The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933-45

By J. S. Conway | Go to book overview

10 The Hammer and the Anvil
I94I-45

'We are at this moment not a hammer but an
anvil. The anvil which is hard and tough
lasts longer than the hammer.' — BISHOP
GALEN, 20 July 1941

In the first half of 1941 the Nazis launched a series of new offences against the countries of eastern Europe, which involved yet more millions in the terror and miseries of war. In April German troops marched into Yugoslavia and Greece, and on 22 June the full weight of the army was hurled in an unprovoked attack against the Soviet Union. To arouse popular enthusiasm for these campaigns, floods of propaganda poured out on the home front calling for more and greater sacrifices. Churchmen, who, like everyone else, found that guns were now to be substituted for butter, were faced with increasing difficulties in the conduct of their church services. Coal rationing limited the heating of the churches; supplies of paper were reduced; electricity was curtailed, and the indifferent quality of the only candles available proved them to be but a poor substitute; limitations on public transportation hindered worshippers from reaching their churches; and when bombing raids began on the German cities the churches and church institutions suffered their full share.

Local churchmen still did their best to continue some sort of regular church life. But the Nazis' determination to impose totalitarian control over every aspect of life, including that of the churches, led them in self-defence to make a three-fold stand, first, against the confiscation of church property, especially of the

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