Template:Nazism sidebarKirchenkampf is a German term that translates as "struggle of the churches" or "church struggle" in English. The term is ambiguous and may refer to one or more (or even to all three) of several related, but historically and conceptually different contests:
- the battle between the Nazi regime of the Third Reich and the Protestant church bodies
- the battle between the Nazi regime and the Roman Catholic Church
- the intra-church battle that developed within the German Protestant Church itself, between the German Christians and the Confessing Church
The Nazi view of Christianity was epitomized by Martin Bormann who in 1942 stated in a confidential memo to gauleiter that the power of the churches "must absolutely and finally be broken" as Nazism "was completely incompatible with Christianity." Contrary to Hitler's tactical judgment, Bormann pushed the Kirchenkampf forward at the height of World War II.
The Kirchenkampf can be divided into five stages.
First (spring to fall 1933):
- Hitler makes efforts to assimilate the churches into the culture of National Socialism.
- The Reichskonkordat was an outcome of this stage.
- The preparation to create a unified single Reichskirche from the 28 regional Protestant churches , the Ludwig Müller controversy, and the beginning of the rise of the Confessing Church
Second (fall 1933 - fall 1934)
- The regime attempted to bring the churches under the control of the Nazi state
- Opposition to these efforts led to the emergence of the Confessing Church
- The regime breaches various portions of the Concordat
Third (fall 1934–February 1937)
- The regime tried to bring the Protestant churches under its control by taking charge of church finances and governance structures.
Fourth (February 1937–1939)
- More open conflict based on "Nazism itself and its anti-Christian worldviews"
- The regime increased its imprisonment of resistant clergy, such as Martin Niemöller
Fifth stage (1939–1945)
- More clergy were imprisoned
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer was imprisoned and executed
- Clergy were drafted into the military
- Church publications were censored or banned
- Services and functions restricted or banned
- Confessing Church
- The Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union under Nazi Reign
- German Christians
- Nazism and religion
- The Ninth Day
- Catholic Church and Nazi Germany
- Christmas in Nazi Germany
- "Martin Bormann". Jewish Virtual Library. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/bormann.html. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
- Lueker, Erwin L.; Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson (2000). "Kirchenkampf". Christian Cyclopedia. Concordia Publishing House. Archived from the original on 2004-12-26. http://web.archive.org/web/20041226190152/http://www.lcms.org/ca/www/cyclopedia/02/display.asp?t1=K&word=KIRCHENKAMPF. Retrieved 2008-03-09.