The Reich Ministry of Church Affairs

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The Reich Ministry of Church Affairs was originally intended to serve as one of the state’s central bodies. However, its authority was restricted and questioned repeatedly.

This became especially evident after the unexpected death of Minister Hanns Kerrl in December of 1941. Hermann Muhs, formerly his state secretary, was merely given the assignment of provisionally managing the minister’s affairs.

Through the finance departments, Muhs sought to coerce the churches into utmost loyalty to the state. He therefore dismissed Günther Fürle, the former moderate head of the finance department of the German Evangelical Church, in May of 1942 and replaced him with the unchurched attorney at law Georg Cölle, who already headed the finance departments in Hannover and Bremen with a heavy hand.

Cölle increasingly behaved like a state commissar, threatening the Austrian bishop Johann Eder or the Sudeten German Church President Erich Wehrenpfennig with cuts in funding unless they retracted their signatures under the “13 Propositions” on which Bishop Wurm based his Unification Efforts.

Muhs worked in the meantime toward fully severing the finance departments from the church’s administration in order to thus be able to exercise maximum control over every domain of church legislation.

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