THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: News Letter editorial reflects on ‘The Creed of the Nazis’

From the News Letter, June 25, 1934

Circa 1933: German dictator, Adolf Hitler addressing a rally in Germany. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Circa 1933: German dictator, Adolf Hitler addressing a rally in Germany. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“To the Nazis Germany religious freedom no less an offence than any other sort of freedom,” declared a News Letter editorial published on this day in 1934.

The editorial continued: “They have proscribed the Jews, and they have attempted to make Protestants and Roman Catholics conform to a creed which teaches aggression rather than meekness and substitutes for the Messianic message of peace and goodwill glorification of militarism.

“The churches have refused to compromise with such a negation of Christianity, and a conflict over freedom of conscience has been going on in Germany.

“In its early stages the trouble in the Protestant communion was represented as a domestic one, involving questions of discipline.

“A new sect calling itself the ‘German Christian Church’ sought to impose a new creed on Protestants, and it would have made no headway but for the support it received from the government.

“Subsequently the area of conflict was extended to the Roman Catholic Church.

“When the government saw that this religious struggle threatened to break up the ‘unity’ of the nation, both churches were given an assurance that was not intended to interfere with their freedom in purely religious affairs.

“Pressure on the Protestant church was relaxed, and a concordat was concluded between the government and the Vatican which was represented as satisfactory to both parties.

“State protection was guaranteed to Roman Catholic organisations and associations which served purely religious, cultural, and charitable purposes.

“It was provided that Roman Catholic members of youth organisations should be enabled to fulfil their religious duties on Sundays and feast days, and that they should not be made to anything incompatible with their religious and moral convictions and duties.”

“Roman Catholic bishops and clergy complain that this agreement is not being honoured the letter and in spirit.

“The youth of the church, they say, are not allowed the requisite freedom for religious activities, and have been placed under serious disabilities and subjected to molestation.”

The News Letter’s editorial continued: “The charge, in fact, is that the state takes hold of Roman Catholic youths and teaches them views which, in the words of the Pope, are calculated to make them pagans.

“At least one of the leaders of the Nazi Youth movement has announced that it is his aim to incorporate all the Roman Catholic organisations in ‘the German Faith Movement’, and asserts that what Rome fears is that these youths will ‘smash dogma’.

“Existing religious confessions, Protestant and Roman Catholic, are to disappear, seemingly, in the new order, which will teach Germans to be men of ‘blood and iron’.

“The Roman Catholic Episcopate has pressed for a discussion with ministers of their complaint that the concordat is not being honoured, and its request has now been granted.

“Today discussions will open in Berlin between three representatives of the Episcopate and representatives of the government, but it doubtful if these will result in any improvement in the situation far the Roman Catholic Church is concerned.”

The News Letter concluded: “Ministers may promise to see that the terms of the concordat are strictly observed, but they will nothing to confer any power on the Roman Catholic Church which might be exercised against the wishes of the Nazi organisation.

“They aim at the creation of new and stronger Germany, one that will impose Its will on the Continent, and they hold that in doing so it is necessary to ‘smash religious dogma’ which tends to keep men apart. That is a development which cannot, be viewed without concern the rest of the world.”