Bishop von Galen: German Catholicism and national socialism by Dr. Beth A. Griech-Polelle

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By Dr. Beth A. Griech-Polelle

Clemens August Graf von Galen, Bishop of Munster from 1933 until eventually his loss of life in 1946, is well known for his competition to Nazism, such a lot particularly for his public preaching in 1941 opposed to Hitler's euthanasia undertaking to rid the rustic of unwell, aged, mentally retarded, and disabled Germans. This provocative and revisionist biographical examine of von Galen perspectives him from a unique standpoint: as a fancy determine who moved among dissent and complicity through the Nazi regime, opposing yes parts of nationwide Socialism whereas picking out to stay silent on concerns pertaining to discrimination, deportation, and the homicide of Jews. Beth Griech-Polelle locations von Galen within the context of his instances, describing how the Catholic Church reacted to varied Nazi rules, how the anti-Catholic laws of the Kulturkampf formed the repertoire of resistance strategies of northwestern German Catholics, and the way theological interpretations have been used to justify resistance and/or collaboration. She discloses the explanations for von Galen's public denunciation of the euthanasia undertaking and the ramifications of his overtly defiant stance. She unearths how the bishop portrayed Jews and what that depiction intended for Jews residing in Nazi Germany. ultimately she investigates the production of identical to von Galen as "Grand Churchman-Resister" and discusses the results of this for the parable of Catholic conservative "resistance" developed in post-1945 Germany.

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The May Laws also placed bishops under state control. Many priests of the Second Reich refused to submit to this legislation, and massive arrests and exiles followed. Some estimate that as many as eighteen hundred priests were either imprisoned or banished from the state. Pius IX, not willing to allow these events to continue, responded in  with an encyclical that declared the May Laws null and void and warned that any priest who complied with these state policies would be excommunicated. 7 This anti-Catholic legislation had a real effect on the daily lives of German Catholics in Prussian territory in particular.

Traditionally, Catholic nobles from this region had lent their support to the Catholic Center Party. However, after the war ended, many of the Catholic aristocrats distanced themselves from the Center Party and its involvement with the Weimar Republic. In particular, some members of the Catholic ruling class became so distressed over the liberal-democratic leanings of the post–World War I Center Party that they argued for the need to create a second Catholic political party. 44 The question of a second Catholic political party’s existence dominated the debates of the Rhenish-Westphalian Association of Catholic Nobility throughout the s and early s.

In his writings he called on his audience to sacrifice in order to win what he believed was a universal struggle. ’’ but also that Catholicism and German nationalism were incompatible. According to Treitschke, there could be only one Germany, and it could be nothing other than Protestant. In his view, a Catholic-dominated state would be intolerant, disunited, and spiritually and materially impoverished. 11 Treitschke was certainly not alone in his depiction of Catholicism and its implications for state building.

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