The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933-45

By J. S. Conway | Go to book overview

9 The Uneasy Armistice

'The best soldier is a pious soldier.' —
ADOLF HITLER


I

The outbreak of war brought about a change in Nazi Church policy. The preoccupation of the authorities in mobilizing the German people behind the war effort necessitated the abandonment of policies likely to lead to internal strife or tension, and, since Church matters were considered of minor importance in comparison with the large issues now at stake, a truce was called in the Church conflict. Hitler himself, fully alive to the need for national unity, commanded that 'no further action should be taken against the Evangelical and Catholic Churches for the duration of the war', 1 and ten months later he ordered the suspension of all non‐ essential measures that might lead to a worsening of relations between the Churches and the State and Party. 2

The Nazis had to reckon with the fact that, despite all Rosenberg's efforts, only 5 per cent of the population registered themselves in the 1939 census as no longer connected with the Christian Churches: 3.5 per cent declared themselves to be 'God believers' (gottgläubig) and another 1.5 per cent atheists. The remaining 95 per cent of the eighty million people of the greater German Reich were still registered as members of the Catholic or Evangelical Churches, and even the majority of the three million Nazi Party members still paid the Church taxes and registered themselves as Christians. The united support of all these millions of German

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