Sermon after November 9, 1938

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The November Pogrom, the so-called “Kristallnacht”, organized by the Nazi regime began throughout Germany in the night of Wednesday to Thursday, November 9 to 10, 1938.

Only very few pastors addressed the horrible events in lessons, sermons or prayers in the following Sunday worship service on November 13, 1938 or the worship service on the Day of Penance and Prayer, November 16, 1938. The young assistant pastor Helmut Gollwitzer was one of the few. Several congregational members of Jewish descent were held in detention, had gone into hiding or were on the run after the Pogrom.

On November 16, 1938, he preached on John the Baptist’s call to repentance (Luke 3:3–14) before more than five hundred people in Dahlem fellowship hall. He spoke of the present as an impenitent time. Repentance however meant confessing and recognizing one’s guilt. The consequence of repentance was embracing one’s neighbor – the Jewish name does not fall. In his sermon, Gollwitzer exempted no one from complicity what had happened.

Among others, Elisabeth Schmitz, a teacher in Berlin, thanked him for this sermon in a moving letter of November 24, 1938.

Source / title

  • © Evangelisches Zentralarchiv in Berlin, Bestand 686 Nr. 898

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