Saturday, 13 December 2014
The Nazi War Against The Catholic Church. Persecution In Europe Part 7.
On November 8, 1938, a tall, rugged man, dressed in episcopal robes, came out of a Westphalian church where he had been administering the sacrament of Confirmation. Blessing the throngs as he passed, he circulated slowly through the crowd of people gathered outside the church.
A Nazi police officer, in charge of a squad of twenty men, ordered the bishop to stop.
The bishop turned and gazed at the police officer. "Never before in any diocese," the bishop said quietly, "has my right to do such things been questioned, and I don't propose that it should start now."
"Nevertheless I forbid you," the police officer shouted.
The bishop turned and gave the police officer a level stare, then continued his slow benedictory passage through the throng. The police officer did not say another word.
The man who outcountenanced the representative of the Nazi police force was Clemens August Count von Galen—a churchman of such transcendant courage, that he is as much beloved by the whole of Catholic Germany as he is respected and even feared by the members of the Nazi hierarchy.
Bishop von Galen was born on March 16, 1878, at Dinklage, Oldenburg. He came of a family which had given many eminent ecclesiastics to Germany. As far back as 1650 a Bishop of Muns-ter had been a von Galen, Christopher by name, and a man who had been instrumental in restoring peace to the countryside after the Thirty Years War. The first piece of social legislation presented to the Reichstag had been introduced in 1877 by another relative, Ferdinand von Galen.
Clemens August von Galen was ordained a priest in 1904, and became a bishop in 1933, having been elevated to that office by the late Cardinal Schulte, himself the first German prelate to have become aware of the anti-religious menace of the National Socialist movement.
Bishop von Galen had not been wearing his newly-acquired episcopal robes a year when, with a fearlessness which was completely characteristic of him, he began speaking out forthrightly against Nazi paganism.
Indeed Bishop von Galen has gone even farther than that in the freedom of his speech. Without the slightest regard for his personal safety, he has not hesitated to write or telegraph Hitler direct whenever he has violated the Concordat. The Bishop has gone in person to the highest authorities in the land in order to lodge a long series of vigorous protests against the persecution of the Catholic Church, and, risking his very life, he has publicly stigmatized the Gestapo and its chief, Himmler, as murderers and despots.
For 550 years a great religious procession had been held in Munster to celebrate the salvation of that city from fire and plague. In 1936, for the first time in all those centuries, the procession was interfered with by secular authorities. Nazi police barricaded a certain section of the cathedral square through which the Bishop would have to pass after the services. Hearing of this, Bishop von Galen mounted to his pulpit and said: "If anyone thinks that physical force, ropes and police measures are going to separate me from you, or you from me, he is making a serious mistake." The bishop's words were so moving that the congregation broke into spontaneous applause.
But Bishop von Galen's words could be as wittily barbed as they were stirring. One day he was delivering a sermon in his cathedral against the State's interference with family life and the education of youth. A stormtrooper interrupted with typical Nazi disregard of the proprieties.
"By what right," he shouted truculently, "do you, a celibate, talk about the problems of marriage and children?"
Bishop von Galen fixed the Nazi with a withering stare, struck the pulpit a resounding blow, and instantly replied: ''Never will I tolerate in this cathedral any reflection on our beloved Fuhrer."
The Bishop of Munster's reputation for courage and integrity reached international proportions a few months ago when news filtered through the German censorship that he had delivered three "amazingly bold" sermons in the summer of 1941 denouncing Nazi principles.
The first of these was uttered following upon a big British air raid on Munster. The result of von Galen's attack was a fresh wave of anti-Catholic repression by the Nazis which included the dissolution of religious orders in Westphalia and the imprisonment of many prominent Catholics.
Nevertheless, the Bishop promptly returned to the attack with a sermon in which he said that the city had suffered from "our opponents in war/' and secondly from an "inner enemy" which "spiritually was most dangerous. No German citizen," he continued, "has any longer any security, and justice has come to be a thing of the past."
The following Sunday Bishop von Galen again spoke from the pulpit. He anathematized injustices within the Reich which "cried aloud to heaven for redress." He said there was no longer any law in Germany, but he asserted that the resistance of Christians was like a strong anvil, and that all hammers would break if the anvil remained sufficiently strong.
Bishop von Galen has been equally undaunted in his denunciation of Nazi racial theories and their sinister application in the killing of invalids and the insane.
"In the diocese," the Bishop stated, "a considerable number of persons in asylums had been taken away and then their relatives had been informed that they have died of pneumonia." He said that everyone knew that these people had been murdered. In his condemnation of these eugenic killings, von Galen has had the unqualified support of the Archbishop of Worms and of Michael Cardinal von Faulhaber.
"People speak of 'blood and soil' " Bishop von Galen said. "If these words have any significance whatever, I, more than anyone, should have the right to invoke this doctrine, for my ancestors have been established in this country for over 500 years. Here in this Rhenish land, we are on our own soil and have no need of prophets who come from abroad." The Bishop was referring to the so-called "philosopher" of National Socialism, Alfred Rosenberg, who was born in Russia.
Reports emanating from Munster state that in November, 1941, a whole regiment in that city marched to the office of the local Gauleiter upon learning that Bishop von Galen had been prohibited from preaching. The soldiers not only demanded that the ban be rescinded, but formed themselves into a bodyguard for the Bishop and attacked a Gestapo agent who had been assigned to watch the episcopal palace.
In the fall of 1941, Bishop von Galen addressed a letter to Nazi leaders from which the following excerpt is quoted:
"In the absence of the intervention of the officers responsible for the protection of the legal order, I feel myself called upon and obliged as the responsible Bishop of 2,000,000 German Catholics regardless of the consequences to me personally, to raise my voice loudly accusing the inner enemy who is ruining the people and the Fatherland, warningly calling the Government back from a path which must lead to destruction."
Bishop von Galen is now reported to be under arrest.
Finally, in October 1941, Alfred Rosenberg, the accredited anti-Christian prophet of National Socialism, issued in a thirty-point program the design for the state religion of the New Germany. This document is of such interest that we quote it in full:
The National Reich Church
1. The National Reich Church (Na-tionale Reichskirche) claims with all decisiveness the sole right and sole power over all churches within the German Reich's boundaries; declares them as National Reich Churches of Germany.
2. The German people must not serve National Reich Church, but National Reich Church serves exclusively one doctrine: race and folk.
3. The activities of National Reich Church are limited to territorial boundaries of the Reich and its "colonies."
4. "National Reich Church forces no German to belong," but "National Reich Church is ready to do all in its power to gain possession of the last German soul." Furthermore National Reich Church will not tolerate other churches or churchlike organizations and clubs, especially those with international connections or government.
5. National Reich Church is determined unswervingly and by all means to annihilate Christian faith, which "though foreign to our being and character was imported to Germany in the tragic year 800."
6. No fundamental changes in the construction of the present churches will be undertaken for "they represent German folk property, German kuJtur and are part of the historical process and development of our people. They must be evaluated and preserved as German folk property."
7. There will be no scribes (Schrift-gelehrter), pastors, chaplains or clergy in National Reich Church, and only National Reich orators are to have the right to speak.
8. National Reich Church ceremonies will take place on Saturday evenings only with festive illuminations.
9. In National Reich Church, German men, women and boys and girls will unitedly pledge themselves to the Nazi conception of God.
10. National Reich Church will unswervingly work toward inevitable unification with the state. National Reich Church must subordinate itself to the State as a serving member. On this basis National Reich Church demands the immediate transference of all property of all churches and confessions to the State. It also forbids future churches to obtain possession of the smallest dot of German land or that such be given them. For "it is not the church which conquers and cultivates land and soil but exclusively the German state and the German people."
11. National Reich Church orators may never be "those who today with cunning and treachery emphasize the absolute necessity of the maintenance of Christian teachings in Germany; for they lie not only to themselves but to the German people, merely for the sake of a job and their bread."
12. National Reich Church orators are to be state officials under the law for state officials.
13. National Reich Church demands that printing and delivery of the Bible immediately be stopped in Germany as well as the further appearance of Sunday papers, writings, lectures and books with churchly content.
14. National Reich Church will guard with the utmost strictness against importation of Bibles and Christian religious literature into Germany.
15. National Reich Church declares that henceforth "our people's greatest document and book will be our Fiihrer's Mein Kampf. National Reich Church is conscious that this book contains not only the greatest but, much more, the purest and truest ethics for the present and future life of our people."
16. National Reich Church "unswervingly dedicates itself with all its strength to make the book Mein Kampf popular and cause every German to guide his life according to this book."
17. National Reich Church demands that the number of pages and the contents of the book in the future, in whatever form it may appear, correspond to the present popular edition.
18. National Reich Church removes from all altars the crucifix, the Bible, and all holy pictures.
19. On the altars of National Reich Church "will be our all-holy book Mein Kampf and on its left a sword consecrating our German people to the same token of God."
20. National Reich Church orators must explain the book during National Reich Church ceremonies according to their conscience and abilities.
21. National Reich Church recognizes no forgiveness of sins. National Reich Church represents the viewpoint, and will repeatedly profess it, that sin is inexorably avenged by the iron and unsub-vertable laws of nature.
22. National Reich Church rejects the baptism of German children both with water and the ritual of the Holy Ghost.
23. Parents of a newborn German child must go before the altar only to repeat a German vow in the following words:
For the man, "I swear by God this holy oath that I, the father of this child, and my wife are probably of Aryan descent. As a father, I swear to rear the child in the German spirit for the German people."
For the woman, "I swear by God this holy oath that I (name) bore my husband this child, that my husband, the father of this child, and I, the mother, are probably of Aryan descent. As a mother, I swear to raise this child in the German spirit for the German people." Only on the basis of this German vow is a diploma to be delivered for a new citizen.
24. National Reich Church abolishes confirmation, confirmation instruction, communion and communion instruction.
Places of education are the family, the school, the German Jungvolk, and the Hitler Youth Bund for German girls.
25. In order to make graduation exercises especially ceremonious, National Reich Church is placed at the disposal of the various youth organizations on State Youth Day, the Friday before Easter. On this day only the leaders of these organizations will speak.
26. The marriage of German men and women is to take place with a repetition of the oath of loyalty with the right hand on the sword. In National Reich Church no act may take place in an undignified kneeling position.
27. National Reich Church declares the tenth day before Pentecost to be the day of the German family.
28. National Reich Church rejects the customary penitence on Prayer Day and demands that it be transferred to the anniversary of the founding of National Reich Church.
29. National Reich Church will not tolerate the existence of religious symbols.
30. On the day of the foundation all of the new National Reich churches, cathedrals and chapels within the Reich and its colonial boundaries will remove the cross of Christ which will be replaced by the hakenkreuz as the "only unconquerable symbol of Germany."
Original from UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN