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By Dr. Beth A. Griech-Polelle

Clemens August Graf von Galen, Bishop of Munster from 1933 till his demise in 1946, is popular for his competition to Nazism, such a lot significantly for his public preaching in 1941 opposed to Hitler's euthanasia venture to rid the rustic of unwell, aged, mentally retarded, and disabled Germans. This provocative and revisionist biographical research of von Galen perspectives him from a special point of view: as a posh determine who moved among dissent and complicity throughout the Nazi regime, opposing sure components of nationwide Socialism whereas opting for to stay silent on concerns pertaining to discrimination, deportation, and the homicide of Jews. Beth Griech-Polelle areas von Galen within the context of his occasions, describing how the Catholic Church reacted to varied Nazi rules, how the anti-Catholic laws of the Kulturkampf formed the repertoire of resistance strategies of northwestern German Catholics, and the way theological interpretations have been used to justify resistance and/or collaboration. She discloses the explanations for von Galen's public denunciation of the euthanasia venture and the ramifications of his overtly defiant stance. She unearths how the bishop portrayed Jews and what that depiction intended for Jews residing in Nazi Germany. ultimately she investigates the construction of just like von Galen as "Grand Churchman-Resister" and discusses the results of this for the parable of Catholic conservative "resistance" developed in post-1945 Germany.

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31 Feelings of German nationalism, apparently, could triumph over concern for the violations of the sanctity of human life in war. Nowhere is von Galen’s nationalism more apparent at this time period than when, in  and , he reacted to two reports concerning the German military’s planned colonization of Eastern Europe. After reading the reports, he welcomed the plan of occupation and then went on to expand on this theme. In his article he stated that placing troops in Eastern Europe would not be enough.

55 Ignoring the disruption of Jewish daily life in Germany, von Galen then proceeded to relate the story of the arrest of several men in Münster who had defended the right of Catholic schools to remain confessional. He beseeched his listeners to remember that they were all parts of one body and that if one body part was harmed, then all parts were affected. I would argue that in von Galen’s definition, only Christians belong to the body, not Jews. 56 Again, in November , after Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass), von Galen did not speak publicly in defense of the Jews for fear of endangering what he viewed as Catholics’ precarious inclusion in the German state.

Political subservience ensured institutional survival, but the larger duty of the church, to address moral questions in a secular environment, was frequently quieted down in order to keep church-state relations harmonious. In this way the long-term effects of the Kulturkampf can be interpreted as having crippled many Catholics. Certainly Bismarck’s Kulturkampf did not succeed in eradicating Catholicism from Germany’s political and cultural life. What it did, however, was to create for many Catholics the dread fear that they would one day again be branded as ‘‘enemies within’’ by their national government.

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