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To Serve God or Hitler

Nazi Priests, A Preliminary Discussion
  • Kevin Spicer
Chapter

Abstract

In 1934, Wilhelm Stockums (1877–1956), Auxiliary Bishop of Cologne, stated that ‘every incumbent of the priestly office is by virtue of sacramental consecration another Christ in his supernatural life and vocation’, and, therefore, ‘he should be another Christ in the moral order also by his personal life of virtue’1. In the history of the German Catholic church in Nazi Germany, however, there existed a small number of priests whose actions in both professing allegiance to and joining the Nazi party became a blatant anomaly to Stockums’s understanding of their consecrated office. These renegade or Nazi priests, who publically professed their allegiance to the National Socialist movement, differed from the many priests who had initially shared in the wave of national enthusiasm for Hitler when he first came to power as Reich Chancellor. Thus by the end of 1933, when most of those priests who had first welcomed the new government withdrew their support because of their disillusionment with the state’s encroachment into areas formerly reserved to the church (i.e., youth groups, parish associations), these Nazi priests became, conversely, more militant in their association with the party and stayed that way until the very end.2

Keywords

National Socialist State Preliminary Discussion Catholic Church Catholic Priest Nazi Party 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Wilhelm Stockums, The Priesthood, trans. Joseph W. Grundner (London: Herder, 1942), p.20.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ulrich Wagener, ‘Unterdruckungs-und VerfolgungsmaBnahmen gegen Priester des Erzbistums Paderborn in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus’, Theologie und Glaube 75 (1985), p.56.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Frederic Spotts, The Churches and Politics in Germany (Middietown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1973), p.109.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    See John S. Conway, The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933–45 (New York: Basic Books, 1968), pp.133, 169, 406–407;Google Scholar
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  11. 8.
    Raimund Baumgärtner, ‘Vom Kaplan zum Ministerialrat Joseph Roth — eine nationalsozialistische Karriere’, in Politik — Bildung — Religion, Hans Maier zum 65. Geburtstag, eds. Theo Stammen et. al. (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh, 1996), pp.221–234;Google Scholar
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    Alfons Kupper, Staatliche Akten über die Reichskonkordats Verhandlungen 1933, VKZ A2 (Mainz: Matthias Grünewald, 1969), p.273.Google Scholar
  15. 27.
    On the exploits of these individuals see David Alvarez and Robert A. Graham, S.J., Nothing Sacred. Nazi Espionage Against the Vatican, 1939–1945 (London: Frank Cass, 1997);Google Scholar
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  19. 29.
    On 1 May 1932, Pirchegger joined the NSDAP (Number 901,259). See Pirchegger Karte, BArch Berlin, NS-Akt, personenbezogene Unterlagen aus der NS-Zeit (PBU). On Pirchegger see Harold Anton Hofmüller, Steirische Priester befürworten den Nationalsozialismus und den Anschluss an das Deutsche Reich Adolf Hitlers (Diplomarbeit, Universitat Graz, 1997), pp.93–101.Google Scholar
  20. 33.
    See Johannes Allendorff, ‘Katholisches Leben in Potsdam im Wandel der Jahrhunderte’, Archiv für schlesische Kirchengeschichte 19 (1961), 260–292.Google Scholar
  21. 45.
    See Martin Höllen, Heinrich Wienken, der ‘unpolitische’ Kirchenpolitiker, Eine Biographic aus drei Epochen des deutschen Katholizismus , VKZ B33 (Mainz: Matthias-Grünewald, 1981), pp.54–69.Google Scholar
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    Josef Roth, Katholizismus und Judenfrage (Munich: Franz Eher, 1923), pp.2, 5, 10.Google Scholar
  23. 95.
    Josef Roth, ‘Die katholische Kirche und die Judenfrage’, Forschungen zur Judenfrage IV (Hamburg: Hanseatische Verlaganstalt, 1940), p. 175.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

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  • Kevin Spicer

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