The Council for Church Affairs
Johannes Schröder was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the “Council for Church Affairs” in the National Committee for Free Germany. After a preliminary discussion on June 4 and 5, the Council was constituted at the 10th General Assembly of the National Committee for Free Germany in Lunyovo on June 16, 1944. Around thirty theologians from both denominations who had been taken prisoner of war were in attendance.
The oppression of the churches in the “Third Reich”, Christians’ mission in the struggle against Hitler, the future relationship between Christians and Marxists as well as the church and state were discussed at the assembly. On June 16, the attendees unanimously confirmed the leadership of the “Council for Church Affairs” of which Schröder was also a member.
The brochure “Christians for a New Germany”, which was circulated in the prisoner of war camps, was published the National Committee for Free Germany’s own publishing house. Excerpts of a speech “National Socialism: The Enemy of Christianity” held by Schröder at the Council’s founding conference were reprinted in it. In his speech, Schröder attempted to persuade the pastors that it was right to join the National Committee for Free Germany.
At the same time, he attempted to refute some counterarguments: Pastors remained true to themselves by continuing the struggle against anti-Christian and anti-German National Socialism in captivity, too; this did not make them a clique of politicized pastors; the church was fighting only with preaching of the Gospel; the struggle against the Nazi system did not amount to any treason but rather solidarity with the German people. He thoroughly documented the conflict between National Socialism and Christianity as well as the Protestant and Catholic Church’s struggle.
The brochure additionally included the closing remarks of the delivered by Schröder at the assembly. The brochure’s words of introduction also came from him.
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- © Christiane Godt-Schröder