The Politics of Religion in Soviet Occupied Germany: The Case of Berlin-Brandenburg 1945-1949

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This book discusses the religious policies of the Soviet military authorities and their allies in the Socialist Unity Party in the Soviet zone, but more importantly, who devised them, how they did so, and how they attempted to implement them. In doing so, it illustrates how the Soviet authorities recreated the Soviet zone along Stalinist lines with regards to religious policy, a process which they implemented throughout all of Eastern Europe as well in East Germany. While I examine how these policies were devised, I place greater emphasis on their implementation in the Soviet zone, especially its most important province, Berlin-Brandenburg. Furthermore, this book demonstrates how the leadership of the Churches responded to the policies of the Soviet military authorities and their allies in the Socialist Unity Party, especially after they took and increasingly anti-religious tone during the late 1940s. The diverse responses of the Church leadership in the Evangelical Church during the Soviet occupation reveal the foundations of the eventual break within the leadership of the Evangelical church in the 1960s over the issue of how to deal with the atheist SED-regime. At the same time, the stances of Evangelical Bishop Otto Dibelius and the Catholic Bishop Konrad von Preysing as stalwart opponents of the creation of the "second German dictatorship" in the 1940s demonstrate how Churches would become central actors in the East German dissident movement in the 1970s and 1980s.

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Editorial Reviews

Robert Goeckel
Brennan uses major archival collections of state and church provenance in Moscow, Berlin/Bonn, and Washington to provide multiple angles in documenting this crucial period of change. This book offers rich descriptive detail of the policy debates regarding the key issues in the church-state relationship. The Politics of Religion in Soviet-Occupied Germany makes a major contribution to the literature on church-state relations in eastern Europe and in Germany.
Gary Bruce
Based on extensive research in both German and Russian archives, Sean Brennan's book provides a unique perspective on relations between the churches and Communist authorities in the Soviet Occupied Zone of Germany. His detailed overview of the cat-and-mouse game that allowed the Communists to subdue their religious opponents deepens our understanding of those complex initial post-war years in Germany.
Elizabeth Morrow Clark
Brennan blends the history of parties with diplomatic, education, and cultural history to reveal how both Catholic and Protestant organizations cooperated with, then questioned, then openly criticized, and finally resisted Soviet authorities and their German counterparts in the postwar period. A cleanly written history of a gray area, this book demonstrates more than just the details of religious policy or attitudes, but offers details about inter-group relations, watersheds in German history, and the phenomenon and influence of the Soviet Occupation.
Slavic Review
This book, based on extensive archival research in Germany and the Russian Federation, is a solid contribution to the growing historiography on the Soviet occupation period in postwar eastern Germany.
Lutheran Quarterly
[This book] provides a wealth of information on its narrow topic.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739151259
  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publication date: 11/16/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Sean Brennan is assistant professor of history at the University of Scranton.

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Table of Contents

1 Preface 2 Abbreviations 3 Introduction 4 1. The Brown Dictatorship before the Red: The German Churches under National Socialism 5 2. The Question of the CDU and the Churches during the period of the "Antifascist Transformation"1945-1947 6 3. The Volkscongress Movement and the end of the CDU's political independence, December 1946 -October1949 7 4. 'Unity Schools are Secular Schools': The Struggle over religious education in the secondary schools of Berlin Brandenburg 8 5. The Competition between socialist and religious youth and women's organizations in Berlin-Brandenburg 9 6. The Conflict over charitable activity by the Evangelical and Catholic Churches in Berlin-Brandenburg 10 7. 'Christianity and Marxism are not in Opposition': The Propaganda Offensive in East Germany concerning "Religious Freedom" under Communism 11 8. The Allied Religious Affairs Committee and the impossibility of a united religious policy for Germany 12 Conclusion 13 Bibliography

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