The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933-45

By J. S. Conway | Go to book overview

3 'Politics do not belong in
the Church'

'Saboteurs must be rendered innocuous even
if they do their nefarious work in the disguise
of a Servant of God.' Völkischer Beobachter


I

At the beginning of 1934 the Nazi campaign against the Churches was concentrated on limiting the Churches' influence and popularity and, by prohibiting the activity of such lay organizations as might be used for political agitation or opposition to Nazi totalitarian claims, to drive a wedge between clergy and people. Despite all the gestures of good-will and compliance made by the Churches in the first twelve months of Nazi rule, a basic antagonism and suspicion continued on the Nazi side, with a determination to forestall any clerical opposition by branding it as 'political' and by subjecting it to police supervision or suppression. The slogan used to justify this attitude was that 'politics do not belong in the church'.

The conflict engendered by these totalitarian measures was felt most severely in Bavaria. In Munich the hostility to the Church displayed by Martin Bormann in the Nazi Party Headquarters was matched by that of Himmler and Heydrich in the Police Headquarters. For these three men, the appetite for power indeed grew by what it fed on. They were determined to break once and for all the strongly entrenched position of the Catholic Church in Germany's most Catholic province. On 13 October 1933 Bormann wrote from Munich to all the Nazi Gauleiters as follows:

It is reported to Party headquarters that some individual Catholic

-67-

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