The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933-45

By J. S. Conway | Go to book overview

Preface

My object in adding to the vast number of books on the Nazi era is to provide for the English-speaking reader an account of the methods by which Hitler and his followers sought to deal with the Christian Churches. For this purpose I have examined many of the documents dealing with Church affairs from the Nazi archives which survived the collapse of the Third Reich in 1945, and which were scattered in all directions by the fortunes of war. The principal sources used are the archives of Hitler's Reich Chancellery, the various German government records, the Nazi Party archives, the papers of individual Nazi leaders and the files of documents produced during the Nuremberg trials. Unfortunately all of these collections are incomplete, since some papers were deliberately destroyed, others were lost in the evacuation period, others were mislaid after capture and others have vanished without trace. By means of careful collation it is now possible to reconstruct much of the story; more could undoubtedly be found if the archives of the German Democratic Republic in Potsdam were freely open to western scholars. Large quantities of these papers have now been microfilmed, but reliable and complete indices are still lacking. Others of a more personal kind belonging to Nazi participants may yet be found, which, for obvious reasons, are still unavailable. But the main features of Nazi policy I believe are now apparent.

My gratitude is due in the first place to my colleagues of the University of British Columbia: so too, for financial help, to the Canada Council and the Humboldt Stiftung of Bad Godesberg. I am especially grateful to the help received from Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Munich, the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz, and the American Document Centre in Berlin. I am particularly indebted for her assistance to Miss B. Phillips of Liverpool University.

-xi-

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