New research on Nazism and Christianity

11 December 2012

Samuel Koehne writes in the latest edition of Contemporary Church History Quarterly.

ADRI member and postdoctoral research fellow Sam Koehne is working on the official Nazi positions on religion and on his first book, Nazi Germany as a Christian State: Liberal and Conservative Christian Responses from the Great War to the Nazi State.

The following is an excerpt from his contribution to the latest issue of the Contemporary Church History Quarterly.

I would like to outline my research in two fields, one being that of the Christian response to the rise of the Nazi Party and the other being my most recent research into the Nazis' official views on religion. The concern of my doctoral work was to ascertain how 'ordinary' Christian Germans of the Protestant tradition responded to the rise of the Nazis. It was a close study of two German Protestant communities (based near Stuttgart) from 1914-1939 to understand Christians' responses to the Nazis in the context of their experiences of the First World War and the Weimar Republic.

In this sense, it fits with the recent trend in scholarship (as in works like those of Manfred Gailus and Kyle Jantzen) towards examining the complex and heterogeneous nature of German Protestantism and the question of the particularity of response. My aim was to examine the response at a local community level and provide the contrast between theologically liberal and theologically conservative Christian communities. Given this, my central questions were threefold: How did Christians at opposite ends of the theological spectrum respond to National Socialism and the changes engendered by it when the Nazis came to power? Why did they respond as they did? What difference (if any) did their faith position make?

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Text obtained with permission: 'New Research on Nazism and Christianity: Samuel Koehne,' Contemporary Church History Quarterly 18, No.4 (December 2012).

Image of church steeple obtained under creative commons license Church Steeple. Image obtained under creative commons license.

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