Political Resistance: The “Swiss Voice”
Barth encouraged active political resistance as of 1938 at the latest. A conscious change was behind this. He was no longer able, as he had been in his treatise “Theologische Existenz heute!”, (1933) to demand the steadfast pursuit of theology as if nothing had happened and to see the totality of Hitler’s state simply bounded by the Word of God. Too much had happened in the meantime, which he believed now demanded action as well.
In this spirit, Barth was also able to back the war against Hitler. When Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia was imminent, Barth wrote Josef Hromádka, a theologian in Prague, on September 19, 1938: Every Czech soldier who fights and suffers will be doing it for us, too – and, I say today without reservation: he will also be doing it for the Church of Jesus Christ, which can only either become a laughingstock or be eradicated in the orbit of Hitler and Mussolini. The appearance of this sentence in the press was a scandal. Former associates from the Confessing Church distanced themselves from Barth.
After the war, Barth published his numerous writings from this period under the title “Eine Schweizer Stimme 1938–1945” (A Swiss Voice 1938-1945). The volume was intended to demonstrate his abiding solidarity with the cause of Confessional Christians in Germany during those years.
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- © Ev. Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte München, KK 44.2000