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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: June 2013

2 - Above the Confessions

Summary

We all say a Lord's Prayer, we all have a Savior, we all have a Christmas celebration. The banner above both confessions is: Christianity.

Hans Schemm

The Protestant League stands very close to the NSDAP. It is consciously German and, through moral and religious power, wants to contribute to the building up of the German people.

Hans Schemm

When incorporating different strands of Christian antisemitism or socialism, Nazis spoke in undifferentiated, nonconfessional terms. In large part this was one of the very purposes of positive Christianity: to bridge the religious divide by making no specific references to a particular confessional bias. Any direct allusion to a particular theological lineage would have worked against the priority of the nation. Insofar as this allowed the NSDAP to appeal to all of Germany's Christians, it had potential as an effective political strategy. However, it was also central to the inner logic of their worldview: By appealing to what the Nazis regarded as the commonalities that joined Protestants and Catholics, they hoped to unify the nation and end a long, often bloody history of sectarianism in Germany. In this sense, the Nazis undoubtedly put the nation above confession, but in ways strikingly similar to those attempted by prior generations of German nationalists. This goal notwithstanding, the sectarian fault line that ran through German society – illustrated in conceptions of Luther and the Reformation – could be found within the Nazi movement as well.