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The Holocaust and Catholic conscience : Cardinal Aloisius Muench and the guilt question in Germany, 1946-1959 / by Suzanne Brown-Fleming.

Publication | Digitized | Library Call Number: BX4705.M55 B76 2002

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    Based on previously understudied and vast archival materials, this dissertation argues that Bishop-turned Cardinal Aloisius Muench (1889–1962), the most powerful American Catholic figure and influential representative of the Holy See in occupied Germany and subsequent West Germany during the crucial period of 1946 to 1959, was a key and heretofore ignored figure in internal German Catholic discussion and reflection about Jews, anti-Semitism, and the Holocaust. The tens of thousands of letters to Cardinal Muench from German and American prelates, clerics, and lay Catholics, today available in the Aloisius Muench Collection of the archives of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., demonstrate significant anti-guilt and sometimes anti-Jewish overtones. Personal letters to and by Muench, bolstered by recollected conversations recorded in his diary, demonstrate that Muench as well as American prelates, clerics, lay Catholics and U.S. Army officers writing to Muench viewed German Jews now in America as “alien” or “recent” Americans, unfamiliar with “American” standards of fairness and incapable of true loyalty to the United States; believed them to be “in control” of American policy-making in Germany; feared them as “avengers” who wished to harm “victimized” Germans; and believed Jews to be excessively involved in leftist activities. Cardinal (then-Bishop and Archbishop) Muench entertained without protest letters from German and American prelates, clerics, and lay Catholics calling Jews sexual predators, thieves, and anarchists. He actively participated in the sweeping and Vatican-supported postwar clemency campaign on behalf of German war criminals. German-American bishop of the diocese of Fargo, North Dakota (1935–46), Aloisius Muench held five key positions in Germany between 1946 and 1959. He was liaison representative to the U.S. Army in occupied Germany (1946–49), Pope Pius XII's apostolic visitor to Germany (1946–47), the Holy See's relief officer in Kronberg, near Frankfurt-am-Main (1947–49), the Holy See's regent to Germany, stationed in Kronberg (1949–51), and the Holy See's nuncio to Germany, from the nunciature's new seat in Bad Godesberg, outside Bonn (1951–59). Muench's widespread reputation among German Catholics as a sympathetic, pro-German figure began with the grass-roots dissemination of his pastoral letter One World in Charity (1946). The candid nature of letters to and by Cardinal Muench make this archival collection critical to the study of German “selective memory” regarding the Nazi past and in the Catholic Church's failure during this period to confront its own complicity in Nazism's anti-Jewish ideology.
    Brown-Fleming, Suzanne.
    Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Maryland, College Park, 2002.
    Includes bibliographical references (p. 277-290).
    Photocopy. Ann Arbor, Mich. : UMI Dissertation Services, 2003. 22 cm.
    Dissertations and Theses

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    Electronic version(s) available internally at USHMM.
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    vi, 290 p.

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    Record last modified:
    2018-04-24 16:01:00
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