Resisting the Third Reich: The Catholic Clergy in Hitler's Berlin

Resisting the Third Reich: The Catholic Clergy in Hitler's Berlin

by Kevin P. Spicer
Pub. Date:
Northern Illinois University Press

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Resisting the Third Reich: The Catholic Clergy in Hitler's Berlin

When Nazism swept Germany, how did religious leaders respond to attacks not only on their fellow citizens and their government but on their faith as well? Despite charges of complacency, most of the Catholic clergy of the Berlin diocese in fact maintained a quiet resistance to the Nazi regime by offering their parishioners an alternative to National Socialism. In thus broadening the definition of resistance, Kevin Spicer shows why Nazism was so powerfully alluring in the first place. It provided—indeed demanded—a total way of life, encompassing rituals and social belonging, personal identity and charismatic leadership, moral values and a sense of purpose. In a word, it was a religion.

Spicer juxtaposes Catholicism and Nazism to provide a clear, balanced understanding of the challenges the clergy faced simply by celebrating the sacraments and teaching the faithful. By following individual priests in their day-to-day ministries, he documents how effectively they guarded their flock from a predatory ideology. Along the way, he highlights the leadership of Bishop Konrad von Preysing of Berlin, who enabled the diocesan clergy to speak out against Nazi violations of Catholic doctrine and practice, and Monsignor Bernhard Lichtenberg, who was sentenced to prison for publicly praying for Jews and other victims of Nazi oppression.

Yet the clergy's opposition to Nazism did not, for the most part, inspire them to act on behalf of the oppressed. Spicer explores the reasons why one group—the so-called "Brown Priests"—even chose to support National Socialism and what that choice meant for the Church.

Resisting the Third Reich will appeal to historians, religious studies scholars, and readers with an interest in Germany during World War II and in the Catholic tradition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780875803302
Publisher: Northern Illinois University Press
Publication date: 07/28/2004
Edition description: 1
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

1. Initial Encounters
2. Guiding the Flock
3. Negotiating Pastoral Care
4. Serving the Home Front
5. Jews and the Diocese of Berlin
6. For the Glory of the Führer: Brown Priests
7. The Unique Path of Bernhard Lichtenberg
Works Cited

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