Volkstum Theology

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A völkisch racist, quasi-religious nationalism increasingly gained influence in Protestant circles during the final third of the Weimar era. This “German völkisch movement” was solidified organizationally with the establishment of the Thuringian German Christian Church Movement in 1927.

Although the group was relegated to the fringes within the church at first, “Volk und Gott” (Nation and God) and “Kirche and Volkstum” (Church and Ethnic Peoplehood) evolved into central themes in German Protestantism during the republic’s final years – especially in student circles.

During this period, the academic theologians Paul Althaus and Emanuel Hirsch as well as the journalist Wilhelm Stapel represented a Volkstum theology, which constituted an attempt to escape Germany’s experiences with secularization and the unresolved problems of modernization perceived as menacing. They saw National Socialism as God’s will for the Volk to become a Volk. To them, the Nazi movement was a bit of divine revelation in history. This Volkstum theology had quite a wide appeal.

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