Hans Asmussen

Hans Christian Asmussen, the youngest child of a headmaster, grew up in Flensburg. The high school graduate enthusiastically enlisted in the army in 1917. He studied theology at the universities of Kiel and Tübingen from 1919 to 1921. After his exams, he became a vicar and assistant pastor at the deaconess house in Flensburg and, then, in 1925, pastor in Albersdorf, Dithmarschen where he was directly confronted with the Nazis’ machinations for the first time. In May of 1932, he was called to the main church in Altona (now a district of Hamburg). Following a street battle between Communists and Nazis on July 17, 1932 (Altona’s Bloody Sunday), Asmussen initiated the “Altona Confession”, which appeared shortly before Hitler’s seizure of power in January of 1933. The text is considered the prelude to the “Kirchenkampf”. Asmussen became one of the Confessing Church’s theological spokesmen, initially assailing the church policy of the German Christians loyal to Hitler. He was therefore considered politically unreliable. He was suspended in 1933, and forced to retire in 1934. Repeated reprisals and arrests followed thereafter: He was officially banned from speaking in public from 1936 to 1940 and was imprisoned for eight months in 1941. In May of 1934, he collaborated with Karl Barth and Thomas Breit on drafting the “Theological Declaration of Barmen”, which he annotated upon its completion. Immediately afterward, he became head of the confessional synod’s theological department in Bad Oeynhausen. In 1935, the Old Prussian Council of Brethren appointed him founding director and docent to establish the “theological seminary” in Berlin-Dahlem, which was immediately declared illegal. Illegal courses were held until 1941. At the same time, Asmussen was a pastor in Berlin-Lichterfelde. In May of 1936, he collaborated on the “Second Provisional Church Government’s (VKL II) Memorandum to Hitler”. In 1941, he was ostensibly hired as a secretary in an arms factory in Bremen. This cover enabled him to travel freely and thus maintain contacts to the Confessing Church. From 1942 onward, he had ties to the political resistance against Hitler. In 1943, Theophil Wurm arranged for him to come to Württemberg as a pastor and colleague. After the war’s end, he was appointed to the Evangelical Church in Germany’s Council and simultaneouslymade president of its Church Office. He collaborated on the “Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt” of October 18-19, 1945. After serving as provost of Kiel from 1949 to 1955, he spent his retirement in Heidelberg and died in Speyer in 1968.

back to person back to person