September 2007 Newsletter
Association of Contemporary Church Historians
(Arbeitsgemeinschaft kirchlicher Zeitgeschichtler)
John S. Conway, Editor. University of British Columbia
1) Book review: J. Peart-Binns, Biography of Bishop Richard Harries
2) Journal Articles:
a) Studies in Christian-Jewish relations, Boston College issue on Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
b) Daniel, The Children of Perestroika
3) Obituaries: Wolf-Dieter Zimmermann, Raul Hilberg, Cardinal Lustiger
4) Conference Report: Elisabeth Schmitz (1893-1977)
1) John S. Peart-Binns, A Heart in my Head. A biography of Richard Harries. London: Continuum 2007, 275pp. ISBN 0-8264-8154-X
Bishops have always been an integral part of the historic Christian churches. So the writing of the lives of these bishops also has a long tradition. Such biographies are not in the same category as the biographies of other public figures, such as politicians. Politicians can be attacked, their mistaken policies criticized, their actions denounced and their characters reviled. The tone of such books is often highly critical. But bishops are expected to be upright and estimable men. (I have yet to read a biography of a woman bishop). So their lives must be depicted in a positive, indeed uplifting, tone since they stand as encouraging witnesses in the continuing life of the Church.
This puts constraints on biographers. If they paint the bishop as a saintly figure who cannot err, their portraits become too smug and hagiographic. Or else they become unbelievably dull. However unworldly the bishop may have been, he is still a man with faults. How to describe him, warts and all, is a delicate task. It is particularly so when dealing with the leading figures in the Church of England. The Church of England has a venerable, tradition-ridden history of nearly five centuries, which has seen many outstanding bishops of great renown. But it is also a complex institution with its own peculiar features accrued from ancient days and lovingly preserved. Furthermore it has its own vocabulary derived from the past which is often baffling to the outsider. How many readers can tell the exact roles of a suffragan bishop, an archdeacon, a prolocutor, or a perpetual curate, let alone the functions of synod, a general synod or a convocation? But all these details have to be known to any episcopal biographer.
Fortunately John Peart-Binns is a skilled practitioner of this art, having written several similar books before. His latest biography of Richard Harries, the bishop of Oxford from 1987 to 2006, is a masterly account, written with obvious sympathy but not entirely uncritical. Its value consists in the nice balance between an assessment of the man and a description of the multitasked functions of a modern bishop. As such it presents a revealing portrait of how the Church of England recruits its leaders and how it uses their talents.
Traditionally the Church of England bishops came from well-to-do families and were educated at either Oxford or Cambridge. Richard Harries followed this pattern. His father was a senior army officer, and he himself first went to Sandhurst and served for a while in the signals corps. But then he realized that his true calling was to be ordained. He went to Cambridge for that purpose, and later to Cuddesdon, the seminary for top-flight ordinands. He served six years as a curate in a lively parish in Highgate, an intellectually-active suburb in north London, followed by a short spell at Wells Theological College, and a fine period as Vicar of Fulham in outer London on the River Thames. Peart-Binns tells us that Harries was a genial friend to his congregation, conducted the services with reverence and dignity, carried out the parish business efficiently, adopted a liberal stance on wider issues, and was generally “laid-back”. In short, he was the very model of a modern Anglican vicar.
But one thing, Peart-Binns assures us, he was not: ambitious. But what kind of a career pattern was he to follow? Like the army, the Church of England has a hierarchical ranking of its officers, though age and service do not necessarily ensure advancement. But as a long-established and wealthy institution, the church has a number of plum positions for the higher ranks of the clergy, many of them in highly attractive cathedral cities. But appointments to the highest ranks, such a bishops, are – or were until last month – made by the Prime Minister of the day. A list of three names is submitted, and the Prime Minister’s choice is then forwarded for approval by the Queen.
As in any large institution, and as readers of Trollope’s novels will know, pursuit of such positions – or preferment as it is called in church circles – is not unknown. Indeed Peart-Binns declares: “Preferment is a contagious disease in the Church of England. Each week the ecclesiastical newspapers provide possibilities and hope: bishops retire, die or are translated to other sees; archdeacons advance to mitred status; deans resign or die. . . The temptation is for elevation-addicts in clerical collars to meet the ‘right people’, especially those who are deemed to have influence in high places.” It was by this rather arcane system that Harries – to his considerable surprise – was invited to become Bishop of Oxford at the end of 1986.
Oxford is one of England’s largest dioceses, encompassing over two million people in nearly six hundred parishes. For centuries the diocese has had an integral, if sometimes problematical, relationship to the University. Its cathedral is, in fact, situated within the walls of one of the Colleges. Despite having three area bishops under him, the diocesan bishop has an enormous burden of responsibilities. He naturally has to play a large part in the wider concerns of the Church, to attend synods, boards and endless committees, for many of which he has to commute to London at least once a week. In due course, his seniority will earn him a place on the bench of bishops in the House of Lords, where he will be expected to attend regularly and speak on issues of special concern.
Little prepares a clergyman to become a bishop. The majority are drawn either from the limited horizons of a local parish or from the classrooms of a university professorship. There are serious drawbacks. The bishop can no longer enjoy his regular weekly worship in his usual parish. He is cut off from the pastoral care of individual parishioners. He has to administer a large diocesan office, and is frequently called to make speeches or even give sermons on subjects about which he has virtually no time to prepare. If he has interests in such wider areas as the ecumenical or mission fields, he can be sent to far-off countries to represent the Church of England at such international gatherings. His frequent absences can and indeed do take a toll on his family life. Each bishop has therefore to consider carefully what should be his priorities, and where his individual contribution can best be made.
One of Harries’ main achievements in Oxford was the leadership he provided on the subject of Christian-Jewish relations. As a student, he had heard a lecture on this subject given by James Parkes, the maverick Anglican cleric who had long been ignored by his colleagues. Parkes had begun his pioneering attempts to overthrow the traditional anti-Judaic prejudices amongst Christians already in the 1930s. His vigorous campaigns to rescue Jews from the Nazis’ clutches, and to support the cause of the state of Israel, had however largely fallen on deaf ears. Not until the 1970s, when the events of the Holocaust and the complicity of the Christian churches in the underlying cause of antisemtiic intolerance had been extensively discussed, were Parkes and his teachings vindicated. Harries was particularly impressed by the need for a theological reassessment of Judaism in Christian eyes. Following the lead given by the Second Vatican Council, he consistently approved of the campaign to overcome Christian antisemitism, and in particular the long-held view that the Jews deserved their centuries of ill-fortune because they had put Christ to death. Similarly, he opposed the centuries-old calumny that Christians had superseded the Jews as God’s Chosen People, or that Judaism was nothing more than a religious fossil, as the noted Oxford scholar Anold Toynbee had once proclaimed. Instead Harries shared the opinion that Jews were the older brethren of Christians in the faith, and that Christians should acknowledge how much of their liturgical and prayer lives were drawn from Judaism. Repentance and a resolve to purify the Christian faith of all negative attitudes towards Judaism was and is a vital concern.
In 1987-8 Harries led the way in preparing guidelines on Jewish-Christian relations for the whole Anglican communion, showing how these should be more positively treated and stressing the need to see Judaism as a living and on-going religion, people and civilization. An understanding of Judaism, he stated, is fundamental to Christianity’s own self-understanding. In 1988 he was one of the hosts of a major international conference in Oxford, where several hundred scholars of the Holocaust debated the role of the churches during these traumatic events. (As one of the participants, I can recall Harries’ inspiring words of welcome).
Such a liberal stance was, however, to cause Harries difficulties. On the one hand, evangelicals were offended because the idea of mission to the Jews was deliberately omitted. On the other hand, many Anglicans were not prepared to follow the logic that affirmation of Judaism should include support for the state of Israel. Particularly after the turbulence of the 1967 War, when the new state of Israel seized possession of the entire West Bank, many, indeed most, churchmen were ready to support the people of Israel theologically, but at the same time supported their opponents, the Palestinians, on humanitarian grounds. Harries’ book After the Evil: Christianity and Judaism in the Shadow of the Holocaust (2003) is a masterly summary of the issues, and a strong plea for mutual understanding.
Harries obviously excelled as a convenor, facilitator, and chairman of numerous groups engaged in inter-church or inter-faith dialogue. But overcoming entrenched stereotypes of other people’s religions is a time-consuming business. Inevitably the task was not completed by the time he retired. More rewarding was his support for the ordination of women. He was sure the Church would be greatly enriched by the ministry of women, and so it has proved. By the time of his retirement in 2006, the diocese of Oxford had more than two hundred women priests. Their gifts have been much appreciated.
In 2003 Harries became involved in a far more controversial issue which was to overshadow the remainder of his episcopate. After some consultations, he decided to offer the post of the area bishop of Reading, part of his diocese, to Dr. Jeffrey John, an open advocate of the view that homosexual relationships should be accepted and blessed by the Church. There was an immediate outcry from conservatives and evangelicals. Unwisely, in Peart-Binns’ view, Harries chose to ignore this, believing that once Dr. John was installed, it would all blow over in a couple of months. How wrong could he be?
The timing of this announcement was also unfortunate. Only a week later, the Canadian bishop of New Westminster, Michael Ingham, authorized a liturgical rite for the celebration of gay and lesbian covenants in six parishes in the Vancouver area. And ten days after that, the first openly gay priest was elected Bishop of New Hampshire in the Episcopal Church of the United States.
`In Oxford the response to all these startling measures was a wave of outrage and protest by many of the senior clergy and laity, who sought to defend the traditional orthodoxy of Christian doctrine on this matter. Similar opinions were voiced around the country. The Archbishop of Canterbury himself stepped in and ordered Dr. John’s nomination to be withdrawn, much to Harries’ dismay. But the issue itself was not resolved, and indeed, as Peart-Binns rightly notes, the Archbishop of Canterbury continues to be mired in the morass of fruitless controversy concerning human sexuality.
Writing the biography of someone still alive is a problematic venture. But Peart-Binns knows how to avoid the pitfalls. One of his difficulties was that Harries was and is a shy man, who did not display his emotions, and could appear cold. So Peart-Binns is left on occasion to speculate about the bishop’s motives, or why he should have taken up one or other of the many endeavours in which he became involved. On the other hand, Peart-Binns knows the Church of England expertly from the inside. So he always gets the context right, and is able to assess and evaluate Harries’ numerous contributions. As a bishop, Harries was not an institutional manager. Nor was he a remote scholar, even of theology. Rather he was a motivator, whose wide human sympathies were matched with an eirenical and ecumenical Christian understanding of society and history. Oxford was therefore an ideal place for such a diocesan leader. And this is why he was also so successful in the House of Lords. It was a notable acclamation that, after he retired in 2006, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, made him a life peer, and hence enabled him to return to the House of Lords. He still sits there on the cross benches, independent of party but intensely loyal to the tradition and the institution. This can also be taken as an appropriate assessment of Harries’ place in the Church of England in the later twentieth century. We owe Peart-Binns our gratitude for this intelligent and perceptive biography.
2) Studies in Christian-Jewish relations, an electronic journal published at Boston College, marked the 100th aniversary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s birth with a special issue dedicated to his memory. The following are abstracts of important articles, which can be downloaded in their entirety from the Boston College site:: http://escholarship.bc.edu/scjr
a) Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Relevance for Post-Holocaust Christian Theology
The Protestant theologian and resistance figure Dietrich Bonhoeffer is often portrayed as a hero of the Holocaust, particularly in popular films and literature. Much of the academic literature also assumes a clear relationship between his concern for the Jewish victims of Nazism, his theology, and his participation in the German resistance. A counter-narrative exists, however, which focuses on the anti-Judaism in his writings and contends that a heroic portrait of Bonhoeffer is simplistic and that Bonhoeffer’s significance for post-Holocaust thought is tenuous at best. A key problem here is the volume and complexity of the relevant historical and theological material. The thesis of this essay is that only an in-depth understanding of his theology as a dialogue with the historical complexities of his times can offer insights into his potential contribution to post-Holocaust thought. This essay will review the most salient theological and historical points, focusing on two often overlooked topics: 1) his actual role not only in the German resistance but in the larger ecumenical resistance network that helped Jews across Europe and 2) his own very concrete reflections on guilt, leading to his conviction of the necessity for a different self-understanding among Christians — and a different kind of Christianity — in a post-Nazi world. His experience under Nazism and in the resistance led to a radical reformulation of Christian identity that may be relevant for post-Holocaust theology.
Victoria J. Barnett, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
b) The Church Struggle and the Confessing Church: An Introduction to Bonhoeffer’s Context
This article traces the German church struggle form 1933 to 1945 with particular emphasis on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s role. Although Bonhoeffer’s status in the world today is that of a great theologian and courageous opponent of the Nazi regime, he did not have much of an impact on the direction of the Confessing Church during the church struggle. Bonhoeffer’s striking albeit marginal role in the German church struggle and his inability to affect significantly the direction of the Confessing Church was due to many factors, including his young age, his liberal-democratic politics, his absence from Germany from October 1933 to April 1935, his vacillating and at times contradictory positions on central issues, his radical theological critique of the Nazi state, his friendship with and family ties to Christians of Jewish descent, and ultimately his willingness to risk his life to destroy Hitler’s regime.
Matthew D. Hockenos, Skidmore College
c) Bonhoeffer, the Jewish People and Post-Holocaust Theology: Eight Perspectives; Eight Theses
Over the years since his death, dozens of interpreters – scholars, novelists, dramatists, filmmakers and devotional writers- have offered a variety of perspectives on Bonhoeffer’s relationship to the Jewish people. This article describes eight distinct, though overlapping and largely compatible, perspectives on this question. It then identifies the author’s own view of this important relationship by presenting and developing eight theses. The author concludes that the desire to portray Bonhoeffer as a guide for post-Holocaust theological reflection is based less in Bonhoeffer’s theological achievements than in the compelling nature of his witness and the dire need for Christian heroes from the Nazi era.
Stephen R. Haynes, Rhodes College
(This article is a shortened version of Haynes’s latest book The Bonhoeffer Legacy, reviewed in this Newsletter, September 2006).
b) Wallace Daniel, The Children of Perestroika, Two sociologists on religion and Russian society, 1991 – 2006 in Religion, State and Society, June 2007
Professor Daniel’s review of the resrearches undertaken by two Russian sociologists surveys the changes in Russians’ religious understanding in the last fifteen years. The rapid breakdown of boundaries and ways of thought in Russia lend themselves to new sociological investigations by these two leading scholars, Furman and Filatov. They provide data for the sudden reinvigoration of interest in religion at the end of the 1980s, the time of ‘sobering up’, 1996-1997, and the present relationship between faith and power, 2000 – 2006. While sociologists look at church affairs through different lenses than historians, nevertheless, in Daniel’s view, they have important perspectives to contribute. Daniel is the author of The Orthodox Church and Civil Society in Russia: Texas A and M University Press, College Station, Texas 2006.
a) It is with regret that we learn of the death in May of Wolf-Dieter Zimnmermann at the age of 95. Zimmermann was one of Bonhoeffer’s early students, and participated in eager theological debates in the period before and after the Nazi seizure of power. He later went on to become an “illegal” Confessing Church pastor. In the immediate post-war years, Zimmermann played a significant role in the Unterwegskreis, a group of reform-minded clergy in Berlin’s Protestant churches who sought to incorporate Bonhoeffer’s ideas, even though he was no longer with them. Zimmermann made many contributions in the area of radio and television communications during his long and productive career in the service of the Berlin church. He is probably best known to English-speaking readers through the four chapters he contributed to the book I knew Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which he edited along with Ronald Gregor Smith.
I am glad to tell you that one of the few surviving contemporaries from that era, Rudolf Weckerling, now 97, is still active and busy writing and speaking about his friend Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He recently wrote to me asking for a reprint of one of my articles so that he could translate it into German!
b) We are also sorry to hear of the death in August of our colleague, Raul Hilbert, emeritus professor of the University of Vermont, one of the leading scholars of the Holocaust. His book The Destruction of the European Jews (1961) with its thorough examination of the documentary sources, and its sharp analysis of the perpetrators, the victims and the bystanders, established the standard for all such accounts of this terrible tragedy. In our field he will be remembered for his epigrammatic comment on the complicity of the Christian churches in the tragic history of the Jewish people:
The missionaries of Chrstianity had said in effect: you have no right to live among us as Jews. The secular rulers who followed had proclaimed: you have no right to live among us. The German Nazis at last decreed: you have no right to live.
c) We also learn with sorrow of the passing of the French Cardinal Lustiger who was converted from Judaism as a boy, and later rose to become Cardinal Archbishop of Paris. He contributed much to the improvement of relations between Christians and Jews, and upheld the view that, where Christian anti-semitism existed, it was a consequence of the infidelity of Christian nations to Biblical Judaism. In 1997 he prompted his fellow French bishops to issue a public apology for their predecessors’ failure to protest theVichy government’s anti-semitic laws – a move which strengthened the campaign led by Pope John Paul II.
4) Conference Report: A forgotten heroine of the Church Struggle: Elisabeth Schmitz.
In the historiography of the Church Struggle against the Nazis, very little has ever
been written about the role of women. One of those largely forgotten figures was Elisabeth Schmitz, who was the author of a significant memorandum in 1935/6 on the plight of the Jewish Christians in Germany, and who urged the Confessing Church to take measures in their defence. Unfortunately all too little was done to follow up her suggestions, and her initiative was forgotten. Recently a conference on her life and work was held in Berlin under the auspices of Prof Manfred Gailus. The following report was kindly supplied to us by Hansjorg Buss, the archivist of the North Elbian Church in Kiel.
Tagungsbericht: “Konturen einer vergessenen Biographie: Elisabeth Schmitz (1893-1977)”, (7.05.2007, Berlin), veranstaltet von der Evangelischen Akademie zu Berlin in Zusammenarbeit mit Professor Dr. Manfred Gailus, Berlin. – Erstveräffentlichung der Langfassung: ULR: http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/tagungdsberichte/id=1592
Elisabeth Schmitz wurde 1893 als Tochter eines Gymnasialprofessors im hessischen Hanau geboren. Von 1914 bis 1920 studierte sie, anfangs in Bonn, seit 1915 in Berlin Geschichte, Theologie und Germanistik. Ab 1929 arbeitete sie als Studienrätin in Berlin-Mitte, bis sie 1935 ob ihrer ablehnenden Haltung gegüber dem NS-Staat versetzt wurde. Nach der Einführung neuer Lehrpläne, in denen die Erziehung zum “nationalsozialistischen Menschen” als Bildungsziel ausgegeben wurde, und unter dem Eindruck der Reichspogromnacht bat sie Ende 1938 um ihre Versetzung in den Ruhestand, der ihr unter Einschluss einer Pension auch gewährt wurde. Nach Kriegsende trat Schmitz in Hanau erneut in den Schuldienst und arbeitete bis zu ihrer Pensionierung im Jahr 1958 als Lehrerin. Am 10. September 1977 starb sie unbekannt und vergessen im Alter von 84 Jahren.
Die historische Bedeutung von Elisabeth Schmitz liegt vor allem in ihrem Eintreten für die so genannten “nichtarischen” Christen und anderen “rassisch” Verfolgten. In Korrespondenz mit führenden Theologen und Repräsentanten der Bekennenden Kirche (BK) setzte sie sich wiederholt für eine konsequente Stellungnahme der evangelischen Kirche zur “Judenfrage” ein. Einen hervorragenden Platz nimmt dabei ihre ausführliche Denkschrift zur “Lage der deutschen Nichtarier” aus dem Jahr 1935/36 ein, in der sie ausführlich die innere und äußere Not der verfolgten Juden beschrieb und eine scharfe Anklage gegen das Schweigen der Kirche, insbesondere der BK, führte. “Die Kirche macht es einem bitter schwer, sie zu verteidigen.” Daneben setzte Schmitz sich auch konkret und mit hohem persönlichen Einsatz für verfolgte “Nichtarier” ein, denen sie Zuflucht in ihrem Wochenendhaus gewährte oder die sie mit Geld und Nahrungsmitteln unterstützte.
Elisabeth Schmitz gehört zu jenen Frauen, die nach 1945 über Jahrzehnte in Vergessenheit geraten sind. In einleitenden Worten hoben sowohl Ludwig Mehlhorn (Evangelische Akademie) als auch Gailus hervor, dass dieser beklagenswerte Zustand der Vergessenheit ein Anlass für die Tagung war, um die “biographischen Konturen dieser in Berlin weithin unbekannten Frau” nachzuzeichnen. Dass dieses Anliegen auch im Interesse der Kirche liege, bekräftigte Präpstin Friederike von Kirchbach im Namen der Evangelischen Kirche Berlin-Brandenburg-schlesische Oberlausitz.
In einem ersten Beitrag gab die Pfarrerin a.D. Dietgard Meyer — sie kannte Elisabeth Schmitz seit ihrer Schulzeit und publizierte 1999 erstmals den Nachweis ihrer Urheberschaft der genannten Denkschrift — eine persänlich gehaltene Einführung zu Leben und Werk. Sie hob die Konsequenz ihrer Handlungen hervor, die sie in einer zutiefst christlich-humanistischen Grundhaltung begründet sah. Auch nach Kriegsende habe Schmitz ihre Weitsichtigkeit bewiesen und unter Einbeziehung der Opferperspektive eine schnelle Aufarbeitung der NS-Zeit, vor allem die Erforschung der Ursachen angemahnt.
Manfred Gailus setzte sich anschließend mit der wissenschaftlichen Ausbildung von Elisabeth Schmitz auseinander. Er wies dem Historiker Friedrich Meinecke, vor allem aber dem bedeutenden Kirchenhistoriker Adolf von Harnack einen prägenden Einfluss zu. Im liberal-aufgeklärten Umfeld der beiden republikanisch eingestellten Professoren bildete Schmitz letztendlich jene ethische Wertebindung aus, die auch in der NS-Zeit für sie handlungsleitend sein sollte. Zuletzt machte Gailus die starken theologischen Interessen Schmitz` geltend. Nur auf Grund der Tatsache, dass ein theologisches Examen für Frauen zu dieser Zeit keinen “Brotberuf” bot, entschied sie sich für das Lehramt.
Zu dem beruflichen Werdegang und Schmitz` Wirken als Lehrerin sprach anschließend der Berliner Schulpsychologiedirektor Rolf Hensel.
Nach der Mittagspause referierte die Journalistin und Pfarrerin a.D. Marlies Flesch-Thebesius über die Korrespondenz von Elisabeth Schmitz mit Karl Barth, die hauptsächlich in den Jahren 1933 bis 1936 stattfand. Während Schmitz schon im April 1933 ein kirchliches Eintreten gegen Antisemitismus forderte und schwere Vorwürfe gegen die evangelische Kirche erhob, war für Barth die “Judenfrage” nur eine Teilfrage in der Auseinandersetzung mit dem NS-Staat. Eine äffentliche Stellungnahme lehnte er ab. Neben der Korrespondenz sind auch mehrere Besuche bei Barth in seinem Schweizer Exil dokumentiert. Hier wies die Referentin darauf hin, dass der theologische Gedankenaustausch mäglicherweise ein Umdenken bei Karl Barth ausgeläst bzw. dieses bestärkt haben kännte, das ab 1936 auch in seiner wissenschaftlichen Arbeit Niederschlag fand.
Im Anschluss referierte der Jurist Gerhard Lüdecke über einen überraschenden Dokumentenfund – eine Tasche von Elisabeth Schmitz mit persänlichen Dokumenten – in den Kellerräumen einer Hanauer Kirchengemeinde im Jahr 2004. Von besonderem Wert ist eine handschriftliche, mehrfach überarbeitete Fassung der Denkschrift, die letzte bestehende Zweifel an ihrer Urheberschaft endgültig beseitigt.
Die Vorgeschichte der Denkschrift beleuchtete der Berliner Kirchenhistoriker Hartmut Ludwig in einem instruktiven Beitrag. Er warf die These auf, dass es sich bei Denkschrift, um eine (falsch verstandene) “Auftragsarbeit” für die Berlin-Brandenburger BK gehandelt habe. In seiner Analyse unterstrich er nochmals deren weitreichenden theologischen Ansatz: Schmitz bezog sich nicht allein auf getaufte “Nichtarier”, sondern weitete ihre Forderungen nach kirchlicher Solidarität auf alle Verfolgten aus. Hierin sah Ludwig einen der Gründe, warum Schmitz’ Denkschrift durch die BK kaum rezipiert wurde.
Martina Voigt von der Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand beschäftigte sich in ihrem Beitrag “Vernetzungen und Parallelbiographien” mit zwei Frauen, die in engem Kontakt mit Elisabeth Schmitz standen: Die Biologin Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Schiemann und die Studienrätin Dr. Elisabeth Abegg. Vorbehaltlich weiterer Untersuchungen machte Voigt deutlich, dass alle drei aus unterschiedlichen Positionen heraus sich in Schrift, Wort und auch der konkreten Tat für verfolgte “Nichtarier” eingesetzt haben und auf Grund ihres Engagements berufliche Nachteile bzw. den Verlust ihrer Stellung in Kauf nehmen mussten. Religiäse Beweggründe scheinen hier trotz großer Unterschiede — Schiemann engagierte sich innerhalb der BK, während Abegg der Minderheit der Quäker angehärte — bei ihren Entscheidungen ausschlaggebend gewesen zu sein.
Im letzten Beitrag beschäftigte sich der Bonner Theologe Andreas Pangritz mit den persänlichen Konsequenzen der Reichspogromnacht vom 9./10. November 1938. Auch er betonte die Radikalität ihrer Forderungen, die sich fundamental von anderen kirchlichen €ußerungen abhoben. So mahnte Schmitz eine namentliche Fürbitte für alle verfolgten “Nichtarier” an, unabhängig von ihrer Religionszugehärigkeit oder der konfessioneller Bindung. Zudem forderte sie die finanzielle Unterstützung der bedrängten jüdischen Gemeinden und die Bereitstellung von Kirchen für jüdische Gottesdienste. Mit ihrer Betonung der jüdischen Wurzeln als unabdingbarer Grundlage des Christentums ging Schmitz auch in theologischer Hinsicht weit über die gängigen zeitgenässischen Interpretationen hinaus.
Auf Grund der fortgeschrittenen Zeit verzichtete Manfred Gailus auf seinen resümierenden Beitrag zum Thema “Nachkriegszeiten: Die große Vergessenheit und späte Erinnerung”. Zugleich kündigte er einen Tagungsband mit sämtlichen Beiträgen an und stellte eine Folgekonferenz in Aussicht. Er verwies zudem auf die Notwendigkeit der Erarbeitung einer wissenschaftlich fundierten Biographie dieser “unbesungenen Heldin par excellence”. Es bleibt zu wünschen, dass beide Vorhaben einen ähnlich erfolgreichen Verlauf nehmen werden.
Wishing all of you in the northern hemisphere, a profitable return to your teaching duties,
and hoping you all had a good holiday, despite the turbulent weather conditions in so many parts of the world.