Nazi Minister Courts Bodelschwingh

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Hitler appointed a Reich Minister of Church Affairs of his own, Hanns Kerrl, in 1935. In effect, this amounted to the disempowerment of Reich Bishop Müller, who had also proven himself incompetent in the Nazis’ eyes. The new minister was supposed to end the troublesome “Kirchenkampf” and bring about tranquility and order in the church. To this end, he instituted church committees as new church governments in the Reich Church and in various regional churches, which were however highly controversial, especially in factions of the Confessing Church.

Kerrl hoped to be able to recruit Bodelschwingh for his policy. Since he still enjoyed high standing in large circles of the church, his involvement would have doubtlessly bolstered the minister’s efforts to bring peace. Bodelschwingh was entirely willing to negotiate with Kerrl but consistently turned down the minister’s persistent efforts to recruit him to participate actively. He made unequivocally clear to representatives of the ministry that it was important to him that his name would not be misused as a facade for things which he was unable to uphold.

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  • © Hauptarchiv Bethel, 2/39-46

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