Religious Socialist Sympathies

  • 1st Picture for document
    Photo: Karin Oehlmann, Dormagen

In 1932, the politically aware theologian had to witness the rapidity with which Nazi ideology gained influence in the church. The church party of the “German Christians” was founded in Berlin in June –in time for the the Prussian church elections in November. Their platform called for a unified German church instead of regional churches, the “Führer principle”, excluding all Christians of Jewish descent from the church and “keeping the Germanic race pure”, protecting the nation from “incompetents” and “inferiors” and “destroying unpatriotic Marxism”.

The Rhenish “religious socialists”, with whom Ina Gschlössl sympathized, took part in the church elections with a list of candidates of the “People’s Church Federation of Protestant Socialists”. They assessed the German Christians realistically:

They will speak of the Gospel but by that they mean their own gospel of racial arrogance, the brutal violation of any other opinion, the glorification of militarism and the armament of the military. They have distorted the Cross of Christ into the swastika. … They need not fear any resistance from Protestant pastors, very many of whom more or less sympathize with fascism, or any from the present church parties, which, like middle class political parties, are increasingly being dissolved. Hitler is thus extending his hands toward the Protestant church as toward certain prey (Rheinische Zeitung, September 7, 1932).

Such statements were lonely cries in a church that was increasingly receptive to National Socialism. As in all of Germany, the German Christians overwhelming won the church elections in Cologne in July 1933. From then on, stone figures of Martin Luther and a Storm Trooper (chiseled away in 1945) stood facing one another at the entrance of Martin Luther Fellowship Hall in Cologne-Bayenthal.

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  • © Photo: Karin Oehlmann, Dormagen [The view of the right wing before the Storm Trooper was chiseled away has been added.]