The Arrests of Regional Bishops Meiser and Wurm

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When the Reich Bishop also attempted to coordinate the regional churches of Bavaria and Württemberg with the Reich Church, he had the regional bishops Hans Meiser and Theophil Wurm placed under house arrest in October of 1934.

The entire Confessing Church in Germany expressed solidarity with the arrested bishops in a statement of October 10, 1934. Two days later, it instructed congregations to hold special intercessory prayer services during the week and to let church bells be silent as a sign of grief over these outrages. Numerous Confessional Church services were held and delegations of ordinary congregational members traveled to government authorities in Berlin in order to protest the violent measures.

Actual mass demonstrations for the release of the bishops occurred, which ultimately prompted Hitler to change course. He received the two regional bishops, thus rehabilitating them and simultaneously repudiating Reich Bishop Ludwig Müller, whose real, complete disempowerment was no longer stoppable.

Hitler had cleverly assumed the role of a mediator and thus outwardly warded off the impression that criticism within the church could change into political criticism of the Nazi regime. Disempowered, Müller retained his office nominally. His official resignation would have signified an admission of an error on Hitler’s part and, as he saw it, boosted the opposition within the church unduly.

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  • © Ev. Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte München, Nachlass von Soden 7

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