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But the Evangelical Lutheran State Church of Hanover hesitated to openly confront the Nazi Reich's government, still searching for an understanding even after Niemöller, Rabenau and Kurt Scharf Congregation in Sachsenhausen Oranienburg circulated an appeal, calling the pastors up not to fill in the forms, meant to prove their Aryan descent, distributed by the Evangelical Supreme Church Council.
Reinhold Krause, then president of the Greater Berlin section of the German Christians , held a speech, defaming the Old Testament for its alleged "Jewish morality of rewards" German: A wave of protest flooded over the German Christians , which ultimately initiated the decline of that movement. On 25 November the complete Bavarian section of the German Christians declared its secession. Many presbyters of German Christian alignment retired, tired from disputing.
Müller then prompted the arrestment or disciplinary procedures against about 60 pastors alone in Berlin, who had been denounced by spies or congregants of German Christian affiliation. The Gestapo tapped Niemöller's phone and thus learned about his and Walter Künneth 's plan to personally plea Hitler for a dismissal of Ludwig Müller.
The same day Ludwig Müller decreed the Führerprinzip , a hierarchy of subordination to command, within the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union. The verdict would have major consequences for the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union. Furthermore, Müller degraded the legislative provincial synods and the executive provincial church councils into mere advisory boards.
In a series of provincial synods the opposition assumed shape. Martin Albertz, elected its first provincial brethren council , comprising Supt. The Gestapo shut down one office of the provincial brethren council after the other.
John's Church, Berlin- Moabit. The Gestapo summoned her more than 40 times and tried to intimidate her, confronting her with the fact that she, being partly of Jewish descent, would have to realise the worst possible treatment in jail.
Some functionaries and laymen in the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union opposed the unification of the 28 Protestant church bodies, but many more agreed, but they wanted it under the preservation of the true Protestant faith, not imposed by Nazi partisans. In reaction to the convention and claims of the German Christians non-Nazi Protestants met in Barmen from 29 to 31 May On 29 May those coming from congregations within the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union held a separate meeting, their later on so-called first old-Prussian Synod of Confession German: The participants declared this basis to be binding for any Protestant Church deserving that name and confessed their allegiance to this basis see Barmen Theological Declaration.
Henceforth the movement of all Protestant denominations, opposing Nazi adulteration of Protestantism and Nazi intrusion into Protestant church affairs, was called the Confessing Church German: Presbyteries with German Christian majorities often banned Confessing Christians from using church property and even entering the church buildings. Many church employees, who opposed, were dismissed. While the German Christians , holding the majority in most official church bodies, lost many supporters, the Confessing Christians , comprising many authentical persuasive activists, still remained a minority but increased their number.
As compared to the vast majority of indifferent, non-observing Protestants, both movements were marginal. One pre tradition of non-ecclesiastical influence within church structures had made it into the new constitution of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union of Many of the churches, which had been founded before the 19th century, had a patron holding the ius patronatus , meaning that either the owner of a manor estate in the countryside or a political municipality or city was in charge of maintaining the church buildings and paying the pastor.
No pastor could be appointed without the consent of the patron advowson. This became a curse and a blessing during the Nazi period. While all political entities were Nazi-streamlined they abused the patronage to appoint Nazi-submissive pastors on the occasion of a vacancy.
Also estate owners sometimes sided with the Nazis. But more estate owners were conservative and thus rather backed the opposition in the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union. So the congregations under their patronage could often keep or appoint anew a pastor of the intra-church opposition.
On 9 August the Second National Synod , with all synodals again admitted by the Spiritual Ministerium , severed the uniformation of the formerly independent Protestant church bodies, disenfranchising their respective synods to decide in internal church matters. These pretensions increased the criticism among church members within the streamlined church bodies. The Lutheran church bodies of Bavaria right of the river Rhine and Württemberg again refused to merge in September The imprisonment of their leaders, Bishop Meiser and Bishop Wurm, evoked public protests of congregants in Bavaria right of the river Rhine and Württemberg.
Thus the Nazi Reich's government saw, that the German Christians aroused more and more unrest among Protestants, rather driving people into opposition to the government, than domesticating Protestantism as useful beadle for the Nazi reign.
A breakthrough was the verdict of 20 November The court Landgericht I in Berlin decided that all decisions, taken by Müller since he decreed the Führerprinzip within the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union on 26 January, the same year, were to be reversed.
But the prior dismissals of opponents and impositions of loyal German Christians in many church functions were not reversed. Werner regained his authority as president of the Evangelical Supreme Church Council. In autumn the Gestapo ordered the closure of the existing free preachers' seminaries, whose attendance formed part of the obligatory theological education of a pastor.
The existing Reformed seminary in Wuppertal-Elberfeld, led by Hesse, resisted its closure and was accepted by the Confessing Church , which opened more preachers' seminaries German: These activities completely depended on donations.
In the Gestapo closed the seminaries in the east. Iwand, on whom in the Gestapo had inflicted the nationwide prohibition to speak in the public, reopened a seminary in Dortmund in January This earned him an imprisonment of four month in the same year.
Among their examiners were originally professors of the Frederick William University of Berlin , who refrained from examining after their employer, the Nazi government, threatened to dismiss them in The Gestapo forbade the opening ceremony in Dahlem, thus Supt. Albertz spontaneously celebrated it in St. On 4 December, the Gestapo closed the KiHo altogether, thus the teaching and learning continued underground at changing locations.
Among the teachers were Supt. The synodals elected by all confessing congregations and the congregations of the intact churches decided to found an independent German Evangelical Church. Since the confessing congregations would have to contravene the laws as interpreted by the official church bodies, the synod developed an emergency law of its own. Bruderrat as provisional presbytery, and a Confessing congregation assembly German: Bekenntnisgemeindeversammlung to parallelise the congregants' representation.
The Confessing congregations of each deanery formed a Confessing deanery synod German: Kreis-Bekenntnissynode , electing a deanery brethren council German: If the superintendent of a deanery clung to the Confessing Church , he was accepted, otherwise a deanery pastor German: Kreispfarrer was elected from the midst of the Confessing pastors in the deanery.
Confessing congregants elected synodals for a Confessing provincial synod as well as Confessing State synod German: Landes-Bekenntnissynode , who again elected a provincial brethren council or the state brethren council of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union colloquially old-Prussian brethren council , and a council of the Confessing ecclesiastical province German: Rat der Bekennenden Kirche of the respective ecclesiastical province or the council of the Confessing Church of the old-Prussian Union , the respective administrative bodies.
Any obedience to the official bodies of the destroyed church of the old-Prussian Union was to be rejected. The synodals elected a Reich's Brethren Council , which elected from its midst the executive Council of the German Evangelical Church , consisting of six. In Berlin Confessing Christians celebrated the constitution of their church on the occasion of the Reformation Day 31 October The Gestapo forbade them any public event, thus the festivities had to take place in closed rooms with bidden guests only.
All the participants had to carry a so-called red card , identifying them as proponents of the Confessing Church. On 7 December the Gestapo forbade the Confessing Church to rent any location, in order to prevent future events like that.
The Nazi government then forbade any mentioning of the Kirchenkampf in which media whatsoever. Hitler was informed about the proceedings in Dahlem and invited the leaders of the three Lutheran intact churches , Marahrens, Meiser and Wurm. He recognised them as legitimate leaders, but expressed that he would not accept the Reich's Brethren Council.
This was meant to wedge the Confessing Church along the lines of the uncompromising Confessing Christians , around Niemöller from Dahlem, therefore nicknamed the Dahlemites German: Dahlemiten , and the more moderate Lutheran intact churches and many opposing functionaries and clergy in the destroyed churches , which had not yet been dismissed.
Vorläufige Leitung der Deutschen Evangelischen Kirche , 1. The executive was meant to only represent the Reich's Brethren Council to the outside.
Between end of and March the central office of the Preliminary Church Executive was located in the Burckhardt-Haus of the school for social workers German: Lehrhaus für Gemeindehelferinnen der ev. With the verdict of the Landgericht I, and this turn in Hitler's policy Jäger resigned from his office as state commissioner. Müller refused to resign as Reich's bishop but had to unwind all measures taken to forcefully unite the church bodies.
The synodals decided that the Confessing Church of the old-Prussian Union should unite with the destroyed official Church of the old-Prussian Union. The synodals further adopted a declaration about the Nazi racist doctrine. The same month the declaration was read in all confessing congregations, that the Nazi racist doctrine, claiming there were a Jewish and an Aryan race, was pure mysticism.
In reaction to that the Nazi government arrested pastors, who had read this declaration from their pulpits. The official church ordered to read a declaration demanding the parishioners' obedience to the Nazi government.
From then on every Tuesday the brethren councils issued updated lists with the names of the imprisoned. Since the 28 Protestant church bodies in Germany levied contributions from their parishioners by a surcharge on the income tax , collected and then transferred by the state tax offices, the official church bodies denied the confessing congregations their share in the contributions.
Each congregation had its own budget and the official church authorities transferred the respective share in the revenues to the legitimate presbytery of each congregations, be it governed by German Christians or Confessing Christians.
The Nazi Reich's government now intended to drain this financial influx by a new decree with the euphemising title Law on the Wealth Formation within the Evangelical Church Bodies 11 March All budgets and remittances were to be confirmed by state comptrollers.
On 11 April an ordinance ordered that salaries were only to be remitted to orderly appointed employees and all future appointments of whomsoever, would only take effect with the consent of the financial departments.
Consistorial Councillor von Arnim-Kröchlendorff, a proponent of the Confessing Church , was appointed leader of the financial department for Berlin. He turned out to ignore the rules and to largely use his scope of discretion. Thus Confessing congregations outside of Berlin built up a new network of escrow accounts.
Confessing Christians of laity and Covenant pastors, still undisputedly receiving a full salary from the official church, agreed to substantial contributions to maintain the Confessing Church. On 4 to 6 June , two weeks after the Nuremberg Laws had been decreed, the synodals of the Confessing Church convened in Augsburg for the third Reich's Synod of Confession.
Disputes between the intact churches of Bavaria right of the river Rhine and Württemberg with the first preliminary church executive could be settled. Barth, refusing to sign the newly introduced oath of all professors to Hitler, had been dismissed from his chair at the Rhenish Frederick William's University of Bonn and remigrated to Switzerland, where he was appointed professor at the University of Basel.
But the synodals did not adopt a declaration, prepared by Supt. Albertz, condemning the Nuremberg Laws.
Wurm was elected speaker of the Confessing Church. Right after this synod the Nazi Reich's government intensified its fight against the Confessing Church.
Since the orderly courts often approved litigations against German Christian measurements, because they usually lacked any legal basis, on 26 June the Nazi government passed a law, which would ban all suits about church questions from being decided by orderly jurisdiction.
Thus the Nazi government cut off the Confessing Church from appealing to courts. Orderly courts could not overrule its decisions.
In fact the Decision-Taking Office only acted up after the compromises failed in In the following years of compromising Hermann Ehlers became a legal advisor of the old-Prussian brethren council , until he was arrested from June to July , which made him quit his collaboration.
On 16 July Hanns Kerrl was appointed Reich's minister for ecclesiastical affairs, a newly created department. Therefore, he dropped the extreme German Christians and tried to win moderate Confessing Christians and respected neutrals. On 24 September , a new law empowered Kerrl to legislate by way of ordinances within the Protestant church bodies, circumventing any synodal autonomy.
On 10 September the old-Prussian brethren council convened preparing the upcoming third old-Prussian Synod of Confession also Steglitz Synod. Albertz urged the brethren council to discuss the terrible situation of Jewish Germans and Gentile Germans of Jewish descent, as it turned by the Nuremberg Laws and all the other anti-Semitic discriminations. Albertz and Niemöller argued to discuss the memorandum, a majority of synodals refused and the memorandum was then laid ad acta. This was completely denied by the German Christians since , reserving Christianity as a religion exclusively for Gentiles, but also some Confessing Christians refused the baptism of Jews.
Kerrl managed to gain the very respected Wilhelm Zoellner a Lutheran, until general superintendent of Westphalia to form the Reich's Ecclesiastical Committee German: Reichskirchenausschuss , RKA on 3 October , combining neutral, moderate Confessing Christians and moderate German Christians to reconcile the disputing church parties.
So also the official German Evangelical Church became subordinate to the new bureaucracy, Ludwig Müller lost his say, but still retained the now meaningless titles of German Reich's Bishop and old-Prussian State Bishop. In the course of November state ecclesiastical committees and provincial ecclesiastical committees were to be formed.
Kerrl appointed a state ecclesiastical committee German: Wilhelm Ewald Schmidt Oberhausen und Supt. In November Kerrl decreed the parallel institutions of the Confessing Church to be dissolved, which was protested and ignored by the brethren councils. On 19 December Kerrl issued a decree which forbade all kinds of Confessing Church activities, namely appointments of pastors, education, examinations, ordinations, ecclesiastical visitations, announcements and declarations from the pulpit, separate financial structures and convening Synods of Confession; further the decree established provincial ecclesiastical committees.
The Confessing Church in the Rhenish and Westphalian ecclesiastical provinces blocked in fact the formation of provincial ecclesiastical committees until 14 February The March of Brandenburg provincial ecclesiastical committee est.
On 6 January, the members elected Zimmermann their president. On 10 January the Reich's ecclesiastical committee empowered by ordinance the provincial ecclesiastical committees to form ecclesiastical committees on the level of the deaneries, if assumed necessary. This was the case in the deanery of Berlin-Spandau. As a gesture of reconciliation the state ecclesiastical committee for the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union legitimised all ordinations and examinations of the Confessing Church retroactively for the time from 1 January to 30 November Nevertheless, the Confessing Church refused to accept the new examination office of the state ecclesiastical committee.
But Künneth Inner Mission and a number of renowned professors of the Frederick William University of Berlin , who worked for the Confessing Church before, declared their readiness to collaborate with the committee, to wit Prof.
Thus Kerrl successfully wedged the Confessing Church. On 4 December the March of Brandenburg provincial Synod of Confession agreed to split in two provincial subsections, one for Greater Berlin and one comprising the political Province of Brandenburg with two provincial brethren councils, led by Gerhard Jacobi Berlin, resigned in , but quarrels between the moderate and the Dahlemites continued and by Scharf Brandenburg , who followed the Dahlemite guidelines.
The first Preliminary Church Executive resigned, since its members, representing intact churches , wanted to co-operate with the committees, while its members from destroyed churches , especially the Dahlemites did not. Also the different provincial brethren councils within the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union were dissented.
While most brethren councillors of Berlin wanted to co-operate, the brethren council of Brandenburg without Berlin , of the Rhineland and the overall old-Prussian brethren council strictly opposed any compromises. Albertz, Bernhard Heinrich Forck St. This body was recognised by the brethren councils of the destroyed churches of the old-Prussian Union, of Bremen , of Nassau-Hesse and of Oldenburg as well as by a covenant of pastors from Württemberg the so-called Württembergische Sozietät.
Rat der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche Deutschlands , colloquially Lutherrat , Luther council as their own umbrella organisation. The brethren councils of the Lutheran destroyed churches of Brunswick , Lübeck, Mecklenburg , the Free State of Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, and Thuringia as well as some Lutheran confessing congregations within the territories of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union recognised this umbrella. However, the state brethren councils of the destroyed churches met occasionally in conferences.
Under the impression of more foreign visitors in Germany, starting with the Winter Olympics the year of was a relatively peaceful period. Kerrl let the committees do, as they liked. Also the anti-Semitic agitation was softened. However, the Sinti and Roma in Berlin realised the first mass internments, in order to present Berlin zigeunerfrei for the Summer Olympics.
But the less visible phenomena of the police state, like house searches, seizures of pamphlets and printed matters as well as the suppression of Confessing Church press continued. At Pentecost 31 May the second preliminary church executive issued a memorandum to Hitler, also read from the pulpits, condemning anti-Semitism, concentration camps , the state terrorism. A preliminary version had been published in foreign media earlier. If the Aryan human is glorified, so it is God's word, which testifies the sinfulness of all human beings.
On 15 December the old-Prussian brethren council issued a declaration, authored by Fritz Müller, criticising the compromising and shortcomings in the policy of the ecclesiastical committees. On the next day until the 18th the fourth old-Prussian Synod of Confession also Breslau Synod convened in Breslau, discussing the work of the ecclesiastical committees and how to continue the education and ordinations in the scope of the Confessing Church.
Meanwhile, the Olympic close hunting season had ended. The Gestapo increased its suppression, undermining the readiness for compromises among the Confessing Church. Zoellner concluded that this made his reconciliatory work impossible and criticised the Gestapo activities. He resigned on 2 February , paralysing the Reich's ecclesiastical committee, which thus lost all recognition among the opposition.
The open gap in governance of the official Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union was filled by the still existing Evangelical Supreme Church Council under Werner and by the consistories on the provincial level.
Werner now systematically drained the financial sources of the Confessing Church. Werner became the man of Kerrl. However, Kerrl's ministerial bureaucracy also knew what to do without him.
From now on the ministry of church affairs subjected also the other Protestant church bodies, which in amounted after mergers to 23, to state controlled financial committees.
Any attempt to impose a union upon all Protestant church bodies was given up. The government now preferred to fight individual opponents by prohibitions to publish, to hold public speeches, by domiciliary arrest, banishments from certain regions, and imprisonment.
Since 9 June collections of money were subject to strict state confirmation, regularly denied to the Confessing Church. In the period of the committee policy, unapproved collections were tolerated but now Confessing pastors were systematically imprisoned, who were denounced for having collected money.
On 10—13 May synodals convened in Halle upon Saale to discuss denominational questions of the Reformed, Lutheran and united congregations within the old-Prussian Confessing Church. The fifth old-Prussian Synod of Confession also Lippstadt Synod convened its synodals in Lippstadt on 21—27 August debating financial matters. In autumn the Gestapo further suppressed the underground theological education KiHo and systematically fought any examinations within the Confessing Church.
On 10 December the ministry of church affairs appointed Werner as president of the Evangelical Supreme Church Council. Werner then restaffed the March of Brandenburg consistory, newly appointing Johannes Heinrich as consistorial president after almost a year of vacancy and three further members of German Christian affiliation: In February Werner divested von Arnim-Kröchlendorff as chief of the financial department of Berlin, and replaced him by the Nazi official Erhard von Schmidt, who then severed the financial drainage of Berlin's Confessing Church.
For Hitler's birthday 20 April Werner developed a special gift. All pastors of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union should swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler. In May the seventh Synod of Confession of the Rhenish ecclesiastical province refused to comply, since it was not the state, which demanded the oath. The sixth old-Prussian Synod of Confession convened twice in Berlin, once in the Nikolassee Church 11—13 June and a second time in the parish hall of the Steglitz Congregation 31 July.
At the second meeting in Steglitz a majority of synodals complied to Werner's demand. However, the consistories demanded the oath, but in the Rhenish ecclesiastical province only out pastors refused to swear. In summer Kerrl reappeared on the scene with a new attempt to unite the church parties from their midst, using a federation named Wittenberger Bund , initiated Friedrich Buschtöns German Christians , Theodor Ellwein, and Prof. The ever-growing discrimination of Jewish Germans including the special category of Geltungsjuden and Gentile Germans of Jewish descent drove them ever deeper into impoverishment.
Even though the opponents managed to fight the Aryan paragraph within the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union Ludwig Müller abrogated it on 16 November , it took the Confessing Church until summer to build up a network for the persecuted. Internationales Hilfskomitee für deutsche evangelische, katholische und mosaische Auswanderer. The project was in a tailspin since the oecumenical partners in the US demanded to exclude persons of Jewish faith, before it definitely failed because the Nazi government expelled Siegmund-Schultze from Germany.
Reichsverband nichtarischer Christen , then renamed into Paul's Covenant German: Thus that new association had lost its most prominent leaders and faded, having become an organisation of so-called Mischlinge of Nazi terminology. She joined the office of Spiero. It was Grüber and some enthusiasts, who had started a new effort in The Bureau was mainly busy with supporting the re-education in other vocations, not yet prohibited for Jewish Germans and Gentile Germans of Jewish descent, and with finding nations of exile, who would grant immigration visa.
As long as the Nazis' decision, to murder all persons they considered as Jews, had not yet been taken, the Bureau gained some government recognition as an agency, promoting the emigration of the concerned persons. In the night of 9 November the Nazi government organised the November Pogrom , often euphemised as Kristallnacht. The well-organised Nazi squads killed several hundreds, set nine out of 12 major synagogues in Berlin on fire 1, synagogues all over Germany , 1, Jewish Berliners were deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
Grüber organised their hiding in the cottages in the allotment clubs in his parish. The Nazis only released the arrested inmates, if they would immediately emigrate. Thus getting visa became the main target and problem. While Bishop George Bell tried and managed to rescue many of the imprisoned pastors, successfully persuading the Church of England to provide them through the British government with British visa, the official Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union did not even try to intervene in favour of its imprisoned clergy.
Thus none of the Protestant pastors of Jewish descent remained in or returned to office. The staff of the Bureau Grüber grew to five persons on 19 December, then 30 in February and finally 35 by July the same year. Paul Heinitz, moved into the new location.
A welfare department under Richard Kobrak supported the often impoverished victims of persecution and Margarete Draeger organised the Kindertransporte.
Erwin Reisner served the victims as chaplain. Inge Jacobson worked as assistant of Grüber. In February the Reich's ministry of the interior combined the work of all offices busy with expelling Jewish Germans and Gentile Germans of Jewish descent in the Reich's central office for Jewish Emigration German: Reichszentrale für jüdische Auswanderung , led by Reinhard Heydrich.
Grüber answered because the Good Samaritan did so, and my Lord told me to do so. Auswandererabgabe , charging wealthier emigrants in order to finance the emigration of the poorer. The due was also used to finance the different recognised associations organising emigration. Minister Rust had banned all pupils of Jewish descent from attending public schools from 15 November on. Now the school became an Evangelical-Catholic oecumenical school, called Familienschule , the pupils named it Grüber School.
By autumn a new degree of persecution loomed. Grüber learned about it by the Wehrmacht commander of Lublin and then protested to every higher ranking superior up to the then Prussian Minister-President Hermann Göring , who forbade further deportations from Prussia for the moment. Now Grüber got himself a passport, with the help of Bonhoeffer's brother-in-law Hans von Dohnanyi from the Abwehr , to visit the deported in the Gurs concentration camp. But before he left the Gestapo arrested Grüber on 19 December and deported him two days later to Sachsenhausen concentration camp , and in to Dachau concentration camp.
On 27 February the Gestapo arrested and deported him by end of May to Dachau concentration camp , where he was murdered in August The Family school was ordered to close by the end of June Draeger dived into the underground by the end of , hiding in Berlin and surviving through some undaunted helpers, but was caught later and deported to Auschwitz in August , where she perished. Persons hiding from deportation used to call themselves submarine German: The fate of other collaborators of the Bureau: Evangelische Hilfsstelle für ehemals Rasseverfolgte , moved to its present site in Berlin-Zehlendorf , Teltower Damm In three quarters of the fostered survivors were unemployed and poor.
In Grüber established a foundation, running today senior homes and a nursing home, housing about a hundred survivors. In the night between 9 and 10 November the Nazis organised the November Pogrom. The pastors were recommended the following text: Help that nobody will act vengefully against them. Especially do not let disrupt the bond of love to those, who are standing with us in the same true belief and who are through Him like us Thy children. Elisabeth Schmitz, a congregant in the preach on the Day of Repentance and Prayer of Helmut Gollwitzer , then replacing the imprisoned Niemöller in St.
Holding Synods of Confession had been forbidden since , but now after the Olympic close hunting season had ended the authorities effectively fought the preparations and holding of the synods.
Thus synods had to be prepared in secret, therefore they were not referred to by the name of their venue any more, keeping the venue as long as possible in secret. On 18 and 20 March Werner, the president of Evangelical Supreme Church Council , severed the dismissal of opposing pastors by new ordinances, which empowered him to redeploy pastors against their will. Institut zur Erforschung und Beseitigung des jüdischen Einflusses auf das deutsche kirchliche Leben in Eisenach , led by Prof. With the beginning of the war 1 September Kerrl decreed the separation of the ecclesiastical and the administrative governance within the official Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union.
Werner remained administrative chief executive president of the Evangelical Supreme Church Council , an ecclesiastical executive was still to be found. Geistlicher Vertrauensrat , taking the ecclesiastical leadership for the German Evangelical Church from early on. From on the Nazis had tested the reaction of the general public to the murder of incurably sick people by films, articles, books and reports covering the subject.
The murder of the handicapped and the incurably sick was euphemised as Euthanasia. However, the so-called mercy killing of the sick did not become popular in the general public.
Nevertheless, the Nazi Reich's government started to implement the murder. On 1 September , the day Germany waged war on Poland, Hitler decreed the murder of the handicapped, living in sanatories, to be carried out by ruthless doctors.
After first murders in a testing phase the systematic murder started in On 22 August Hitler gathered the Wehrmacht generals and explained them the archaic character of the upcoming war: Genghis Khan chased millions of women and children to death, consciously and with a happy heart.
History sees him only as a great founder of states. It is of no concern, what the weak Western European civilisation is saying about me. Therefore I have mobilised my Skull Squads , for the time being only in the East, with the command to unpityingly and mercilessly send men, women and children of Polish descent and language to death.
This is the only way to gain the Lebensraum , which we need. Who is still talking today about the extinction of the Armenians? After the government waged war on Poland and thus started the Second World War, male members of the Confessing Church , such as Fritz Müller member of the second preliminary church executive , were preferently drafted for the army. In January , urged by the Wehrmacht, Hitler repeated that no wide-ranging actions against the Confessing Church are to be taken, so that the Gestapo returned to selective forms of repression.
As to the question of the churches he said: Tribes have been resettled just like this, and exactly the Soviet Union has recently given sufficient examples , how one could do that. There [among Wehrmacht members] one is still running to field-services. With the conquest of all the eastern former Prussian territories, which Germany had ceded to Poland after World War I, and their annexation by Nazi Germany the functionaries of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union expected the reintegration of the United Evangelical Church in Poland.
But this conflicted with the Nazi intention to convert the annexed territory, especially the Warthegau under Arthur Greiser , into an exemplary Nazi dictatorship. No prior civilian German administration existed in the Warthegau, so a solely Nazi party-aligned administration was set up.
Concerns respected within Germany, played no role in occupied and annexed parts of Poland. German law, as violated as it was, would not automatically apply to the Warthegau, but only selected rules. Almost all the Catholic, Jewish and Protestant clergy in the Warthegau was murdered or expelled, with the exception of some German-speaking Protestant pastors and few such Catholic priests.
In March Greiser decreed an ordinance for the Warthegau, which declared the church bodies not to be statutory bodies, as in Germany, but mere private associations. Minors under 18 years were banned to attend meetings and services, in order to alienate them from Christianity. All church property, except of a prayer hall, was to be expropriated.
Pastors, who would dare to speak up for the Jewish heritage within Christianity, such as the ten commandments, the sanctity of life Thou shalt not kill , the commandment of charity Third Book of Moses Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? The reinitiated government murders of the disabled, meanwhile including even war invalids, startled proponents of the Confessing Church bodies.
Representatives of the Confessing Church and the Roman Catholic Church protested at the Nazi Reich's government against the murders, which also included inmates of Christian sanatories.
Thou shalt not kill , is no commandment of God but a Jewish invention" and cannot claim any validity any more. The Nazi Reich's government then stopped the murders only to resume them soon later in a more secret way. The representatives of the official Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union , like its then leader Werner silenced about the murders. Werner continued to streamline the ecclesiastical institutions. In early he appointed Oskar Söhngen, simultaneously member of the Evangelical Supreme Church Council , as ecclesiastical leader of the March of Brandenburg consistory.
Albertz und Hans Böhm, the leaders of those educational institutions were arrested in July From 1 September on Jewish Germans and Gentile Germans of Jewish descent with three or four grandparents, who were enrolled with a Jewish congregation, and the special category of Geltungsjuden had to wear the Yellow badge. Thus the concerned congregants were easily to be identified by others. One of the rare reactions came from Vicar Katharina Staritz, competent for the synodal region of the city of Breslau.
In a circular she prompted the congregations in Breslau to take care of the concerned parishioners with special love and suggested that while services other respected congregants would sit next to their stigmatised fellow congregants in order to oppose this unwanted distinction.
The Nazi media heftily attacked her and the Gestapo deported her to a concentration camp she was later released , while the official Silesian ecclesiastical province fired her. In October proponents of the Confessing Church reported about Auschwitz concentration camp , newly opened on 23 September, that Jews were gassed there. The members of the second preliminary church executive could not believe it and did not speak up.
The synod dealt with replacing recruited pastors by female vicars, presbyters and laypersons. On 22 December the official German Evangelical Church called for suited actions by all Protestant church bodies to withhold baptised non- Aryans from all spheres of Protestant church life.
The second preliminary church executive of the Confessing German Evangelical Church together with the conference of the state brethren councils representing the destroyed churches including the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union issued a declaration of protest. Until almost all the remaining Jewish Germans and Gentile Germans of Jewish descent have been deported to the concentration camps. Thus on 10 June, the Reichssicherheitshauptamt dissolved the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland and deported the tiny rest of its collaborators 6 days later to Theresienstadt.
On the twelfth old-Prussian Synod of Confession 16—19 October in Breslau the synodals passed a declaration against the ongoing murder of Jews and the handicapped which was read from the pulpits in the confessing congregations. The massive devastations of inhabited areas of course also included church buildings and other church-owned real estate. In the city of Berlin e. When Soviet soldiers first entered into the territory of the Ecclesiastical Province of East Prussia in late , the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union decided to relocate church archives from endangered East and West Prussia into central parts of Prussia, where more than 7, church registers were finally rescued.
But with the Soviet offensives starting in January see Vistula-Oder Offensive , January—February, with the follow-up of the East Prussian Offensive , January—April, the East Pomeranian Offensive and the Silesian Offensives , February—April the Red Army advanced so speedily, that there was hardly a chance to rescue refugees, let alone archives of congregations in Farther Pomerania , eastern Brandenburg and from most congregations of the Silesian ecclesiastical province, as was recorded in a report about the situation in the ecclesiastical provinces 10 March By the end of the war millions of parishioners and many pastors were fleeing westwards.
With the end of the war the tragedy of church members, the destruction of churches, and the loss of church archives had no end. Thus an ever-growing number of parishioners was expelled. From on the Hohenzollern provincial deanery fell under the provisional supervision by the Evangelical State Church in Württemberg.
Mary's Church , only partially cleared from the debris. The representatives of the six still existing ecclesiastical provinces March of Brandenburg, Pomerania, Rhineland, Saxony, Silesia, and Westphalia and the central Evangelical Supreme Church Council of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union used the occasion to take fundamental decisions about the future of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union.
Dibelius and some Middle German representatives the so-called Dibelians could not assert themselves against Koch and his partisans, to maintain the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union as an integrated church body. The three ecclesiastical provinces of Danzig, East Prussia, and Posen-West Prussia, all completely located in today's Poland, today's Russian Kaliningrad Oblast and Lithuania Minor , were in the process of complete vanishing after the flight of many parishioners and pastors by the end of the war and the post-war Expulsion of Germans carried out by the Polish and Soviet governments in the years of — As to cooperation of all the Protestant church bodies in Germany strong resentments prevailed, especially among the Lutheran church bodies of Bavaria right of the river Rhine , the Hamburgian State , Hanover , Mecklenburg , the Free State of Saxony , and Thuringia , against any unification after the experiences during the Nazi reign with the German Evangelical Church.
But it was decided to replace the former German Federation of Protestant Churches by the new umbrella Evangelical Church in Germany , provisionally led by the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, a naming borrowed from the brethren council organisation.
Until all the six still existing ecclesiastical provinces of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union assumed new church constitutions declaring their independence. In the Kaliningrad Oblast most property of the Ecclesiastical Province of East Prussia had been taken by the state and is serving profane purposes these days.
The church founded a relief endowment German: Evangelisches Hilfswerk , helping the destitute people. The six surviving ecclesiastical provinces transformed into the following independent church bodies, to wit the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg , the Pomeranian Evangelical Church , the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland , the Evangelical Church of the Ecclesiastical Province of Saxony , the Evangelical Church of Silesia , and the Evangelical Church of Westphalia.
The Rhenish and the Westphalian synods constituted in November for the first time as state synods German: Landessynode of the respective, now independent church bodies. In at a meeting of delegates of the six surviving ecclesiastical provinces they confirmed the status quo, with the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union having transformed into a league of independent church bodies.
In July the provisional executive of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union had to convene separately in East and West, because the Soviets blocked the interzone traffic after the introduction of the Deutsche Mark in the Bizone and the French zone of occupation.
The schism was not yet fully overcome, since only the most radical German Christians had been removed or resigned from their positions. Many neutrals, forming the majority of clergy and parishioners, and many proponents of the quite doubtable compromising policy in the times of the struggle of the churches assumed positions.
It was Dibelius' policy to gain the mainstream of the parishioners. Thus the strict opposition of the Dahlemites and Barmensians continued to maintain their conventions in the old-Prussian brethren councils. The bulk of the mainstream parishioners shared a strong skepticism, if not even objection, against communism, so did Dibelius. Kirchenkanzlei , as its administrative body.
The heads of the Church body now bore the title President of the Council German: The Council consisted of the presidents of the member churches, the Praeses of the General Synod, members of each member church appointed by their respective synods, the Chief of the Church Chancery, two representatives of the Reformed parishioners and two general synodals, who were not theologians.
Until the appointment of the first head in President Dibelius, the former president of the Evangelical Supreme Church Council , and its other members officiated per pro as chief and members of the Church Chancery. In the Bavarian Bishop Hans Meiser, then president of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany , criticised the continuation of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union as an umbrella, since it lacked a denominational identity, despite the membership of the Prussian Union.
However, the GDR tolerated the cooperation to some extent because of the considerable subsidies granted by the two western member churches to the four from on five eastern member churches, which allowed the GDR National Bank and later its Staatsbank to pocket the western Deutsche Marks , else hard to earn by GDR exports to the west, while disbursing East German marks to the eastern churches at the arbitrarily fixed rate of 1: Its synodals from the East and the West would meet simultaneously in Berlin East and Berlin West , while messengers would keep up the communication between them.
The government of the GDR did not oppose the work of the committee due to the resulting inflow of Deutsche Marks. Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts and abolished the Church tax, which automatically collected parishioners' contributions as a surcharge on the income tax.
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