Von Pechmann: Protest against Hostility

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A few days after the November Pogrom, Wilhelm Freiherr von Pechmann turned to Regional Bishop Hans Meiser (1881–1956) in a letter of November 14, 1938. Von Pechmann felt that the period of the church to remain silent had passed and the time for a collective protest from the church had arrived. Not only the acts of violence themselves but also Minister President Ludwig Siebert’s (1874–1942) appeal to the church’s discernment in the so-called Jewish Question and the attack on Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber’s (1869–1952) residence in Munich in the evening of November 11, 1938 prompted von Pechmann to take this step.

Von Pechmann toughened his demand in another letter the following day: Under an areligious government, the church took on an increased duty to issue admonitions and warnings whenever things happened, which imperiled the nation’s conscience and young people’s personal development. A statement from the church would be tremendously important to the souls of Jews who have been tried almost unbearably (F. W. Kantzenbach, Widerstand, 263).

At a meeting on November 24, 1938, Meiser and von Pechmann affirmed their unshakeable personal esteem for one another despite their differences in the issues of the relationship with the Catholic Church and in the so-called Jewish Question. At the same time, however, von Pechmann made their conflicting understanding of responsibility clear: Whereas Meiser was thinking along the lines of his responsibility for the church, von Pechmann’s starting point was personal responsibility.

Von Pechmann additionally ascertained that he was unable to follow Meiser’s course and, in view of the monstrous persecution of Jews and Jewish Christians, feared that the church would be guilty of a grave, even fateful omission. It could not remain silent about an injustice, which – fully contradicting the healthy instincts discernible everywhere in the nation itself – has morally isolated the German people as never before in its very long history (F. W. Kantzenbach, Widerstand, 267).

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  • © Landeskirchliches Archiv Nürnberg, NL Meiser Nr. 62

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