Niemöller in the Postwar Era
His high standing abroad predestined Martin Niemöller to represent the German Evangelical Church in the ecumenical movement after the war’s end. In late summer of 1945, he became Director of the Church Foreign Office and Vice-President of the Council of the newly established Evangelical Church in Germany. He additionally became president of the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau in 1947.
He was unable however to push through his plan to reorganize the German Evangelical Church along the lines of the Confessing Church’s ideas. His “monument” as a resistance fighter also soon displayed cracks. Shortly after his liberation, he vexed the foreign press with an interview: He admitted to having fought Hitler not on political but rather on religious grounds only.
He frankly stood by his enlistment in the navy and denied that the Germans were capable of democracy. He aroused deep enmity in Germany because he drew attention in numerous lectures and sermons to the heavy burden of guilt the Protestant church had incurred during Nazi rule. He did not exempt himself from this, either.
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- Brochures: Evangelische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte, München; © Photo: Nora A. Schulze