Protest against Euthanasia

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The sermon von Galen preached in Church of St. Lambert in Münster on August 3, 1941 was his response to the Nazis’ operation against Catholic institutions, also commencing in the Rhineland and in Westphalia at the time, and the incipient euthanasia program. It was the last and arguably the most provocative of von Galen’s three most famous sermons, which he preached on July 13 and 20 and August 3, 1941.

In it, Galen harshly criticized the disparagement of individuals with mental and physical disabilities as so-called “life unworthy of living” and the Nazis’ resultant justification of their systematic killing.

Personal copies and illegal reprints of the sermon as well as the Allies’ dropping of leaflet versions from aircraft facilitated its wide dissemination throughout Germany. The Nazi regime most likely saw itself compelled to suspend its so-called “T4 Program” and resume it in another form because of von Galen’s sermons and the resultant resistance in the Catholic populace.

Since it was feared he would continually jeopardize the dissemination of Nazi propaganda, the bishop’s immediate arrest was even demanded after his three sermons of 1941. Galen was never arrested, though.

This probably never happened because Joseph Goebbels feared unrest in the populace of Münster and the Nazi regime therefore postponed eliminating von Galen until “after the final victory”. Foreign countries took note of von Galen’s sermons. American, British and Soviet radio explicitly refered to them.

Source / title

  • © Bistumsarchiv Münster, Fremde Provenienzen, A 8

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