System-parteien (parties which collaborated in the system of constitutional government).   On 8 March 1933, Goring in a speech at Essen summed up the Nazi attitude toward the Center as follows:  "Each time the red robber was about to steal some of the German people's properties, his black accomplice stood thieves' watch." 1 [Essner Nationalzeitung and other German newspapers for 9 March 1933]  On their part, the German bishops, stigmatizing the Nazi movement as anti-Christian, forbade the clergy to participate in any ceremonies, such as funerals, in which the Nazi Party was officially represented, and refused the sacraments to party officials.  In several pastorals they espressly warned the faithful against the danger created to German Catholicism by the Party. [See declarations of the German bishops on the Reichstag elections of July and November, 1932, quoted in the German press, especially in such Catholic papers as Germania, Koelnische Volkszeitung and Rhein-Mainische Volkszeitung.]

b. The Period from the Seizure of Power to the Signing of the Concordat.  During this period, the main concern of the new regime was to liquidate political opposition.  Their strategy was to convince conservatives that the efforts of the government were being directed primarily against the communists and other forces of the extreme left, and that their own interests would remain safe in Nazi hands as long as they would consent to refrain from political activity.  Immediately after their rise to power, therefore, the Nazis made unmistakable overtures to the Churches, and tried to convince the Catholic hierarchy in particular that after the dissolution of the Center Party and some Catholic orginizations of more or less political character, such as the Friedensbund Deutscher Katholiken, no obstacle could remain in the way of complete reconciliation between the Catholic church and the Nazi state.  The German Catholic bishops, influenced by the experiences of their Italian colleagues, whose relations with the Fascists under the Lateran Treaty of 1929 had been fairly smooth, accepted the Nazi proposition.  Pour parlers for a Reich Concordat started immediately. 

Meantime the Nazi government abrogated all laws and regulations of the Republic protecting non-denominational groups of the population and abolished the right to pursue anti-religious and anti-Church propaganda.  The Prussian government closed the so-called secular (weltliche) schools in which no religious instruction was given and re-established religious instruction in professional and vocational schools. [See Cuno Horkenbach, Das Deutsche Reich von 1918 bis heute (Berlin 1935, Presse und Wirtschaftsverlag GmbH) p. 66.]  All organizations of free-thinkers were forbidden.  When the Reichstag elected on 5 March 1933 convened, the government organized religious ceremonies for the Protestant and Catholic members of Parliament. [ibid. p 124]  

And in his speech before the Reichstag, to which he presented his government, Hitler declared:  "While the regime is determined to carry through the political and moral purging of our public life, it is creating and ensuring the prerequisites for a really deep inner religiosity.  Benefits of a personal nature, which might arise from compromises with atheistic organizations, could outweigh the results which become apparent through the destruction of general basic religious-ethical alues.  The national regime seeks in both Christian confessions the factors most important for the maintenance of our folkdom.  It will respect agreements concluded between them and the states.  Their rights will not be infringed upon.  Conversely, however, it expects and hopes that the a national and ethical uplifting of our people, which the regime has taken for its task, will enjoy a similar appreciation.  The national regime will conceded and safeguard to the Christian confessions the influence due the, in school and education.  It is concerned with the sincere cooperation of church and state.  The struggle against a materialistic philosophy and for the creation of a true folk community serves the interests of the German nation as well as our Christian belief." [Ibid. p. 133.]

Under such circumstances, the conference of German bishops, meeting as usual at Fulda, decided on 28 March 1933 to lift all restrictions imposed on members of the Church adhering to the Nazi movement. [Ibid. p. 146] This opened the door to mass adherence to the Party of practicing Catholics.  The rush started immediately.  All those German Catholics who were inclined to adopt Nazi political views and had hesitated only become of the anti-Nazi attitude of the hierarchy hastened now to join the victorious party of the "national revolution."  Former members of the Center Party's right wing, who had always advocated collaboration with the parties to the right of the Center and with the German nationalist movements established themselves now as so-called "bridge-builders" trying to explain ideological affinities between the anti-liberal charter of Catholic politics and the Nazi system. They insisted especially on the fact that the Church was guided like the Nazi movement by the leadership principle. [See the program of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Katolischer Deutcher, ibid., p. 426 and 504.  See also the declaration of Archbishop Groeber, ibid., p. 463.]  They were soon joined by turn-coats from the left wing of the Center and the Catholic youth movement, persons who insisted that the "socialist" and anti-capitalist character of the Nazi doctrine coincided marvelously with their own views on the necessity of social reform. 

In order to remind the Catholics of the danger of not coming to an agreement with the Nazi state, a certain amount of pressure was at the same time maintained against them.  A thorough job was done of purging Reich, state and municipal administrations of officials appointed for their adherence to the Center or Bavarian People's parties.  Former leaders of these parties, including priests, joined Communist and Social Democrat leaders in concentration camps, and the campaign of hatred against the "black" was resumed. [ See ibid., p. 186, 263, 268.] By April 1933 the bishops were making appeals for clemency toward former civil servants who, they pointed out, were not able to join the celebration of national awakening because they had been dismissed from positions in which they had given their best to the community of the German people.  And on 31 May 1933 a meeting of the Bavarian bishops adopted a solemn statement directed against the tendency of attributing to the state alone the right of  educating, organizing and leading ideologically the German youth. [See Persecution of the Cathoic Church in the Thrid Reich p. 516.  See also Horkenbach, ibid., p. 170.]  A few weeks later, on 18 June 1933, the breaking up in Munich by Nazi hordes of a manifestation of the Catholic Journeymen Associations (Gesellenvereine) became the starting point of a Nazi propaganda campaign against alleged efforts to keep "Political Catholicism" alive. 

Tension was mounting again when news that a Concordat had been signed on 8 July 1933 in Rome between the Holy See and the German Reich seemed to alter the situation completely.  For the first time since the Middle Ages the Reich itself had entered into an agreement with the Roman Catholic Church.  Moreover, the new treaty was apparently entirely to the advantage of the Church.  In return for the retreat of German Catholicism from the political scene, demonstrated by the self-dissolution of the Center Party [See Horkenbach op.cit. p. 275] and the synchronization (Gleischschaltun) of the Catholic press[See the Law Concerning Editors of 4 October 1933(RGB1., I 1933) p. 713] , an official guarantee was given the Church in the form of an international treaty, for all the church rights that "Political Catholicism" had fought or: freedom for Catholic organizations, maintenance of denominational schools, and preservation of the general influence of the Church on the education of German youth.  

Among the 33 articles of the concordat, 21 treated exclusively the rights and prerogatives accorded to the Church; reciprocation consisted only in a pledge of loyalty by the clergy to the Reich government and in a promise that Catholic religious instruction would emphasize the patriotic duties of the Christian citizen and insist on a loyal attitude toward the Fatherland.  Since it had always been the practice of the Catholic Church to abide by established governments and to promote patriotic convictions among the faithful, these stipulations of the Concordat were no more than legalizations of an existing custom. 

The Concordat was hailed by Church and State authorities as marking the end of a period of distrust and suspicion and the beginning of close and fruitful collaboration.  Hitler himself advised the State and Party officials to adopt a friendly attitude toward the Catholic Church and its institutions on German soil.  He expressed the wish that Catholic organizations, now under the protection of a treaty of friendship between Nazi Germany and the Holy See, should no longer be regarded by his followers as symbols of an effort to remain outside the national community and to form a way of life apart from the official line of the totalitarian Third Reich. [ Statement of 8 July 1933. Quoted in Nathaniel Micklem, National Socialism And The Catholic Church (Oxford University Press, 1939) p. 69.]

c. The Period Following the Signature of the Concordat.  During this period, relations between the Nazi state and the Catholic church became progressively worse.  Having gained the support of the Catholic hierarchy in the crucial early days of the regime by signing the Concordat, they took advantage of their subsequently increasing strength to violate every one of the Concordat's provisions, gradually stripping the Church of all its more important rights.  Specific instances of the various phases of this persecution are presented in Section V below. 

By 1937 it had become clear that the Nazi state was not to be appeased by Catholic efforts to accommodate the Church and the State in the form of a Concordat, and that Hitler's government had no intention to adhere to its part of the document.  Convinced, therefore, that the Church had been in error, in the face of the irreconcilability of its teachings with those of National Socialism, in abandoning its earlier opposition to the movement, the Church resumed its controversy with Nazi doctrine, while continuing to suffer from Nazi practice. 

The new campaign may be considerd to hae been inaugurated by Pope Pius XI in his Encyclical on 14 March 1937, entitled "Mit Brennender Sorge" [With buring Distress], which by underground means was spread by Catholic youth throughout Germany and was first published to the world in the original German text by a reading (21 March 1937) from all Roman Catholic pulpits in Germany.  Pope Pius XI denounced the violation of the Concordat by the Nazi state.  He described the actions of the Nazi government against the church as "intrigues which from the beginning had no other aim than a war of extermination . . . In the furrow of peace in which we had labored to sow the sees of true peace, others . . . sowed the tares of suspicion, discord, hatred, calumny, a secret and open fundamental hostility to Christ and his Church, fed from a thousand different sources and making use of every available means." 

The support from the Holy See encouraged some of the German bishops, either in courageous sermons, diocesan pastorals, or in their collective pastorals issued usually from Fulda, the seat of their annual conferences, to protest vigorously against both Nazi ideology and practice.  Especially notable in this work were Cardinal Faulbaber of Munich, Bishop von Perysing of Berlin, and Bishop von Gallen of Munster.  Among the more notable protests were the Pastoral issued from Fulda on 19 August 1938,[Subsantial excerpts in English are to be found ibid, p 30-4/] and the fundal Pastoral of 1941, which was read from all pulpits on 6 July 1941, the Fulda Pastoral of 22 March 1942 and the Fulda Pastoral of 19 August 1943.[All these pastorals are certainly available in the offices of every German diocese.]  In spite of these protests, there is no evidence that the Nazis were in any way deterred from their campaign, in violation of the Concordat, to destroy the position and influence of the Catholic Church in Germany.  


  1. First reaction: the emphasis on "personal spirituality" is telling here. It is clearly, for the Nazis, a way of removing obstacles in the public square that religion, Christianity in particular, might present. That kind of retreat certainly helps pave the way for the Holocaust. It also paves the way for government doing whatever the hell it wants to do, without fear of interference. Religion as a private matter is, of course, as American as apple pie. The opposite end of that spectrum is all the non-affiliated churches (most without denominations, the ones that are such members are in very loose "conventions" (the Southern Baptist church of Robert Jeffress)) which have only their pastors to keep them from being government toadies (so the spectacle of such people gathered to hear Trump tell them violence and loss will ensue if they don't encourage their congregations to vote GOP in November).

    There is always a problem of Church being too much in charge (the recent history of Ireland is an example), but equally a problem of the Church having no voice, whether that voice is stifled outright, or bought off (effectively) with arguments that there are two spheres, public and private, and never the two should meet.

    Then again, simple answers are best, because they don't challenge simple minds; and because complexity is scary. Telling the Church to go away and leave society alone is no better an answer than telling the Church to take the reins and do it all (save for government functions like roads and war) for us.

    1. When Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world, it should have been a clue to Popes and others that obtaining secular power as always going to have a price attached to it.

      I haven't had a lot of time to look into it but the reputation of Pius XII (hardly my most favorite of Popes, but hardly the worst) is interesting. Apparently during and right after WWII he was considered a hero for having saved Jews, was thanked by many who he had helped save, especially the Chief Rabbi in Rome. Then in the 1960s, largely as a result of that piece of crap play The Deputy that some hack translators translated, some Brit leftish theater Catholic haters mounted and got turned into some kind of cause celebre (you remember that PR tactic was so effective in selling lots of crap in theater and movies) and championed by jerks like the San Francisco play left, etc. led to it being chic to consider him practically a collaborator in the Final Solution. I do think that the high level of upper-class, Oxford grad style Brit Catholic hating had a lot to do with it, along with the American pseudo-left's Anglophilia. They can always depend on the habits of lefties and leftishs that they share with Trump voters, being easily swayed by what they see on TV and they figure is fashionable and you can always count on them never to fact check even the most ham handed theatrically produced propaganda.

      What's funniest about that is that so many of the heroes of such stuff turn out to be someone like Rolf Hochhut who is a huge supporter of David Irving, having used his work to write another play in which he was successfully sued for slander by a truly heroic pilot, Eduard Prchal, using David Irving material. When the court found for Prchal, the scumbag Hochhuth took refuge in Switzerland to avoid paying. Some of the bright lights of the London stage, Olivier, Plowright, Tynan were involved in producing that heap of shit. As the play lied about Winston Churchill, the Brit establishment didn't take it to heart like they did the play that lied about Pius XII.

      I'm having to take a day off and will use a little of it to try to figure out how to present the more complex material about the persecution of the Protestant Churches, especially what the document calls the "evangelical" wing of Protestantism. That's complicated because, as the document points out, their leadership was in Germany and not in Rome and the Nazi attempts to co-opt them were more extensive and successful. Susanna Heschel has written a lot on that, brilliantly. I've found material from her book on it that can be linked to online.

      I think democracy works best when there is separation of Church and State that is fairly strict but democracy doesn't work at all when there is separation of voters from religion. I think secularism will always at least be vulnerable to fascism if not almost guaranteed to fall for it. There has to be a powerful force in society that fights against selfishness and inequality and, as Jurgen Habermass said, what produced modern democratic rule is the combination of Jewish justice and the universalist ethic of Christian love. I think the role that materialist-scientism has played in destroying those is a definitive reason why the materialist-atheist left will lead to one form of fascist depravity or another, they couldn't even keep up the pretense that Communism isn't a form of that in Russia or China after all of the time they had to consolidate Marxism.