'German Christians' and the
growth of the Churches'
'The Swastika on our breasts, and the Cross in
our hearts.' — Slogan of the 'German Christians'
The criticism has frequently been levelled against the leaders of the German Churches that they failed in their Christian duty by not making a firm stand against the Nazi movement from its inception. They are accused of having been so busy with their task of saving souls that they remained silent while their people were being seduced by Nazism; by grossly underestimating the Nazis' nihilistic designs against Christianity, and by their subserviency of I933, they let slip the opportunity of resistance while resistance was still within their power. Alternatively, they are charged with following the Lutheran tradition of obedience to the State at a time when such an attitude was no longer justified, and of continuing to advise submission despite the accumulating evidence of Nazi oppression. Either from cowardice, it is said, or from an inability to understand the logic of events, they struggled to avoid a head-on clash with the ruling powers when they should have been fighting them with all the resources at their command. Indeed, they are even accused, by their predisposition to authoritarianism, of having encouraged the Nazi régime, particularly in its assumption of dictatorship, its racialist persecution, and its expansionist foreign policy. In a word, they are blamed for seeking to defend the Church's existence as an institution at the expense of their doctrine.