Global Christianity The Confessing Church
Global Christianity

Churches in Germany, resisting Hitler and Nazism.

When Hitler came to power in Germany, he wanted to unify all the Protestant churches into one national, German church; these so-called "German Christians" used Christianity to justify Nazism and anti-Semitism. A struggle ensued between the pro-Nazi "German Christians" and those who refused to comply. Perhaps one-tenth of Protestants resisted. Some Catholics were active in hiding Jews or helping them escape. One of the resistance movements was the "Confessing Church," comprised of Lutheran, Reformed, and Union church pastors and lay people. The "Barmen Declaration" of 1934 stated that the church's proclamation consists only in Jesus Christ, not in Nazism. Confessing Church people engaged in various forms of resistance, ranging from hiding Jews, to training pastors in an illegal seminary, to secret plots to assassinate Hitler. Leaders of the Confessing Church included theologians Martin Niemöller (1892-1984), Karl Barth, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor executed by the Nazis in 1945.

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