In February of 1937, Karl Steinbauer removed a notice in the Penzberg Hitler Youth’s display case, which disparaged Bible reading. In a letter of February 12, he accused the Hochland Region Hitler Youth’s press and propaganda unit of having a stance toward the Bible and Bible reading not different from that in the Soviet Union. At the same time, he announced that commissioned preachers of the Bible’s message ... would not stand idly by such criminal activity disparaging Holy Scripture and its examination and reading before our young people (K. Steinbauer, Zeugnis 2, 115f.). He also sent his letter to Hitler, Reich Governor Franz Ritter von Epp (1868–1946) and Reich Youth Leader Baldur von Schirach (1907–1974).
Although Von Schirach prohibited the notice, a new anti-Bible poster hung in the Hitler Youth’s display case a short while later. Steinbauer protested anew and notified the press and propaganda unit on March 5 that, as long as he was serving in Penzberg, such youthdisplay case services would not be posted there. His confirmands had learned that there is only one Bible and that only unbelievable folly and pitiful blindness or a sacrilegious blaspheming mind can say otherwise. He held that a fanatical, anti-Christian troop at work was more or less hidden in the state and the party but as long as it did not yet fully control the state and party, he would be drawing attention to this secret struggle and calling to resistance (K. Steinbauer, Zeugnis 2, 121f.).
As a result, the Gestapo imposed a residence ban on Steinbauer once again for “constant subversive agitation”. He did not heed this residence ban, either, reported the incident to the regional church consistory and lodged a complaint with the Gestapo. His letter of protest of April 9 stated that his ordination and installation as the shepherd responsible for Penzberg parish made it impossible for him to comply with this order. He additionally appealed to the constitutional state in which the political police were also bound to legal norms and would have to prove the accusations raised against him in a proper court trial.
The church government gave Steinbauer its backing at first and lodged a protest against the residence ban with the Bavarian Political Police. The regional church consistory and regional bishop’s clear stance was softened, though, when the Berlin Gestapo announced its intention to arrest Steinbauer. The church government contemplated transferring Steinbauer but ultimately kept him in his parish after all. He was arrested on June 16, 1937 for tearing down publicly posted notices. A prison sentence of up to six months threatened him for this. Although Penzberg church council immediately lodged a protest against his arrest and the church government worked for his release, he was not released until November 11, 1937, after five months of detention in Weilheim jail.
Source / title
- © 1: Elisabeth Giesen, née Steinbauer, Cologne; 2: Ev. Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte München, NL von Soden 16