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 35 of 55)

B. Acts of suppression of the Christian Churches in Annexed an Occupied Territories.

(1) In Austria. The methods of suppression of churches followed in Austria by the occupying power began with measures to exclude the Church from public activities, such as processions, printing of newspapers and Reviews which could spread Christian doctrines; from forming Youth organizations, such as Boy Scouts; from directing educational or charitable activities; and even from extending help in the form of food to foreigners. Unable in conscience to obey the public prescription, ministers of religions were arrested and sent to concentration camps, and some were executed. Churches were closed, convents and mon-

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asteries suppressed, and educational property confiscated. The total number of confiscations, suppressions, or alienations of religious institutions exceeded 100 cases in one diocese alone. (3278-PS)

The Lutheran Church in Austria, though comprising a small minority of the population, was subjected to organized oppression. Its educational efforts were obstructed or banned. Believers were encouraged, and sometimes intimidated, to repudiate their faith. Lutheran pastors were given to understand that a government position would be awarded to each one who would renounce his ministry and if possible withdraw from the Lutheran Church. (3273-PS)

Tn summation of the period of Nazi domination and in review of the attempted suppression of the Christian Church, the Archbishops and Bishops of Austria in their first joint Pastoral after liberation declared:

"At an end also is an intellectual battle, the goal of which was the destruction of Christianity and the Church among our people; a campaign of lies and treachery against truth and love, against divine and human rights and against international law." (3274-PS)

(2) In Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovak Official Report for the prosecution and trial of the German Major War Criminals by the International Military Tribunal established according to the Agreement of the Four Great Powers of 8 August 1945 describes in summary form the measures taken by the Nazi conspirators to suppress religious liberties and persecute the churches. The following excerpts are quoted from this report (998-PS):

"(a) Catholic Church.

"*** At the outbreak of war, 487 Catholic priests were among the thousands of Czech patriots arrested and sent to concentration camps as hostages. Venerable high ecclesiastical dignitaries were dragged to concentration camps in Germany. *** Religious orders were dissolved and liquidated, their charitable institutions closed down and their members expelled or else forced to compulsory labor in Germany. All religious instruction in Czech schools was suppressed. Most of the weeklies and monthlies which the Catholics had published in Czechoslovakia, had been suppressed from the very beginning of the occupation. The Catholic gymnastic organization "Orel" with 800,000 members was dissolved and its Property was confiscated. To a

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great extent Catholic church property was seized for the benefit of the Reich.

"(b) Czechoslovak National Church.

"*** The Czechoslovak Church in Slovakia was entirely prohibited and its property confiscated under German compulsion in 1940. It has been allowed to exist in Bohemia and Moravia but in a crippled form under the name of the Czecho-Moravian Church.

"(c) Protestant Churches.

"The Protestant Churches were deprived of the freedom to preach the gospel. German secret state police watched closely whether the clergy observed the restrictions imposed on it. *** Some passages from the Bible were not allowed to be read in public at all.***

"* * Church leaders were especially persecuted, scores of ministers were imprisoned in concentration camps, among them the General Secretary of the Students' Christian Movement in Czechoslovakia. One of the Vice- Presidents was executed.

"Protestant Institutions such as the YMCA and YWCA were suppressed throughout the country.

"The leading Theological School for all Evangelical denominations, HUS Faculty in Prague and all other Protestant training schools for the ministry were closed down in November 1939, with the other Czech universities and colleges.

"(d) Czech Orthodox Church.

"The hardest blow was directed against the Czech Orthodox Church. The Orthodox churches in Czechoslovakia were ordered by the Berlin Ministry of Church Affairs to leave the Pontificate of Belgrade and Constantinople respectively and to become subordinate to the Berlin Bishop. The Czech Bishop Gorazd was executed together with two other priests of the Orthodox Church. By a special order of the Protector Daluege, issued in September 1942, the Orthodox Church of Serbian Constantinople jurisdiction was completely dissolved in the Czech lands, its religious activity forbidden and its property

"All Evangelical education was handed over to the civil authorities and many Evangelical teachers lost their employment; moreover the State grant to salaries of many evangelical priests was taken away." (998-PS)

(3) In Poland. The repressive measures levelled against the Christian Church in Poland where Hans Frank was Governor-

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General from 1939 to 1945, were even more drastic and sweeping. In protest against the systematic strangulation of religion, the Vatican, on 8 October 1942, addressed a memorandum to the German Embassy accredited to the Holy See in which the Secretariat of State emphasized the fact that despite previous protests to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Reich, von Ribbentrop, the religious condition of the Catholics in the Warthegau "has become even sadder and more tragic." This memorandum states:

"For quite a long time the religious situation in the Warthegau gives cause for very grave and ever increasing anxiety. There, in fact, the Episcopate has been little by little almost completely eliminated; the secular and regular clergy have been reduced to proportions that are absolutely inadequate, because they have been in large part deported and exiled; the education of clerics has been forbidden; the Catholic education of youth is meeting with the greatest opposition; the nuns have been dispersed; insurmountable obstacles have been put in the way of affording people the helps of religions; very many churches have been closed; Catholic intellectual and charitable institutions have been destroyed; ecclesiastical property has been seized." (3263-PS)

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

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