Georg Denzler. EUR Reviewed by Kevin P. Spicer, C. For more than forty years, a debate among historians has raged over the degree of ecclesiastical Catholic resistance to National Socialism. Scholars like Klaus Gotto, Hans Guenter Hockerts, and Konrad Repgen propose models that portray the church as an institution that resisted the Third Reich in a clear and consistent manner. Others, such as Gerhard Paul and Klaus-Michael Mallmann, refuse to embrace the former models and, instead, argue that the church engaged in a "form of loyal reluctance" p.
George Denzler, Professor of Church History at the University of Bamberg, no stranger to the history of the Catholic Church in the Third Reich, goes even further than his colleagues by stating that historians should not even consider the word Widerstand to define the behavior of the Catholic church under Hitler. Although individual Catholics did resist the Hitler regime, Denzler argues that the German Catholic church, as an institution, failed to follow in the footsteps of Christ in its unwillingness to risk persecution by the state in order to speak out for justice and dignity for all people.
He admits that even though the church did engage in conduct that the state would threateningly label as "deviant," which, at times, partially restricted the "totalitarian claim to power of National Socialism" p. To support this argument, Denzler quotes extensively from both primary sources and from interviews that he conducted originally for programs for Bavarian radio with churchmen who had lived through this period.
While offering analysis, he also allows the often damning quotes to speak for themselves to illustrate the extent of accommodation that the institutional Catholic church and its leaders were willing to make in order to survive within the Nazi state. A major strength of Denzler's work is his use of examples to present and illustrate his case.
For example, in his overview of the church's interaction with National Socialism prior to and throughout Hitler's years of power, Denzler makes us aware of the church's diverse response to National Socialism as evidenced in the reaction of individual Catholics such as Fr. Stephen Rugel of Augsburg, who, even prior to , spoke out against Hitler's antisemitism, predicting correctly where it might lead. Similarly, Denzler reveals the difficulty average priests had to endure once the German bishops reversed their verdict against National Socialism in a public statement on March 28, For example, Fr.
Ludwig Wolker, General President of the Catholic Young Men's Association, wrote his bishop to inform him how difficult priests in the trenches found it to "switch gears" p. Despite individuals such as these, Denzler argues that most priests adhered to their bishops charge not to cause trouble with the new state.
Most of the blame for such compliance, Denzler places on the shoulders of the bishops who taught and encouraged loyalty and submission to the authority of the state. However, Denzler does point out that there were exceptions to this rule, such as Konrad von Preysing, Bishop of Eichstaett and then Bishop of Berlin , who, together with members of the Committee for Members of Religious Orders, urged his fellow bishops to abandon the Eingabenpolitik of Adolf Cardinal Bertram, Archbishop of Breslau and head of the German Bishops Fulda Conference, and adopt a course of confrontation toward the Nazi government and party.
Unfortunately, as Denzler correctly points out, his efforts fell on deaf ears. The bishops were too concerned with the fate of their own institution to jeopardize it by a clear campaign against the Nazi government. According to Denzler, most German bishops gradually accommodated themselves to National Socialism after their March 28 pronouncement.
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For example, in , after the promulgation of the state's forced sterilization law, Denzler relates that despite their protests, the bishops made provisions for hospital personnel who had to perform this procedure. Similarly, he reveals how the bishops acceded to the increasingly harsh antisemitic policies of the Hitler regime. Starting with the April 1, boycott of Jewish owned businesses, Denzler accounts the case of Michael Cardinal von Faulhaber, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, who, like most bishops, feared reprisal from the state and loss of public support from Catholics if they advocated for Jews.
Sacred Hymns From the German, translated by Frances Elizabeth Cox
Denzler points out that Faulhaber did instruct German Catholics not to engage in any actions that were unchristian toward Jews. Nevertheless, Faulhaber was not willing to go further and, instead, believed that the Jews could take care of themselves. Denzler points out that this was symptomatic and representative of bishops like Faulhaber who exhibited traditional anti-Judaism. More importantly, Denzler observes that during this period, it was very difficult for the average Catholic to distinguish between anti-Judaism and antisemitism.
Both affected Jews negatively. Only the papal encyclical Mit brennender Sorge came close to speaking on behalf of the Jews in its one clear sentence against the racial fanaticism of National Socialism.
Yet, Denzler notes that it "intentionally avoided the word Jew" to clarify its criticism of the state's treatment of Jews p. Those bishops who did publicly confront the state through their preaching and actions, such as Preysing and Clemens August von Galen, Bishop of Muenster, who spoke against the state's T-4 euthanasia program, were left to stand alone. Der Tod mit seiner Macht. Er bleibt ein totes Bild,. Die Welt ist mir ein Lachen. Mit ihrem grossen Zorn;. Mein Herz und Angesicht;. Die Nacht mein Sonnenblick. An Christo als ein Glied;. Wo mein Haupt durch ist gangen,.
Da nimmt er mich auch mit. Er reisset durch den Tod,. Ich bin stets sein Gesell. Er dringt zum Saal der Ehren,.
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Und darf mich gar nicht kehren. An einzig Ungemach. Es tobe, was da kann,. Mein Haupt nimmt sich mein an;. Mein Heiland ist mein Schild,. Der alles Toben stillt. Er bringt mich an die Pforten,. Der Reim gelesen wird:. Wer dort mit sterben geht,. The omitted Stanza 3 reads:. Upon the grave is standing. The Hero, looking round;. The Foe, no more withstanding,.
His weapons on the ground. Throws down, his hellish power. Must yield his feet and hands. In this book reference is made to three hymns for evening, midnight, and morning, recommended for the use of the scholars. These have been somewhat changed in the version of our Lutheran Hymnary. Ich bin in Christus eingesenkt, ich bin mit seinem Geist beschenkt. Es sei in mir kein Tropfen Blut, der nicht, Herr, deinen Willen tut. It contained seven six-lined stanzas and bore the title, Erneuerung des Taufbundes Renewal of the Baptismal Covenant.
Our English translation, rendered by Dr. There are three English translations. See: O little flock, fear not the foe. Jesus ist feiner, Jesus ist reiner als die Engel allzumal. Nichts soll mir werden lieber auf Erden als du, liebster Jesus mein. There is, however, no tangible evidence to prove this. During the course of time it has undergone several changes, stanzas have been added and others omitted, etc. Its modern form together with the beautiful melody was noted down from oral recitation in the province of Glaz, Silesia, and was printed in Schlesische Volkslieder, Leipzig, This version became the basis for our present English translation, which was rendered by Dr.
It was this hymn with its beautiful melody which inspired the poet B. AND one of the elders answered, saying unto me, These that are arrayed in the white robes, who are they, and whence came they? And I said unto him, My Lord, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they that came out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them.
Den store, hvide flok vi se som tusen bjerge fuld av sne, med skov omkring av palmesving for tronen—hvo er de? It is the folktune, the spirit of the language and the rhythm, of the imagery and thought, something incomparable and unexplainable, an element of power everlasting: That is, this plain, pious, emotional lyric passion which gives birth to sadness and longing, power and triumphant joy. Behold the Lamb of God! The Lutheran Hymnary contains stanzas 1, 2, 5, and 7, with a few slight variations.
Aus einer Wurzel zart,. Als uns die Alten sungen,. Von Jesse kam die Art,.
Mitten im kalten Winter. Wohl zu der halben Nacht. Das Reislein, das ich meine,. Davon Jesaias sagt,.
Hat uns gebracht alleine. Marie, die reine Magd. Hat sie ein Kind geboren. Den Hirten auf dem Felde. Wie zur selbigen Stunde. Da sie das Kindlein finden,. Mit seinem hellen Scheine.
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