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Question About Church And State Separation Article On Vatican & Nazi Germany

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When I hear/read that the Vatican prayed for Hitler till his death, or that the Vatican was more concerned about fascist governments keeping Catholic Church rules than being humane to their people, I see red.


Here's one article: Understanding the Vatican During the Nazi Period, by Michael Marrus. It takes a very unexpected position, considering that it appears on something called The Jewish Virtual Library.


Then I think of the threatening theocracy here in North America where the Religious Right is fighting on every level of society to take over and institute God rule and renew culture in its own image.


See especially The Wedge Strategy.


Articles and publications critiquing The Wedge Strategy can be found at the following links:

So we condemn the Vatican and other powerful European churches for not stopping Hitler and Mussolini. But we as the public are condemning the churches here in North America, especially in the United States, for trying to take over the government. All of us are Western society. The only difference is which side of the ocean we're on. Also there's about fifty years of history separating us.


What else am I missing? Is there a deeper issue at stake here than separation of church and state? Many of our ancestors left Europe for the express reason that we wanted to get away from the powerful--and interfering--churches of Europe. Yet now we condemn these self-same churches for NOT interfering in the twentieth century. I feel like I'm up against a brick wall. :banghead:

Can anyone shed some light on this?


PS Maybe this is in the wrong forum. If so, feel free to move it.



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I mentioned only North America but this fundy/ID movement is global. There's strong proponents in the UK, and Australia that I've read about. And definitely in the Muslim world. Probably also in other parts of the world.

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I think I am out of my league here but I can cite Catholic examples that were against Hitler. I can locate the videos later. The Bishop of Muenster, Germany did not like Hitler's leadership and he published sermons against his regime. Coming from a Catholic perspective myself, each parish is basically priestly fiefdom. Every priest has their own agenda. My parish priest here is an exorcist and politically conservative (on par with Rick Warren). My parent's priest is more down to Earth and approachable in his demeanor and he doesn't speak in Latin during his service like my parish priest does. These guys live about 60 to 70 miles apart. By this logic and the evidence cited above, it is clear that the Catholic hierarchy of the time in certain places didn't follow the Vatican line wholeheartedly.

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Many of the churchmen were against Hitler and the Nazi's but ironically, NOT against the persecution of Jews and many in both Catholic and protestant churches actively helped the Nazi's get rid of the Jews and indeed, help set the conditions where the German people felt justified in killing the Jews. They (the churches) were against Hitler for other reasons.

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Thanks for sharing your insights, MathGeek and Vixentrox. I didn't know about either those points. I'd be interested in seeing those videos, MathGeek, when/if you have time to find them.


I watched a few videos in German that I wish would also be available in English. They are about why people chose and followed Hitler. In the 1980s, someone interviewed a number of people who were part of Hitler's Youth and soldiers in the 1930s, but were old people by 1980. I am not fluent in the language they speak in Germany so I missed a lot of what they said. Also my history of the country is very sketchy and Thurisaz may well want to fill me in and even correct me. But I will share the way I see things at the moment. This is based on a number of videos I watched and some reading I did this winter.


It seems that massive portions of the population was unemployed and basic living needs were not being met in the early 1930s. I think this was due in part to the Depression, in part to the damage of the Great War (WW1), and in part to war reparations owed to the other countries. When Hitler came to power in 1933, he put people to work building a major highway network. This put food on the table, clothes on the back, and a roof over the head. It also made winter clothing possible for children, which made marriage feasible for young people. Who would not like this man?


I also watched a movie with English subtitles, Triumph of the Will, 1934. It is a propaganda film but there has to be some truth to it; I remember hearing my father saying something to the same effect. There is one scene in which vast troops of young men are assembled and Hitler asks them what they work and where they are from. Proudly, the spokesman for each province announces the name of his home province and his work. As my father put it, Hitler took nobodies and made them feel like somebody. Digging ditches in swamps to drain them had suddenly become just as noble a task as being a military general, or something along those lines.


History of the Jews in Germany, in Wikipedia, provides a lot of insight. It seems they always had special status since ancient times, sometimes positive and often negative. Thus, Hitler's slogan, "Deutschland fur die deutsche!" ("Germany for the Germans!") resonated with so many people. Many of us here on exC live on continents our ancestors immigrated to in recent centuries. Not so the Germans. As I see the Natives of North America grow stronger, I keep waiting for them to say, "Out! you whities." In a way, that is what Hitler and followers said to the Jews and Gypsies (I don't know the politically correct term) and other minorities.


In other words, as I learn more about how it came to be that so many people supported Hitler's systematic anihilation of the Jews, I can better understand it. It did not happen overnight. It made sense. Besides, the man had given them food, clothing, and a warm place to sleep. That would be the unthinking masses, which, shockingly, includes professionals and intellectuals who choose to turn a blind eye and deaf ear rather than risk their own necks and livelihoods. We know there were also active "underground railroads" and other illegal means to help Jews get out of the death traps. We know people risked their lives, and some paid the ultimate price, to oppose Hitler's death camps.


Wikipedia has a few articles:


  • German Resistence: There was no unified movement as the French Resistence, but opposition by individuals and groups from 1933-1945.

  • Deitrich Bonhoffer: a Lutheran pastor and theologian who was executed for plotting for Hitler's assasination
  • Confessing Church: A Christian Resistence Movement in Nazi German, founded by Bonhoffer

Bonhoffer was seen as a major figure at the seminary where I studied.

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