June 2007 Newsletter
Association of Contemporary Church Historians
(Arbeitsgemeinschaft kirchlicher Zeitgeschichtler)
John S. Conway, Editor. University of British Columbia
1) Book reviews
a) Linker, The Theocons: Secular America under siege
b) ed. M. Gailus and W. Krogel, German Protestants and Nationalism 1930-2000.
2) Journal articles:
a) Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte, Volume 19, no.2, 2006
b) Steigmann-Gall’s response in the Journal of Contemporary History
1a) Damon Linker, The Theocons: Secular America under Siege, New York: Doubleday, 2006. 272 pp. $26.00.
We are deluged with books on the religious right. A few of them are serious studies but most are journalistic polemics, and they acknowledge that President George W. Bush has consciously blurred the line between religion and politics. He courts the support of the “Christian” right for his policies, proudly affirms its “social issues,” channels government funds to its charities through his “faith-based initiative,” and has drawn heavily on its personalities and academic institutions to staff his administration. The election of 2004 seemed to cement this process. Conservative Republicans gained firm control of the Congress and Mr. Bush was busily packing the Supreme Court and Federal judiciary with like-minded jurists. The U.S. seemed inexorably headed toward becoming a one-party state.
Many feared that the conservative resurgence with its close ties to the religious right would result in a theocratic system. Damon Linker’s insightful study of the sources of the Bush administration’s religious advocacy helps us to understand what had happened. Most importantly, he shifts the focus from the televangelists, megachurch preachers, and religion-political pressure groups. Although the Protestant “evangelicals” played an important role in the rise of theological politics, its overtly religious policies and rhetoric actually were inspired by an ideology derived from Roman Catholicism. It provided Bush and the Republicans with a nondenominational language and morality that had a wide appeal and did much to unify the conservative movement. They also recognized the ideology’s potential to permeate American political culture and eventually bring an end to the separation of church and state as we have known it.
In other words, a comprehensive religious ideology drives the Bush administration, one that Linker labels “theoconservatism.” It maintains that a secular society is both undesirable and unsustainable, since the US for most of its history was a thoroughly Christian nation. It was founded on absolute moral principles that made no sense outside of a religious context. However, liberal elites in the nation’s educational system and media were responsible for the secular drift of American culture since the 1960s, as they consciously foisted their corrupt views on the nation. The practical results of this “secularization” are a sex-saturated popular culture, the collapse of important social institutions such as traditional marriage, a separation of law from religiously-based moral principles, and the rise of a “culture of death” (abortion and euthanasia). The only solution is to bring America “back” into line with the moral strictures of biblical religion, and this can be achieved through the political process, by the election of “Christian” politicians who will advance religion in public life, by conservative judicial appointments, constitutional amendments, and popular referenda like anti-gay marriage initiatives.
Linker traces how 1960s radicals like Richard John Neuhaus and Michael Novak moved to the right in the 1970s and early 1980s. Novak theologically grounded democratic capitalism in a synthesis of conservative Catholic religiosity, liberal democratic politics, and free markets. Neuhaus adopted a revolutionary populism that called for the overthrow of the nation’s liberal secularist elite in the name of the traditionalist Judeo-Christian piety supposedly affirmed by ordinary Americans. This would be achieved by “reclothing” the “naked public square” with a reinvigoration of religiosity, one that adopted the “public language of moral purpose.”
With the publication of The Naked Public Square in 1984 and its enthusiastic reception both in the evangelical and Roman Catholic community (in the interest of full disclosure I should state that I was one of the few Christian scholars at the time who called attention to its specious argumentation in a review published in the New Oxford Review), Neuhaus had equipped the newly politicized Protestant evangelicals (i.e., the new Christian right) with arguments and rhetoric that enabled them to contend more effectively for political power. In the next decade the theoconservatives engaged in a stealth campaign to build the institutions and form the alliances that would provide them with the means to capture cultural and political power and ultimately propel their ideas into the White House. They founded magazines, institutes, and think tanks as well as secured reliable funding for their work, allied their movement with powerful conservative forces within the Catholic church, and engineered a potent theological and ideological alliance between these conservative Catholics and Protestant evangelicals. To put their ideas into action they followed the example of their ideological cousins, the neoconservatives, and piggy-backed on the neocon network.
A critical event was the founding of the journal First Things in 1990 (Linker was its editor from May 2001 to February 2005 and thus brings an insider’s perspective to the discussion. He would now appear to be distancing himself from his former colleagues). Also significant was attracting Catholic neocon George Weigel to the cause and Neuhaus’ own conversion from Lutheranism to Catholicism and reordination as a priest in 1991. They made excellent use of Pope John Paul II’s opposition to abortion to attract both evangelicals and Catholics, and through careful diplomacy carried on by both Neuhaus and evangelical luminaries Charles Colson and Carl Henry, a manifesto entitled “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: A Christian Mission for the Third Millennium” was issued in 1994. It set out an ambitious political agenda using concepts, terms, arguments, and rhetoric derived from the writings of Neuhaus, Weigel, Novak, and the current pope.
The ECT joined together the intellectual heft of Catholicism with the zealous religiosity of the evangelicals, overcame much of the mutual suspicion and animosity of the two communities, and empowered the ideological agenda of the theocons. Catholics and evangelicals became allies and friends in an “ecumenism of the trenches” (Colson) in the culture war against moral anarchy. Their vision of a political future in which the most orthodox and traditionalist Christians would set the public tone and policy agenda was to find fulfillment in the election of George W. Bush.
Then follows a long and fascinating account of the rise of the theocons to political prominence and their enormous influence within the Bush administration. For one thing, they were staunch supporters of the “war on terror” and George Weigel in particular marshaled arguments from the “just war” tradition to give Bush the moral and theological encouragement to launch the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Interestingly, theological ethicist Stanley Hauerwas spectacularly dissented from the war policy and resigned from the First Things masthead (not mentioned in the book), but his was the lone voice of reason within the theocon community. Related to this (also not mentioned) is the statement issued by 60 prominent neocon and theocon intellectuals in February 2002, “What We’re Fighting For: A Letter from America,” that enthusiastically defended the war on terror and the response in May signed by 103 German academics, “A World of Justice and Peace Would Be Different,” that pulled no punches in rebutting it. It is strangely reminiscent of the German and British academics and theologians who hurled statements at each other in 1914 justifying their countries’ action in World War I. How little our modern-day conservatives have learned from history.
Linker has much more to say about the theocons’ activities that space limitations preclude discussing, but fortunately they were not able to achieve their entire agenda. Bush’s fumbling administration and the Democratic electoral resurgence in 2006 have put major roadblocks in the way. He also suggests ways to combat the movement. He exposes its numerous historical fantasies, shows how its rationalistic moral absolutism is incapable of being the unifying ideology for a liberal democratic nation, and explains how theoconservative public religion damages the American nation and its place in the world. Moreover, it is harmful to the church as well, as its moral ambition gets corrupted by political ambition and the political authorities will manipulate Christians to gain their support
He concludes with a statement that every reader should take to heart: “The privatization of piety creates social space for every American to worship God as he or she wishes, without state interference. In return for this freedom, believers are expected only to give up the ambition to political rule in the name of their faith.” It is what he labels the liberal bargain that secures social peace and freedom for all Americans.
Richard V. Pierard, Hendersonville, North Carolina
1b) Manfred Gailus and Wolfgang Krogel (ed.), Von der babylonischen Gefangenschaft der Kirche im Nationalen: Regionalstudien zu Protestantismus, Nationalsozialismus und Nachkriegsgeschichte 1930 bis 2000. Berlin: Wichern Verlag, 2006. Pp. 550.
Behind the long German title of Gailus’ and Krogel’s edited volume hides a fact-filled, detailed study of regional German church history from the beginning of the Nazi era until the end of the twentieth century. (Both men are historians: Manfred Gailus at Berlin’s Technische University, and Wolfgang Krogel at the archive of the Provincial Church of Berlin-Brandenburg.) The 19 substantive contributions, framed by an excellent Introduction and Epilogue by Manfred Gailus (who seems to be the intellectual driving force behind this volume), all fall into the particular field of “Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte.” A literal translation would render this phrase as “contemporary church history,” but that would misname its specific character: It refers to the study of the impact of Nazism on the German (Protestant) churches, including the postwar history of church and theology.
What distinguishes Von der babylonischen Gefangenschaft from earlier studies is its focus on the history of different regions, or better, on the specific contexts of the various Protestant Provincial Churches (Landeskirchen). It offers the reader an in-depth view of the complex interactions between divergent groups and individuals within each “Landeskirche” and the way in which these groups vied for power and influence during the Nazi dictatorship and the postwar years. This volume moves away from the earlier grand designs that tried to present the entire “Kirchenkampf” (Church Struggle) across the national spectrum (e.g. Meier and Scholder). What is emphasizes instead is the importance of finely-tuned local and regional histories.
It needs to be stated that in the last few decades German scholars have produced a plethora of local and site-specific church studies. Yet, most have remained unnoticed because they are buried in small regional publications, booklets, or newsletters of archives, churches and professional organizations. Von der babylonischen Gefangenschaft makes their accumulated findings available to an interested public. The material is worked into narrative overviews for each Provincial Church, deepened by new and original research, and generously footnoted for the experts. For this accomplishment alone, the present volume is worth having in one’s library.
The long German title which, at a first glance, rather looks forbidding indicates a refreshing departure from more conventional “Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte.” The main title, “Of the Babylonian Captivity of the Church in Nationalism,” suggests a close link between German nationalism and Protestant mentality. Substantiating this thesis is part of a larger project Manfred Gailus has been pursuing (see, for example, his Protestantismus und Nationalsozialismus [Köln 2001] and his co-edited volume with Hartmut Lehmann, Nationalprotestantische Mentalitäten [Göttingen 2005]). As a modern historian (rather than church historian), Gailus argues that a fuller picture on the role of the Protestant churches can only be gained by understanding and incorporating the influence of larger social forces–the “Protestant social milieu,” as he calls it. Given the general mentality of national Protestants in the early parts of the twentieth century – monarchic, conservative, state-loyal and obedient–it is no small wonder that parishioners and their spiritual leaders were ill-prepared to resist the ideology of National Socialism and were, instead, swept up by the (messianic) promises of national renewal.
Gailus’ suggested approach requires moving away from depicting the “Kirchenkampf” solely in terms of an internal church struggle, in which members aligned with the Confessing Church fought against the German Christians and against the intrusions of the Nazi-State. The volume’s subtitle also reflects these changes. Its seemingly inconspicuous listing of the three terms, “Protestantism, National Socialism and Postwar History,” points to two insights: First, we need to focus on continuity (not discontinuity) between the war and postwar years and not interpret the year 1945 as a clear break with the past; second, no study today should disregard the history of the field of “Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte” itself. The various waves of “coming to terms with the past” and memory politics (which Norbert Frei has so aptly called “Vergangenheitspolitik“) within the Protestant churches and theology after 1945 are as important to study as the years between 1933 and 1945. In other words, when scholars pour over archival materials, memoirs, and secondary work, they need to be aware of how“Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte” has presented its “case” in previous decades. Gailus argues that one has to “historicize” the research itself. Eye-witnesses and scholars of earlier generations have certainly advanced our knowledge of the German Church Struggle, but today one has to be aware that their work itself was an expression of the social conditions and theological paradigms of their time and that, not too seldom, they were guided by personal interests. The field itself, hence, needs critical introspection.
Von der babylonischen Gefangenschaft is a far cry from earlier works on the Church Struggle, especially if one travels as far back as to the 1950s, when people like Wilhelm Niemöller portrayed the Nazi era in the stark terms of a righteous Confessing Church on the one hand and, on the other, a corrupted and fallen church. Niemöller, as Norbert Friedrich points out in his chapter on the church of Westfalia, was not only a motor behind the early “Kirchenkampfforschung,” but also a “decisive interpreter of his own family history,” especially with regard to interpreting favorably the role of his brother Martin in the Confessing Church (p. 273f). Other publications on the “Kirchenkampf” were guided by hagiographic interests (lifting the few righteous resisters on pedestals at the expense of a more accurate description of the silence of the majority) or were apologetic in character, especially among those men who had been complicit with the Nazi regime. Gailus summarizes well the new departure he envisions: “Das Plädoyer für mehr Historisierung der Kirchenkampfforschung meint vor diesen Hintergründen, die um 1933 akut werdende schwere Identitätskrise des Protestantismus in längere Zeiträume einzubetten . . . . Die politische Zäsur von 1945 markiert in dieser Langzeitperspektive keinen wirklich scharfen Bruch mit der herkömmlichen national-protestantischen Mentalität” (p. 17). His plea for the broadening and historicization of the research on the German Church Struggle is put to test in the volume’s nineteen individual studies on the Provincial Churches.
Appropriate for a volume that emphasizes regional studies, the contributions are arranged according to regions: the North (with churches like Schleswig Holstein, Hamburg and Hanover), Prussia (Berlin, Saxony, Westfalia, Rhineland), the Center (Thuringia) and the South and Southwest (Hessen-Nassau, Bavaria, Württemberg). Originally intended to include more “Landeskirchen,” the editors regret that neither the churches in the Eastern provinces (Ostpreussen [East Prussia], Silesia and Pomerania) nor some heavily Nazified churches like Braunschweig and Mecklenburg could be covered. This indeed might be regrettable. However, given the size of the current volume (over 500 pages), striving for completeness may have simply overwhelmed the reader. As it stands, wanting to read all entries (as this reviewer did!) is already a daunting task. Clearly, this book is not meant for a general audience, not even for a lay audience with a general interest in the German church struggle, since it is too detailed, too rich in information and too complex in presentation. But one may want to purchase it simply for its value as a reference work for select churches–and that, too, would be money well spent.
Von der babylonischen Gefangenschaft is an invaluable book for anyone interested in getting a more precise and accurate picture of how messianic expectations and national renewal variously tempted, blinded and convinced so many Christians in the 1930s. The various chapters trace individual people as well as church networks and associations (from the “Bruderräte” to Nazi-sympathetic “Glaubensbewegungen“) through the years of the Nazi regime. It shows how Christians became compromised and complicit and how, after the war, they tried to exculpate, excuse or explain themselves. Along the way, the reader will also meet individual church leaders, synods, parishioners and theologians who resisted the Nazis from the very beginning. Others had a change of heart and mind at critical turning points of the Nazi dictatorship (for example, after the public performances of the Deutsche Christen, which turned off many churchgoers, or after the introduction of the Aryan Paragraph). Yet others remained loyal to aspects of Nazism until the end of the war, when German war fortunes had indisputably turned sour.
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of these regional studies is the contributors’ unflinching look at what I would call the “gray zone” of human behavior: Christians made all kinds of compromises with the regime, steering a middle course that did not commit them too strongly either way. They became guilty more through passive silence than active participation (though plenty had actively participated as well, as these studies demonstrate). To the “gray zone” belong the uncountable and small day-to-day moral failures and betrayals: a head turned when neighbors disappeared; a public sermon not delivered when it would have been necessary to speak out; compassion not extended to those deemed ãotherä and “enemy” by the regime. In the churches, too many parishes, synods, bishops and theologians were caught up in their self-referential, unproductive, internal fights–their Babylonian captivity! And when the war ended, Christian communities concerned themselves with the task of self-purification. Gaining permission from the Allies to purge themselves, their denazification efforts quickly pushed aside questions of guilt and complicity.
The individual contributors to this volume refrain from making explicit moral judgments and from entering theological and ethical discussions. This is due to their shared training and interest as historians, whether they are employed at universities, in archives or parishes, or as church administrators. Depending on one’s perspective, one may welcome such restraint or find it unsatisfactory. However, despite the professional distance that the contributors maintain, the presentation of the material itself raises a number of moral dilemmas. Why were the Nazis greeted with such high expectations by so many Protestant Christians? Why did so much of the church discussions during the 1930s focus on preserving of one’s own rights and autonomy, while one’s fellow citizens disappeared? Why such a myopic, largely self-interested view? Why did the churches after the war not speak out more strongly for justice (that would have put perpetrators on trial) rather than trying to whitewash the culpability of individual members and the collective church body? What happened to antisemites in the church after 1945? These are relevant questions a perpetrator society needs to ask itself, especially as it considers the collapse of those cultural and religious institutions that, ideally and in principle, should have upheld standards of morality in times of crisis.
That religious institutions often do not move beyond the interests of their own in-group (at the neglect of the socially excluded) no longer surprises today. But it would have been good to occasionally address these issues head-on and to explore the contemporary relevance of the particularities of regional studies. Individual chapters come close to such a discussion only when they address particularly virulent antisemitic church leaders or the postwar German church debates on the Schuldfrage, the question of guilt (e.g. Björn Mensing for the Bavarian church, Gerhard Lindemann for Hanover, and Rainer Hering for Hamburg).
The nature of this edited volume makes it impossible to summarize, let alone critically assess each contribution. But it is important to commend the editors for pulling together chapters that are consistently of high scholarly quality. Equally important is the fact that none of the chapters centers on the grand moments of the “Kirchenkampf,” on the well-known confessional debates (like Barmen), or on the hagiographic portraiture of such towering figures like Wurm and Meiser, Dibelius and Niemoeller. Thus, this volume thankfully avoids repetition of information available elsewhere. What the various contributions share in common, instead, is their focus on the many small groups of ministers and parishioners that formed in alliance with or in opposition to National Socialism; they focus on the biographies of lesser known figures in the Provincial Churches as well as on the debates among laity and clergy that form the backbone of parishes and church life. The big themes and recognizable figures do not, of course, disappear from view, but they function in these texts as markers and background to the new materials introduced here.
For example, the reader will learn about the church of Lübeck (which, in 1976, was merged with two other small churches into the “Nordelbische Landeskirche”) and its “Hauptpastoren” Helmuth Johnson (NS-compromised), Axel Werner Kühl (chair of the “Jungdeutsche Orden”) and Wilhelm Jannasch, an outspoken critic of the NS-regime. The chapter on Berlin, for example, does not focus, say, on Dibelius, but presents Karl Themel, a pastor who had embraced nationalist notions of race research. Joachim Hossenfelder, the Reichsleiter of the “Deutsche Christen,” is put into the context of the small Eutiner Landeskirche, which, in 1954, reemployed him despite his blemished past. With respect to the Hamburg Lutheran church, we hear, for instance, about pastor Wilhelmi, who, by 1960, had finished a critical book on the church’s past, and how then- bishop Karl Witte prevented its publication because it shed unfavorable light on Franz Tügel. Tügel, bishop of Hamburg during the Nazi regime, had displayed open sympathies for the NSDAP and the German Christians. Wilhelmi died before his work was posthumously published in 1968. Or–to mention one last example–attention is not paid to Martin Niemöller, but to the biography of his lesser known brother, Wilhelm. We hear about Wilhelm’s odd protest against the decision to cancel his NSDAP membership in 1933; in 1934, when the decision was rescinded, he rejoined the Nazi party, and from 1939 to 1945 he served as a soldier on the Eastern Front.
Gailus offers suggestions on how to think about the larger issues and themes that emerge within this kind of specialized research. Envisioning a new direction for the study of the contemporary history of German Protestantism, he lists four ideas: ãhistoricizationä as a way of investigating the field of “Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte” itself and of re-conceptualizing historical periods; ãcontextualizationä as a means of embedding official church proclamations and theological/confessional statements into their larger social milieu; ãregionalizationä as a way of taking into account geographical and local differences in order to better understand attitudes and behaviors; and finally, “interdisciplinarity” as a multi-faceted approach to drawing a comprehensive picture. The few examples Gailus employs to illustrate these categories show him to be open to such new perspectives as gender studies, discursive analysis and auto/biographical research.
Gailus’ vision, however, is not fully realized in this edited volume since these categories are employed unevenly by the individual contributors. With respect to “regionalization,” there is remarkable consistency among the chapters, and this is the true strength of this volume. But in terms of “historicization” and “contextualization,” most contributors pursue a rather conventional approach: They provide historical frameworks to the particulars of their research and survey briefly the relevant literature. Only a few authors address the kind of broader methodological issues relating yo ãhistoricizationä (e.g. Thomas Großbölting, Peter Noss and Norbert Friedrich) and “contextualization” (e.g. Thomas Seidel and Markus Heim) that Gailus has in mind. When it comes to reaching out to “interdisciplinarity,” there is a striking lacuna. Although sociological data are sometimes incorporated, other approaches, like gender analysis, appear only in Rainer Hering’s piece on the church in Hamburg and briefly in Thomas Seidel’s contribution to Thuringia.
Given the chronic underrepresentation of women in this field, and given the domination by men in the German (regional) churches, the absence of critical reflections on male discourse, male biographies, masculinity and the disappearance of women is regrettable.
It is fair to say that the framework of Von der babylonischen Gefangenschaft points to a new and welcome direction for re-conceptualizing contemporary German church history, but that the individual contributors do not yet fully realize the promise of such a refreshing approach. Still, the volume is a significant contribution to the field.
Björn Krondorfer, St Mary’s College of Maryland
2) Journal articles:
a) The most recent issue of the most notable journal in our field of Contemporary Church History, Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte, published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, in Göttingen, breaks new ground in seeking to be as bilingual as possible. The latest issue, Volume 19, no. 2, is devoted to “New American Perspectives on the History of the Churches in Germany at the End of the 19th and in the 20th Century”, and contains six articles in English by younger American scholars, several of whom are already subscribers to this Newsletter. It is therefore good to see these contributions, which demonstrate that interest and research into contemporary German church history continues to flourish in North America. It will also be a signal to our colleagues in Germany not to allow themselves to believe that only German scholars can approach this subject. Hopefully it will encourage them to welcome the help they can get from the different perspectives from across the Atlantic. As the journal’s editor, Professor Gerhard Besier, now based in Dresden, rightly remarks: “It is particularly interesting to see the plurality of methodological approaches, such as found in gender studies, the history of ideas, as well as the more traditional political or church political studies”.
Martin Menke of Rivier College, Nashua, New Hampshire contributes a study of German Catholic identities during the Weimar Republic, when they shared the Protestant view that each nation has a special place in God’s plan of salvation. The secular chauvinistic nationalism of the war period was rejected, but rather a stress was laid on the German Catholics’ cultural mission linked to the mediaeval past, instead of the discredited Prussianism of the Wilhelmine Empire. In this sense, Menke suggests, German Catholics, like their brethren in France’s Third Republic, became the defenders of historic values and Christian traditions. This provided the impetus for the European union movement after the second world war.
Beth Griech-Pollele’s book on Cardinal Galen appeared in 2002. She now adds to this account with a short study of Galen’s kind of nationalism, with its strong hostility to any left wing views. In this belief, Galen had some sympathy for National Socialism’s decisive battle against communism, and also against excessive Jewish influences on society. He went on believing that Nazism could be ãrescuedä to be a Christian bastion against such subversive forces. He did not protest the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews, and was led, as she has already shown, to protest the so-called “Euthanasia” programme, principally because it affected good Catholics. But once the Nazis were overthrown, Galen could urge the reconstruction of Germany – and Europe- on Christian Democratic lines, even while silent about the Nazis’ crimes.
Maria Mitchell examines the political activities of German Catholics in the Rhineland after 1945, and shows how the basis was laid for a partnership with Protestants to form the new Christian Democratic Party. Both Catholics and Protestants had to deal with their discredited past during the inter-war years, as well as confront the danger presented by Soviet Communism.
Susanne Brown-Fleming has recently produced The Holocaust and Catholic Conscience which is a study of the American-German Cardinal Aloysius Muench, who was apppointed to be the Vatican representative in Germany after 1945, and later became Nuncio. She now extends her survey to cover more about his support for the convicted Nazi war criminals in the 1950s. His opinion was that these men were the victims of a deliberate campaign of revenge launched by Americans of Jewish origins – an opinion shared by too many Germans. She does not however assess how significant Muench’s views were in influencing policy. American leniency was politically advisable even without the counsel of this turbulent priest.
Lisa Zwicker of Indiana University gives us a short account of the Catholic students in fraternities in the pre-1914 German universities, and their clash of loyalties between their religious beliefs and their ardent nationalism. Like many other students, they were drawn to take up duelling or other supposed masculine sports, which were frowned on by the church. But too many of them perished in the trenches anyway.
JonDavid Wyneken of Concordia University, Portland gives us an excellent account of the nationalistic stances of Bishop Theophil Wurm, the Protestant leader of Württemberg, who like Galen in Münster, also resented the Allied military occupation, and sought to alleviate the sufferings of his German followers, and thereby to avoid confronting their often Nazi pasts. It is small wonder that Wurm should have turned to such movements as Moral Rearmament, which urged an anti-Communist pan-European reconstruction, and reconciliation at the expense of justice for the victims.
Amongst the German-language papers is one by Matthias Kroeger on Bonhoeffer’s continuing and prophetic influence, which he believes goes beyond his witness as a martyr of the German resistance. His call for Christians to become mature and autonomous, and his criticism of ecclesiastical claims to authority, continues to have wider relevance. So too his plea for new vocabularies to proclaim the Christian faith continues to be of value. This was a fitting tribute on the occasion of Bonhoeffer’s 100th anniversary in February of last year.
b) As forecast in our February issue, Richard Steigmann-Gall has now written a full response to the critics of his book The Holy Reich in the April issue of the Journal of Contemporary History, (published in England) in which he comments on the weaknesses of these critics’ approach, and also addresses the larger issue of political religion theory. Those interested should follow up this debate in full This journal is readily available on line. Steigmann-Gall’s address is firstname.lastname@example.org
With every best wish to you all