Baptists 175 years in Germany (5/12) The Baptists in the Third Reich

20/07/2009 14:57

The Baptists in the Third Reich

After the transfer of power to Hitler in January 1933, it is observed that the Baptists in the following months, behaved very ambivalent.

On the one hand, there were - as in the great churches - affirmative statements to Nazism that accumulated especially in the aftermath of the March elections. Said C. Braun led the "witness to the truth" from: He was "grateful that [God] has given us so kindly looked beyond expectation, we did not like the chaos in Russia let slip. In the national movement he calls again, as in the Reformation period for reflection and repentance. "Even one was happy that Hitler had abolished the parliamentary system. Also welcomed was the fight against immorality. Scattered critics who were also able, which - from today's perspective - overall negative image but not correct term.

Other hand, particularly those responsible for the Baptist recognized that the year 1933 would pass by the Free Churches unscathed. Sun feared a direct connection with the Protestant church, particularly utterances of German Christians, ie So the partisans of the Nazis within the Protestant Church contributed to the unrest. Sun tried to avoid these dangers in two directions: first, in the summer of 1933, the leader principle was introduced (Federal Earliest), 1936 but partially abandoned, it did not fit the structure of the Congregational Federation.

Secondly, they developed plans for a united Protestant Free Church. After one had heard from both the state and several of the evangelical church, that of an integration of the Free Churches in the Protestant Reich Church was not thinking, these plans were abandoned.

The recognition by the state but called its price. Thus already the Baptist World Congress 1934, the Nazi regime exploited for propaganda purposes. Quite frankly, Paul Schmidt was with the Methodist Melle exploit the 1937 ecumenical World Conference in Oxford by the Nazi regime, by explaining that in Germany reign religious freedom and that they could freely preach the gospel. This aroused v.a. circles in the Confessing Church to outrage, as it was particularly exposed to the repression of the state. This adaptation period was continued until the end of the war. To the Declaration on the Oxford Conference also shows, however, which represented the Baptists the key measure for their relationship with the Nazi regime: As long as you could evangelize more or less, we saw no need to oppose the regime. You could achieve that Baptists were not banned.

Nevertheless, the difficulties began from 1935 (prohibition of youth camps, for example) to accumulate. Also had to find that it has been classified by the Gestapo in their research as a cult. Particularly the prohibition of the Closed Brethren (Christian Assembly) made the Baptist leaders, the endangered status of the Free Churches significantly.

Not least, this development contributed to that particular Paul Schmidt in 1937 pursued the idea of ​​uniting the Baptists churches. For example, these attempts to create an hotchpotch of church politics and religious motifs represent Negotiations between the Baptists, Evangelical Free churches and the "brothers" but led to no tangible results, so you stopped the conversation at the beginning of World War II. End of 1940, then came Hans Becker, the sole director of the educated from amongst persons of the banned Christian Assembly Federal Free Church Christians (BfC) to the Baptists with the desire to establish a common covenant. Already in February 1941, could decide the union of the two societies, the state recognition of the Union of Evangelical Free Churches (BEFG) but was only in the fall of 1942.

Becker was so - in addition to the desire for Christian unity - ensures that even without him -. It was convened in 1939 to the Air Force - could survive the Brethren with its specific nature The Baptists in turn had the impression of being subjected to increasingly repressive measures. Sun played with them in addition to the realization of the unity of the community hope a role, through the connection with the BfC address the hazards appropriately. The BfC communities themselves experienced an improvement status, for example, now accounted for the screening of new members of the community by the Gestapo. Now were out of them - if you do this for this time at all can be formulated as follows - Free Church congregations become normal.

 A dark chapter, the behavior of the Baptists against the persecution of the Jews represent Thus, the Baptist Union, for example, referring to the November pogrom no position 1938th On organized relief efforts of the federal government for persecuted Jews is unknown. Christians of Jewish origin were told in some cases support, but in many cases they have been marginalized in the communities, such as Joseph Halmos in the Baptist church in Munich, he came in 1943 in Auschwitz.

Only in 1997, this debt was explicitly named in a handout of BEFG.

Reading Notes:

First Essays: - Strübind, Andrea, The German Baptists and National Socialism, in: Journal of Theology and community 7 (2002), 177-194 - Liese, Andreas, neither Baptist nor brothers. The formation of the Union of Evangelical Free Churches in: Free Church Research 18 (2009), 102-129.

Second Dissertations: - Strübind, Andrea, The Free Church unfree. The Federation of Baptist Churches in the 'Third Reich', 2nd corrected and verb. Ed, Wuppertal 1985 (available at libraries) - Liese, Andreas, prohibited-tolerated-tracked. The Nazi policy toward religion of the Brethren movement, Hammerbrücke 2003 (still available at iota publications in Hammersmith Bridge).

 Dr. Andreas Liese, Bielefeld