Silent Middle

Why read history?

A small minority of Protestants in Nazi Germany made a hard stand either for or against the Nazi Party’s ideals and rule. “In between lay the majority of Protestants, who seemed too timid to join either of the two warring groups, who sat on the fence and eventually, for the most part, landed in the arms of Hitler, accepting his authority to intervene in church affairs and obeying his commands without open protest.”

The Protestant churches who favored the Nazis wrote a constitution for a new “Reich Church.” They also proposed the abandonment of the Old Testament, “with its tales of cattle merchants and pimps” andthe revision of the New Testament with the teaching of Jesus “corresponding entirely with the demands of National Socialism.” Resolutions were drawn up demanding unity under the banner: ”One People, One Reich, One Faith,” and requiring all pastors to take an oath of allegiance to Hitler.

“But they were naive. The Nazi government intervened, dissolved a number of provincialchurch organizations, suspended from oce several leading dignitaries of the Protestant churches, loosed the S.A. and the Gestapo on recalcitrant clergymen…In reality the struggle between the Nazi government and the churches was the age-old one of what to render unto Caesar and what to God…Hitler said, ‘You can do anything you want with them. They will submit . . . they are insignificant little people, submissive as dogs, and they sweat with embarrassment when you talk to them.’ He was well aware that the resistance to the Nazification of the Protestant churches came from a minority of pastors and an even smaller minority of worshipers.”
– William Shirer, Rise and Fall of the Third ReichFlock-of-Starlings

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