June 1995 Newsletter

Association of Contemporary Church Historians

(Arbeitsgemeinschaft kirchlicher Zeitgeschichtler)

John S. Conway, Editor.

University of British Columbia

Newsletter no 5: June 1995


1. Conferences

2. New Books

3. The Vatican and the Jews

4. Contributions


1. Conferences:

David Diephouse kindly reported as follows: “Zwischen Weltkrieg und Wiederaufbau: Evang. Kirche in Wurttemberg 1939 bis 1948, Verein f. Wurtt.Kirchengeschichte, Ludwigsburg”, 18-20 May 1995.

This conference could have been just of local interest, but the centrality of the Wurttemberg Church and such leading churchmen as Landesbischof Wurm during the years in question gave it a broader interest.

The conference began with my own paper, as Wurm’s would-be biographer (and token international representative at the conference) which attempted to map out elements of continuity and change in Wurm’s world view after 1945. The conference as a whole was divided into two parts. About half the papers dealt with the war years and post-war military occupation, such as Siegfried Hermle on internal church government, and Eberhard Roehm on the church’s response to the so-called “Judenfrage”. Martin Greschat offered an interesting case study of church policy in the French zone of occupation, while Hermann Ehmer compared the impact of Helmut Thielecke and Karl Hartenstein. Martin Widmann aroused considerable debate with his positive evaluation of Hermann Diem’s work and of the Kirchlich-theologische Sozietaet.

The other half was devoted to post-war reconstruction, with papers on political party formation, school reform, and co-determination. The conference ended with a dramatic debate over the efforts by prominent church officials to rehabilitate a former SS Einsatzgruppen commander, condemned to death (later commuted) for his crimes in Russia. The emotionally charged conversation that ensued between/among the historians, theologians and Zeitzeugen present typified the complex interactions of memory and reflection that marked the conference as a whole – and served as a reminder, if one was needed, of how far kirchliche Zeitgeschichte is from being a detached, dispassionate academic enterprise. The above papers, among others, are included in the volume: Rainer Laechele and Joerg Thierfelder ed.s, “Das evangelische Wuerttemberg zwischen Weltkrieg und Wiederaufbau”, Stuttgart, Calwer Verlag 1995


2. New books

Stefan Grotefeld, Friedrich Siegmund-Schultze. Ein deutscher Okumeniker und christlicher Pazifist, (Heidelberger Untersuchungen zu Widerstand, Judenverfolgung und Kirchenkampf im Dritten Reich, Vol 8), Chr.Kaiser, Gutersloh 1995

Siegmund-Schultze was one of Germany’s leading figures in the fields of social reform, ecumenical affairs and the peace movement.

Despite his 60 years of service to his country and church, his career has largely been overlooked and his contributions forgotten. It is Grotefeld’s achievement that he has “rescued” this significant personality from an undeserved oblivion. But the title is somewhat misleading, since G. deals only with Siegmund-Schultze’s arguably least effective period, namely his years of exile after the Nazis expelled him as early as June 1933 until his return to Germany in 1947. G’s study is in fact one of a series, promoted by the late Prof. H-E Todt of Heidelberg, covering the Nazi years. So here we have a marvellously full and meticulously researched account of how this German patriot and pacifist tried to come to terms with the Nazi impact and aggression, undertaking relief efforts for refugees and trying to keep alive the cause of pacifism in such drastic circumstances. It is certainly the fullest account (420 p.) so far of the dilemmas such pacifists in Europe had to face as their cause was so obviously lost. Grotefeld is to be congratulated on his thorough elucidation of the enormous quantity of papers left behind by S-Schultze, now all in the Evang.Zentralarchiv, Berlin, and his sensible and careful evaluation of the evidence. A major contribution to our knowledge of those anti-Nazis forced into exile.

Dokumente zur Kirchenpolitik des Dritten Reiches, Bd III, 1935- 37, Chr Kaiser, Gutersloh 1994.

This is the third vol. produced by Carsten Nicolaisen and co- workers at the Evang. Arbeitsgem. f. kirchl.Zeitgesch. in Munich. It brings interesting documents from the Nazi government and party sources, together with a short introduction. Indispensable for a picture of the conflicts and tensions within the NSDAP over policy towards all the churches, and covers the period July 1935 to the crisis of early 1937, when Hitler suddenly ordered new church elections – later cancelled. To be continued presumably in subsequent volumes.

Helmut W.Smith, German Nationalism and Religious Conflict. Culture,Ideology,Politics 1870-1914, Princeton U.P. 1995 My review of this book appeared on H-GERMAN last week, so watch out!

An excellent study of the attempt by Prussian Protestants to capture the identity of the united Germany after 1870 for their ideology. Drawn mainly from the files of the Evang.Bund, Smith assesses very well the political consequences, and shows how the Catholics successfully resisted such a take-over bid, by appealing to their own different traditions, rival memories, another history, in formulating their own concepts of the nation’s identity.

Other new books:

Jurgen Manmann, “Weil es nicht nur Geschichte ist” Die Begrundung der Notwendigkeit einer fragmentarischen Historiographie des Nationalsozialismus aus politisch- theologischer Sicht, Fundamenaltheologische Studien Bd 2, LIT Verlag Munster 1995

ed. M.Bourdeaux, The Politics of Religion in Russia and the new States of Eurasia, M.E.Sharpe, Armonk, N.Y and London,Eng 1995. (Includes a chapter by our colleague, Bob Goeckel, on the Baltic States and the democratization process)

John Anderson, Religion, state and politics in the Soviet Union and successor states, Cambridge University Press 1994 (Covers the period from Khrushchev to present).


3. The Vatican and the Jews

On the HOLOCAUS-L recently, Prof. Stanford Shaw, Turkish and Judeo-Turkish History, UCLA, CA 90024, mentioned that he discusses the role of the Papal Nuncio, Angelo Roncalli, later Pope John XXIII, in his book Turkey and the Holocaust: Turkey’s role in rescuing Turkish and European Jews from Nazi persecution 1933-45 (N.Y.U.P.,N.Y./Macmillan, London 1992.) He explains how Roncalli helped the Jewish Agency and other Jewish organizations based in Istanbul in rescuing Jews in eastern Europe and Greece. See also: P.Hoffmann, “Roncalli in the 2nd World War” in Journal of Ecclesiastical HistoryVol XL (1989),pp. 74- 99; V.U.Righi, Papa Giovanni sulle rive del Bosforo (Padua 1971); R.M. della Rocca, “Roncalli Diplomatici in Turchia e Grecia 1935-44” in Christianesimo nella Storia Vol VIII/2 1987,p33-72.

Prof Ingrid Shafer, Dept of Philosophy and Religion, U. of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Chichasha, Ok 73018, notes that she is currently translating ed. W.Kunzemann, Judenstein: Das Ende einer Legende Innsbruck 1995. This book provides background, history and documentation of the official removal from pilgrimage status of a place near Innsbruck known as Judenstein and a chapel dedicated to the veneration of Anderl von Rinn, a three-year old boy allegedly murdered by Jews in the 15th century. “This book documents the ways of thinking and actions of people who over many centuries have excluded, stigmatized and killed Jews. It documents the guilt of the Church. . .which also psychologically prepared the way for the Holocaust. It also documents the work of those such as the present bishop of Innsbruck, Stecher, who are trying to work off the sad mortgage by setting the record straight, and are now dedicated to Christian penance and reconciliation with the people of Israel.”


4. Contributions

Please do not hesitate to send me any news and views which may be of interest to our Arbeitsgemeischaft. I will hope to report again in July.

Warm regards to you all

John S.Conway,
Dept. of History, UBC,
Vancouver V6T 1Z1,Canada