The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933-45

By J. S. Conway | Go to book overview

8 Collaboration or Intimidation?

We have captured all the positions
And on the heights we have planted
The banners of our revolution.
You had imagined that that was all that we
wanted
We want more
We want all
Your hearts are our goal,
It is your souls we want.
—ANONYMOUS NAZI VERSE, 1939 1


I THE NAZI RIVALRIES UNRESOLVED

By 1937 the Nazi campaign to restrict and limit the influence of the Church appeared to be well on the way to success. Dr Goebbels' propaganda machine controlled all the means of communication and was geared to the unremitting dissemination of Nazi views and doctrines. The ideas of Rosenberg and the völkisch groups were expressed in semi-pagan ceremonies and were taught in the Party schools. The Hitler Youth had captured the allegiance of most of the young people and had jeopardized the future of the Churches' educational work. Streicher was pouring out anti-semitic and anti-clerical propaganda unchecked by any sense of truth or justice. The Education Minister Rust had undermined the position of the Church schools and had transformed the universities into Nazi-dominated institutions. Himmler was using the power of the police to suppress all signs of opposition; the processes of the law were perverted to serve Nazi ends; and all resistance from opposing Church movements was being suppressed by Kerrl. In short, as the Vicar-General of the Catholic Diocese of Berlin wrote thirty years later, the situation as it appeared at the time could briefly be summarized thus:

Hitler himself was the author of the anti-Christian policy. But he

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