The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter VII
Means Used by the Nazi Conspiractors in Gaining Control of the German State
(Part 31 of 55)

On 14 July 1939, Bormann, as Deputy of the Fuehrer, issued a Party regulation excluding clergymen, persons closely connected with the church, and Theology students from membership in the Party. It was further decreed that in the future Party Members who entered the clergy or turned to the study of Theology must leave the Party. (840-PS)

(c) The Nazi conspirators persecuted priests, clergy and members of monastic orders. The priests and clergy of Germany were

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subjected by the police to systematic espionage into their daily lives. The Nazi conspirators through the Chief of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) maintained a special branch of the Security Police and Security Service (Sipo/SD) whose duties were to investigate the churches and maintain constant surveillance upon the public and private lives of the clergy. (1815-PS)

At a conference of these police "church specialists" called by Heydrich, who was then SS Gruppenfuehrer and Chief of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), in Berlin, 23 September 1941, SS Sturmbannfueherer Hartl, acting for Heydrich, stated that the greatest importance was to be attached to church political activity. The intelligence network in this field, he continued, was to be fostered with the greatest of care and enlarged with the recruitment of informants, particular value being attached to contacts with church circles. He closed his lecture with the following words:

"Each of you must go to work with your whole heart and a true fanaticism. Should a mistake or two be made in the execution of this work, this should in no way discourage you, since mistakes are made everywhere. The main thing is that the enemy should be constantly tackled with determination, will, and effective initiative." (1815-PS)

In a letter of 22 October 1941, Heydrich, as Chief of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) issued detailed instructions to all State Police Offices outlining the organization of the Catholic Church and directing close surveillance of the activities, writings, and reports of the Catholic clergy in Germany. In this connection he directed:

"Reports are also to be submitted on those Theological students destined for Papal Institutes, and Priests returning from such institutes to Germany. Should the opportunity arise of placing someone for intelligence (Nachrichtendienst) purposes in one of these Institutes, in the guise of a Theological student, we should receive immediate notification." (1815-PS)

Priests and other members of the clergy were arrested, fined, imprisoned, and otherwise punished by executive measures of the police without judicial process. In his lecture before a conference at the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) in Berlin, for "church specialists," of the Security Police, 22 November 1941, Regierungsrat Roth stated (1815- PS):

"It has been demonstrated that it is impracticable to deal with political offenses (malicious) under normal legal procedure. Owing to the lack of political perception which still

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prevails among the legal authorities, suspension of this procedure must be reckoned with. The so-called "Agitator Priests" must therefore be dealt with in future by Stapo measures, and, if the occasion arises, be removed to a Concentration Camp, if agreed upon by the RSHA.

"The necessary executive measures are to be decided upon according to local conditions, the status of the person accused, and the seriousness of the case -- as follows:

1. Warning
2. Fine
3. Forbidden to preach
4. Forbidden to remain in parish
5. Forbidden all activity as a priest
6. Short-term arrest
7. Protective custody."

Members of monastic orders were forced by the seizure and confiscation of their properties to give up their established place of abode and seek homes elsewhere (R-101- A; R-101-D). A secret order of the SS Economic Administration Office to all Concentration Camp Commanders, dated 21 April 1942, concerning labor mobilization of clergy, reveals that clergymen were at that time, and had previously been, incarcerated in Concentration Camps. (1164- PS)

On the death of von Hindenburg, the Reich Government ordered the ringing of all church bells on 2 August 1934, 3 August 1934 and 4 August 1934. In Bavaria, there were many instances of failure to comply with this order. The Bavarian police submitted a report outlining the above situation and stating that in three cases the taking into protective custody of recalcitrant clergy could not be avoided.

"The Parish priest, Father Johann Quinger of Altenkunstadt BA., Lichtenfels. He was taken into protective custody on 3 August on the express order of the State Ministry of the Interior, because he assaulted SA leaders and SA men who were ringing the bells against his wishes. He was released from custody on 10 August 1934.

"The Parish priest, Father Ludwig Obholzer of Kiefersfelden, BA Rosenheim. For his personal safety he was in police custody from 2400 hours on the 2 August 1934, till 1000 hours on 3 August 1934. On 5 August 1934, he said sarcastically in his sermon, referring to the SA men who had carried out the ringing of the funeral knell on their own account, 'Lord forgive them, for they know not what they do' ! "The Parish priest, Father Johann Nepomuk Kleber of Wie-

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felsdorf, BA Burglengenfeld, refused to ring the church bells on the 2nd and 3rd. He is badly tainted politically and had to be taken into protective custody from the 5th to the 8th of August 34 in the interests of his own safety." (1521-PS)

After Hitler's rise to power, Bishop Sproll of Rottenburg delivered a series of sermons regarded by the Nazis as damaging, and on 10 April 1938 he refrained from voting in the plebiscite. For this, the Reich Governor of Wuertemberg declared he would no longer regard Bishop Sproll as head of the Diocese of Rottenburg; made an official request that he leave the Gau; and declared he would see to it that all personal and official intercourse between the Bishop and the State and Party offices as well as the Armed Forces would be denied (849-PS). For his alleged failure to vote in the plebiscite, of 10 April 1938, the Party caused three demonstrations to be staged against the Bishop and his household in Rottenburg. The third demonstration was described as follows in a teletype message from Gestapo Office Stuttgart to Gestapo Office Berlin:

"The Party on 23 July 1938 from 2100 on carried out the third demonstration against Bishop Sproll. Participants about 2,500-3,000 were brought in from outside by bus, etc. The Rottenburg populace again did not participate in the demonstration. The town took rather a hostile attitude to the demonstrations. The action got completely out of hand of the Party Member responsible for it. The demonstrators stormed the palace, beat in the gates and doors. About 150 to 200 people forced their way into the palace, searched the rooms, threw files out of the windows and rummaged through the beds in the rooms of the palace. One bed was ignited. Before the fire got to the other objects of equipment in the - rooms and the palace, the flaming bed could be thrown from the window and the fire extinguished. The Bishop was with Archbishop Groeber of Freiburg and the ladies and gentlemen of his menage in the chapel at prayer. About 25 to 30 people pressed into this chapel and molested those present. Bishop Groeber was taken for Bishop Sproll. He was grabbed by the robe and dragged back and forth. Finally the intruders realized that Bishop Groeber is not the one they are seeking. They could then be persuaded to leave the building. After the evacuation of the palace by the demonstrators I had an interview with Archbishop Groeber, who left Rottenburg in the night. Groeber wants to turn to the Fuehrer and Reich Minister of the Interior Dr. Frick anew. On the course of the action, the damage done as well as the homage

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of the Rottenburg populace beginning today for the Bishop I shall immediately hand in a full report, after I am in the act of suppressing counter mass meetings." (848-PS)

Reich Minister for Church Affairs Kerrl and other Party officials alleged that these demonstrations were spontaneously staged by indignant citizens of Rottenburg and caused representations to be made to the Holy See in an effort to effect the Bishop's removal from office. (89-PS)

The original plaintext version of part one or part two of this file is available via ftp.

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