Hitler, the Religion & the Churches
A painting by Hermann Otto Hoyer depicts the glorification of Hitler in messiah-like
fashion. The light over him falls on the listener. Hitler represents the bringer of light
like Jesus.
"We'll see to it that
the churches cannot
spread abroad
teachings in conflict
the interests of the
State. We shall
continue to preach
the doctrine of
Socialism, and the
young will no longer
be taught anything
but the truth."

Hitler, Table talks,
It is not opportune to
hurl ourselves into a
struggle with the
The best thing is to
let Christianity die a
natural death. A slow
death has
comforting about it.
The dogma of
Christianity gets
worn away
before the advances
of science. Religion
will have to make
Gradually the myths

A medley of theocracy and fanaticism

If God had not had a certain seniority, Hitler would have declared himself God.
 Because Adolf Hitler had definitely a very high opinion of himself as soon as
he could think.  As a schoolboy he saw himself as a chief and as a Chancellor,
 as a genius, a demigod and the Messiah whom the German race  was
expecting.  Alas God was an old creation and  Hitler was born in a Roman
Catholic family. He  was baptized into this religion : he became a communicant
and an altar boy in his youth, and was confirmed as a "soldier of Christ" in that
church. He even thought of becoming an abbot. The main  doctrines of the
church never left him. In fact, he was steeped in its liturgy, and especially in its
less pleasant tenets. The  words  "
perfidious Jew"  will eventually be those
that attracted  most of Hitler's attention.  

This hateful statement was not removed until 1961 and in the context of
anti-semitic Austria of the 1900s it may explain a lot of  later events and
positions. Lutheranism was not either a friend of Judaism and Hitler was
submitted to that influence too : he deeply admired Luther whom he called a
genius, a man who was the first "
to raise against the Pope and the
organisation of the Church. It was the first of the great revolutions. And
thanks to his translation of the Bible, Luther replaced our dialects by the
great German language
!" No wonder if 40 million Protestant Germans
followed him massively.
The problem was that Hitler was not  much of a religious person. But he had a
faith : notably in himself and the faith of an apostate. A recipe for disaster. The
question is to determine what was exactly the nature of his beliefs.  As a young
boy -like  most  kids-  religion  was not his main preoccupation. His friend
August Kubizek does not mention Hitler talking to him about faith and religion
but about music, opera, architecture, urbanism and sometimes women. During
the five years he spent in Vienna between 1908 and 1913,  none of his
colleagues or room-mates at the
Mannerheim  has ever mentioned Hitler as
particularly preoccupied by religious issues.  When Hitler launched himself  in
one of those interminable speeches it was  to talk about politics, generally to
criticize the "bourgeois" policies of the the Monarchy and the contempt of the
wealthy for the poor. The Socialist was piercing under the Nationalist

One must wait until the redaction of
Mein Kampf  in 1923 to learn what are his
ideas about religion and faith. Then we discover that  young  Hitler in Vienna "
was not in agreement with the sharp anti-Semitic tone of the press", but from
time to time he read "
arguments which gave (him) some food for thought."   
And later on we are not surprised to learn that Herr Hitler, thanks to the
influence of
Dr Lüger, mayor of Vienna,  believed as soon as 1923  that he
was  acting "
in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator" :  by
defending (himself) against the Jew,  he was  fighting for "
the work of the
".  This quote defines well the twisting of  Hitler's mind as soon as it comes
to justify his ideas : in a first phase, he defends himself to be an anti-semite  
but immediately after he admits to  have second thoughts and reveals that he
might be one but only because it is the will of God.  Is it sheer hypocrisy or
plain stupidity, hard to say. It is certainly the mark of a man whose ideas have
been fed by a variety of readings but without any serious background and
analysis : Hitler was a drop-out from school at age 14 and an autodidact  but
the knowledge he acquired during his years in Vienna was biased and  never
tutored  by an higher authority.  Hitler was his own coach for the best and our
Hitler was baptized in the
Catholic  faith to the
insistence of his very
pious mother Klara who
died in 1907 of breast

                    The mind of a teenager

So in Mein Kampf  Hitler will write banalities of the kind  that any  teenager schoolboy in
revolt can put down in his homework essay :"
Just as a man's denominational
orientation is the result of upbringing, and only the religious need as such
slumbers in his soul, the political opinion of the masses represents nothing but the
final result of an incredibly tenacious and thorough manipulation of their mind and
."  It is in fact the denunciation of the influence of  all  Churches which are  going to
be the best foes of the Führer.  Nothing particularly new or revolutionary in the context of
the epoch : French philosophers of the XVIIIth century and main social and political
movements of the XIXth century had already taken  that sort of  positions.  But to
distance himself from such famous predecessors and make himself original, Hitler will
soon  add that  "
verily a man cannot serve two masters. And I consider the
foundation or destruction of a religion far greater than the foundation or
destruction of a state, let alone a party.
"  So the colour of Hitler's mind and dangerous
ideas are set in Mein Kampf.

In the name of  God, Hitler arrives to an astonishing conclusion  : he  hates religions,
priests and their Churches while his greatest ambition is to annihilate them all to put in
place a sort of paganism exalting the State, the Party and the Führer, sort of living God
who knows better and teaches the truth to his subjects.  God is still alive somewhere  in
the world but  his representative on earth is the Führer and his obedient party : " Heaven
will smile on us again", Hitler writes in Mein Kampf.  
In Landsberg prison in 1923,
Hitler  wrote Mein Kampf with
the help of Rudolf Hess and a
Jesuit priest who will be
assassinated on the Night of
the Long  Knives in 1934.  The
rights from  the book will make
Hitler a rich man after 1933

                A rebellion against natural law

In  this context it is not surprising to hear Hitler saying that "Christianity is the invention of  sick
" and that "Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child". More he added in his  famous
Table talks :"
Both are inventions of the Jews."  The later assertion being  completely false.  
But Hitler is no stranger  to  contradictions  or  false statements. He is so keen on  proving himself
as a great thinker and a genius that  he will create parallels where there are abysses and will find
links where there are  fractures.

Nevertheless in his fight against Christianity, he  will not bulge and will go as far as saying that
Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to  its
logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of human  failure
."  In
the end it is difficult to think of Hitler as a religious man or inspired by religious aims or  motives.  
He is a pagan who believes in God but what sort  of God. It  is certainly not the God  of the
Catholic or the Protestant Church : his ambition and the ambition of the  Party "
must be
scientifically to construct a doctrine that is nothing more than a homage to  reason."  
as a dictator Hitler tried to build this doctrine and it will take, notably in his relations to the
Churches, the appearance of intolerance and submission.  Hitler preached one thing and
practiced its opposite. As the French say :"
Fais ce que je dis mais ne fais pas ce que je fais."

When he needed the Church, Hitler knew how to find it. As soon as 1919
when he is still in the army and acts as a
snitch for his Captain Mayer, he met  
one evening in Munich Eugenio Pacelli (future
Pius XII) who was  the apostolic
 nuncio in Germany and gave him a lot of  money with this words :"Go and
fight the works of the devil" (i.e. the Reds). To what Hitler answered :"For the
love of Almighty God."(1)  God was always present when Hitler needed  him.
But when the men of God launched their Churches on their way to evangelize,
Hitler bolted.

In 1929, the same Pacelli signed with the Republic of Weimar a sort of
Concordat that  The Vatican used to call "the Solemn Agreement"  which laid
the freedom for the Church to establish parochial schools without interference.
But, in July 1933,  Pope
Pius XI -who has until then  showed the outmost
contempt for the Nazis- signed with von Papen  a
Concordat who was a terrible
setback for the Church and revealed the real nature of  Hitler as far as  
religious matters were concerned : the treaty ordered the  Holy See's clergy to
swear oaths of loyalty to Hitler and to the  3rd Reich, prayers were to be said
publicly for the Führer and for Germany by Catholic bishops and priests. In
effect the Church was pledging never to oppose  Hitler's dictatorship. In
exchange the Reich promised to respect and safeguard the Churches and all
their properties : there would be no interference and encroachment on the
Church's  rights and properties.

Those promises were soon to be belied by the creation of the Hitler's  Youth  
(Hitler-Jugend)  movement led by Baldur von Schirach, an homosexual married
to the daughter of Hitler's personal  photographer and a
declared atheist
who placed the State ahead of all else, who regimented the German youth and
raised them in a total absence of religious doctrine.  The only God of the HJ
was Hitler and his views were their Credo. Period.  The aim of the Nazis was a
total dechristianization of the young Germans. In the end the Catholic Church
made a pact with the devil : it swore total allegiance to the Führer without
being given the task to raise the children of Germany in the Catholic  faith.
After enduring anti-church actions for several years, in 1937 Pope Pius XI
issued the encyclical
Mit brennender Sorge (With Burning Concern). In the
encyclical, Pius XI criticized Nazi philosophy and warned the German
government to fulfill the terms of the Concordat. The Nazis responded with a
wave of priest trials--prosecutions of clergy for various alleged infractions.

But after the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938, Cardinal Beltram sent this
telegram to Hitler:"
The great deed of safeguarding international peace moves
the German episcopate, acting in the name of the Catholics of all the German
dioceses, respectfully to tender congratulations and thanks and to order a
festive peal of bells on Sunday

             The indispensable Church....

In his Memoirs, Albert Speer (2),  Hitler's main architect and Minister of Armaments
after the death of  
Fritz Todt,  pretended that  "even after 1942 Hitler went on
maintaining that he regarded the church as indispensable in political life. He would
be happy, he said in one of those teatime talks at Obersalzberg, if someday a
prominent churchman turned up who was suited to lead one of the churches- or if
possible both the Catholic and Protestant churches reunited. He still regretted that
Reich Bishop Muller (3) was not the right man to carry out his far-reaching plans. But
he sharply condemned the campaign against the church, calling it a
crime against
the future of the nation. For it was impossible, he said, to replace the church by any
party ideology."   

So why did he leave Baldur von Schirach maintain his obedient and fanatical troops
forget about the religion and  enjoy a sort of  pagan life full of Nordic myths and
esoteric  games ? In  December 1933 Schirach  declared :"
They say of us that we
are an anti-Christian movement. They even say that I am an outspoken paganist.... I
solemnly declare here, before the German public, that I stand on the basis of
Christianity, but I declare just as solemnly that I will put down every attempt to
introduce confessional matters into our Hitler Youth.

In his Diaries,  Victor Klemperer (3) said that at the end of the war the most fanatical
of all Germans were the Hitler's Youth and  the most dangerous to the Jews and the
people voicing "defeatism".  Why as soon as  July 1933,   the new Nazi government
promulgated a sterilization law, which particularly offended the Catholic Church ?  
Why five days later the first steps were taken to dissolve the
Catholic Youth
? Why did Hitler sent to concentration camps  quite a number of the lower
Protestant and Catholic
 clerics   and  in 1937  the Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller
who was in open revolt against the Nazis ? In 1934,  Niemöller had  founded the
Confessing Church, representing a minority of all Protestant pastors in Germany. Its
ideology was to resist Nazi coercion and to expose the moral hollowness of the
pro-Nazi "German Christian" movement of Reich Bishop  Ludwig Müller.

Hitler liked to talk of a "positive Christianity", a meaningless term that implies nothing
but "social welfare" and "good neighboring" and  mainly meant purifying Christianity
of any Jewish elements including even the Old Testament. That was the real
religious obsession of Hitler :  
to empty the Bible and the New Testament of all
Jewish elements, ideas or concepts.
 It is hard to call it a policy and harder to
imagine what could be the ending result of such a vacuum. A religion without
message ? In fact Hitler could not stand the expression of an idea that he did not
harbour himself.  All his stances on religion as they appear in the
Table Talks are a
bunch of lies, the expression of a rather vain desire to show off, to look
"philosophical".  But they do not express  any solid and deep views upon the
religions and the question of faith. Hitler proposed a void to be filled with his
conceptions which could vary according to his mood of the moment. In the end his
sole goal was to have the last  world as he always did in military matters with his

And the  blind naivety of the clergy

In spite of all his  anti-church declarations, Hitler tried in the early 30s to  unify
the  Pro-Nazi Protestants in the
Protestant Reich Church which was led by a
pastor called  Ludwig Müller, leader of the German Christians,  who was
appointed Reich Bishop and endorsed by the Lutheran Church.  The idea of
such a "national church" was possible in the history of mainstream German
Protestantism, but National Churches devoted primarily to the state were
generally forbidden among the Anabaptists and the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Furthermore Müller   had  virtually no support within the Protestant community
but  he nevertheless instituted several policies that attempted to diminish the
prominence of the Lutheran Church.  So in fact  the unification of German  
Protestant churches under the  nazi banner was impossible since the beginning
but Hitler who could not care less about it resented  Müller for failing to achieve it.
 Müller  tried to regain Hitler's favor by allowing the Gestapo to monitor churches
and the Christian youth groups to consolidate with the Nazi Jugend.

Very prone to collaboration were  also the German  Methodists. Within days after
the Enabling Act of 24 March 1933 launched the Hitler dictatorship,  Nazi
authorities approached German Methodist leaders with the request for help.
Foreign Minister von Neurath and Propaganda Minister  Goebbels met with
Bishop Nülsen, a very well learnt scholar graduated from Denver university with a
D.D.  who spoke Hebrew and Assyrian and had  published 20 books. They gave
him opportunity to visit prisons in the Berlin area and talk with political prisoners
to verify that they were being treated fairly. The Methodist superintendents in
Germany and their bishop responded with telegrams to the British and American
press protesting the reports of alleged atrocities. And Nülsen joined General
Superintendent Otto Dibelius of the Lutheran Church in a short-wave broadcast
to America assuring the outside world that in Nazi Germany discipline and order
reigned without bloodshed.

In 1933, Dibelius went as far as declaring that "
we have learned from Martin
Luther that the church cannot get in the way of state power when it does what it
is called to do. Not even when [the state] becomes hard and ruthless... When the
state carries out its office against those who destroy the foundations of state
order, above all against those who destroy honor with vituperative and cruel
words that scorn faith and vilify death for the Fatherland, then [the state] is ruling
in God's name
!"  And so began what would eventually turn into Methodist and
Protestant  collaboration with the Nazi state. Later on
Dibelius went into
dissidence and opposition but was never really demoted by the Nazis.

However as soon as 1934, a former WW1 submarine captain Pastor Martin
Niemöller  founded a
Pastors' Emergency League which had 7,000 members,
some 40% of the Evangelical clergy. Niemöller was a  NSDAP member, a loyal
patriot but he could not accept that the Church should conduct its affairs contrary
to scripture by excluding Christianized Jews. The result was a Protestant schism.
In May 1934, the representatives of almost half the evangelical churches
declared a breakaway Confessing Church (
Bekenntniskirche). The heart of
their declaration was a rejection of any other moral source.

But in 1935,  Nülsen went again on a lecture tour all across America. In speeches
and interviews he contrasted Hitler's remarkable achievements to the bleak years
of the Weimar Republic. He credited Hitler, whom he described as a man of
unquestionable character and peaceful intentions, with saving Europe from
godless Bolshevism. While he did express reservations about Nazi centralization
of cultural life, and about their racist policies, he stressed mostly the stability,
order, and renewal of values. German streets were free of prostitutes and
beggars, and unemployment was no longer a problem.  But he eventually got
scared of the regime  and retired in Switzerland before the war denouncing  
Nazism as "
racial religion, complete with a theology of Hitlerism, which was now
the official religion in Germany

Another Methodist Bishop F. H. Otto Melle took a far more collaborationist
position that including apparently sincere support for Nazism. He stated that "the
Lord blesses every step that Hitler takes" and as late as 1944 hoped to alienate
Americans from Franklin D. Roosevelt who he called "an ally of Bolshevism."  He
felt that serving the Reich was both a patriotic duty as well as a means for
advancement. "The Lord Blesses Every Step That Hitler Takes," proclaimed the
headline of a New York Times article about one of Melle's lectures.  Bishop Melle
even declared that "economically, Hitler has succeeded reducing unemployment
from about 7,000,000 to 1,000,000. Socially, he not only has brought new hope
to the young, but has purified public life to a great extent. Plays and movies are
pure now, and a parent may take his child to the theater without fear. On the
newsstands pornographic magazines have disappeared. Anyone who buys or
sells salacious material is in danger of being sent to a concentration camp."

The naivety of the Bishop is amazing. But the wrong that such enthusiasm did to
the  people who really tried to fight Hitler is incommensurable. At a time when the
Western press carried daily reports of new arrests of prominent leaders of the
Confessing Church -among them Martin Niemöller- Bishop Melle addressed a  
conference in July 1937 in Oxford (England), stressing that in Germany there
was "complete freedom to preach the gospel," and faulting the churches for
failing the German people. He expressed gratitude for the Nazi Revolution which
he compared to the American revolution and what he called the "national
resurrection of the German people" which was "a sign of the grace of God".  Until
the end Bishop Melle supported Hitler and bombarded  the Chancellery with
proposals and ideas of a new crusade but Hitler had other worries.

Religious people like Müller, Melle and to a less extent Nülsen failed to see that
under cover of de-Judaizing Germany,
Nazi authorities were waging a war
against Christianity with the goal of de-Christianizing the entire nation
Christianity was  ultimately as incompatible with National Socialism as it  was with
Soviet communism. Art 24 of the party programme accepted "
", but also called on the churches to do nothing to offend the sense
of morality of the German race. This injunction had one effect : to place the moral
outlook of the NSDAP above that of all religions.  More that moral outlook was
rooted in the "acknowledgement and ruthless exploitation of the iron laws of
nature." The poor Darwinism of the Nazis was always dominating every moral or
religious issue. Morality and truth were  bound up with race and depended upon

In 1936 the Confessing church rejected the Nazi ambition to be "the supreme
authority in all spheres of life" and 700 pastors were banned and arrested. In
1937 the Pope Pius XI published "Mit brennender Sorge" (With  burning concern)
that asked for a "complete cessation to the anti-Christian propaganda".
Reich Bishop
Ludwig Müller
really thought he
was going to be the
Führer of the
German faith. He
will commit suicide
in 1945.
Hitler greets Müller the "Bishop of the Reich" and
Abbot Schachleitner

Reich Bishop Ludwig Müller, Berlin, 1934,
taking part in a Nazi march


1- 22 million members (esp. in South & West)
2- Well-organised – youth organisations, schools,
welfare provision
3- July 1933, Catholic Church & Nazi govt. sign
‘Concordat’ (agreement)
4- 1936, Bishop Galen asks God to bless Hitler’s

1- 40 million members
2- Different ‘Churches’, e.g. Lutheran,
Calvin etc.
3- Reich Church – umbrella organisation of
Protestant Churches set up by Nazi govt;
Reich Bishop (L.Muller, 1934)
4- German Christians (Deutche Christen) –
‘the SA of the Church’, ‘Nazified’
Protestants, ‘the swastika on our breasts
and the cross in our hearts’
4- German Faith Movement – replace
Christianity with pagan rituals
In Mein Kampf Hitler
paused as a great
thinker who had ideas
about everything. The
book should have
been taken more
seriously because it
announced the color of
things to come. Poorly
written and very often
incoherent it was
snobbed by the
German press which
ridiculed Hitler's style
and grammar. Some
journalist dubbed it
"Mein Kampf against
German language."
The crimes and atrocitiies
of Communism notably
against the Christians and
the clergy convinced the
Churches of Germany and
Europe that Hitler was a
When Eugenio Cardinal
Pacelli read  Mein Kampf
he said to his confidant
Sister Pascalina :"This
man is entirely  
possessed with himself,  
all he says and writes is
filled with his
selfishness,  he is a man
to step over  cadavers."  
Hitler executed or  
imprisoned more than
6,000 clergymen over the
course of his dictatorship.
The Catholic Church like the German army  believed
that it  could swear allegiance to Hitler and get away
with it. It was a pact with the devil and it did not
shelter the Church from troubles and persecutions.  At
the beginning of his pontificate Pius XII said :"The
world will see that we  have tried everything to live in
peace with Nazi Germany. But his Cardinals thought
that he was a man of peace whereas the world
needed a Pope of War."
As soon as the first Nuremberg rallies Hitler
cultivated the image of a pious Christian who
would respect the Churches and their teachings
or dogmas. In fact he did not care for it and had
only one goal : get rid of Christianity, replace it
by some Pagan faith in the Führer and tell the
German people "
the real truth"  that  it is still
today to define.  Note the "Church of our Lady"
in the background as if it represented the
foundation of the party.
However Hitler never abandon his faith in God. Until the end he will think that
God will help Germany and some scholars have drawn from this lasting faith
the conclusion  that he was really a believer. Some scholars went as  far as
saying that "
Hitler did not have to parade his belief in God, as so many
American Christians do now. Nor did he have to justify his Godly belief against
an Atheist movement. He took his beliefs for granted just as most Germans did
at that time. His thrust aimed at politics, not religion. But through his political
and religious reasoning he established in 1933, a German Reich Christian
Church, uniting the Protestant churches to instill faith in a national German

This is a viewpoint that one has not to share. Firstly because a faith which is
thrust at politics is not religious but lay and partisan. Secondly Hitler did not try
to unite the Protestant churches but to uniform it as Robert Ley did with the
different workers unions under the aegis of the
Kraft durch Freude program.
Everything in the industrial world was controlled  by Robert Ley and his  union
from the factory to the hours of rest and vacations. The  Nazis pretended to
unify and get together, in fact they regimented and controlled.  Dissidents
were excluded, punished and deported.  The Nazi church was the worst
church of all and certainly the less tolerant. But Hitler's faith in God was a
mockery of the true faith : for him God was an abstraction void of sense, a  
useful political toy  that could be pulled out from the closet in case of need or
emergency, the God in which  he believed was no more than the Gods of the
Pagans or the Romans.  At least the Romans had some  Goddesses :  the
world of Hitler was devoid of female sensitivity, a world of brutality,  stupid
heroism and useless sacrifice whose final goal was the adoration and the
survival of the Füher, himself a semi-God. A concept shared by his henchmen
as showed this declaration of Hans Frank,  Governor of the General
Government (Poland) : "Hitler is lonely, So is God. Hitler is like God."

From the beginning up to the farcical end, Nazism and Hitlerism were nothing
else than a grotesque parody of real faith, real beliefs and real politics. A pure
shameless scam. Hitler himself was a malignant narcissist, the incarnation of
the devil.
After the death of his first wife, the Swedish Karin
von Fock-Kantzow ,  Hermann Göring married an
actress called Emmy Sonnemann, a second rate  
singer who had some minor roles in Wagner's
operas. They choosed to get a religious marriage
and Adolf Hitler himself was the best man of the
groom. The mass was celebrated by the Reich
Bishop Müller. The complacency of the Protestant
Church toward Hitler and the Nazis  is revolting.
Cardinal Pacelli and von Papen signing the
Concordat between Germany and the Holy see in
1933. The Vatican thought he had won a victory
against the evil whereas he had just signed a pact
with the devil.
(1) In La Popessa by Paul Murphy Warner Books 1983 ISBN 0-446-51258-3
(2) In Inside the Third Reich by Albert Speer Touchstone 1989 ISBN 0-684-82949-5
(3) In I will bear witness 2 volumes 1933-41 and 1942-45  by Victor Klemperer Random House 1999 ISBN
"Secret and open measures of intimidation, the
threat of economic and civic disabilities, bear on
the loyalty of certain classes of Catholic
functionaries, a pressure which violates every
human right and dignity. Our wholehearted
paternal sympathy goes out to those who must pay
so dearly for their loyalty to Christ and the Church;
but directly the highest interests are at stake, with
the alternative of spiritual loss, there is but one
alternative left, that of heroism."
Pius XI in Encyclical  
Mit brennender Sorge
As a whole the Churches  failed their people under
Hitler and lacked the lucidity and courage to analyse
Nazism as it was :a  
racial religion, complete with a
theology of Hitlerism, which was  the official
religion in Germany.
A front page of the Nazi magazine, Der
Stuermer published by Julius  Streicher.
The headline reads, "Declaration of the
Higher Clergy/So spoke Jesus Christ: You
hypocrites who do not see the beam in your
own eyes. (See Matthew 7:3-5)
The cartoon depicts a group of Hitler Youth
marching forth to drive the forces of evil
from the land. The caption under the cartoon
reads, "We youth step happily forward
facing the sun... With our faith we drive the
devil from the land."
In 1953 Time
Magazine made
Dibelius man of the
war for his
opposition to
Communism and
justified its choice  
by these words:"one
of the world's great
champion of the
rights of the church
against an
aggressive secular
state." It has not
always beenthe case
The Encyclical also rejected the
Nazi moral position in favouir of
the absolutes of the natural law
tradition and called on Catholic
communities to reassert truth and
a sense of justice.

Following an outspoken sermon in
January 1937 in Berlin in which he
explained that a Christian
obligation is to obey God rather
than man, pastor Niemöller was
arrested and sentenced to 8
months in prison in March 1938.
Hitler intervened to see that after
his liberation he was sent to a
concentration camp of which he
was lucky to emerge alive in 1945.
 Over the course of Hitler's
more than 6,000
clergymen were imprisoned or
executed on grounds of
treasonable activity.