World War II in the News is a review of WWII articles providing thought-provoking collection of hand-picked WW2 information.

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Religion in Nazi Germany

Religion, churches and faith in Nazi Germany.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: Heinrich Himmler, Secret History of Vatican - HitlerJugend Pope, Nazi Occult, Nazi-era Footage.

German Catholic Church admits complicity with Nazis
After decades of ambivalence, document prepared by clergy says hundreds of priests gave spiritual guidance to Hitler’s soldiers on front, ‘lent war an additional sense of purpose’

In 1941 a Group of Americans Arranged a Hex Party to Kill Adolf Hitler by a Voodoo Spell
On January 22, 1941 a group of young idealists went to a cabin in the Maryland woods to put a voodoo spell on Hitler. Black magic or not, these Nazi-haters knew how to party. The party featured `a dressmaker`s dummy, a Nazi uniform, nails, axes, tom-toms and plenty of Jamaica rum,` and was inspired by a book by occultist and writer William Seabrook that was popular at the time: Witchcraft: Its Power in the World Today.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich
In "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy: A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich," author Eric Metaxas provides a detailed review of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life, from his childhood and family life to his death at the hands of the Nazis and the conspiracies that led him to his execution. History buffs will be familiar with the Valkyre plot to assassinate Hitler, but Bonhoeffer brings to light many of the early conspirators and their political efforts to stop the Third Reich from amassing the power they would eventually had.

Soviet archives reveal how Russia showed huge support for Nazi invaders who had come to fight godless communists
A secret archive has revealed how thousands of Soviet citizens collaborated with "Christian crusader" Nazi invaders. The documents, collected by Professor Boris Kovalyov of the University of Novgorod, shows how many considered the Germans as Christian liberators, and their own masters as godless Communists. This view was reinforced when the Nazis opened up 470 churches in north-western Russia alone and reinstated priests driven from their pulpits by Stalin. In turn, the clergy supported the Third Reich by co-operating closely with SS death squads by betraying Communist officials, Jews and partisan resistance groups.

Hide and Seek: A Dramatic True Story of Rivalry, Survival and Forgiveness During WWII by Stephen Walker
The Vatican had a very bad war. Pope Pious XII has gone down in history as "Hitler's Pope", a man of deafening silences who made no public protests at Nazi atrocities - or even at the rounding up of Italian Jews. Add to that the assistance the Vatican gave in the post-war chaos to Nazis on the run. So it is a surprise for to learn of a Vatican priest who did all in his power to help escaped POWs from the Allied forces survive by hiding them in and around Nazi-occupied Rome - while playing a real-life game of "cat and mouse" with Gestapo colonel Herbert Kappler.

Catholicism and the Roots of Nazism: Religious Identity and National Socialism by Derek Hastings (book review)
Previous research has already shown that a huge number of Christians in the Third Reich embraced Nazism, but Derek Hastings breaks new ground by showing that völkisch Catholics in Munich had a major role in the origin and establishment of the Nazi Party during the 1920s. Not only did Catholics join the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), they also made big contributions to the party's ideology. Catholic priests, university students, and opinion leaders wrote articles for the Völkischer Beobachter, gave field sermons, blessed Sturmabteilung standards, and promoted eugenics and racial purity.

Six Million Crucifixions: How Christian Teachings about Jews Paved the Road to the Holocaust (book review)
2000 years of Christian anti-Semitism provided the "nitroglycerin" for the "dynamite" of the Final Solution: "The Nazis simply had to light the match," argues Gabriel Wilensky. His book details the anti-Semitism throughout the Europe's history since the birth of Christianity. This concise narrative - filled with pictures, charts, and lists of anti-Semitic papal pronouncements - places medieval drawings next to Nazi propaganda to reveal their similarities. From Augustine to the crusades, Inquisition, and Reformation, Wilensky documents the hatred on which the Nazis drew to carry out the Holocaust.

Photographs: Nazis and religion
The following photographs provide a pictorial glimpse of Adolf Hitler, how the Third Reich mixed religion with government, and the support for Hitler by the Protestant and Catholic Churches in Nazi Germany.

How Catholic priests helped Nazi war criminals to escape Europe after the end of World War II   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Catholic priests turned more than a blind eye to the pasts of the Nazis they helped, and without the assistance of such priests, the Nazis could never have escaped Europe in such vast numbers - or with such a style: carried around in cars with Vatican diplomatic plates. The two most important priests in the system that enabled the Nazis to escape through Austria and Italy were the Croatian Mgr Krunoslav Draganovic and the Austrian Bishop Alois Hudal. When Franz Stangl, the commandant of Treblinka (who oversaw the murder of 780,000 Jews) arrived in Rome in 1948, his first call was Hudal, who arranged Stangl a safe passage to Syria.

Reincarnation? 2-year-old knows everything about a fighter pilot who died in WWII (see the video)
The book "Soul Survivor" is the story of James Leininger, who, after 2nd birthday, began having nightmares. He screamed out phrases like: "Plane on fire! Little man can't get out!" As details of his plane and names continued, parents Bruce and Andrea Leininger pieced together that he was reliving the past life of WWII fighter pilot James Huston (shot down by Japanese). James id'ed pilot's comrades when he met them and knew details about Huston's childhood (comfirmed by his sister) that no one knew. Also read what skeptic Ken Gross, who helped to write the book, said

The Kristallnacht was a joyful moment for Bishop Martin Sasse
The Kristallnacht was a joyful moment for Bishop Martin Sasse, head of the Protestant church of Thuringia. Riots, ransacking, beatings and destruction of Jewish property seemed to fulfill his hopes: the Nazi regime was ridding the Reich of Jews. The strong action of Third Reich against the Jews made Sasse feel he could take strong action to implement his project: ridding the church of Jewishness. Bishop Sasse was a leading figure in the German Christian movement, an alliance of pastors, bishops, theologians and lay people, formed in 1932, who supported Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and sought to create nazified, anti-Semitic, and unified German Protestant church.

Nun Mary Anthony Mathews spent WWII in Japanese prison camp in China
In 1933, nuns from the Adorers of the Blood of Christ's Ruma Province answered Pope Pius XI's call for missionaries. Their task was to travel to Japanese-held areas of China to help poor Chinese civilians. Although they were on a mission of mercy, they soon found themselves held in a concentration camp along with caught Chinese soldiers. Despite Sister Mathews' readiness to go, nuns who volunteered knew they were risking their lives - China was already at war with Japan. Sister Mathews said their captivity was an odd situation, very different from what Allied combatants experienced, as they were given plenty of food.

Nazi church seeks future as bulwark against fascism
A rundown church built to glorify Adolf Hitler's Third Reich is hoping for a new lease of life as a memorial against Nazi oppression. The place of worship in Berlin is a unique example of the Protestant Church's adoption of Nazi propaganda. From the chandelier shaped like an iron cross medal to the carving of a Wehrmacht soldier on the pulpit the place is filled with reminders of Nazi rule. The building's origins go back to the anti-Semitic Deutsche Christen movement which claimed to have hundreds of thousands of members by the mid-1930s. A study by Manfred Gailus figured that 25% of Berlin's Protestant parishes were run by pro-Nazi clergy.

German Church admits aiding Nazis: Thousands forced to work for the Nazi war machine
Germany's Roman Catholic Church has admitted the magnitude of its involvement in the use of forced labour during World War II. A 700-page report says 1,000 prisoners of war and some 5,000 civilians were forced to work for the Nazis in support of the German war effort. They were drafted from 800 Catholic-run institutions across the country. The Church had previously paid $2m in compensation to foreign workers. "It should not be concealed that the Catholic Church was blind for too long ... " said Cardinal Karl Lehmann. The Protestant Church has admitted a similar use of forced labour.

The Nazis and Christianity - Religion in Weimar Republic, Third Reich   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Christianity had declined in Germany at the time the Nazis came to power. In his book, The Dictators, Richard Overy states that in the decades preceding WWI Germany was becoming secular, and that after that war, 1918-1931, 2.4 million evangelicals renounced their faith. In Prussia only 21% took communion, and in Hamburg only 5%. Professor Henri Lichtenberger in his 1937 book, The Third Reich, describes the religious life of the Weimar Republic as a place in which the large cities were "spiritual cemeteries." Jacob Marcus in his 1934 book notes that "Though his parents were both Catholics, Hitler himself has apparently no interest in any organized religion."

Slovak bishop praises Nazi regime as "a time of well-being"
There has been uproar in Slovakia after the archbishop of Bratislava Jan Sokol described life in the fascist wartime Slovak state as "a time of well-being". Angry debate has erupted after his interview with the Slovak news channel TA3. Asked for his recollections of wartime Slovakia - a Nazi puppet state led by Roman Catholic priest Jozef Tiso - he said it was a time of well-being. 70,000 Slovak Jews were deported, under a deal in which the Slovak government paid Nazi Germany to take them.

Bishop with golden Nazi Party badge helped nazis to flee   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Vatican is to release archives showing if a senior bishop helped Nazis escape justice. Monsignor Alois Hudal gained the nickname Black Bishop for his pro- Hitler views. He even had a golden Nazi Party membership badge. He has long been suspected of providing passports and other help for Nazis trying to flee as the allies tracked down nazi war criminals after the Second World War. They included Adolf Eichmann, who was found in Argentina.

Uncertainty hangs over Germany's last Nazi-era church   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Berlin's Martin Luther Memorial Church - referred to as the "Adolf Hitler Church" during World War II - stands shrouded in scaffolding, its future in the balance. Mariendorf is split about what should be done with Germany's last remaining Nazi-era place of worship. Others argue that it has to be preserved as a reminder of a dark chapter in history, when a number of clerics and tens of thousands of churchgoers supported Adolf Hitler's National Socialist Party 1933-1945. Its organ was played at the Nazi Reichsparteitag in Nuremberg in 1935. One of its then officials said in 1935 that, "...the German people have in Hitler been presented with a great Fuehrer."

Adolf Hitler's nazi version of the Commandments discovered
A nazi bible featuring Adolf Hitler's version of the Ten Commandments has been discovered. Adolf Hitler got his theorists to alter the Commandments - and add two more - in a bid to further the Aryan ideal for the book "Germans With God". New ones included Honour your Fuhrer and your master, Avoid all hypocrisy, and Keep the blood pure and your honour holy. The book, printed in 1941 was meant to be essential reading in Nazi Germany alongside Hitler's Mein Kampf. Hitler hated the church's teachings, but he knew it's power in Nazi Germany and couldn't banish it overnight, so his plan was to gradual Nazifying.

Vatican to open Nazi Germany tied archives from 1922 to 1939   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Pope has decided to open all Vatican archives from 1922 to 1939, giving new insight into what they knew and did as Europe saw the rise of Nazism in Germany and the Spanish Civil War. Decision means opening central files, known as the Secret Archives, and files of its Secretariat of State for the pontificate of Pope Pius XI on September 18. Historians have long pressed the Vatican to open its wartime archives to answer questions about what it knew about the Nazi actions.

Fringe religions helped propel rise of Nazi Party
The German Faith Movement, an amalgamation of new age ideas and distorted Christian concepts played a pivotal role in paving the way for the rise of National Socialism, in Weimar Germany, according to a new book by emerita professor Karla Poewe, who as a little girl in wartime Germany was forced to flee her home. She attempted to get into the minds of pre-war Germans by variety of archival material. She looked at letters, diaries, lecture notes and newspaper articles, as well as the correspondence between leading intellectuals and religious leaders of the day. "The question I want answered is, Why did Germans support National Socialism in the first place?"

Sweden's Lutheran church applied Nazi race laws   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Sweden's Lutheran church applied Nazi race laws to stop Germans living in Sweden during World War II from marrying Jews. The Swedish state church applied German laws that forbade "Aryan" German citizens from marrying Jews, and stopped at least 5 such marriages from taking place. The church acted on the recommendation of the foreign ministry as Sweden, which was officially neutral, sought to appease Nazi Germany to stave off an invasion. Over 400 Swedes who married "Germans of so-called Aryan heritage" were forced to sign a written assurance that their parents or grandparents did not have Jewish roots.

Film examines religious leaders’ support of Nazi Party
In 1933, when Adolf Hitler rose to power, many of Germany’s religious leaders viewed the Nazi Party as a vehicle for the country’s spiritual revival. Three men in particular ­— all prominent Protestant theologians — saw Hitler’s ascent to power as God’s blessing. Paul Althaus, Gerhard Kittel and Emanuel Hirsch eventually joined the Nazi Party and to varying degrees rationalized Hitler’s killing of millions of European Jews. The movie is based on Robert P. Erikson’s book “Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer the German Lutheran theologian was wrong   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the German Lutheran theologian who was author of The Cost of Discipleship, Ethics and Letters and Papers from Prison. He studied briefly at New York’s Union Theological Seminary in 1930, and developed a theory of “religionless Christianity.” He taught that we should not use the concept of God to “fill in the gaps” in our understanding of the world, helped rescue some Jews and, along with several members of his large family, participated in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, was arrested and hanged in 1945. With the help of liberal Protestant theologians like Harvey Cox, Bonhoeffer’s ideas were rediscovered and became influential in the 1960s.

Nazis tried to steal Christmas as a part of re-paganize program   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The plan to take Christ out of Christmas was part of an overall program to re-paganize the German people during the rise of the Third Reich, in keeping with notions of Nazi "racial purity." The religion of Hitler's state was a "kind of murky pantheism," a thinly veiled attempt to overlay paganized, nationalistic fervor over Christianity. Traditional Christianity was seen as "foreign" and suspect to the sovereignty of the Third Reich. Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels said he wished to do away with celebrations of Weinachten (Christmas) altogether.
(Tribune-Herald writer)

Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany: Christian Nationalism, Anti-Semitism
The Nazis and Adolf Hitler are commonly thought of as representing the antithesis of Christianity and Christian values. If that's true, why did tens of millions of German Christians adore Hitler, join the Nazis, and participate in the Holocaust (among other atrocities)? Hitler and the Nazis promoted a Christian nationalism, anti-communism, anti-Semitism, and return to traditional values which most Christians appreciated. The Nazi party platform specifically endorsed 'positive' Christianity.

German christian community: Hitler’s reign - the second coming of Christ
Three professors profiled in the Documentary “Theologians Under Hitler“ were looked at as legitimate leaders by German Christians. Much of the Christian community in Germany found Adolf Hitler’s reign to be the second coming of Christ. Documentary revealed what can often happen when the marriage between church and state goes wrong.

The rise of National Socialism proved politics and religion don't mix
German moderates and German elites underestimated Hitler, assuming that most people would not succumb to his Manichean unreason; they didn’t think that his hatred and mendacity could be taken seriously. They were proven wrong. People were enthralled by the Nazis’ cunning transposition of politics into carefully staged pageantry, into flag-waving martial mass.
(In These Times)

The church's role in the Reich - Archives before WW2 are open   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Now, with the election of Pope Benedict XVI, a man who grew up under the Nazi regime, there has been popular discussion about how Catholic leaders spoke out or failed to speak out against the Third Reich. Early in 2003, the Holy See opened the Vatican archives for material pertaining to Germany from the years during the pontificate of Pius XI, that is, up to 1939. At the same time, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith opened its archives for that period. With Hitler and the Vatican, Peter Godman is the first to use those archives and publish his findings in English.
(National Catholic Reporter)