In the years 1933 " 1945 the German Churches supported and collaborated with the Nazi regime far more than they opposed it(TM) Explain why you agree or disagree with this view.

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Explain why the Catholic Church moved from a position of co-operation to a position of conflict with the Nazi regime in the years 1933 to ’39?

In Hitler’s rise to power he avoided direct attacks on the Churches and number 24 of his 25 point plan spoke in favour of ‘positive Christianity’ which was closely linked to racial and national views. However there can be little doubt that Nazism was based on fundamentally anti-Christian philosophy. But the Church was willing to neither condone nor condemn Hitler so long as he did not interfere with religious policy.

In his very first speech as Chancellor, Hitler paid tribute to the Catholic Church as being integral to the well being of the nation. Members of the SA were even encouraged to attend services of the Catholic churches but also Protestant.

The Catholic Church responded in a sympathetic way to the overtures of the Nazis. Catholic bishops, in particular, were frightened of the possibility of a repeat of the so called ‘Kulturkampf’ (cultural struggle, refers to the tension between the Church and German state in the 1870s) So, Catholic Bishops were concerned to safeguard the position of the church under the Nazis and in July 1933 a Concordat was signed between the papacy and the regime. This agreement decided that: Nazis would not interfere with their property and legal rights and in return the Church would not interfere in politics and would give diplomatic recognition tot eh Nazi government.

In the short term the Concordat seemed to be a significant success. However, the courting of both of the Churches by the Nazis was totally insincere. They were simply being lulled into a false sense of security while the dictatorship was being established. By the end of 1933 Nazi interference in religious affairs was already causing resentment and disillusionment within the Catholic Church.

However the Churches were more concerned with protecting heir own institutions and beliefs than in speaking out about the nature of the regime. There were, however, several critical statements from clerics, and in 1937 the Pope issued the encyclical ‘With Burning Grief’. It complained about the government’s breaking of the Concordat, the harassment of priest and Nazi idolatry (worship) of the state and race. The text was smuggled into Germany and read out from pulpits on Palm Sunday in March 1937.

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In conclusion, the Catholic Church moved from a position of co-operation to one of conflict between the years of 1933 and 1939 because at first the Nazis feared openly standing against religious policies as they felt they were not popular enough to stand against such an institution as the Catholic Church and did not yet have the power. The Catholic Church was willing to stay on the side of Nazism as long as they were not forced into decisions they did not agree with. However once Hitler and the Nazi party had consolidated power and became a totalitarian state ...

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