Association of Contemporary Church Historians

(Arbeitsgemeinschaft kirchlicher Zeitgeschichtler)

John S. Conway, Editor.

University of British Columbia

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Newsletter no. 7 - August 1995

Contents

1. Enquiry

2. H-Net.

3. Book Notices

a) Kurt Nowak and Gerard Raulet eds., Protestantismus und Anitsemitismus in der Weimarer Republik, Campus, Frankfurt 1994.

b) Roman Bleistein, Alfred Delp, Knecht, Frankfurt 1989, and Michael Pope, Alfred Delp S.J. im Kreisauer Kreis. Die rechts- und sozial-philosophischen Grundlagen in seinen Konzeptionen fuer eine Neuordnung Deutschlands. Veroff. d. Komm. fur Zeitgeschichte, Reihe B. Forschungen Bd 63, Mathias Grunewald, Mainz 1994 Reviewed by Michael Phayer.

c) Jacques Semelin, Unarmed against Hitler. Civilian resistance in Europe 1939-1945, Praeger, Westport Conn./London 1993.

d) Henri Fabre, L'eglise catholique face au fascisme at au nazisme. Les outrages a la verite, Brussels 1994, and Anthony Rhodes, The Vatican in the age of the Cold War, London 1992.

e) Hans-Dieter Schutt, Anna Rosmus - die 'Hexe' von Passau, Dietz, Berlin 1994.

f) Jerusalem

Dear Friends,

Welcome back - especially for those of us in the northern hemisphere, and I hope you have all enjoyed a period of rest and /or research before the beginning of the new term. This Newsletter will be somewhat longer, because of the large number of new books which have appeared, or which deserve notice. Many thanks to those of you who have sent in contributions. These are always welcome, in order to make this Newsletter as reciprocal as possible.

1. Enquiry:

Frank Baron, University of Kansas would like to have more information about a Professor Hans Schwerte. He writes: "An article appeared in the N.Y.Times on June 1st about the prominent Germanist Hans Schwerte who turns out to have been a former SS-officer. I am interested in his earlier history. Although he denies having taken part in medical matters, there is evidence that he had something to do with experimentations performed in Dachau. Can anyone provide more details?"

2. H-Net.

As most of you will be aware, one of the recent developments on the academic Internet is the institution of book reviews. H- German is now doing these twice a month. They will be of the same quality and comprehensiveness as those appearing in scholarly journals, and presumably by equally qualified reviewers. The great advantage to readers, authors and publishers is that they will appear months, even years, before the equivalent review in a printed journal. Indeed one can foresee the end of that genre before long.

Unfortunately German journals, with the exception of the Historische Zeitschrift, don't do many book reviews (though Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte is trying hard!) Consequently German publishers don't send out many review copies, and N. American journal editors have not always been able to get copies easily into the hands of reviewers. Theological publishers are even slower in responding to requests for review copies. And given the snail-like acceptance of computerization and hence E-mail in Germany, we may be a while before the kind of books of interest to our Arbeitsgemeinschaft will be so treated. But the possibilities might be worth exploring. Does anyone have connections with publishers such as Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht in Gottingen, or Chr.Kaiser in Gutersloh?

3. Book Notices

A flood of recent books in our area would seem to indicate that our particular field is flourishing. Here are brief notices of those to hand.

a) Kurt Nowak and Gerard Raulet eds., Protestantismus und Anitsemitismus in der Weimarer Republik, Campus, Frankfurt 1994.

This selection of essays is the result of Franco-German collaboration in a series of conferences, and concentrates on the reactions within German Protestantism to the so-called "Jewish question" in the period of the first world war and its aftermath. As the editors point out, the debate was actually part of the wider repercussions within the church to what was perceived as the crisis of modernization. Conservatives from Treitschke onwards were ready to see Jews as sinister agents of change, a view greatly enhanced by the disasters of the first world war. Liberal Protestants were trying to find a suitable theological response, but the result was often cacophony and confusion. This was reflected in their attitudes towards Judaism. In particular the irreconcilable gulf between the advocates of assimilation to a German nationalist consensus, and those who tentatively argued for religious and social pluralism only widened in the 1920s. Some Protestant theologians were ready to accept a broader participation in society for assimilated Jews, and hence adopted a more open stance between the faiths in the constitutional, legal and employment fields. Nevertheless virtually no German theologian argued for a pro-semitic attitude in theology. Adolf von Harnack's well-known belief that Judaism was destined to be replaced by the more modern presence of Christianity lingered long in liberal minds, since it fitted so well with their view of social, political as well as theological evolution. For their part, many German Jews were attracted by the individualism of Protestantism, and its openness to liberal debate and democratic reforms.

The chapters of Leo Baeck, Walter Rathenau and Ernst Troeltsch show their affinity, politically and intellectually. But the only Christian scholars to take Judaism seriously, who contributed significant works attacking the popular kind of vulgar antisemitism, were all supporters of Mission to the Jews and believed the Jews would sooner or later recognise that their due destiny lay in conversion. Wolfgang Wiefel presents as excellent chapter on the various N.T. scholars who dug deeply into its Jewish roots, but sadly admits that communication with Jewish scholars was non-existent. Instead we find the most prominent Tubingen N.T. scholar, Gerhard Kittel, giving his full support to the Nazi regime and drawing a line between ancient Israel and modern Jewry. The ambiguities of this unfortunate legacy are still reverberating today.

b) Roman Bleistein, Alfred Delp, Knecht, Frankfurt 1989. (contributed by Michael Phayer, Marquette U., Milwaukee)

This well researched exhaustive biography is well worth the time of those interested in resistance. Bleistein covers a great deal of ground: the Jesuit resistance circle in Munich and its relationship to the Kreisau Kreis; their efforts to get the bishops involved with the Kreis or at least to collaborate with it; Delp's contacts with other resistors like the Scholls (meeting planned but they were already executed by that time) and with Stauffenberg. Delp differed from other Jesuits and bishops in that he did not oppose killing Hitler. Bleistein suspects this is because Delp knew what the Nazis were doing to the Jews. Did Delp know that Stauffenberg intended to plant a bomb at Hitler's feet? Delp maintained at his trial that he did not know (but he was executed anyway in January 1945). Bleistein concludes that Delp and Stauffenberg had discussed the morality of assassination in general terms only. The book includes an interview with the prison guard who was assigned the duty of beating Delp with a spiked board to get him to divulge information.

Michael Pope, Alfred Delp S.J. im Kreisauer Kreis. Die rechts- und sozial-philosophischen Grundlagen in seinen Konzeptionen fuer eine Neuordnung Deutschlands. Veroff. d. Komm. fur Zeitgeschichte, Reihe B. Forschungen Bd 63, Mathias Grunewald, Mainz 1994

Michael Pope's dissertation gives a comprehensive view of Delp's contributions to the Kreisau Circle. It is not uncritical. He notes that many of Delp's ideas were drawn from his earlier involvement in Catholic youth groups with their romantic idealization of Germany's Catholic traditions. He was still in 1944 pursuing an organic view of society which had numerous anti-democratic and anti-pluralist overtones, and which now appear as utopian or even reactionary. Nevertheless he was a fearless defender of Catholic viewpoints who rightly rejected the allurements of Nazism as well as the shameful compromises of some of his Catholic colleagues and superiors. As such he is rightly honoured among the noble army of martyrs

c) Jacques Semelin, Unarmed against Hitler. Civilian resistance in Europe 1939-1945, Praeger, Westport Conn./London 1993

This essay by a French sociologist discusses the political limitations of non-violent opposition and non-compliance by civilians for "civilian" i.e. non-military reasons against Nazism. Semelin makes clear that there are wide variations in the concept of resistance and in the particular settings in each country. Nevertheless he affirms that the churches played a significant role, in such matters as the protest against the Nazi euthanasia decrees, whereby their mobilization of a "protective screen" could be deployed for moral reasons. But in the case of the murder of the Jews, such a tactic came to play in far fewer circumstances, revealing the fact that as a whole the Christian churches manifested contradictory attitudes which prevented adequate resistance or deterrent measures against the Nazis' systematic and deliberate use of violence.

d) Henri Fabre, L'eglise catholique face au fascisme at au nazisme. Les outrages a la verite, Brussels 1994

Henri Fabre's blockbuster is a splendid piece of polemic, which takes aim at the Catholic Church, the Vatican and Pope Pius XII in a tone of exasperation and vituperation for over 500,pages. As a rational atheist, he has no use for the hypocrisy, self-serving or prevarication which he believes characterized the church's officials in their response to the Fascist and Nazi dictators. In particular he is dismayed by their perversion of the truth about the Catholic reactions to the Holocaust. He examines minutely the record not only of the Holy See, but also of the Church in various European countries, in order to demonstrate that the Church failed miserably to stand up for the Jews. He especially analyses the 11 volumes of Vatican documents, put out in response to the earlier charges made by Hochhuth and others. Here he seeks to expose the "outrages" against the truth, and to accuse the Jesuit editors of these volumes of gross hypocrisy. Needless to say, he has no sympathy whatsoever for the self-imposed silence of Pius XII about war-time atrocities, and instead denounces the Papacy for not protesting the Nazis' crimes against the Jews on every possible occasion. His assumption that, had such a prophetic stance been adopted, more Jews would be alive today not only overestimates the potential power of the Papacy, but comes rather oddly from one who derides the institution with such acrimony. But he has certainly done his homework in subjecting the Vatican documents to a fine- toothcomb analysis.

Anthony Rhodes, The Vatican in the age of the Cold War, London 1992

By contrast, Anthony Rhodes's sequel to two previous studies of the Vatican in this century is positive and affirmative. He accepts at face value the Vatican's own view of its policies, overlooks or excuses its glaring failures, and sees the Papacy as a valiant champion of the free world in face of the Communist threat. He is well-informed but dispenses with footnotes. As well, his story stops short at the end of the 1960s, and fails to take the story up to its more fitting ending in 1989-90. But he does include chapters on Latin America which are an interesting innovation.

e) Passau:

Anyone who enjoyed the film "The Nasty Girl", with its satirical portrait of the difficulties confronting researchers into recent German history, may want to note the appearance of the small book by Hans-Dieter Schutt, Anna Rosmus - die 'Hexe' von Passau, Dietz, Berlin 1994. This is an extended interview in which Ms Rosmus explains her reasons for wanting to expose the hypocrisy and break the taboos about the Nazi period which characterized the elite of Passau, including the clergy and professoriate. As a modern Savonarola, she is suffering much the same fate, and was last heard of in New York. A lively picture of an uncompromising searcher for truth.

f) Jerusalem:

Even though Jerusalem does not figure largely in the debates of contemporary church history, many of us will have been there. All, I believe, will not have failed to see how deeply the atmosphere of the city has been imprinted upon by the legacy of earlier disputes, not least amongst the various Christian denominations. One such legacy is to be found in the so-called "Garden Tomb", that delightfully pleasant green oasis just north of the Damascus Gate. Its history and the resultant controversy is well described by Sarah Kuchev "The Search for a Protestant Holy Sepulchre. The Garden Tomb in 19th century Jerusalem", J. of Ecclesiastical History, Vol 46, no 2, April 1995, pp 278ff.

This Newsletter has already grown like Topsy, so I will send it off now, and will continue with more book reviews and notes next month. Don't hesistate to let me know what you have "discovered" this summer.

With best wishes to you all,

John Conway,
Dept of History, University of B.C.,Vancouver
jconway@unixg.ubc.ca