UBC Theses and Dissertations
Hitler and the churches, 1933-1939 Taylor, Robert R.
For purposes of this thesis, we accept the view that the Christian Church's power declined after the Middle Ages, and a secular, industrial, mass society developed in Western Europe, a society which, by the nineteenth century, had begun to deprive men--particularly the proletariat—of their spiritual roots, and which created the need for a new faith. In Germany, this situation, especially acute after the first World War, was conditioned by the peculiar history of church-state relations there as well as by the weakened position of the middle classes. For a variety of reasons, young Germans in the first decades of this century were in a "revolutionary" mood. Adolf Hitler himself was such a young person, raised in a bourgeois Christian environment, yet strongly affected by the political and social trends of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. National Socialism, with its anti-Semitism and its call for national regeneration, became the substitute faith of Germans and was directed by cynical politicians. Much of this "theology" was determined by political considerations; that is, by what appealed to non-Nazi Germans. It demanded, for example, a total commitment which many were ready to give. The religious trappings of this Weltanschauung were manufactured by Nazi leaders, who did not themselves believe in them. Seeking to win the nation's youth, Hitler found himself in conflict with orthodox faith, but he knew that, if the Party was permanently to dominate Germany, Christianity would have to be eliminated. The Christian attitude, however, aided the Nazis in consolidating their power. The Lutheran view of the state, especially that of the "German Christians", offered little resistance. The Catholic attitude was more hostile, but ultimately did not prevent German Catholics from rivalling their Protestant colleagues in enthusiasm for Nazi reforms. [ ... ]
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