Assess the contribution of the confessing church to the resistance against Hitler (12 marks)
DO NOT EXPLAIN.
Intro- Define the confessing church and how it came about, briefly how did it contribute to the resistance against Hitler.
Were they effective or not?
1934 Barmen declaration didn’t achieve much. Wasn’t disseminated widely enough – due to Gestapo regulations on communication etc. Only concerned with the preservation of Church doctrine, not with action to protect vulnerable groups e.g. Jews
Evidence of some members flouting censorship laws e.g disturbing pamphlets.
1936 – Memorandum to Hitler regarding concern for Jewish people – too polite, didn’t have enough backing of members.
1938 Hitler cut salaries of non-Deutsche Christen ministers and required to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler – many C.C members did.
So many confessing church members went back to their churches.
Although ecumenical (Protestant denominations) the C.C did not get support from other denominations or indeed international Churches- this limited success.
Did make some contribution: significant numbers did join C.C and got ‘red card’ to show membership
1934 Barmen declaration was a significant doc showing deep concern for Hitler’s policies and commitment to preservation of the Church
1945- declaration of guilt that the C.C members had been inadequate – recognition of fault, and commitment to reflect deeper. Many C.C members e.g Barth, Niemoller wrote significant works after ww2 encouraging others in potential future situations to do differently.
CONCLUSION: their contribution was not substantial enough – if it had been, perhaps some of Hitler most heinous would not have brought to fruition.
For the anti-Nazi cause, people in Germany not only risked their lives but lost them. Two men were of particular importance in urging the church forward on its way through the Third Reich: Martin Niemoller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Martin Niemoller played a major pan in gathering clergy and congregations of the Lutheran church into what came to be known as the ‘Confessing Church'. He was born in 1892 in Westphalia, the son ofa minister whose ancestors had been farmers. In the First World War he became a U-boat commander. When the war was over, he planned to emigrate to South America, as a reaction to the Treaty of Versailles which placed the whole blame for the war on Germany’s shoulders. To Niemoller, Germany seemed to be so humiliated by this that he felt he could no longer love his country or its people. However, while he was making his emigration plans, he served an apprenticeship on a farm. Here he experienced a change of heart: he resolved to stay in Germany and serve his fellow-countrymen by going into the ministry of the church.
The establishment of the Weimar Republic in 1919 was greeted by Niemoller with extreme suspicion. In this he was typical of the great majority of German Protestants. He was loyal to the Kaiser and nostalgic for the close relationship between church and state which had existed under the imperial government. When the National Socialists came to power in 1933, with the slogan ‘Wipe out the shame of Versailles', Niemoller was wholly in agreement. Nazi foreign policy was greeted with great enthusiasm by the overwhelming majority of the German nation.
The Nazis also set about ‘co-ordinating’ the churches. As early as 1932, an organization known as the ‘German Christians’ had been established. This was a religious movement led by Nazi clergy whose goal was to bring the Lutheran church into line with the political and ideological goals of National Socialism. In the summer of 1933, the German Christians seized power in the Lutheran church, aided by massive support from Hitler and the Nazi party. They elected a federal bishop and began to govern the church on the Fuhrer’s principles. First the twenty-eight provincial churches, which had been largely autonomous, were to be