A pure conscience is good enough : Bishop von Galen, the Nazis, and the question of resistance / by Beth A. Griech-Polelle.
This study examines Bishop von Galen's use of Catholic values, Catholic theology, and Catholic ideology to oppose certain elements of National Socialism such as the euthanasia project while choosing to remain silent on issues concerning the deportation and murder of Jews. Although earlier studies seek to place von Galen in the pantheon of resisters to Nazism, my research reveals von Galen to have been a figure who moved between the boundary of dissent and complicity during the Nazi regime. My study attempts to place von Galen in a broader sociological, political, and ideological context by addressing the relationship between Catholicism and Nazism. In particular, how did the Catholic Church react to various Nazi policies and how did von Galen transmit these policies to his parishioners? How did the anti-Catholic legislation of the Kulturkampf shape the repertoire of resistance tactics of northwestern German Catholics? What theological interpretations were used to justify resistance and/or collaboration? What led von Galen to publicly denounce the euthanasia project, earning him the title of “Resister,” and what were the ramifications of his openly defiant stand? How did the Bishop portray Jews and Bolshevism and what did that depiction mean for Jews under the National Socialist regime? Finally, the study will explore the creation of von Galen as “Grand Churchman-Resister” and the implications of this for the myth of Catholic conservative “resistance” constructed in post-1945 Germany. Ultimately, von Galen's position of “selective opposition” revealed that his life could serve as an example of an individual who represented the more “typical” high-ranking German Catholic cleric under National Socialism, i.e., one who mixed some dissent with conformity, accommodation, and surrender in order to achieve a sense of balance in his life. His stance under National Socialism left a questionable moral legacy for himself and the Catholic Church under the Third Reich.
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Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
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