Chaplain Perau in Uniform
Chaplain Perau in uniform, 1940

Sheep Among Wolves or
Part of the Pack?

Men of God in Hitler's Armies

by Andy Lewis
June 2004

student research paper for
UCSB History 133P proseminar, Spring 2004
Prof. Marcuse
, professor's homepage
Proseminar papers index page, course homepage

Nazism and
Other War

Introduction (back to top)

The Second World War is one of the most popular topics in contemporary history. This was, after all, a gargantuan conflict that spanned the entire globe and included all types of intrigue, horror, and heroism. Although the events of this period are well chronicled, many more subtle points are often missed. An excellent example of this is the perspective of people within Nazi Germany who were not Nazis themselves, but had to serve the Nazi state. This viewpoint provides a fascinating and insightful perspective on the totalitarian state and the people who lived in it. Their view reveals not only the end result, but also the process involved and the emotional and moral conflicts therein. The military chaplaincy provides a superb example of this as the chaplains were firmly situated between two loyalties, the totalitarian state and the Church, that were often, although not always, diametrically opposed to each other.

The position of chaplain in the Nazi army was one characterized by moral dilemmas and obvious contradictions. As in all wars the chaplains first had to grapple with the morality of the war itself. Second, once that bridge had been successfully crossed, how one could, as a pastor, knowingly serve a regime whose ideology was so radical and that fostered, in the best times, a policy of benign neglect toward the Church. However, the chaplains did not choose this service, but were conscripted into the army. One could argue that they ministered to the soldiers in time of war just as they would have to their parishioners in peacetime. Yet even this, in the words of historian Doris Bergen, was a profound betrayal because it represents aiding and abetting the Nazi cause. In the case of the Catholic chaplains of the Nazi-era Wehrmacht (German Army), the question is not only how they acted, but why they acted in this manner. First, did they agree with Nazi ideology on key issues? Second, were the chaplains loyal primarily to the state, the men, or the Church, and how much distinction did they make between the three? Third, to what extent did the chaplains act upon these loyalties and motives? Finally, what picture emerges of Catholic chaplains and what conclusions can one draw?

While the chaplains did not actively resist Nazism as, for example, Dietrich Bonhoeffer did, they did oppose Nazism in the ideological and individual sphere. The motives of Catholic chaplains such as Josef Perau and Ernst Tewes were benign and their ideology differed greatly from the propaganda and vitriolic ideas espoused by Nazi leaders on issues such as the sub-humanity of Jews and Slavs, the morality and necessity of the conflict, and the resulting atrocities. Furthermore, the chaplains' actions and words within their narratives demonstrate that these Catholic chaplains were loyal first to the Church, second to the men they were ministering to, and third, if at all, to the Nazi state.

Chaplain Perau and a soldier
Perau conducting mass in the forest
Chaplain Joseph Perau saying mass outdoors

In examining this question I utilized primarily the narratives of two chaplains, Josef Perau and Ernst Tewes, to explore the ideology and experience of Catholic chaplains during the war. I compared and complemented these with the narratives of other chaplains, most notably the 78 accounts published by Schabel (see note [125]). Josef Perau's experiences provide an excellent and fairly comprehensive picture of the life of a clergyman within the German war machine, as he served as first in the medical corps and later as a commissioned chaplain. His recollections and experiences are left behind in a diary stretching from June 1940 to May 1945, published in 1962. Despite some editing for publication the account also includes elements that portray Perau somewhat negatively, such as when he was incarcerated for four days for an improper response to a superior and felt that he had "shamed the priesthood."[1] Perau recorded not only notable events and conversations that he experienced, but also more mundane facts such as which unit he ministered to on what day or how many masses he performed. This diary is thus one of the most detailed and comprehensive records of a Catholic German military chaplain's experiences. Perau was born in 1910 in Riesenburg, Germany.[2] He first experienced the war by hearing and seeing the troops moving westward into Holland and France in May 1940. He began writing about the war in a concerned and negative tone, which his experience ultimately bore out.

Ernst Tewes was a Catholic priest who, like Perau, served as a chaplain in the German army and recorded his experiences. Tewes also served in both a military hospital and later with a military unit as Perau did. His experiences, however, are rather different due to the fact that he was at Stalingrad and spent much of his time with the same group of soldiers. Tewes' memoir is approximately a third of the length of Perau's. It is arranged thematically, indicating that it was heavily edited for publication. It is constructed as an essay of sorts, as Tewes begins with an introduction that explains to readers, from Tewes' perspective, the situation in Germany that led to Nazism and the situation of the religiously faithful under Nazism. While this account was edited years after the war, it is based on Tewes' diary entries and letters from the period and often quotes them directly. While Tewes' memoir is limited in that is not as complete as Perau's, it is still an informative and useful source. These narratives display the disparity in loyalties and ideology between the chaplains, the men they served, and the Nazi state.

Nazism and Christianity (back to top)

Nazi ideology was deeply opposed to any institutional or practical, form of Christianity. The Nazi movement therefore attempted to utilize the Church as a tool towards its own ends. This is readily apparent from the words of Party leaders. Hitler himself remained nominally Catholic, since he always paid his Church taxes and never officially left the church. Historian Ernst Helmreich characterizes Hitler as "fundamentally non-religious" and "indifferent to the practice of the Church, but aware of religion's power and influence."[3] Hitler saw religion as a tool "meant to seize the great masses" and as something whose value was dictated by the lack of a better alternative.[4] This latter point was essential for Hitler as he saw the Church as something that would die within a century or two.[5]

The chaplaincy was not much better in the eyes of the Nazis, who considered it a "disturbing and complicating factor"[6] in the growth of the Germany they wished to create. Among the Nazi leaders, Hitler was not the most negative regarding Christianity, at least publicly. That distinction falls to Martin Bormann, Hitler's private secretary. Bormann represents the apogee of anti-church Nazism in the early war period. As Bormann said:

National Socialist and Christian concepts cannot be reconciled. Churches are built on ignorance and it is only in this way that the church can retain its power. National Socialism, in contrast, rests on scientific foundations.[7]

While Bormann's views were extreme at the time, and he was at first restrained in his anti-Church efforts, during the 1930s his views became accepted by the Nazi leadership.[8]

The 1933 Concordat between Nazi Germany and the Vatican profoundly affected the Catholic chaplaincy and represented a key point of control for the Nazi state. While the Church saw the Concordat, at least at first, as a positive development and a barrier against interconfessionalism,[9] the Concordat did not provide them much security because practice soon revealed that the Nazis only followed its provisions when doing so was convenient or at least not overly problematic. The chaplaincy nearly became a breaking point in the negotiation of the Concordat. The German government's "urgent desire" was for the chaplaincy to be nominally independent of the Church and responsible only to an "army bishop."[10] To press their point the German government threatened to disband the Catholic chaplaincy if it was not subject to their terms.[11] The German government found the appointment of the army bishop to be essential because it represented a single point from which the chaplaincy could be controlled without direct influence of the Vatican. The church eventually granted this position in exchange for the protection of church subsidies and religious instruction in state schools from financial or other harm. This was for the Nazis, however, merely a postponement until after the war when Hitler wished to "put a swift end to the Concordat."[12] In the end, the Concordat was little more than a nuisance for the Nazis as they violated its provisions repeatedly in the following years.

Although the Nazis often disregarded the Concordat on grand policy issues, it did prove effective in protecting the rank and file Catholic clergy from direct call up into the Wehrmacht (German army). Article 27 of the Concordat dealt with the chaplaincy. It stated that chaplains had to be approved by both the local bishop and the government, but it also contained a secret unpublished annex that detailed what would happen to clergy if universal military training were introduced.[13] This annex detailed that students in theology were exempt until general mobilization and that priests were to be used solely for pastoral work or in the medical corps as requested by the Fulda Bishops Conference.[14] Given a choice between the two, most chaplains preferred service with the troops at the front to working in the medical corps.[15] Somewhat ironically, this secret section of the agreement was upheld by the Nazi government most strongly, although the individual chaplains were not always treated well at their new posts.

Although the Concordat protected the clergy from direct conscription Nazi antipathy to the clergy was expressed in other ways. As early as the mid-30s the Gestapo regularly searched the homes of priests,[16] and the Nazis carried out an extensive campaign of vilification against members of religious orders, depicting them as corrupt money-launderers for the Jews.[17] These actions were paltry, however, compared to the Nazis' attacks on the Jesuits, who Hitler saw as suspect as they were the 'shock troops' of the Church.[18] Another possible reason for this campaign is that the Jesuits may have been more active in decrying government policies and speaking on atrocities. This is implicit in Perau's November 4, 1941 entry, where he notes (pg. 37):

My sexton distributed the preaching of a Jesuit rector. A dangerous thing, if it is found out, but other nations must know that not all Germans conceal the atrocities that occur.

In May of 1941 all Jesuits were ordered out of the army. They were forced to leave Westphalia two months later.[19] This policy was carried to its fearful, yet logical, conclusion months later when Jesuits were rounded up and sent to work camps. At that time the situation seemed dire enough that Perau worried that German Jesuits might not survive the war.[20] German Catholics also resisted actively, landing many of them in concentration camps. On April 29, 1945 when the Dachau camp was liberated by Allied soldiers, 326 German Catholic priests were among the survivors, and numerous others had previously been imprisoned there.[21]

In addition to physical persecution of clergy, the Nazi party also practiced other forms of intimidation and censorship. In the early months of the war in 1939, distribution of religious tracts to the front was allowed, but had to go through the Propaganda Ministry first.[22] This allowance, however, was a sham as the Propaganda Ministry prohibited the chaplains from distributing these same tracts.[23] In June 1940 the trend continued, as church periodicals were suspended in Germany. A complete prohibition on sending confessional material or Bible excerpts to the front came only a month later.[24] Despite these actions, however, the men on the front managed to find other religiously oriented materials that were not banned, such as the poetry of Reinhold Schneider.[25]

Another key element in the policy of the Nazi state towards the churches was the Ministry of Church Affairs (MCA). The MCA was created in 1933 to oppose the confessing Church's increasingly political stance and to gain as much control over the churches as possible.[26] The creation of this position also resulted from the failure of Reichsbischof Mueller to perform this role. This situation is an excellent example of the dual nature of the Nazi state. The Reichbischof shared the same goal as the MCA and was controlled by the party, whereas the MCA was technically under the state apparatus. The immediate result was the appointment of Hans Kerrl, a believer in positive Christianity with a legal background whom Church leaders considered unqualified.[27] However, Kerrl's objectives during the mid 1930s often were opposite to those of the party leadership.[28] The MCA acted in a widely different manner over time; one of its notable actions was to ban the use of the word heresy (Irrlehre) for two years in 1935 to decrease doctrinal strife between German Christians and other Christian groups.[29] Although it was challenged by other agencies within the Nazi government, the MCA did have a powerful effect on the chaplaincy, especially the Protestant side.

Acquiring a position within the chaplaincy both before and during World War II was difficult. The position of chaplain within the German army was prestigious; this combined with the fact that few full-time positions existed in peacetime made them very difficult to attain. Specifically, the Wehrmacht employed nine senior religious positions, twenty-six positions as army chaplain, and eight positions as full time base chaplains.[30] As such, it is not surprising that the application process for a place in the chaplaincy was a difficult one that became even more difficult during the war. To become a chaplain one had to be approved by the Feldbischof, the regional church, the MCA, and the Gestapo, which included proving that one's wife (in the Protestant case) was of Aryan blood.[31] This process strongly affected the Protestant chaplaincy; in fact, historian Doris Bergen has noted that the process "guaranteed a considerable German Christian contingent" and overall resulted in a "mix of low profile German Christians, their sympathizers and accommodating neutrals" especially due to the fact that the German Christians held positions that were highly influential in the process.[32]

The chaplains officially held the rank of Major within the Wehrmacht and were clothed as such. They did not, however, wear epaulets as other officers did, but they did wear an armband with a purple stripe in between two white stripes on which a red cross was placed.[33] In addition to this, they also wore a cross, plain metal for Protestants and wooden with a corpus Christi for the Catholics.[34] They also wore a pistol on the hip, which they were allowed to use for self-defense and for the defense of the wounded, but not in offensive actions, as per the sections of the Geneva Convention pertaining to health workers.[35] The chaplains were often uncomfortable with these uniforms, owing to their similarity with those of the SS.[36] While the supervision of each chaplain was undoubtedly different, the Church encouraged chaplains to speak along certain lines. Specifically, they were advised to "keep it short and simple" doctrinally. Topics such as the Bolshevik threat and "the avoidance of sexual adventure" were encouraged, but "no word about anti-Semitism or about conflicts between command and conscience" was to be spoken.[37]

As noted above, the Nazi state's relationship to the churches within Germany was oppressive, not friendly. The government and Party both strove to change society in ways that were destructive to the Church. Controlling the chaplaincy was important for both sides, so it was highly regulated through the Concordat and the MCA. As mentioned, chaplains served either within the medical corps or with one or more units in a pastoral function. As one might expect, the experience of the chaplains varied widely depending on where and how they were utilized.

I turn now to my two primary cases, Josef Perau and Ernst Tewes.

Josef Perau (back to top)

Perau at an outdoor massOn June 13, 1940 Perau was conscripted into a unit of the medical corps as part of general call ups, as the Concordat between the Vatican and the German state stipulated. His corps was composed of "doctors, pharmacists, barbers, Red Cross workers, theologians, and priests."[38] Over the next year his unit worked in Danzig, Riesenburg, and Ghent, primarily in various military hospitals. He found life in this situation difficult and, on the whole, felt that he was being oppressed by the officers. He soon indicated that he was uncomfortable with his position within the military as it distanced him from the very people he wished to reach.[39] He wrote that on arrival the accommodations and treatment by the officers made him feel second class and a low priority.[40] Perau also recorded being mocked in exercises and forced to perform tasks that he had already completed repeatedly. His experiences caused him to believe that the officers hated the priesthood.[41] This initial mistreatment made Perau long for assignment to a military unit where he felt he would at least have a personal impact on the soldiers.[42] While Perau later saw this period more kindly in comparison to the remainder of his war experience, it was, at the time, a difficult period.

 In this initial period, as with the remainder of the war, Perau displayed an active and politically conscious mind, noting developments around him, and, in some cases, speaking out against them. Perau's first entry, on June 13, 1940, reveals a man so disturbed by the brutality of war that he "thought it would not be that bad to be dead." He continued with more resolve:

One is quickly roused back to reality, that this is only a part of the total terrible reality that awaits us. We know enough of it from the newsreels, we cannot dreamingly distance ourselves. There is no way around how we must go in, though. Only one way is possible: the destiny to transform through free acceptance. We are dedicated to a better future, as we [emphasis original] understand it. Our poor reality has great significance, when the conviction is great.[43]

Perau's early entries from this period also display sympathy first for his priestly brothers and second for his German compatriots. As early as September 1940, he spoke with the Polish Bishop Splett and sympathized with the plight of Polish priests during the Germanization program being implemented at the time.[44] He also commented regarding the problem of priests in occupied Holland who faced the difficult choice between resistance and compliance.[45]

The fact that resistance was a morally justified option for Perau at this point is worth noting. In fact, Perau appears from his first entry to his last to be loyal first and foremost to the church, after that to the soldiers in his care, and finally loyal to the service of his homeland. Perau also noted his disappointment that the German bishops were not doing more to oppose the Nazi Weltanschauung, or cultural reform campaign.[46] Perau thought that at this institutional level resistance might be possible.

In December 1940 Perau was upset when his superiors in the medical corps failed to mention Christmas in any official fashion, mentioning only "Victory and Germany."[47] Perau always noted the key dates of the spiritual calendar and how he celebrated them. Perau also noted changes within his colleagues, saying that within six months his colleagues seemed to be detached from their former selves and no longer questioned why they were given an order.[48] Perau's rather negative view of army life is best seen in this period from his counseling of a soldier condemned for attempting to commit suicide. Perau was deeply saddened by this event and noted how easily army life could "push one between the wheels."[49] In addition to direct observations of his surroundings, Perau contemplated more abstract topics, such as the ecumenical movement, which he favored as long as the Nazi-friendly "German Christians" were not at the helm.[50] A call to a chaplain training course in July 1941 ended this period of Perau's service. At the time, he was excited at the prospect of ministering to the troops, but hard times lay ahead.[51]

In July 1941 Perau attended a week-long chaplain training seminar in Berlin, after which he was sent to a military hospital in Tomaszow on the Eastern Front. Perau did not describe it in detail the specifics of this course, ubt his entries from this period do provide information about the legal restrictions pertaining to chaplains. He noted in his first entry upon arriving in Berlin that "the brethren who go to prisons and concentration camps take another route" than those serving at the front, but "both are certainly important."[52]

In another entry Perau recordedthat "in all the streets Jews wear the star of David."[53] His treatment of this fact is puzzling. It is not connected to the remainder of the entry and is placed parenthetically after the main body of the entry followed only by a similarly detached note that the war was having little visible effect on the German cities. This is the first of many non-specific comments Perau makes where he records something of controversial nature, but uncharacteristically, makes no moral judgment. This is especially strange as he openly criticized Nazi policies towards the Jews in other entries, both previously and subsequently.[54] In evaluating these statements one is faced with three possibilities.

The first is that Perau limited his writings in fear of censorship, so that these entries were added later. Since Perau edited the diary somewhat before publication, this is likely, especially because of the incongruous placement of this statement is unusual for the diary. Another possibility is that he felt it was a fact worthy of recording but not interpretation. In view of the total corpus of his diary self-censorship was likely. Perau was in Berlin at the training session at the time. This interpretation is likely because later when Perau was at the front and under less supervision, he wrote more openly about his thoughts. Perau does not specify whether his diary was originally recorded in multiple volumes, which could have allowed him to write more freely in certain volumes.

The entries during this period, immediately before his deployment to the eastern front, display a great deal about Perau's perception of himself as a chaplain, and what he thought the role of a chaplain should be. He expressed discomfort, as before, with the concept of wearing a uniform so similar to that of the SS; he clearly disliked the SS, noting that donning an SS uniform would be one of the last things he would want to do. He reacted with "discomfort and sorrow" to the fact that he could be mistaken for an SS officer.[55] His new position had its advantages, however, as he was not mistreated by other soldiers as he had been previously, or at least he did not mention it.

Perau was most disturbed by the harshly militaristic nature of the chaplain's position. It is worth noting that Perau was conscripted into service, and that his primary motive in this vocation was to minister to the soldiers. His primary objection was that the chaplain was armed and carried the title Kriegspfarrer, literally war-pastor, which Perau saw as a contradiction.[56] In contrast, the same entry displays Perau's comfort with the structures of the chaplaincy that coincide with the church. He describes meeting Feldbischof Rarkowski, whom he describes as a "small and somewhat shy man" and notes how much it meant to him to receive communion from the hand of one of the bishops concurrently assembled in Berlin.[57] While this may seem to be only a minor detail, from an emotional standpoint it is easy to see why this was, for Perau, particularly important. It represented a confirmation of his place within the chaplaincy by the ecclesiastical authorities.

Over the course of the next year Perau served at a number of different military hospitals on the eastern front, mostly in Russia and Ukraine, but also in Poland as well. Perau's experiences, especially in terms of the freedom to minister, varied greatly. While in Smolensk he was only permitted to minister to a soldier if the soldier requested it,[58] whereas in Junchow he was free to move among units and minister to soldiers.[59] In this period he was first forced to come to terms with atrocities. Perau states that when speaking to Russian families he was ashamed to be German and he often repeated his desire that other nations would know that not all Germans are Nazis and condone atrocity.[60] In an especially troubled entry he recounted his thoughts upon seeing a mass grave of Russian prisoners in Roslwal:

The guard tells me there are already about 19,000 therein…I look over the edge of the grave and see many layers of tangled corpses with wide eyes and clenched hands--a terrible accusation.[61]

Perau continued noting talk of epidemic disease in the camps and cannibalism on account of hunger. In the same entry he writes of the death of a comrade who saw himself, in the event that he should die, as a "sacrifice." This led Perau to ask: "How many such sacrifices will be needed to expunge the great guilt [of Germany]" (Perau 53). Perau was clearly deeply disturbed by this horrific event. The composition of the entry is telling.

Perau illustrated his motivation in this period clearly in an entry after a conversation with a disciple of Karl Barth (a contemporary Protestant theologian)(Perau 45):

The resistance of the same enemy allows us to see the common good. So evil must act as a catalyst. We must take it upon ourselves to see salvation in the disaster and seize it. Carossas' [Hans Carossas, a contemporary poet] words come to mind: "steal the light from the throat of the serpent, draw out from the rubble the smashed image of man." Don't these words characterize our entire work as priests in Hitler's army, as priests deep in a Bolshevist land?

An example of this hope, or at least Perau's basis for it, is found soon after, in an entry where Perau was deeply affected by a Christmas mass given for a few hundred soldiers. Perau notes that the service was simple, being composed of only a "poor altar, on which a priest celebrated the Mass. That was all, but they understood that that really was everything" (italics original; Perau 46).

Entries from this period also display Perau's thoughts on Slavs and how his ideas differed from the positions of his superiors and the Nazi hierarchy. The Nazis considered Slavs to be sub-human and not worthy of education or religious ministry. This combined with Nazi regime's obsession with the destruction of Bolshevism as part of their Weltanschauung. These ideas, according to historian Monica Black, were mixed together with persistent, if non-traditional Christian ideas among the soldiers serving on the front. Specifically, they saw the death of their comrades in a sacrificial manner, even going as far in some cases to equate the German "cult of soldierly death" with the passion of Christ.[62] Black notes:

Wehrmacht soldiers' letters reflect the view that the enemy had been vertiert (brutalized) as a result of the godlessness and anti-Christianity of Bolshevism, which was axiomatically linked to 'the Jewish world conspiracy' both in NS thought and propaganda…Soldiers expressed anxiety that unless they stemmed the godless "Judeo-Bolshevik" tide, German civilization, described in Christian terms might be overwhelmed by the…anti-Christian condition of the Russians.[63]

This provides an interesting matrix for comparison. The soldiers took up Nazi ideas, but melded them with their preexisting Christian ideas. The chaplains, by comparison, shared the same fear of Bolshevism as a threat to Christianity in Germany, but held to traditional Christianity and did not see the Russians as vertiert or sub-human, but rather as victims of their government.

Perau certainly shared the Nazis' distaste for Bolshevism. It was, for him, a fearful concept because it was utterly Godless, a destroyer of lives and communities.[64] He was afraid that if the Russians won, then "complete annihilation" of the church would ensue.[65] In contrast, he had no qualms with Slavic people themselves. While in Poland Perau noted his respect for the Poles' "deeply rooted Christianity,"[66] and was impressed by the intelligence of captured Russian soldiers.[67] Perau admired the desire of the Slavic peoples for Christianity, be it Greek Orthodox or Catholic.[68] Perau also reported a "brotherly relationship" with Polish priests he met in the latter days of the war.[69] This respect for the Poles by German Catholic clergy is confirmed by reports of German military police in Poland in 1941, which note that priests often befriended Poles due to their exemplary piety.[70] Although chaplains were forbidden to hold services for the Slavic peoples by Hitler's June 8, 1941 decree, they did minister on an individual level, often limited to urgent ceremonies such as infant baptism.[71] It is clear that Catholic clergy, who shared a common religious bond with many of the Slavic peoples, and certainly Perau, did not share the Nazi regime's negative views of Slavs.

For the next two years Perau moved between a number of different military units on the Eastern Front. In May 1942 Perau was assigned to the front; his initial reaction was negative, not wanting to leave the "stable life of the hospital and the mass to the chaos of war."[72] Perau clearly feared working on the front; this can be seen from both his initial entries at the outbreak of the war, and his first entries upon arrival at the front. Once he arrived, however, his feelings wavered somewhat. He was initially encouraged by the opportunity to minister to the troops where it was most needed,[73] but he became increasingly depressed towards the end of the war. At that time he recorded a sort of "unholy lostness" from living in a "land without sabbath, without churches, possessed only by soldiers."[74]

The entries from this period display a good deal about the organization of the chaplaincy and also how the chaplains experienced life on the front. As with the chaplains assigned to duty at military hospitals, the experience of the chaplains, and the troops' exposure to them varied widely by the unit. Perau noted in October 1942 that many of the troops he was ministering to have seen a chaplain only rarely or not at all.[75] This is not surprising due to Goebbels' 1942 order that the vacancies within the chaplaincy would no longer be filled. This was of great consequence as chaplains were required to position themselves in areas of the fiercest fighting, which led to a high casualty rate and became known as the "Uriah Law."[76] Chaplains were often reassigned and shuffled back and forth, especially Perau's Protestant colleagues.[77] Leave was also granted more often for the chaplains at the front, although it fleeting as it was often revoked for no apparent reason.[78]

Chaplains at the front had two primary tasks. First, they traveled between units and ministered to soldiers spread out across the front. Second, they served as undertakers and helped to physically and spiritually care for the wounded.[79] They also ministered in ways that were prohibited such as writing home to the families of fallen soldiers. Chaplains could either be forbidden to inform and comfort the families, or required to wait, depending on time and place.[80] This command was part of the Nazi Party's drive to replace other social institutions; in this case the specific goal was to show an explicit link between the Party and the Wehrmacht and take responsibility for care for the wounded, which was previously held by the Church. Perau bent this rule as much as he could. He noted that he often wrote two letters. A first in which he was more careful and followed the prescribed formula of approved terminology, and a second where he spoke more freely and provided comfort. In the same entry he noted that while he did not mind the extra work, he disliked the system as he thought the initial 'approved' letter did more harm than good (pg. 184).

The remainder of Perau's diary is dedicated to the retreat from the eastern front back to German territory and a brief period about his time in an Allied POW camp. Diary entries from this period provide a number of insights into Perau's thoughts. It is as if he could see everything unraveling before him and this solidified opinions he already had. He was exceedingly disenchanted in August 1944, when his unit suffered great losses as it retreated; Perau called these casualties "blood sacrifices" and was fairly certain that Germany had lost the war (188). He also recorded hearing of the large scale execution of deserters by the SD a few months later.[81] Due to these developments and an ever increasing fear of the Russians who, to Perau, threatened "complete annihilation," Perau wished that the Allies would advance faster so that Germany would not be subject to the Russians.[82] Perau and his comrades privately rejoiced when they heard the news of Hitler's death, noting that he was thankful for "that life which is newly given to us," but kept these feelings as "such words were still very dangerous."[83] His feelings are best summed up by his comment on the characteristic Nazi greeting 'Heil Hitler' no longer being required. He notes being amazed at the speed at which everything came down and was almost regretful that it was not done sooner.[84]

Ernst Tewes (back to top)

Ernst Tewes is the second chaplain whose memoir has been thoroughly examined. Tewes wrote this memoir to show that not all of the men of God under the Nazi regime "had bowed their knee to Baal."[85] In his introduction Tewes reminds his readers of the difficulty of the church in this period, since it was pressed between the apparent will of the people and the "Teufelswerk" (devil's work) of state-sponsored Nazi ideology. Tewes then delineates two categories of clergy that resisted at some level during the war. The first are those who opposed Nazism ideologically and subtly, and the second are those who spoke out overtly and were martyred, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer.[86] Tewes certainly considers himself in the first category, those who resisted but still survived.

His memoir creates a picture of a troubled man in deeply distressing times. In 1941 Tewes served at a Hospital in Bjala-Zurkow on the eastern front.[87] His work during much of this period was to minister to and console the wounded, and most of this period is dedicated to this sort of action, although it also includes a few telling narratives. He notes disagreements with a Protestant, and likely German Christian (that is Nazified collaborator), colleague who preached in a very militaristic manner and later did "evil and unpleasant" things in Yugoslavia.[88]

Tewes seems deeply troubled not just by the attitude of the soldiers towards the war, but also by the nature of war itself. He was deeply affected by the massacre and subsequent burial of a small Russian unit composed not only of men but also women in uniform. These were, for Tewes, images that he said he "could never lose from [his]  memory."[89] Tewes also speaks of an occasion when he and a colleague found around 90 Jewish children "herded" into 2 small rooms and kept in hunger while their mothers were forced to watch from an adjoining, but inaccessible room.[90] To interfere, however, carried a death sentence from the SS, which one SS officer had already received. Tewes and his Protestant colleague spoke first to the commanding officer of their unit, who was unhelpful and anti-Semitic according to Tewes. In search of assistance Tewes and his colleague then wrote to the head of the division, describing and condemning the situation.[91] In the mid-60s Tewes was commended for this effort. However, the story did not have a happy ending, as these children were eventually shot.[92] Tewes remained at this hospital until early 1942, after which the troops were more supportive and receptive to his work, but his experiences were difficult as his unit faced Stalingrad and life on the eastern front.

Tewes' experience henceforth complements Perau's, as Tewes remained with one unit, as opposed to Perau's roaming assignment. Tewes was in Stalingrad for a few months during 1942, where he noted in sadness "how easy it was for one to die there."[93] He was then reassigned to the 97th Rifle Division in the Caucasus, with whom he stayed until the end of the war. The men to whom Tewes ministered were on the whole more receptive than those Perau worked with, not only because Tewes had the opportunity to stay with one group, but more importantly because this division was from Bavaria, a predominantly Catholic region.[94] Although the men and the officers both had a positive attitude towards pastoral care,[95] Tewes still found it difficult to minister to "scared, homesick young men" who often died soon after.[96] He also describes talks with the division's commander on these same problems of conscience.

Tewes' assignment also allowed him more freedom than Perau possessed in writing to the families of the deceased, as his commanding officers were more sympathetic. He records that the families "greatly appreciated" the letters and that they were often received before the official letters.[97] Tewes also experienced some of the same ideological problems as Perau did towards the close of the war. He laments that "it was not the soldiers' war, it was not our war" and described "great problems of conscience" from life "within the breach."[98] The extent of Tewes' loyalty to the war effort, or more accurately his lack thereof, is displayed by a conversation Tewes recounts from 1945 during the retreat. A soldier was contemplating desertion on moral grounds and came to him for counsel. The two spoke through the night about the subject and while Tewes does not explicitly state it, it is clear that he did not argue against the soldier's desertion.[99] While Tewes' situation was certainly more favorable than Perau's from an administrative point of view, the terrors of war were just as horrible.

Other "War Chaplains" (back to top)

Some chaplains, however, were more than comfortable with the harsh and brutal elements of the war. Josef Kayser served on the Eastern front in Stalingrad and was also, like Tewes, captured by the Russians, but he did not display the same problems with the horrors of war. He noted heavy casualties, that he "awoke among 29 corpses" which he counted exactly, but did so without emotion.[100] His capture, however, provides more telling evidence. He found himself standing 20 yards from five Siberian soldiers. He wrote:

I knew they were quick to shoot… I suppose they recognized the cross chaplains wore… I pointed to it and called "I am a priest, Christ is resurrected in war!" I thought they would give me a volley and that would be it. My last thoughts would have been, "if you had a machine pistol … you would have laid them flat, those dumb kids."[101]

These sentiments are certainly different than those mentioned by Perau and Tewes, who disliked the militaristic nature of the chaplaincy and were troubled by the carnage of war. One can also attribute this to the generational difference: Kayser was fifty-seven years old at the time and had served in World War I as well.[102] Perau, Tewes and the majority of their colleagues, however, were in their thirties at the time of their service.[103] Kayser was very well respected by his colleagues, called an "exemplary colleague" and honored for his decision to stay with the wounded while his colleagues retreated, which led to the above incident.[104] While Kayser's age and militaristic and anti-Soviet attitude set him apart from Perau and Tewes, he, like them, placed loyalty for his men before the state.

The contacts of Perau and Tewes with German Christian chaplains and individuals display their opposition to Nazi policy just as effectively as their direct comments on it. Adherents of the German Christian movement provide a good picture of the chaplains' views on Nazism because the German Christians echoed Nazi views and saw Christianity and Nazism as mutually reinforcing.[105] The German Christians were also racially exclusive and anti-doctrinal. They denied the most fundamental doctrines of Christianity and avoided talk of doctrine, which they regarded as "bookish, Jewish, and effeminate," in short all that they opposed.[106] They saw themselves as natural candidates for the chaplaincy due to their emphasis on manly religion and "soldierly fighting character."[107]

Perau and Tewes clearly perceived the German Christian movement as a threat; in fact, Perau explicitly thought that it threatened the future and integrity of German Protestantism.[108] One of the most striking instances occurred for Perau in March of 1941. He recorded that his evangelical colleague, whose stated goal was to "overcome the church" and join the SS, preached from Mein Kampf in his services instead of the Bible.[109] Perau also recorded a heated confrontation with this individual on the issue revolving around the statement that he "must not wear the Cross and be so sacrilegious."[110] A few days later Perau was appalled by the same colleague's open boast that "the asocial elements in his community had been sterilized" and that the doctors present also found it unremarkable.[111] Perau later recorded a disagreement with an Protestant superintendent regarding the Jewish question, but did not pursue it because he felt a discussion would "have no point" as they did not share the same base of reasoning.[112] Tewes did not have as much contact with the German Christian movement, or at least does not include them prominently. However, they did cause some trouble when they tried to institute interconfessional services when he was with the 97th division in Russia. He thought of the movement as an "unsavory mixture of "divine belief and nationalism, with Christ only on the margin."[113] The German Christian chaplains were, at the least, a thorn in the side of the Catholic chaplains, and although some of this opposition can be assigned to purely doctrinal issues, their favorable relationship to Nazism was certainly a key factor as well.

While different Allied powers, namely Russia and England, imprisoned Tewes and Perau, their experience was somewhat similar, although, as Perau succinctly noted, the English camps had the Red Cross and the Russians did not. More important, however, is how they responded to their captors accusing them of being Nazis. Their Allied captors assumed them to be Nazis automatically because of their army service. As one might expect, this distressed them greatly and not just for reasons of conscience. Perau, interned in the English camp, thought that the Allies should strive to liberate central Europe from the Russians.[114] The chaplains' responses to these accusations tell one a great deal about how they saw themselves and how they justified serving under the Nazis. Fortunately, Tewes included his entire response to his captors, referring first to the Kirchenkampf as evidence of the strained relationship between church and state in Germany. He then proceeds with an allegory (Tewes 86):

Suppose an ambulance comes to the corner where you are standing, with badly wounded men inside, some lying in their blood on the floor and you call for a doctor to help. What would you do if the doctor said to you "I will only provide medical assistance once the question of guilt is completely resolved." The situation of that doctor is my situation.

It is clear that Tewes' justification in serving under the Nazis is one of necessity in order to fill an urgent need. This sort of justification, although without the allegory, was voiced by the majority of the Catholic chaplains. As described by Alfons Hufnagel, another Catholic chaplain, the purpose of a chaplain is "not to pursue politics, nor struggle with weapons, but rather to serve the dying."[115] Paul Hamm echoed a similar tune in more specific terms, noting "the chaplain can only participate in fellowship with those in need and the wounded to distribute the sacraments and preach the word of God" (Guesgen, 333). Tewes and Perau also refused to speak with a political bent when performing their pastoral duties,[116] although Perau was not shy about confrontations regarding doctrine.[117] This was certainly one advantage that the Catholic chaplains had, since they had the opportunity to "hide behind the objectivity of the mass," as one of Perau's Catholic colleagues said.[118]

Concluding Assessment (back to top)

While the chaplains' refusal to dabble in politics was a noble sentiment and very useful considering the difference between the ideologies of the Nazi party and the Church, it was also the position the Nazis wished the chaplains to take. Assuming the chaplains possessed an ulterior motive for this stance, two distinct possibilities exist. The first is that the chaplains were afraid of the repercussions of protest against Nazi policies. Tewes spoke out in when he witnessed atrocities, whereas Perau, while he did note them for posterity, did not act at the time. The second is that the chaplains felt that it was not their place to discuss these matters. While this may seem strange at first, it makes more sense when one examines the stance of German Catholic Bishops during the war on this matter. Historian Alice Gallin concluded on the matter:

[It is] clear that the German [Church] hierarchy at no time … urged revolution against the Nazi government; in fact there was repeated admonition to German Catholics to avoid violence, demonstrations, conspiracy and outright revolution.[119]

Guenter Lewy reached a similar conclusion and also noted that the lack of resistance may have been caused by "the apparent hopelessness of any successful resistance to Hitler's machinery of terror."[120] The motivation for silence, or at least for not acting, was once again fear, or doubt that it would have an effect. This is essential to the discussion at hand because it was the responsibility of the Church hierarchy, not the priest, to make these political decisions. Whatever the motive of each chaplain was, those who spoke out at the time, as Tewes did, are certainly due more recognition.

While institutional resistance may have been lacking, it did exist at other levels. The Catholics in Germany were in general "German to the core" and fostered no active resistance.[121] They at first "rallied to the flag, but became gradually disenchanted" by Hitler's anti-Christian policies and soon made a distinction between fighting for Hitler and fighting for home and people.[122] Historian Guenter Lewy suggested that Catholic Church officials' loyalties followed a similar path, but he connected this to German military success. Specifically, German bishops held the patriotic line until the war turned against the Germans.[123]

One criticism that could be leveled against this argument is that only the anti-Nazi chaplains have published their memoirs. At the outset of the approximately 560 Catholic priests made up the military chaplaincy. According to a 1943 MCA report ordered by Goebbels, 424 Catholic clergy were serving as chaplains commissioned at officer's rank.[124] This study has utilized portions of the writings of 83 Catholic chaplains, and two others in their entirety, which accounts for approximately twenty percent of all Catholic chaplains, a fairly good sample size.[125] [hm: you don't discuss any of the 78 from Schabel in your paper!] Only one of these, Ruediger, exhibited pro-Nazi sentiments. His account was published in 1940 and thus was approved by the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda. In addition to this German scholar Johannes Guesgen arrived at the same conclusion in his section on the Second World War, in his history of the Catholic military chaplaincy from 1920 to 1945. Specifically Guesgen's section on the Nazi period concluded that:

Die Militärseelsorge in der nationalsozialistischen Zeit stand zwar im Widerspruch von Kreuz und Hakenkreuz, aber sie diente dem Menschen und nicht dem System. Die Feldgeistlichen sind, von wenigen Ausnahmen abgesehen, "Kirchenglocke geblieben" und nicht "Kanone geworden." The military chaplaincy during National Socialism was marked by the contradiction between cross and swastika, but it served people and not the system. The field clergymen remained, a few exceptions notwithstanding, "church-bell" and did not become "cannons."[126]

A contrasting view of the chaplaincy is held by Doris Bergen, whose work pertains primarily to the German Christian movement. Bergen, who is rather critical of the military chaplaincy, argues that

... all Wehrmacht chaplains echoed and propagated German Christian views. In seeking a workable compromise between Christianity and Nazism, even those chaplains indifferent or antagonistic to German Christians promoted the movement's claim that Germany's religious traditions reinforced National Socialism. Here the issue is one of confluence not of influence.[127]

While this was certainly true for the German Christian movement, I find its application difficult with regard to Catholic chaplains. To say that all chaplains echoed the same views as the German Christians goes a bit far. As has been shown above, Catholic chaplains were often staunchly opposed to the doctrinal and ideological stances of the German Christian movement. While most German Christians fit the above description, a more accurate statement for other confessions would be that chaplains of the other confessions claimed that Germany's religious traditions were, at best, not opposed to Nazism. This step from enthusiastic endorsement to implicit acceptance of Nazi ideas is small, but a deeply significant. It should also be noted that the Confessing Church was the only religious group in Germany at the time that was overtly stating that Christianity and Nazism were irreconcilable. For Catholic chaplains, who were conscripted, without choice, into the service of the Nazi regime, the fact that their continued presence in the German military implied their acceptance of Nazi ideology this seems a bit of an assumption as their presence alone is not an indicator of their ideology.

One could certainly reply that even if their presence is involuntary they would have had to, at least implicitly, approve of Nazi ideas in their sermons. The problem with this is that the Catholic chaplains were afforded more freedom in this regard due to the "objectivity of the mass," as Perau's colleague noted.[128] The ministry of Catholic chaplains was naturally entered on the sacraments even at a personal level. This allowed them do to exactly what they said they wanted to do, minister to the soldiers free from the burden of politics. They also did not have to use the highly pro-Nazi and German Christian influenced Protestant Feldsangbuch as their Protestant colleagues did. The crux of the matter is whether one sees the chaplains as operating, as much as is possible, as they normally would, but within a different, and possibly immoral setting, or whether one sees them as an at least tacit partner in Nazi ideology and practice. In the case of the Catholic chaplains the latter is more accurate.

Bergen concludes her essay on the German Christian chaplains by stating that:

Ultimately all chaplains, including German Christians, were part of a destructive trap. In order to protect the chaplaincy's existence, they fought to prove and re-prove that they met a real need of the troops and raised morale. But … the more the chaplains demonstrated loyal commitment to the goals of Hitler's war, the more they promoted atrocities, murder, and genocide and undermined their moral authority as agents of the Christian message. In their situation, acceptance—either explicit or implicit—of the German Christian synthesis may have seemed the only hope of survival. Instead it was a profound betrayal.[129]

I find these statements problematic in a number of ways. The Nazis, at best, afforded the chaplaincy some utilitarian value, but possessed no real affinity for it, so attempts to justify its existence in this would have been futile.[130] Although the Nazis did threaten to liquidate the Catholic chaplaincy in the 1930s,[131] it was not in danger of liquidation during the war as Hitler had ordered his interior ministers in July, 1940 to avoid taking overt actions against the church until after the war in order to maintain the status quo until then.[132]

I also find that it is inaccurate to state that the Catholic chaplains described above "demonstrated loyal commitment to the goals of Hitler's war" or "promoted atrocities, murder, and genocide." Tewes certainly did neither. He effectively counseled a solider to desert, actively spoke out against atrocities, and explicitly noted that it was neither his war nor the soldiers' war.[133] When the war turned against the Germans, the damage to the Nazi cause did not concern Perau. He was worried, however, about the postwar fate of the people and the German church.[134] At best Perau and Tewes saw Bolshevism and Russia as a threat to German society, or at least its religious life, but they never mentioned Lebensraum once in the entire course of their [hm: admittedly edited?!] writings. While the German Christian chaplains may have promoted atrocity by endorsing and spreading Nazi ideas, this action was not common to all chaplains. Although Bergen concludes that counseling soldiers who performed immoral actions supported those actions, her statement that the chaplains promoted atrocity goes too far. Bergen's idea that all chaplains explicitly or implicitly accepted the German Christian synthesis is also troublesome. While it could be argued that the chaplains echoed German Christian views because they did not overtly condemn Nazism as antithetical to Christianity, the jump from there to condoning or praising Nazism and especially to condoning atrocity is too great. The primary problem is that Bergen takes the extreme case of German Christians and applies it to all chaplains.

It is clear that the ideology and motives of Perau and Tewes were greatly distanced from those of the German Christians and the Nazi party. Their writings clearly show that they harbored no love for the Nazi state, although they did display great compassion for the human beings that they encountered, whether they were German, Polish, Jewish, or Russian, soldier or civilian. The problem with this, of course, is that our primary source of information is limited by what they chose to tell us [hm: not only at the time, but also after the war in the edited versions!]. However, due to the bulk of evidence in the narratives this problem is mostly mitigated and some essential items such as Tewes action with the Jewish children are independently confirmed.[135] Between the two, Tewes spoke out more actively against atrocity, although Perau also displayed an active political conscience. While the guilt of Nazi atrocities, at some small level, falls on all who worked within the Nazi regime these men opposed these events and the ideology behind them.

Notes (back to top)

[1] Joseph Perau. Priester im Heere Hitlers. Erinnerungen, 1940-1945. Essen: Ludgrens Verlag Hubert Wingen KG, 1962. pg. 17

[2] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 42.

[3] Ernst Christian Helmreich, The German Churches Under Hitler: Background, Struggle, and Epilogue. (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1979), pg. 123.

[4] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 144: quoted in Helmreich, German Churches, pg. 124

[5] Helmreich, German Churches, pg. 309

[6] Johannes Guesgen, Die Katholische Militärseelsorge in Deutschland zwischen 1920-1945, pg. 470.

[7] Günter Lewy. The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany. (Toronto: McGraw-Hill Book Company,  1964), pg.253

[8] Helmreich, German Churches, pg. 303

[9] Georg May, Interkonfessionalismus in der deutschen Militarseelsorge von 1933 bis 1945. (Amsterdam: Verlag B. R. Gruener, 1978), pg. 87

[10]Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, pg. 58

[11] Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, pg. 60

[12] Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, pg. 254

[13] Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, pg. 85.

[14] Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, pg. 85.

[15] Wilhelm Schabel (ed.), Herr in deine Hände, Seelsorge im Krieg. Dokumente der Menschlichkeit aus den Ganzen Welt (Bern: Scherz, 1963), pg 73; Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 12 & 25.

[16] Ernst Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten: Errinerungen an die Zeiten von 1940 bis 1945, Don Bosco Verlag, Munic: 1984, Pg 15.

[17] Conway, John S. The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-1945, New York: Basic Books, Inc, 1968, pg. 125.

[18] Helmreich, German Churches, pg. 354.

[19] Helmreich, German Churches, pg. 359.

[20] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 23.

[21] Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, pg.  309.

[22] Helmreich, German Churches, pg. 354.

[23] Doris Bergen, 'Germany is our Mission - Christ is our Strength' The Wehrmacht Chaplaincy and the 'German Christian' Movement, Church History, 66/3 (September 1997), 522-36, pg. 528

[24] Helmreich, German Churches, pg. 318

[25] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 84; Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 203.

[26] Helmreich, [31] German Churches, pg. 185

[27] Conway, John S. The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-1945, pg. 129 & 136.

[28] Conway, John S. The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-1945, pg. 133.

[29] Doris Bergen, Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996, pg. 47.

[30] Doris Bergen, The Wehrmacht Chaplaincy and the 'German Christian' Movement, pg.524

[31] Doris Bergen, The Wehrmacht Chaplaincy and the 'German Christian' Movement, pg. 526 & 534

[32] Doris Bergen, The Wehrmacht Chaplaincy and the 'German Christian' Movement, pg. 525.

[33] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 26.

[34] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 27.

[35] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 27.

[36] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 18 & 58.

[37] Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, pg. 241.

[38] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 7

[39] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 18.

[40] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 8.

[41] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 17.

[42] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 12

[43] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 9

[44] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 11.

[45] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 20.

[46] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 32

[47] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 14.

[48] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 13.

[49] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 20.

[50] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 20.

[51] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 25.

[52] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 27.

[53] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 28.

[54] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 36 & 103.

[55] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 28.

[56] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 27.

[57] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 28.

[58] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 35.

[59] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 40-47.

[60] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 37.

[61] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 53.

[62]  Monica A. Black "Gott Mit Uns: Perceptions of Death in the Wehrmacht"  (Masters Thesis, University of Virginia, 2002), pg. 6

[63]  Monica A. Black "Gott Mit Uns: Perceptions of Death in the Wehrmacht," pg. 19.

[64] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 40.

[65] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 234.

[66] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 33.

[67] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 125.

[68] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 64.

[69] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 186

[70] Helmreich, German Churches, pg. 355.

[71] Schabel (ed.), Herr in deine Hände, Seelsorge im Krieg, pg. 82; Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 65.

[72] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 63

[73] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 65

[74] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 151

[75] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 100

[76] Doris Bergen, The Wehrmacht Chaplaincy and the 'German Christian' Movement, pg. 536.

[77] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 95.

[78] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 83.

[79] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 144.

[80] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 184.

[81] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 232.

[82] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 234.

[83] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 247.

[84] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 251

[85] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 11.

[86] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 12.

[87] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 20.

[88] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 39.

[89] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 31.

[90] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 27.

[91] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 29.

[92] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 57.

[93] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 72.

[94] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 46.

[95] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 57.

[96] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 52.

[97] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 78.

[98] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 84.

[99] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 69.

[100] Voices From the Third Reich: An Oral History. Ed. Peter Pechel, Washington D.C.: Regenery Gateway, 1989, pg. 166

[101] Voices From the Third Reich: An Oral History. Ed. Peter Pechel, pg. 166

[102] Voices From the Third Reich: An Oral History. Ed. Peter Pechel, pg. 166

[103] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, Pg 42; Tewes, pg. 3.

[104] Herr in deine Hände, Seelsorge im Krieg.ed Schabel, pg. 88 & 145.

[105] Doris Bergen, Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich. pg. 1

[106] Doris Bergen,  The Wehrmacht Chaplaincy and the 'German Christian' Movement,  pg. 533.

[107] Doris Bergen, Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich. pg. 58-59

[108] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 34.

[109] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 31.

[110] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 31.

[111] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 33.

[112] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 103.

[113] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 60.

[114] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 254.

[115] Herr in deine Hände, Seelsorge im Krieg.ed Schabel, pg. 19.

[116] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 86; Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 31.

[117] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 54.

[118] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 103.

[119] Alice Gallin, German Resistance to Hitler; Ethical and Religious Factors. pg. 203 quoted in Helmreich,    German Churches, pg. 366

[120] Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, pg. 313.

[121] Helmreich, German Churches, pg. 367.

[122] Helmreich, German Churches, pg. 347.

[123] Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, pg. 230-232. 

[124] Helmreich, German Churches, pg. 354. 

[125] Seventy-eight accounts from Schabel, four from Guesgen, and one each from Perau and Tewes and Ruediger. Percentage based on the latter number (424) and the fact that few appointments were made after 1942, as per note 29. [back to introductory note]

[126] Guesgen, Johannes, Die Katholische Militaerseelsorge, pg. 536.

[127] Doris Bergen, The Wehrmacht Chaplaincy and the 'German Christian' Movement,  pg. 523

[128] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 103.

[129] Doris Bergen,  The Wehrmacht Chaplaincy and the 'German Christian' Movement,  pg. 536.

[130] Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, pg. 236.

[131] Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, pg. 60.

[132] Helmreich, German Churches, pg. 125 & 303

[133] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 29, 69, & 84.

[134] Perau, Priester im Heere Hitlers, pg. 234 & 243.

[135] Tewes, Seelsorger bei den Soldaten, pg. 28. (Tewes refers to being recognized for this in the 1960s).

Annotated Bibliography

Primary Sources (back to top)

  1. Alberti, Ruediger. Als Kriegspfarrer in Polen. Erlebnisse und Begegnungen in Krieglazaretten. Dresden: C. Ludwig Ungelenk 1940.
    This is a German language memoir of a chaplain who ministered in Poland during the war. A very interesting document as it was accepted by Nazi censors during the war.
  2. Baedecker, Dietrich. Das Volk, das im Finstern wandelt. Stationen eines Militarpfarrers 1933-1946. Hannover: Lutherisches Verlaghaus, 1987.
    This work is a memoir of a Protestant chaplain in the Wehrmacht. It is arranged chronologically, but not in specific date increments. Baedecker was in Vienna from 1938-1941, on the Eastern Front from 1941-1944 and was then in various prisoner of war camps until 1946.
  3. Hermelink, Heinrich, ed., Kirche Im Kampf: Dokumente des Widerstands und des Aufbaus in der Evangelischen Kirche Deutschlands von 1933 bis 1945. Tuebingen: MLM, 1950.
    This is a document collection that I used for general context in regards to the church and state dilemma, especially in the pre-war period.
  4. Pechel, Peter (ed.), Voices From the Third Reich: An Oral History. Washington D.C.: Regenery Gateway, 1989.
    This is a collection of various interviews in English from various people who had firsthand experience of Nazi Germany. This book contains a number of very interesting and very useful interviews, however, only a scant few were useful for my topic. It is the source of the anecdotes by Josef Kayser.
  5. Perau, Joseph. Priester im Heere Hitlers. Erinnerungen, 1940-1945. Essen: Ludgrens Verlag Hubert Wingen KG, 1962.
    This is a detailed and rich diary by a Catholic priest who worked first as a health worker in Western Germany and later on the Eastern Front and eventually in prisoner of war camps. It contains a number of observations on current events and a sense of the morality of those actions as well. It also provides a good picture of the author's views on Slavs, Jews, and the morality of the war in general. It is organized in separate entries on a daily basis and is also very detailed in regards to the location of the author at the time. Perau's account forms the backbone of the paper and is the base which the other primary sources and memoirs will serve to test in terms of its accuracy to the general paradigm. The work is in German.
  6. Schabel, Wilhelm (ed.), Herr in deine Hände, Seelsorge im Krieg. Dokumente der Menschlichkeit aus den Ganzen Welt (Bern: Scherz, 1963), 407 pages.
    This collection documents the experiences of 78 military chaplains.
  7. Tewes, Ernst. Seelsorger bei den Soldaten: Erinnerungen an die Zeit von 1940 bis 1945. Don Bosco Verlag, Munich: 1984.
    This is a memoir of a Catholic chaplain who served in the medical corps and on the Eastern front. His experiences serve as the primary complement to Perau's.
  8. Wurth, Johannes. Priester im Dritten Reich: Erinnerungen eines Pfarrers. Stein-am-Rhein: Christina Verlag, 1992.
    This work is a memoir by a Catholic priest in German. It is arranged thematically and does not exactly date a number of the entries, although they can be determined within a month. This work was useful for comparison with the other Catholic priests mentioned above in terms of views on political and moral issues of the time.

Secondary Sources (back to top)

  1. Barnett, Victoria. For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.
    This work is one of a number that I used to provide background about the situation of the German churches in general, specifically the Confessing Church, as well as for information and references on chaplains. Her discussion of the dynamics and levels of resistance and opposition proved to be very useful.
  2. Bergen, Doris. "'Germany is our Mission - Christ is our Strength' The Wehrmacht Chaplaincy and the 'German Christian' Movement," Church History, 66/3 (September 1997), 522-36.
    This article is a detailed description of the German Christian movement's relationship to the German military chaplaincy. It uses primary sources frequently and effectively to demonstrate the depth of the connection, or at least desired connection between the two. It also describes in depth the policy of the German government and specifically the Nazi hierarchy and SS towards the German Christians and the churches in general. Many of my logistical facts and details about the chaplaincy are drawn from the article.
  3. Bergen, Doris. Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
    This book is a detailed and thematic treatment of the German Christian movement. It treats the doctrinal and physical aspects of the movement as well as its relation to and interactions with both the government and the other churches in Germany in the 1930s. It also has an exhaustive bibliography which led me to a number of useful primary sources including Perau and Schabel.
  4. Black, Monica A. "Gott Mit Uns: Perceptions of Death in the Wehrmacht" (Masters Thesis, University of Virginia, 2002).
    This is an unpublished masters thesis that pertains to how German soldiers perceived both the war and their motivations and views of dying in that war. It concludes that German soldiers mixed non-traditional Christian ideas and Nazi propaganda and saw themselves as sacrifices in a Christian manner.
  5. Conway, John S. The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-1945, New York: Basic Books, Inc, 1968.
    This book is an extensive study on the subject as it is very useful and cited by many of the other authors. It provides much of the background information for my paper and is very good on the topic of the MCA.
  6. Helmreich, Ernst Christian. The German Churches Under Hitler: Background, Struggle, and Epilogue. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1979.
    This book is an in-depth study that is quoted by many of the others for statistical purposes. It also gives background on the chaplains. While I found a number of books like this, this one appears to be the closest related to the topic of chaplains specifically. It addresses Church-state relations in Germany from the end of the First World War until the end of the Second World War with separate sections for Catholic and Protestant churches. It is very detailed and provides and excellent and cohesive picture of the churches in Germany during both the pre-war and wartime Nazi periods.
  7. Güsgen, Johannes. Die Katholische Militaerseelsorge in Deutschland zwischen 1920-1945: Ihre Praxis und Entwicklung in der Reichswehr der Weimarer Republik und der Wehrmacht Nazi Deutschlands unter Berücksichtigung ihrer Rolle bei der Reichskonkordatsverhandlungen. Cologne: Bohlau, 1989.
    This is a good history of the Catholic military chaplaincy that focuses primarily upon the pre-war period but also has a sizeable section that deals with the Second World War. For this section Güsgen utilized the accounts of Perau and Tewes as well as three other accounts by Catholic chaplains.
  8. Günter Lewy. The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1964.
    This book is a history of the Catholic Church in the Nazi period and is not as complete as Helmreich's work, but it has some items he does not. Specifically, this work details the negotiations leading up to and including the Concordat very well and also incorporates primary anecdotes and sources providing not only a general picture but also a more detailed account.
  9. May, Georg. Interkonfessionalismus in der deutschen Militärseelsorge von 1933 bis 1945. Amsterdam: Verlag B. R. Gruener, 1978.
    This is a fairly good history of the military chaplaincy in Germany during this period and provides good information for this topic, although its primary focus is interconfessionalism and as such it does leave some areas untouched. The writing style is rather dense, but it provides a good view of the finer points of the topic such as the organization of the chaplaincy.
  10. Schubel, Albrecht. 300 Jahre evangelische Soldatenseelsorge. Munich: Lucas Cranach Verlag, 1964.
    This history of the Protestant chaplaincy in Germany ranges, as the title suggests, from the seventeenth century to the present day. The entire second half of the book is dedicated to the chaplaincy in the Second World War. The treatment in on the whole thematic and detailed. This work is useful for a general perspective on the chaplaincy during the war as well as a key source for the pre-war period.

paper written by Andy Lewis, June 14, 2004, prepared for web by H. Marcuse, 6/15/04, updated 12/12/05
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