“I am deeply stirred by the word which Ulrich Hutten wrote the last time he seized his pen: — Germany.”
January 30th, 1937
The Case for Germany
A Study of Modern Germany
A. P. Laurie
M. A. Cantab., D. Sc., LL. D. Edin., F. C. S., F. R. S. E.
With a Preface by Admiral Sir Barry Domvile
K. B. E., C. B., C. M. G.
Berlin W 15
FIRST EDITION ………… JUNE 1939
SECOND EDITION ……. JULY 1939
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
PRINTED IN GERMANY
It is with admiration and gratitude for the great work he has done for the German people that I dedicate this book to the Fuhrer.
A. P. L.
TO THE READER
There are two sides to every question. You have read one side in our Press for six years.
This book gives the other side.
A. P. L.
It is a great pleasure to me to introduce the public to Dr. Laurie’s valuable book on modern Germany. He is best known to the world as a brilliant scientist, but he has found time in the intervals of his work to pursue with ardour the task upon which every sensible member of the British and German races should be engaged — namely the establishment of good relations and a better understanding between these two great nations.
Dr Laurie knows full well that this friendship is the keystone to peace in Europe — nay, in the whole world.
He is one of the small group who founded the Association known as “The Link”, whose sole aim is to get Britons and Germans to know and understand one another better. He is one of the most zealous workers in this good cause in the country.
He writes of the National Socialist movement with knowledge and great sympathy.
The particular value of this book lies in the fact that it is written by a foreigner, who cannot be accused of patriotic excess in his interpretation of the great work done by Herr Hitler and his associates. I recommend this volume with confidence to all people who are genuinely impressed with the desire to understand one of the greatest — and most bloodless — revolutions in history.
8th May 1939.
“As we advance in our social knowledge, we shall endeavour to make our governments paternal as well as judicial; that is, to establish such laws and authorities as may at once direct us in our occupations, protect us against our follies, and visit us in our distresses; a government which shall repress dishonesty, as now it punishes theft; which shall show how the discipline of the masses may be brought to aid the toils of peace, as the discipline of the masses has hitherto knit the sinews of battle; a government which shall have its soldiers of the ploughshare as well as its soldiers of the sword, and which shall distribute more proudly its golden crosses of industry — golden as the glow of the harvest — than it now grants its bronze crosses of honour — bronzed with the crimson of blood.”
RUSKIN. Political Economy of Art.
“All front fighters fought side by side and went through an inferno. They are all comparable to the heroes of the ancient world. It was the manhood of the nations in their prime who fought and experienced the horrors of modern war.
In another war the flower of the nations’ men and women will have to fight. Europe will be destroyed if the best in all of the nations are wiped out. A new conflict will exceed even the ghastly tragedies of the Great War.
I believe that those who rattle the sabres have not participated in war. I know that war veterans speak and think differently.
They energetically desire to prevent another conflict. I hope that the men who are standing before me can contribute to preserve the peace of the world — a peace of honour and equality for all.
Let us not talk of prestige as between the victors and the defeated. This is my one request: Forget what has divided the nations before and remember that history has advanced.”
Field Marshal GOERING addressing the British
and German war veterans.
CHAPTER ……………………………………………………………. PAGE
To the Reader
Field Marshall Goering’s Address
I. DER FUHRER ……………………………………………………….. 11
II. THE BELEAGUERED CITY ……………………………………. 21
III. NATIONAL SOCIALISM ……………………………………… 25
IV. THE NAZI RALLYS AT NUREMBERG ……………………. 34
V. THE FOREIGN POLICY OF GERMANY ……………………. 41
VI. ENGLAND AND GERMANY ………………………………….. 49
VII. MARCH 7th, A MOST IMPORTANT DATE …………… 54
VIII. THE REAL ENEMY OF EUROPE ……………………….. 58
IX. COMMUNISM VERSUS NATIONAL SOCIALISM …… 62
X. THE UNION OF THE GERMAN PEOPLE …………………. 68
XI. ACTS OF “AGGRESSION” BY GERMANY ……………… 79
XII. THE DANCE OF DEATH ……………………………………… 85
XIII. OUR FUTURE POLICY TOWARDS GERMANY ……. 93
XIV. THE HITLER YOUTH MOVEMENT ……………………… 100
XV. THE WINTER HELP ORGANIZATION ………………….. 104
XVI. NATIONAL SOCIALISM AND THE PROTESTANT
CHURCH ……………………………………………………………………… 109
XVII. ECONOMICS …………………………………………………….. 118
XVIII. THE FOUR YEARS PLAN …………………………………… 138
XIX. THE GERMAN COLONIES …………………………………. 141
XX. THE LABOUR FRONT ………………………………………….. 146
XXI. AGRICULTURE …………………………………………………. 155
XXII. MUNICH AND AFTER ………………………………………… 167
THE HITLER YOUTH MOVEMENT
We regret in England, and many Germans with whom I have discussed the matter share the regret, that the German Youth movement so closely following the model of the Boy Scouts, has been made into a separate organization. They told me that more than one imitation of the Boy Scouts movement had been started in Germany and that it was essential at the present stage of the training of the whole country to a new conception of a Nation of people, bound to service and the development of the German national life, to have a separate German organization.
I sympathise with the German point of view and am glad that the friendliest relations have been established and exchange of visiting members arranged, between the two organizations.
The lie has frequently been repeated in this country that the German Youth movement is military in its object and practice. This is an invention of the enemy and is not true.
I owe the following account of the Hitler Youth Movement to Baldur von Schirach.
Nothing is more suited to a friendly exchange of opinion between educationalists of different nations than the matter of youthful upbringing. The more the youth leaders in the various nations of culture succeed in agreeing on certain fundamental points, the more chance there is of our young people growing up in a friendly spirit toward each other instead of antagonistic. In this field of international understanding the aim should not be to effect certain political ideas and maximes but rather the more human aspects, those of mutual respect, The Hitler Youth Movement comradeship and real sincerity.
The more the youth of all nations gets to know each other by means of personal contact the more it will come to respect each other’s individualities and to understand existing differences, for each country produces the kind of youth movement expressive of its characteristics and its nature. I am convinced that the Hitler boy, just as the English boy scout and the small fry of the Italian Balila typifies the essential qualities of his native land.
The National Socialist Youth developed in 1926 out of an enthusiasm felt by a few young Germans for the personality and the ideas of our Fuhrer. The principle laid down in the very beginning, — “Youth must be led by youth” — supplies the necessary balance to pure School education by the early shouldering of duties and personal responsibility. The mistakes that may still be found in this system and its possible deficiencies, in my opinion, fade away when faced with the enormous gain resulting from the early development of responsibility and the attendant stimulus to exert all faculties. The key to each situation is efficiency and the efficiency of a young person is no less valuable than that of an older one.
During the development of the Hitler Youth Movement the necessity arose for organized formations. Apart from the fact that the girls were organized from the very beginning in a special body known as the B.D.M. (Association of German Girls), the boys from 10 to 14 grouped under the “Young Folk” and from 14 to 18 as the “Hitler Youth”, all these were divided up into a special system of units.
The training of leaders for these various units takes place in special training schools which are almost without exception to be found in beautiful surroundings. Here they go in for sport, receive physical training and theoretical instruction in the theory of life with the team spirit pervading everything.
Contrary to many other countries the young people in Germany are not trained in the handling of military effectives. Shooting which is practised to a very small degree only in the training schools for leaders is only with air guns and is a form of sport. Such words as “home”, “camp” and “outing” are so much a part of the Hitler boys that I could not fail to touch on them briefly. The homes are as it were clubs providing a place of congregation for the boys and making them independent of cafes and so of alcohol and nicotine. In the “Hour of the Young Nation” broadcast throughout Germany the uniform spirit is inculcated. By camping is naturally meant tent life which provides an equable balance for the city lads, above all for the industrial workers. The days in camp are spent in play and the evenings round an open space with singing and performances etc. Opportunities are given for swimming and riding. Last year about one million youths slept out in tents and we hope before long that there will be no Hitler boys who have not spent at least three weeks a year out camping. The hiking Hitler youth is afforded cheap night lodgings through a special organization and facilities for sojourn. This is the German Youth Hostel Association. There are some 2,000 hostels scattered throughout the country in castle ruins or old town turrets and the like which are especially maintained for the youthful wanderers.
Referring now to the essential political aspect of my organization I should like to point out first and foremost that today as from the beginning the pride of the Hitler Youth is the fact that the young workmen are with us whom we have been struggling to win over for so long. With the advent of the regime the struggle of the National Socialist youth was by no means ended; on the contrary, the hard fight for effecting the claim to totality began and with it the decisive question whether other organizations and units aside from the Hitler Youth should have the right to train the rising generation. National Socialist Germany maintained then as now that outside the schools there should be no educational body in Germany other than the Hitler Youth. This viewpoint was propounded in 1933. At the commencement of 1934 the inclusion of all protestant youth was provisionally completed and outside the Hitler Youth there was only one other youth organization, a catholic one, all other belong to our community, the fellowship of young Germany. Nevertheless, there is a plane on which the confessional organization is essentially justified and recognised by the Hitler Youth. If the former refrains from exerting temporal powers and confines its sphere of influence to matters of the soul I see no reason why there should be no confessional organization of the youth of the country.
And now with reference to something of material importance. Of all the Hitler Youth activities I would like to touch on but one here, namely, the Reich Crafts Competition which the youth of Germany organized in conjunction with the German Labour Front. This is looked upon by the young people as the most idealistic avowal of an entire generation to German Labour.
In his “Wilhelm Meister” Goethe denoted respect as the keynote to all education. The youth whose leader I have the honour to be is aiming at this ideal in the spirit of the great Master who has named it as the aim of the world youth common to all and uniting all.
When Hitler was reviewing the Hitler youth in Nuremberg the other day he said, giving us a glimpse into the heart and soul of the man, “How wonderful how beautiful are the children of Germany”.
THE WINTER HELP ORGANIZATION
Apart from the extreme poverty which seems to haunt our modern civilization especially in large cities, Germany has suffered terribly not only from the war but from the reparation payments; the occupation of the Ruhr which, under the incompetent socialist administration, brought about the flight from the mark ruining thousands of homes; and later on the appalling amount of unemployment.
The National Socialist Party as soon as they came into power decided that the distress, especially in great cities, quite apart from Government relief and work for the unemployed, required the personal touch of a voluntary association and so with characteristic German thoroughness they proceeded to do it. In this as in all other matters where the volunteer worker is wanted, the Nazi organization covering the whole country is of course invaluable.
The aim of the National Socialist Welfare Society is the relief of persons who are physically and mentally sound, but who, in consequence of adverse general conditions, have fallen into a state of distress which threatens the health and development of both themselves and their dependents.
In accordance with this principle of preserving the healthy part of the German Nation, the National Socialist Welfare Society does not help those who are hereditarily diseased or suffering from incurable mental or physical diseases. These persons are cared for by the State.
Any person in Germany may be given relief by the National Socialist Welfare Society, whether he is employed or not. Special attention is paid to persons who are employed, but whose wages scarcely suffice to support their large families.
Since the foundation of the Winter Help Scheme, the number of persons assisted has decreased steadily from 16,617,681 in 1933/34 to 13,866,571 in 1934/35 and 12,909,469 in 1935/36 and 10,711,526 in 1936/37, owing to the favourable development of employment and trade in Germany. It is to be noted that these figures include family members.
The National Socialist Welfare Society never distributes money as relief. Relief always takes the form of goods. In this way any possibility of the relief being used for other purposes or unnecessary purchases is avoided. In order to increase the possibility of choice, increasing use has been made of vouchers for food, clothing, electricity, gas and other necessities.
Winter Help Collections.
The Winter Help Scheme operates during the six months from October to March which experience has shown to be the most critical period of the year in regard to employment and sustenance. Many seasonal trades have to cease work during a great part of this period owing to inclement weather, and for the unemployed and those in receipt of small pensions the necessity of buying heating materials and winter clothing weighs heavily on a budget already burdened by the normal increase in price of many foodstuffs during winter time.
The Winter Help Organization began in October 1933, with an initial contribution of 15,000,000 marks by the State. It collected not only contributions in kind, but also monetary contributions in many and varied appeals throughout the country, and used the funds collected for large scale buying of the necessities for daily life, thus making the money go considerably further than it would have gone had it been distributed as money.
Apart from the initial gift mentioned, this organization receives no State assistance, and is supported entirely by individual people in Germany, through their contributions and sacrifices. It is a fundamental principle that the contributions must be absolutely voluntary. No one is in the slightest way forced to contribute.
The National Socialist Welfare Society’s main sources of income are as follows: Contributions from individuals. These contributions may be divided into two kinds. First there are those from persons in receipt of wages, who may volunteer a monthly contribution of an amount equal to about 10 per cent of their monthly Wages Tax. This sum is collected by the firm, in so far as the employees have declared their consent. Secondly, those who are not employed, but who have a private income, volunteer contributions in the form of small deductions from their Postal or Bank accounts.
Special advantages are gained through the free transport of coal for the Winter Help given by the German Railways. The transport costs must be paid, but are refunded later.
Contributions by Germans living abroad, which are collected by the Foreign Department of the National Socialist Party.
The proceeds from the “One Pot Meal”. On the second Sunday in every month, a simple meal is prepared in all households. The money saved by giving up a more costly meal is forwarded to the Winter Help.
Organization of the Welfare work.
1. The National Socialist Welfare Society is organized with the object of helping so far as possible all those in need of relief. This is only possible through a considerable participation of the population in voluntary assistance work.
The “helpers” are thus divided into two classes — those in receipt of salaries or remuneration, and honorary permanent and occasional helpers.
The National Socialist organizations and unions are also called upon to help, as well as other societies dedicated to social work and whose membership is entirely voluntary.
2. The National Socialist Welfare Society is organized in the following unified system:
a) Block Leader. This leader is responsible for social supervision in a block which usually contains three or four tenements.
He collects the regular contributions and his most important duty is to ascertain persons in need of assistance and to supervise their relief. This is a difficult and responsible position, as often — especially in the case of the most respectable people those in distress are reluctant to acknowledge their condition.
All the contributions collected, together with the reports on the position of those in need of relief and further developments are directed to the:
b) Cell Leader. This official is in charge of eight to ten blocks, and he gives exact, and where necessary, personal information about the cases reported, to the:
c) Local Group. The Local Group also receives all contributions in money and in kind from the cell leader. The Local Group, after consulting the Block and Cell Leaders, decides the relief which must be administered.
d) The District Group, the Regional Group and the Reich administration are competent to administrate the organization of the National Socialist Welfare Society, and to administrate the monetary proceeds.
The District and Regional Groups receive mostly goods presented by business concerns. The District Groups have often stocks of clothing, etc., and the Regional Groups always have supplies. Apart from the smaller relief, such as potatoes, coal and food, given regularly by the Local Group, the Regional Group provides more relief in the form of clothing, shoes, domestic utensils, furniture, and sends people to the country to recover their health. The person in need of relief is provided with the necessities on production of a certificate from his Local Group.
All the money contributed is administered by the Regional and Reich administration. As mentioned above, no relief is given in the form of money, so these contributions are used to buy large quantities of goods, which makes it possible to obtain considerably lower prices. The difference of these wholesale prices and the retail values of the goods distributed appears as “added value” in the accounts of the Society.
The costs of administration, of wages and compensation for the helpers are extremely small. During the Winter 1936/37 the total costs for salaries, wages, compensation, office work, printing, rent, light, heating etc. came to 1.84 per cent of the total proceeds. The total income for 1936/37 amounted to 387,088,000 marks without the “added value”.
This scheme has several good points worthy of our consideration.
In the first place the whole ground of charitable relief is covered by one Society. There is no overlapping. In the second place the whole of a city is divided into small circles of three or four tenements in charge of the Block Leader, thus enabling the close personal supervision which alleviating real distress requires to prevent fraud.
In the third place the payment is in kind. This does not of course eliminate the sale of food tickets for drink and similar abuses, but it is the best that can be done, and the Block Leader will soon discover such cases of fraud.
The remarkably low administrative expense. The Society has 1,349,008 helpers of whom only 8,652 are paid.
The “One Pot Meal” is an excellent idea and has become universal in Germany. It is a definite reminder of the needs of our poorer brethren and a simple sacrifice in which all participate. It is not only a source or income but has a symbolical meaning and an ethical value.
It is the boast of the Society that in Berlin last Winter not one person was inadequately fed or clothed or without a fire all the winter in one room.
One of the interesting features of National Socialism is that it is developing its own symbolism. The march of the burnished spades, the slowly moving river of the blood red flags in the Stadium in the temple of light, the one pot meal, which will become a social sacrament, are all examples of this symbolism to impress the hearts as well as the minds of the people with a new conception of service one to another.
NATIONAL SOCIALISM AND
THE PROTESTANT CHURCH
A new and living organization is bound to come up against older organizations and some adjustments are necessary. To some extent this has happened between the Protestant sects in Germany and National Socialism. Moreover, Protestantism like Democracy — its political child — is an intensely individualistic religion and consequently it has little sympathy for and understanding of National Socialism.
Because Protestantism is based on the denial of an authority controlling the individual conscience, from the commencement it has divided and sub-divided and tends to resist all attempts at unity of organization. Born and brought up in Scotland, the home of Calvinism, I speak with knowledge.
Recent years have seen a remarkable coming together of the Presbyterian Churches in Scotland, but for years the Church was divided into many sects; divided on points of Church government and minute differences of doctrine, and hell fire was freely sprayed upon the sects which differed on theological matters.
I have never forgotten a sentence from a sermon preached by a Scottish divine, after the two Presbyterian Churches, the Free Church and the United Presbyterian Church had agreed to combine. A minority of the Free Church ministers objected and formed a Church of their own, and one of them preaching about the men who had been his fellow ministers and friends a few weeks before spoke as follows:
“Below the Heathen and below the Roman Catholics on the very floor of hell which is watered by the tears of those of moderate opinions, will be found the ministers of the United Free Church.”
With these experiences behind me I confess I listen with some scepticism to the attacks made on the National Socialist Government, which has undoubtedly burnt its fingers in trying to produce unity among sects whose very life lies in disunion.
The troubles in the Protestant Church in Germany, as the following brief historical resume will show, began before the advent of National Socialism and the new Government had to face difficulties already existing.
Hitler feels that Protestantism, which originated in Germany, is especially and peculiarly the type of Christianity which has become the national faith of the German people, and is most desirous to see it working in harmony with the National Socialist State. To-day some 80 per cent of the Churches are working in harmony with the Government. A section refuse to administer the simple regulations of the Government and attack it violently from the pulpit, and obtain much satisfaction from a quite unnecessary martyrdom when fined or sent to a concentration camp. The Government have not the remotest desire or intention to interfere with the religious teaching and faith of the Church.
The Protestant Churches have always been part of the State and some external organization and financial arrangements are necessary for efficient administration.
To take a simple instance. Every German on registration has to declare his confession or to prove he never belonged to one or has resigned from membership. He has then to subscribe a fixed amount every year, which is collected by the State and redistributed to the Churches along with State grants.
The National Socialist State since January 30, 1933, has through its state organs, placed the following sums accruing from public taxes, at the disposal of both Churches:
Financial year 1933…. RM. 130 million
financial year 1934 …. RM. 170 million
financial year 1935 …. RM. 250 million
financial year 1936 …. RM. 320 million
financial year 1937 …. RM. 400 million
financial year 1938 …. RM. 500 million.
To the above sums must be added approximately RM. 85 million per annum of additional payments made by the various German states, and a further RM. 7 million per annum from the parishes and parish unions, as well as 300 million marks which the churches obtain as annual rent from their landed property.
If a member wishes to leave a congregation he pays two years’ subscription on retiring from membership. It has been the custom to read out the names of these backsliders from the pulpit. The Government has forbidden this in the name of freedom of conscience.
Nienroller and his followers refuse to obey this reasonable regulation. At the time when the Berlin correspondent was filling columns in The Times about this gentleman his followers had dwindled to about a thousand persons.
Under “Protestantism”, in the wider meaning of the word, is understood not only the Churches and Confessions of Faith founded on the Lutheran Reformation, but also those founded by the Swiss reformers Calvin and Zwingli. Both together include about sixty-five per cent of those who adhere to the Christian faith in Germany.
The result of the various reformations in so far as the attitude of the Church towards the State was concerned, was the Peace of Augsburg of 1555, which stipulated that the subjects of each State had to accept the creed of their sovereign (“CUIUS REGIO EIUS RELIGIO”).
This decision not only widened the gulf between the Roman Catholic and Protestant religions, but also split the Protestant Church into various Lutheran and Calvinist sections, through the system called “Sovereign Determination of the Church” (“Landesherrliches Kirchenregiment”). This expression really meant that the boundaries of the various Protestant Churches corresponded with those of the German States (Federal States, Principalities), and that the rulers of these States were also the highest authorities in their respective Churches (“PRINCEPS SUMMUS EPISCOPUS”).
After the abdication of these rulers, in consequence of the revolution of 1918, the Regional Churches, which numbered in all twenty-eight, were faced with the necessity of creating a new organization. In view of the disappearance of the former local rulers and highest Church authorities, the Regional Churches adopted a kind of democratic constitution, similar to the democratic constitution of Weimar, but perhaps also influenced by early Christian ideas. The administration was divided into three bodies:
1. The Church Assembly, composed of Church Members.
2. The Church Delegates.
3. The Church Government.
The actual nomenclature varied in the different States.
No further separation of the Church from the State was carried through, least of all on the financial side. Stress was however laid on the principle that the Church boundaries need not necessarily coincide with the frontiers of the State. For example, the Evangelical Churches of Danzig and of Posen (now Poznan in the Republic of Poland) belong at present to the Evangelical Church of the Old Prussian Union, the former State Church of Prussia.
As far as internal organization is concerned, numerous efforts had already been made in the nineteenth century to unite German Protestantism, which had been split up into twenty-eight Regional Churches. These efforts were revived after 1918, and 1921 led to the foundation of the “German Evangelical Church Federation” which was to represent the interests of all Protestants in Germany. The Church Federation was a union of the twenty-eight Regional Churches, which were otherwise entirely independent in doctrine, constitution and administration.
The experience of the Great War produced a development generally known as the “Lutheran Renaissance” in the religious realm of German Protestantism. This was chiefly concerned with a new interpretation of Luther’s doctrine and personality, a movement which had already originated with the gradual publication of the new edition of Luther’s works since 1883.
For years a number of young Church leaders have been trying, in despair of the weak democratic state of the postwar years, to secure a powerful position for the Protestant Church in public life, with the slogan, “More Public Influence for the Church” (“Oeffentlichkeitswille der Kirche”).
Until 1933, the usual three groups “left, centre and right” existed within the various “Parliaments” of the Regional Protestant Churches. There were sub-divisions in each of these groups so that the various Church “Parliaments” were divided into about ten different groups.
But a large number of Church members remained completely indifferent to these party fights, and did not feel they were at all represented by any of the groups mentioned. Furthermore, the German worker had become more and more estranged from Christianity since the end of the nineteenth century, and this was mostly caused by Marxist propaganda.
During the National Socialist revolution, the former political parties of the Weimar republic became superfluous and either dissolved of their own accord or were dissolved by the National Socialist leadership. These events were bound to affect Protestant Church members. There was no outside influence exerted on them, but as the same people are members of the State and of the Church, political developments could not fail to influence the Church situation. This resulted in a new “alignment” of Church “Party” groups.
All the former Church Parties were amalgamated in the course of the year 1933, and united in a group which was first known as “Gospel and Church” (Evangelium and Kirche), but is now represented by the so-called “Confessional Front” (Bekenntnisfront).
In opposition to this union of former Church Parties arose the former neutral section of Church members. They felt that a time had come, when all current Church questions could be settled on the same way as the political problems. A large group of Protestants with a positive attitude towards National Socialism formed a Church Party based on this conviction, called “German Christians” (Deutsche Christen). This Party was actually founded in 1932. During the course of further developments in 1933, the “German Christians” split up in two main sub-divisions which may be characterised as follows:
a) The Old Movement, led by Joachim Hossenfelder. This movement feels responsible for the reorganization of the life of the nation according to National Socialist principles, and regards the Church as a special organization within the framework of the State. The theology of this movement may be described as essentially liberal.
b) The New Movement, based on the teachings of Emanuel Hirsch of Gottingen and Karl Fezer of Tubingen. They are not striving to adopt the organization of the Church to the exact political forms of National Socialism, but they seek an independent revival of Protestantism through the actual teaching of Luther. They are thus closely connected with the Luther Renaissance Movement described above.
These three movements, the size of which is difficult to estimate, resulted in the following developments.
After great difficulties, the Church succeeded in arranging elections and a National Synod was formed in September 1933. This Synod accepted a unified Reich Church Constitution and elected a Reich Bishop, Ludwig Muller. This Reich Church Constitution is a framework for a Federal Organization and not very different from that of the former German Evangelical Church Federation. It is still recognized by all groups.
Towards the end of 1933, the differences between the two main Protestant groups grew more acute. The “New Movement” of the German Christians tried to bring the situation under Church control by nominating Professor Beyer of Greifswald as Minister for Church Affairs. This attempt proved however unsuccessful.
The Prussian Ministerial Secretary Jager, a member of the Civil Service, was now appointed to the Church Government by the Reich Bishop Muller. Jager was thus not appointed by the State, but by the Church Government.
As Legal Administrator of the Reich Church, he tried, through revolutionary methods, to bring the independent Regional Churches under the centralized control of the Reich Church. This meant depriving the Regional Churches concerned of their independence.
In face of these attempts, the Confessional Front aligned itself with the Regional Churches against centralized control, and organized itself more firmly in the so-called “Opposition Movement”. This movement included the Regional Churches of Bavaria (Bishop Meiser), Wurtemberg (Bishop Wurm), and Hanover (Bishop Mahrahrens) and also received growing support from other Regional Churches.
The Opposition Movement claimed further to be the only true Protestant Church, and demanded the sole leadership of German Protestantism on the ground that the Church was in a state of emergency. The German Christians opposed this claim to exclusive power.
After the resignation of Jager, the State intervened on account of the State of emergency in the Church, as the internal peace of the Nation was threatened, and a re-establishment of the financial and legal conditions in the Church did not seem possible without the help of the State. In 1935, Hitler proclaimed a “Law to secure the Existence of the German Evangelical Church.” Through this Law a special Ministry for Church Affairs was created and the newly appointed Hanns Kerrl was included in the Cabinet as Church Minister. He was empowered to issue decrees:
“to create a state of order which would make it possible for the Church to govern itself in all freedom and peace, in questions regarding faith and doctrine.”
Kerrl formed a Reich Church Committee from men in the Church, which should govern the Evangelical Church during a two-years’ transition period. At the moment this Reich Church Committee, with its various sub-committees, is the only institution in the administration of the Church which is recognized by the State. The State has not given exclusive recognition to either the German Christians or to the Confessional Front, but only to the union of both in the Church Committees.
The introduction of a Ministry for Church Affairs, under Herr Kerrl, and its activities up till now, show that the State does not intend to influence in one way or another the religious problem and the Church struggle within the Evangelical Church. The aim of the State is to reach a solution of the current questions through Protestantism itself. These principles of the State’s policy are very much to be welcomed from the Protestant point of view. Protestantism has indeed every interest in solving its problem of its own accord, and through its own spiritual development, instead of having this solution decided, perhaps through force, by an authority with no deep feelings in this particular matter.
All Protestant groups who have a real will to constructive co-operation and who are at all interested in a natural solution of the Church situation, are therefore working actively in the Church Committee.
A great part of the German Christians has already consented to co-operate in the Church Committee. The main body is now divided into two rather different groups.
The greater part of the so-called Confessional Front, under the leadership of the Regional Bishop of Hanover, Dr. Mahrahrens, has also agreed to co-operate in the Church Committee.
The radical section of the Confessional Front, led by Pastor Nienroller, will have nothing to do with the Church Committee on principle, and refuses to co-operate in it. These radical Confessionalists have hitherto been unable to find a way of approach to Nationalist Socialist principles and are therefore incapable of understanding the national revival in Germany.
This negative attitude can become dangerous. When religious reasons are used as a pretext for a struggle against the State itself, the State has the duty to take the necessary measures to secure internal peace within the nation.
Unfortunately, these events have been represented abroad in a way which greatly exaggerates their actual importance. They do not result, as has been assumed, from a spiritual struggle between Protestantism and the State, but are only individual conflicts, on the detail of Church Government, between certain parsons and the State, with which the great majority of Church members and the Church itself have nothing to do.
From the German Christians the different groups of the “German Faith movement” (Deutsche Glaubensbewegung) must be clearly distinguished. They are much discussed abroad under the name “New Heathens”.
This movement has nothing to do with the Christian Churches or with Christianity in general, and wishes to found a belief in God on the traditions of the German race and history. These people cannot be described simply as atheists.
The German Faith Movement had at first a great success. Today it is already declining rapidly.
It is also clear that problems arise for the existing Confessions, not on account of pure dogmatism, whether Christian or not, National Socialism and the Protestant Church but on account of the actual experience of the present day political life of the German Nation.
A solution of these problems will have to be attempted between the various Protestant groups and will perhaps determine their future attitude towards each other.
This fruitful struggle of ideas and their protagonists may go on for decades. Its ultimate results cannot be foreseen in detail. But its effect will almost certainly be a deep-rooted religious revival of the German Nation.
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