First Contacts to the Confessing Church

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In the winter of 1933, Gollwitzer was summoned by the Prince of Reuss to Ernstbrunn near Vienna as the palace chaplain and princely tutor. He went with him on trips to his Thuringian estates and had contact there to the Council of Brethren of the Thuringian Confessing Church. He met Martin Niemöller for the first time in Köstritz in 1935. In a letter of July 15, 1935 to the Thuringian Confessing Church pastors he wrote warningly:

And behind your [question about the oath], the examination of the present state itself is increasingly unavoidable, which we have hitherto avoided in the church. [...] If the church fails here, continues remaining silent about the legal trend, concentration camps, Aryan legislation, then its failure will have no lesser consequences than its failure in the social question. As long as it only stands for its own cause, is as long as this could also be veiled egoism of its instinct for self-preservation.

Gollwitzer started working for the Council of Brethren of the Lutheran Confessional Fellowship in Thuringia in January of 1936 and took over the Department of Evangelization and Theological Education.

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  • © Evangelisches Zentralarchiv in Berlin, Bestand 686 Nr. 7671

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