December 2005 Newsletter

Association of Contemporary Church Historians

(Arbeitsgemeinschaft kirchlicher Zeitgeschichtler)

John S. Conway, Editor. University of British Columbia


December 2005— Vol. XI, no. 12

Dear Friends,

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
Der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt,
Des sich wundert alle Welt,
Gott solch Geburt ihm bestellt.

—Martin Luther 1524


1) Book reviews:

a) Besier, Der Heilige Stuhl und Hitler-Deutschland
b) Gruber, Journey Back to Eden

2) Reply to review of A.Leugers, Rosenstrasse 2-4

3) Book notes.

a) P. Cabanel, Les Protestants et la Republique
b) A.Porter, ed., Imperial Horizons of British Missions
c) W.Brandmüller, Holocaust in der Slovakei

4) Journal articles

a) B.da Silva, Peace, Pastors and Politics
b) C.Marsh, Russian Orthodox Christians today
c) M.Menke, German Catholics and National Identity
d) F.Latour, The Holy See and Turkey during the First World War

5) Research in progress: J.D.Wyneken, Post-1945 German churches

1a) Gerhard Besier, in Zusammenarbeit mit Francesca Piombo, Der Heilige Stuhl und Hitler-Deutschland. Die Fazination des Totalitären. Munich: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 2004 415pp ISBN 3-421005814-8

Forty years ago a young Swiss playwright wrote a scathing attack on the war-time policieso f Pope Pius XII and his failure to protest the Nazi mass murders of the Jews. Ever since, controversy has raged, usually with more heat than light. A major factor has been the refusal – so far – of the Vatican to open its files for this pontificate, which has encouraged Pius’ critics to believe that the true story is being suppressed. To be sure, the Vatican did authorize the publication of eleven weighty volumes covering the war years. But since they were mainly in Italian, they remained unread. The carping criticisms went on as before.

Two years ago, the Vatican authorities finally got around to mobilizing sufficient resources to open part of the holdings for the reign of Pope Pius XI, i.e. from 1922 to 1939. These documents concern the Vatican’s dealings with Germany, most of which were handled by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who, in 1939, became Pius XII. Consequently, if only partially, and only for the early years of the Nazi regime, we now have access to the documentary evidence for this crucial initial period.

Gerhard Besier, now Director of the Hannah Arendt Institute for Research into Totalitarianism in Dresden, has been one of the few scholars who have taken advantage of this new opening. (To my knowledge, no scholar from Britain or North America is so engaged). Besier was the pupil of the late Professor Klaus Scholder of Tübingen, whose magnificent two volumes on the Churches in the Third Reich were sadly cut short by his early death. (Besier helped to edit and complete Volume II, and later went on to write Volume III, which was published in 2001). One of the main features of Volume I was a highly critical and much disputed account of the making of the Reich Concordat of 1933 between the new Nazi government and the Roman Catholic Church. These negotiations were largely conducted by Pacelli personally. So Besier was already alerted to the controversial debates this ill-fated treaty gave rise to. Hence he was eager to see whether the newly-released documents would confirm or refute the earlier contentions about the Reich Concordat.

He is greatly to be praised for realizing that this episode needs to be put in its wider setting. His study begins with the evolution of Catholic diplomacy and practice from the turn of the century, but then concentrates on the relations with Germany from 1920 onwards. In so doing he replaces the earlier accounts of Stewart Stehlin in English, Emma Fattorini in Italian or Klaus Scholder in German. His study runs parallel to that of Peter Godman, who teaches in Rome, and whose work is drawn primarily from the files of the Holy Office rather than the Secretariat of State.

Besier states that these new documents offer no really sensational revelations, though they do bring certain surprises. (It can be expected that the same will be found when, finally, the documents from 1939 onwards are made public. This fact will undoubtedly disappoint the whole flock of Pius-bashers whose minds have long since been made up). Besier’s researches are meticulous and scholarly. He marshals the evidence and lays out the essential character of papal policy – even though it is clear that he, as a Protestant, has little sympathy for the Vatican’s presuppositions about how the world should be governed.

The leaders of the Catholic Church could not fail to see that the first world war had been a highly damaging catastrophe for all the churches. The outburst of rival nationalisms, the mutually exclusive claims to have divine approval for their war aims, the seemingly endless casualties and the rapid decline of personal and public morality, were all grave indications of a world-wide moral disorder. The Vatican therefore saw its prime duty to seek to restore peace between and within the nations, to use its influence to stabilize the postwar regimes, to reconcile the former enemies and to heal the wounds of war. Its resources for this vast task were, however, pitifully limited. Fifty years earlier, the new Italian state had seized all the former Papal States and reduced the territory of the Holy See to a small segment of Rome’s inner city. The Vatican had no military or financial power. It was therefore entirely dependent on the mobilization of its spiritual and diplomatic resources. Inevitably there was always a painful gap between its high expectations and the actual results. This was to be a constant feature of papal diplomacy throughout the twentieth century.

The Vatican’s strategy throughout the continent was to seek to achieve internationally- and legally-binding treaties with each state, in the belief that these would strengthen the forces of moderation, and serve as a barrier against the kind of revolutionary and anti-clerical violence which had already seized control in the Soviet Union. In countries such as Austria, Poland and Spain, where the population was largely Catholic, such treaties or Concordats could be easily obtained, even though critics saw them as perpetuating Catholic privileges. In Germany, where the Catholics were a minority, this task proved harder. As Papal Nuncio, first in Bavaria and then in Berlin, Pacelli laboured throughout the 1920s, seeking to find a basis for agreement. He failed, largely due to opposition from the socialist and communist parties.

He had more success on the provincial level. In 1924 the Bavarian parliament signed its local Concordat with the Vatican, paradoxically at the very time when Munich was becoming the leading city in the rise of National Socialism. In 1929 a further agreement was reached with Prussia and in 1932 with Baden. But far more significant was the Vatican’s success in 1929 in reaching a new understanding with the Italian fascist state in the Lateran Treaty. This ended decades of hostility and regulated the legal position of the Holy See. Besier rightly points out the importance of this agreement, which in effect gave the church’s blessing to Mussolini’s totalitarian rule, but which also restored the Vatican’s international standing as a significant diplomatic entity.

The Nazi seizure of power in January 1933 altered the situation abruptly. One of Hitler’s early moves was to send Goering down to Rome to take soundings about re-opening negotiations with the Vatican. Hitler’s motives were purely opportunistic. By such means he hoped to thwart the possibility of any unified Catholic opposition to his new regime, and at the same time to add to his credibility by dealing with Europe’s oldest diplomatic institution. For their part, the leaders of the papal Curia, especially Pacelli, by this time advanced to being in effect the Pope’s foreign minister, could not resist the opportunity to achieve the long-desired goal of a Reich Concordat. Within a few months, it was both signed and ratified. Critics of the Vatican, including Scholder, have long regarded this step as a culpable betrayal. The Pope’s willlingness to sign an agreement with the new totalitarian leader, the abandonment and collapse of Germany’s Catholic Centre Party, and the failure to demand measures for the protection of human rights and of ethnic minorities, such as the Jews, are all part of this critique. Besier avoids invective. But he also shows that the Vatican’s hasty conclusion of this Concordat cannot be ascribed to illusions about Nazi policies. As early as Hitler’s abortive coup in 1923, Pacelli had been warning his Roman counterparts about the dangers which this movement, with its political and racial radicalism and its vulgar and violent propaganda campaigns, constituted for the church. The risks were acknowledged. Why then were they taken?

Besier, like Godman, downplays the role of personalities. Of course, Pacelli was eager to see the completion of his work in Germany. But this was only part of a world-wide policy consistently pursued under two different popes. There were other factors, both positive and negative, which affected the Vatican’s stance. In Germany, the fears of the hierarchy lest another Kulturkampf be started was offset by the remarkable success of the Nazis in recruiting young Catholics to their cause, despite the bishops’ warnings. The terms offered were far better than those put forward before. On the other hand, the splintering of the Catholic Centre Party left the Vatican without the backing it might have expected. The illusion that being in power would cure Nazism of its radicalism was certainly a factor. On balance, the risk seemed worth taking. Besier might have quoted the remark made by a sceptical Pacelli to the British envoy: “Certainly some of the Concordat’s clauses will be broken. But not all of them, and not all at the same time”

Such pessimism was soon enough justified. Besier’s account of the subsequent exacerbation in the Vatican’s relations with Germany covers well-known ground. Too late, the Curia realized that it would be impossible to admit its mistake. It would not even be able to send a stronger Nuncio to Berlin. And when it did try to help the Nazis’ victims, especially refugees, its efforts were thwarted and blocked even by supposedly Catholic countries. Frustrated by the Nazis’ increasing encroachments, and by now convinced of the regime’s implacable hostility, the Vatican decided in 1937 to issue a warning Encyclical, Mit brennender Sorge. It was smuggled into Germany and read from all pulpits. Its tone was critical but not so sharp as to provoke a revocation of the Concordat. Nazism was not explicitly mentioned, and even the condemnation of racism was wordy and imprecise. Quite possibly for this reason, the Encyclical’s impact was minimal. German Catholics continued to believe they could be good Nazis and still remain true to their faith. The Vatican did not dare to disillusion them, if only because numerous clergy continued to believe that Nazism could be purged of its heretical extremism and settle down to be a valued authoritarian system, uniting with the church in a strongly anti-Communist stand.

Privately Pacelli expressed his strong dislike of the “scoundrel dictator” Hitler, but publicly he had to be more discreet. The Vatican’s impotence was only the more clearly shown when, in March 1938 the Austrian bishops joyfully welcomed the Anschluss with Nazi Germany. In the following months, the Curia watched Germany’s militant diplomacy and war-like preparations with growing dismay. As its senior and most experienced diplomat, Pacelli found the ominous similarities to 1914 more than depressing. Both before and after his election as Pope in March 1939, he threw himself into enormous but ultimately frustrated efforts to save Europe’s peace. With the Bolsheviks now strongly in power in the Soviet Union, with the Nazis showing themselves to be Bolsheviks of another sort, with Italian Fascism drawing ever closer to its northern neighbour, and with the Catholic state of Poland overthrown by Nazi armies, the prospects for the new Pope were inauspicious, even desolate.

Besier’s study of these ill-fated developments is sound and fair. He rejects the wishful thinking of the anti-papal critics, while maintaining a more balanced assessment of papal policy. It is much to be hoped that he will soon be in a position to do the same for the even more disputed Vatican policies of the Second World War, as soon as the long overdue release of these Vatican documents takes place.


1b) Mark Gruber, OSB, Journey back to Eden. My life and times among the Desert Fathers, Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2003. 208 pp. ISBN 1-57075-433-0

This, I believe, the first time our Newsletter has reviewed a book about the Coptic Church. So let me warmly recommend Fr. Mark Gruber’s lively and readable account of the year in the late 1980s which he spent visiting several of the Coptic monasteries in Egypt. Originally intending to gather material for his anthropological PhD thesis, Fr. Gruber became so immersed in the life of his subjects that he was more and more drawn into a personal voyage of self-discovery. His diary is therefore both the story of his spiritual pilgrimage and a description of his various hosts, their lives and liturgies, and their contributions to the wider church.

The Desert Fathers of the Coptic Orthodox Church can claim to be the founders of Christian monasticism. From the fourth century down to our own day they have continuously inspired successive generations of Christians. Despite all the political and military upheavals which have swept over Egypt, the Copts have steadfastly upheld their faithful witness in the midst of an assertive Islamic world. The desert monasteries are the spiritual resource centres for the Coptic laity, who honour their heroic inhabitants, count on their prayers, and visit them in incessant pilgrimages.

Fr Gruber, who is an American Benedictine monk, writes with enormous admiration for his hosts. Nevertheless he is fully aware that the cultural differences between Coptic Egypt and the post-Christian West are so great that even the most respectful treatment of the religion of the one by the other will always be problematic. Certainly his reception, both as a Catholic and as an American, proved to be very friendly – much more so, he notes, than he received from the Greek Orthodox authorities in the Sinai desert. The only adjustment he was required to make was to grow a beard! Less easy was the strenuous liturgical life-style, when the monks rose at 2.30 a.m. and began morning prayer at 3. The singing of 70 psalms and other hymns lasted until 6 a.m. – all the while standing. Then followed the daily Mass with its clouds of incense until 9 or 9.30. Only after this daily spiritual nourishment, said and sung with great sincerity, reverence and devotion, were food and drink allowed. Because the Coptic services are conducted in their own ancient and unique language, the sense of history is inescapable – a burden to the modern mind, but joyfully embraced by communities who live in and with history on a daily basis.

Gruber began his stay in the best-known monastery of St Macarius, which was once, and for centuries, the greatest and most popular monastery in Egypt. But with the shifting fortunes of the Coptic Church, St Macarius slowly declined until, by the 1960s, it nearly dissolved. However, in a dramatic turnaround, the monastery was rescued by an influx of young monks, who restored the venerable House almost at once to its prominent role at the centre of Coptic spiritual life and monastic institutions.

To the average educated Egyptian, these monasteries are nothing more than irrelevant relics of a bygone past. But Gruber shows that the Coptic community still possesses the vitality and faithfulness to keep the tradition going, despite or possibly because of the astringent asceticism of the monastic life. Their emphasis on individual perfection and holiness gave the impression of being much more devout than Catholic communities in the United States. Certainly their pre-dawn liturgies, unchanged century after century, made a powerful witness in their presumption that the passing years of history are unimportant when the risen Christ is there in the midst of the praying community. And their ability to turn this ancient tradition into something living and organic for the present day is a remarkable achievement, repeated in each new generation.

Coptic Christians are well aware of their minority status in Egypt. They are muted, because of the endemic danger of oppression. But at the same time they have preserved the church’s missionary spirit and therefore hope. They are squeezed between a great Gospel missionary desire and a great dread of Islam. It is a recipe for apocalyptic expectations. Hence the continuing attraction over the centuries of the desert and its monasteries as places of refuge, but also of renewal.

The desert represents the province of God on the edge of the empire of men. Despite its harshness and aridity, its very emptiness invites the idea that here men, and particularly monks, can find the presence of their God. Not all deserts are flat, but can include rocky or even mountainous outcrops, as in Sinai. There can be found the caves of hermits, such as that of St. Anthony, who is reputed to have received the original impulse for the solitary and holy life. From his remote and even now inaccessible refuge in the desert, not far from the Red Sea, sprang the whole eremitical and monastic tradition, which has been maintained for so many centuries as the source of spiritual insight and inspiration. This is what Fr Gruber observed among the faithful Copts, whose redoubtable witness is here most sympathetically conveyed to a western audience.


2) Reply to Review of Rosenstrasse 2-4 (see last month’s Newsletter. item 1b)

Dr Joachim Neander writes from Krakow, Poland, as one of the co-authors of this book, to send us the following comments:

“I have to take issue with your review for the following reasons:
1) Antonia Leugers gives ample evidence that Catholic intervention through Bishop Wienken’s meeting with Eichmann to have the interned Jewish/Christian husbands released was ineffective. The review incorrectly hedged on this point.
2) Another of the contributors, Jana Leichsenring (not mentioned by name) gives ample evidence that a communications network existed amongst racially mixed couples in Berlin. But it was all top secret, so it is not surprising that no written evidence can be found.
3) Regarding the returnees sent back from Auschwitz. To be sure Nathan Stoltzfus first wrote about this group, but in this anthology it was I, Joachim Neander, who examined the question. I pointed out that 12 of the returnees were from the Grosse Hamburger Strasse detention camp, and that at least 8 of these were NOT married. So the review was inaccurate to suggest that their wives were among the vocal protesters. What is more, I proved that, in the course of the _Fabrikaktion_at the end of February, more than 120 Jews from racially-mixed marriages were deported to Auschwitz. This fact throws strong doubt on the RSHA’s so-called exemption clauses.
4) I also showed that this _Fabrikaktion_ took place in a typical “push-and-pull” framework. I used Auschwitz documents, which were already known but never considered in this context, to prove that the demands of the Auschwitz workforce could only be fulfilled if the RSHA deported several thousand Jews from racially-mixed marriages. This proves that the RSHA did not take seriously its own deportation guidelines with their exemption clauses.
5) In his contribution to this book, Nathan Stoltzfus commented on the important Lehfeldt document, published here in full for the first time. He showed that the statement “The Nazi decision to exempt, temporarily, Jews in mixed marriages was already in place” is too sweeping and does not tally with the facts. The exemption clauses, in practice, were only one of the many cover-ups used by the Nazis.
6) I also showed, from German sources, that the protests of some (not Œthe’) French Catholic bishops indeed temporarily stopped the deportations. This led to delays that the Germans were never able to make up. In the end, this saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews from France. One should not play down this fact, even if admittedly, the deportations to Auschwitz continued.
7) The Dutch and French bishops’ protests were not at all “belated”. The bishops protested at the very beginning of the deportations from their dioceses. How could they have protested earlier?
8) It is a truism to say that “heroic defiance would have to have happened much earlier” than in February/March 1943. Germany celebrates the July 20, 1944 conspirators, who – unsuccessfully – took action one and a half years later than the Berlin women. Non-violent successful resistance by women, however, does not fit into the master narrative of German culture, where “men make history” and a hero must be a tragic hero, such as Siegfried.
9) All of us collected material which challenged the prevalent view of the Rosenstrasse events, which holds that the Nazis did not intend to deport Jews from mixed marriages. But the basic message of our book is to challenge this opinion. That should have been expressed in a scholarly review. None of us would have dared to pronounce something like “the women’s or the Church protests could have changed the course of history”. One should not imply in a review that we said this. But is it, in fact, inconceivable that the women’s protests could have slowed the pace of the “course of history” at least in this very limited aspect? And if they only saved a single man’s life – did they not “save the whole world” as an old Jewish saying goes?”

Joachim Neander

3a) Patrick Cabanel, Les Protestants et la Republique, Brussels: Editions complex 2000 ISBN 2-87027-780-6

Professor Cabanel is a distinguished historian of French Protestantism who teaches in Toulouse. His latest book is a short account of Protestant political attitudes over the past 140 years. He seeks to account for the fact that this small minority of only 1% of the population has a totally disproportionate place in the leadership corps of French governments. Can this be due to some ideological linkage between republicanism and the Calvinist religion, with its commitment to freedom, equality and justice? Or is it due to historical circumstances where the memory among the French Protestant Huguenots
of their persecution by the monarchy made them valiant in their fight against all authoritarian policies and regimes. Or is it due to their support of the republic’s deliberate anti-Catholic stance, both before and after the disestanblishment of the Roman Church and the abolition of the Concordat? Or was it due to a determination to defend minority rights, including those of Dreyfus and the Jews under Vichy? Cabanal follows these threads, and depicts how Protestants have been found in both the right and left of the political spectrum, giving their names and contributions in full. Their geographical spread is also important. The Alsatian Protestants differ from those in the Auvergne. A stimulating brief account which will help foreigners to understand the French Protestant milieu in all its variety of political expressions.

3b) ed. A. Porter, The Imperial Horizons of British Protestant Missions, 1880-1914. Grand Rapids, Mich: Eerdmans 2003 250 pp. ISBN 0-8028-6087-7

This useful collection of articles discusses the relationship of British imperialism and the missionary movement in the years immediately before the outbreak of war in 1914. This is missionary history from the top down, but examines the evidence not only from the perspective of the Empire’s homeland, but also from the periphery. The results contradict the widely-held view of secular, or Marxist, historians that religion was a mere tool in the hands of an exploitative capitalist imperialism. On the contrary, the contributors are nearly all concerned to point up the complexities and ambiguities of the attitudes of missionaries to the ruling structures of the British Empire. Of course, they sought to take advantage of the pax britannica, but were increasingly affected by the close contact with the “natives”. The attempt by one missionary society leader to unite all his colleagues behind a united loyalty to the Empire fell apart because of the continuing differences within the missionary ranks. Evangelicals relied far more on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, while the “high-church” missions were offended by the lax theological discipline of their free church partners. Moreover, the bishops at home were increasingly reluctant to heed the call of the empire, fearing that they would lose their best candidates to distant outposts. And the growth of the ecumenical spirit, and of higher biblical criticism, also led to divisions which hampered any unanimity on imperial questions. In the end, these varieties of missionary responses helped to begin the undermining of the ideological justifications for the British empire, which only accelerated after the disasters of the first world war.

3c) Walter Brandmüller, Holocaust in der Slovakei und katholische Kirche
Using the now available records of the Vatican, as well as other Slovakian and German sources, Brandmüller traces the reactions of the Catholic Church, and especially the Vatican Secretariat of State, towards the persecution and deportation of the Jews from Slovakia during the six short years of this nation’s existence from 1939-1945. He examines these documents in detail to show that the criticisms advanced by Fr. J.Morley, and more sweepingly by D.Goldhagen, are essentially misguided. He shows that the Vatican authorities were dismayed that the Slovakian government, headed by a priest, Josef Tiso, would take measures against the Jews which offended all human rights, and serious compromised the image of Slovakia as a Catholic country. They repeatedly sought to uphold these principles and reminded the obsscurantist Slovakian politicians of their duty. But Brandmüller cannot deny that these interventions were only partially successful. He does not quote the most apposite remark made by Msgr Tardini: “It is a tragedy that the President of Slovakia is a priest. All the world knows that the Holy See cannot bring Hitler to heel. But who would think that we can’t even control a priest?”


4a) B. da Silva, Peace, Pastors and Politics, in Journal of Church and State, Vol. 47, Summer 2005, pp. 503-529. Fifteen years after the overthrow of the Communist regime in the former East Germany, Brendan da Silva has revisited the discussion over the role of the Protestant pastors in bringing about a peaceful revolution, or alternatively in helping to provide the regime with some stability. He had the advantage of being able to get to a larger number of archives, and to interview a few of the main actors. So he is able to refute the more extreme opinions on both sides. Yes, several leading clerics did seek to maintain a conservative stability, and even co-operated with the Stasi to do so. But, yes, the younger pastors often sought to find ways of expressing the wider popular discontent by organizing unconventional activities in their church buildings, which later on became the focus points of protests. Only a minority served the Stasi as informers, but the bishops tried to keep the lid on any open opposition – in vain. In all, the church did not deserve the title of heroic system breaker, but neither was it suborned to be merely subservient to the Communist rulers.

4b) Christopher Marsh, Russian Orthodox Christians and their orientation towards church and state, in Journal of Church and State, Vol. 47, Summer 2005, pp. 545-561.

A valuable account of the changes in state policy towards the churches in Russia since 1990, and a sociological survey of the religious, civic and political orientations of Russian Orthodox Christians today. Marsh finds that only the staunchest believers look to the church to provide them with political guidance, or to provide answers about social problems. His survey shows that the vast majority of Russians do not view the Orthodox Church as a significant source of social improvement. But, he holds, there is still a relationship between church and state, or rather only a thin wall of separation. But the Orthodox Church is not always a supporter of the state, as can be seen in its active part in the Ukraine’s ‘Orange Revolution’.

4c) Martin Menke, Thy Will be done. German Catholics and National Identity in the twentieth century, in Catholic Historical Review, Vol 91, April 2005, p.300ff.

How could Catholic Germans reconcile the conflicting demands of their nationalism and their faith? These struggles were particularly acute when Germany’s political regimes changed so dramatically, and often for the worse, during the past hundred years. Menke examines the consequent political dilemmas and the moral problems which arose, but suggests that many Catholics were conscious of the difficulties of finding out what God’s will actually was. He uses the examples of Alfred Delp and Willi Graf, both executed by Hitler, to show how high-minded Catholics responded to the ideological pressures of Nazi nationalism.

4d) F.Latour, Les relations entre le Saint-Siége et la sublime porte a l’épreuve du génocides chrétiens d’Orient pendant la grand guerre, in Guerres Mondiales, no 219, July 2005, pp 31 ff.

The relationship between the Holy See and the Ottoman Empire during the First World War was delicate. Even though the Catholic Church had benefited ever since the sixteenth century from the guarantees that the “Capitulations” had offered, this was no longer true once the Ottoman Empire went to war against France, the traditional protector of the Eastern Catholics.. Papal diplomacy had to adjust. Benedict XV tried to square the circle in defending the Christians, including the Armenians who were the victims of a real genocide, and rescuing them wherever possible, while at the same time maintaining close contacts with the Turkish government. This was done to protect these same Christians and to preserve the politico-religious interests of the Catholic Church in the East. The dilemmas for the Holy See over how to respond to the Armenian genocide set a pattern which was to be repeated thirty years later in eastern Europe.

5) Research in progress:

J.K.Wyneken, Concordia University, Portland, Oregon writes:

My research interests center primarily on the relationship between Christian belief/activism and international relations during the twentieth century. My dissertation, Driving out the Demons: German Churches, the Western Allies, and Memory in Postwar Germany, 1945-1952, focuses on how the activism of the German Protestant and Catholic churches influenced the course of the Allied military occupation of Germany, and how this reflected the churches’ development of their official memory of the Nazi past. It is my contention that the relations between the Allies and the churches, especially their often strained relations over denazification, war crimes, Displaced Persons, and Prisoner of War policies, effectively internationalized the formation of memory about the Nazi past and simultaneously weakened the effectiveness and appeal of these important Allied policies. The support given to the German churches by international Christian observers and organizations also played an important part in this process, as did the steady readjustment of Allied priorities away from punishing Germans and towards resisting Soviet communism that developed between 1945 and 1952. My long range research goals include a broad study of the importance of Christian activism in the global context of the Cold War, and a study that examines the popular understanding of religious resistance to Nazism from 1945 to the present day.

With all best wishes for the Christmas season,
Yours sincerely,
John S.Conway