Publication of the Synod’s Resolutions

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Whereas the Confessing Church had still been able to publish its communiqués in the magazine “Junge Kirche”, published by Fritz Söhlmann, or in printed pamphlets, this became increasingly more difficult as of 1941: “Junge Kirche” was banned in May of 1941. Restrictions on paper for church use followed and, finally, censorship on everything threatened as well.

Although those assembled in Breslau had unanimously decided that the synod’s resolutions ought to be printed, they left the way this would be done open. Whether and to what extent the texts were circulated and what number of congregations und congregational members learned about the “Statement of the Confessional Synod” on the Day of Prayer and Repentance thus remains unclear.

Kurt Scharf, later bishop of berlin, recorded in his memoirs that millions of copies of the pulpit announcement had been printed illegally together with three of Wurm’s letter and distributed throughout the Confessing Church congregations and made public at worship services (Scharf, Widerstehen, 84). The veracity of this is questionable, however.

Neither the Gestapo nor any other of the state’s surveillance and police services is known to have reacted in any way. That, as Scharf stated, they did not out of consideration for morale in the troops, tends to be doubtful, though.

Regardless of whether the guide and the “Statement of the Confessional Synod” were widely circulated, they impressively document theologically based opposition to Nazi ideology. At a time when any critical statement voiced publicly could have unforeseeable consequences, the members of the synod adopted clear words oriented toward the biblical message.

They were a reminder that Christian charity also applied precisely to people ostracized by the Nazi state. The synod’s denunciation of discrimination, persecution and, above all, “destruction” of “unworthy” life with astonishingly open words and in conjunction with the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” reveals its importance.

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  • © Ev. Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte München © Photo: Siegfried Hermle

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