National Conservatism

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Elisabeth von Thadden’s national conservatism initially made her willing to accept National Socialism in part and to work loyally in the “Third Reich”. She shared the enthusiasm about Hitler’s foreign policy successes with large segments of the populace, outwardly at least. Above all, however, she saw National Socialism as a movement that would succeed in resolving the German Reich’s social problems. As headmistress, she supported the League of German Girls and the Winter Relief Agency. Von Thadden was not an opponent of the state and the party at first.

Three reasons led her to distance herself inwardly from National Socialism: the regime’s policy toward the church, the persecution of the Jews and the treatment of friends and family members by the National Socialists.

The regime’s stance toward the churches provoked a church struggle, over the course of which not only her brother Reinold von Thadden, President of the Pomeranian Confessional Synod, but also Hildegard von Thadden, the retired provost of the Magdalena Convent in Altenburg, were arrested. Thadden was outraged at the ostracism of and pogroms against the Jews. She had to witness the persecution of “non-Aryan” friends of hers in the very first year of Nazi rule: Retired senior civil servant Baum lost her teaching job at the University of Heidelberg; Alice Salomon had to place her life’s work in “Aryan” hands; Kurt Hahn was arrested and expelled, as were Siegmund-Schultze and others from the group of social workers.

The Nazi regime transformed Thadden’s practice of piety and her humanitarian dedication, to which she was accustomed from the way of life in Trieglaff, into a political issue, a criminal attitude.

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