Driving out the demons : German churches, the Western Allies, and the internationalization of the Nazi past, 1945-1952 / JonDavid K. Wyneken
Includes bibliographical references (p. 571-591)
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Electronic version from ProQuest
This dissertation examines the complex, often tumultuous relations between the German Catholic and Protestant churches and the Western Allied powers during the first seven years following the Second World War. In particular, this study focuses on how the churches' and Allies' understanding of the Nazi past influenced occupation events and international attitudes about Germany. The Western Allies and the German churches clashed over policies governing denazification, the prosecution of Nazi war criminals, the treatment of Jewish refugees and other Displaced Persons, and relations between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. These debates helped produce German antipathy towards the Western Allies, and simultaneously projected views of Germans (and the churches) as victims of the Nazis and of the Allies, minimizing the role of Germans in Nazi crimes. Previous studies of the Allied occupation of Germany downplay or ignore the important roles played by the churches during this period. The churches succeeded in drawing international attention—much of it negative—to the problems of the occupation. The division of Germany in October 1949 forced the German churches to decide how best to confront Communism, and the different approaches embraced by the Catholic and Protestant churches put great strain on the political stability of the new West German state and served in various ways the propaganda of the Soviet Union, East Germany, and the Western Allies. The cultivation of the myth of widespread Christian resistance to the Nazi regime, propagated strongly by the churches and, in the end, accepted tacitly by the Western Allies, played a significant role in the international politics of the era, and greatly influenced contemporary and subsequent debates about the emerging Cold War, about the Nazi past and Germans' place in it, about new developments in international law, and about the role of religion in the postwar world.
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