Item description for Lutherans Against Hitler: The Untold Story by Lowell C. Green...
Overview While much has been written about the Christian Churches in Hitler's Germany, no book focuses on the viewpoint of Confessional Lutheran Churches, their leaders, and theologians. In Confessional Lutheranism and the Third Reich important new historical sources shed a different light upon the teachings and actions of Lutherans under Adolf Hitler. Green offers a new perspective, addressing the background and basis for the actions of the Confessional Lutheran Churches. Readers find that many historical prespective misinterpret the actions and deeds of the Confessional Lutheran Church of Third Reich Germany as it struggled to remain doctrinally distinct in a world pressuring it to merge and compromise beliefs.
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Studio: Concordia Publishing House
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.18" Width: 6.34" Height: 1.24" Weight: 1.43 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 2007
Publisher Concordia Publishing House
ISBN 0758608772 ISBN13 9780758608772
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Reviews - What do customers think about Lutherans Against Hitler: The Untold Story?
An untold story told Nov 6, 2007
Green as well as other scholars were students of Werner Elert during their student days at Erlangen University, Bavaria. The author's testimonies as well as researched history give a balanced nuance to both the cultural and religious environment during the Third Reich. This work is an attempt to show to the public the complexity of the ethical milieu out of which both the Landeskirche and the Confessing churches operated. Hopefully this additional history will continue to sharpen the necessary "new" perspective on that era.
Not quite what I expected Oct 5, 2007
Green has an impressive command of all sorts of minute details. He writes from a personal acquaintance with many of the principal characters in his narrative.
I expected a book relating the activities of Lutheran Christians who worked against the tyranny of the Third Reich at great personal risk and often paid a terrible price. There are some accounts of this type in the chapter "Opposition to the Aryan Paragraph and Oppression of Jewish People" and in the chapter "The Struggle of the Intact Lutheran Land Churches."
The rest of the book is a detailed examination of various doctrinal differences between different groups of Lutherans, and also with the Reformed. The Third Reich gets little mention in parts of the book dealing with theological differences.
Other things I have read make Paul Althaus and Werner Elert appear to have been sympathetic to National Socialism. Green does a good job of showing that they were opposed to it within the confines of what they were able to do and what they knew at the time. Green mentions several times that people did not catch on to the true character and intents of Hitler until later.
Martin Niemoeller is often portrayed as a hero in other literature. Green adds an interesting story about his indiscrete and unnecessary gossip concerning Hitler in a phone call that was recorded and used against him and his co-workers so that they lost any position of influence to modify Hitler's actions against the church. This happened hours before an important meeting with Hitler.
There are glimpses of what life was like in a totalitarian state and how everyone was being watched so the least infraction could be reported to the Gestapo. That is something contemporary critics of the churches under the Third Reich do not understand when they wonder why the church did not do more.
Martin Sasse gets brief mention as a German-Christian bishop in Thuringia. Although a member of Hitler's German-Christians, he was nominally the Lutheran bishop. Today German language Neo-Nazi web sites are fond of quoting his reaction to Kristallnacht (the night of broken glass). He said the Jews only got what Martin Luther had predicted for them hundreds of years earlier. But, Martin Sasse's installation was heavily attended by the Brown Shirts (Sturm Abteilung). When he died eight years later, Ludwig Mueller, Hitler's hand-picked head of the German-Christians, preached the sermon. Although this was, perhaps, not within the scope of Green's intent for his book, some further discussion of who Martin Sasse was and was not would have been useful for countering historical revisionist critics of the church today.
There are some German language quotations given without translation or complete explanation. While these are mostly in footnotes, they could be a problem for readers not conversant in that language.
As Green notes, there have been many, many articles and books published on The Church Struggle. No one volume can do everything. This book does not serve as an introductory history of The Church Struggle, but is for the person who wants to read about more intricate distinctions on the theological landscape of the 1930s in Germany. It does show that those Christians and church groups that knew what they believed through a close affiliation with the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions did not so easily fall prey to Hitler's machinations, while members of the Union churches and others not well grounded capitulated quickly.
I would suggest reading some other works on The Church Struggle before reading this volume. Some college and public libraries may have an entire shelf on Hitler and the churches.
Well Researched Inquiry into Lutheran Resistance to Hitler Jun 5, 2007
Green writes this historical inquiry because he believes that this story has not been told fairly nor completely, that of the Confessional Lutheran resistance to Hitler. As a student at Erlangen, he firsthand experienced the inaccuracies.
Many histories can be mundane and non-engaging or they can be enlightening and bring history to life. This nearly 400 page work is the latter for most of its pages. It got a little tiring at the end, but that could be discounted due to reviewer's desire to get to that next read.
Confessional Lutherans distinguish themselves from those who call themselves "Lutheran" due to the former's unswerving allegiance to the theology of Luther and his subsequent confessors of the Book of Concord. Others feel need to progress away from this historic theology and modify, change and reprogram, but still feeling they are loyal to their theological identifier.
This difference played out signficantly in the time from Luther on, culminating for this historical look in pre-WWI days with the territorial churches being changed into Land Churches and strong handedness of the Prussian Union. The outside influence and interference by Calvinist and Reformed elements with leader of this period being non-German in Karl Barth had major impact on resistance to Nazism. This division in Protestant ability to collectively resist Hitler played prominent role in Hitler's rise to power.
This trail of contention and division over theological confession is chronicled by Green to show that the Confessional Lutherans desired unity and resistance to Hitler, but not at the sake of denying their confession and practice of God's Word. Very carefully he dissects the Barmen Declaration and the less known Bethel Confession.
He documents the Confessional Lutherans movements and efforts to be loyal to their doctrine and practice thereof yet participate in church/state relationships. When revealed true agenda of Hitler, they progressed to resistance both individually and collectively as they could.
One senses quickly in this read (and this was major asset for my reading) that Hitler truly capitalized on the non-Confessional Lutherans demands for the Confessional Lutherans to forego their theology for the sake of unified resistance to slowly, methodically, and demonically to seize control of the Protestant church, then the RC, and thus the country.
The historic context is thematic in this historical investigation: the threat of Communistic Stahlin in nearby Russia; the lack of historic German national government/people unity; the history of government intervention against religious freedom especially of the Prussian Union veign; the localized Jewish behaviors in Germany which unfortunately colored some to generalize this hostility towards all Jews. These all led to the eventual reign of terror and bloodshed.
As this historical inquiry outlines so well, this whole development and playing out is not simplistic, but as most things, very complex. Previous historic attempts to simply blame anyone with name Lutheran as culprits along with inaccurate ploy to lay blame on Luther's shouders with the Shirer myth, are here exposed to the light of more accurate unfolding of the complex interactions between competing theological groups which are unable eventually to stand up to Nazi violent takeover.
The stories of such as Bosch and Klepper as well as Erlangen faculty and their resistance to the Aryan Paragraph are salient historical evidence at their attempts to resist this brutality and affront to human rights. Barth's intervening influence in discouraging any discussion of two governances/kingdoms and correct use of Law and Gospel made impossible a united front towards Hitler's attack on the Prostetant arm with a certain "thus says the Lord" impossible.
This work will document for those who will examine it openly that the story of these untold Lutherans (not the likes of Neimoller and Bonhoeffer of fame) but the Elert's and Sasse's and Bosch's and Klepper's needs to be told and left for historical examination.