International Ecumenism

In the Nazi era, the meaning of individuals’ denominational identities could be combined with a new openness for the ecumenical movement, for the most part among some younger officials.

As manifested in its two major branches, the “Ecumenical Council for Life and Work” and “Faith and Order movement”, from the 1920s onward, the ecumenical movement entailed close contacts to global Christianity’s other churches and thus counterbalanced nationalistic egoism as propagated by the National Socialists. Time and again, the ecumenical movement allowed international reflection on the development of the Church in Germany, too. For the Germans involved, such contacts meant an expanded horizon, which enduringly challenged the national navel-gazing prevalent.

The ecumenical movement constituted the antithesis of nationalistic movements and was initially viewed with suspicion by the Nazis and then combated relentlessly from 1935 onward.

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