The Church Under and Against Hitler (3)

Field: Church History
Unit Code(s): CH3800T/CH3809T
Unit value: 18 points
Level: Undergraduate (3)
Delivery mode: Face-to-face and Online

One unit of Church History

Content: This unit will expose students to the conflict that arose between the Nazi regime and the German Protestant Churches (the Kirchenkampf - ‘Church Struggle’) in the early 1930s. Students will explore both the theological and political causes of the Church Struggle, the differing ways in which the Nazi government dealt with Protestants and Catholics, and the divisions that emerged within German Protestantism itself. By analyzing texts from, on the one hand, the German Christian movement and, on the other, the Confessing Church, students will assess theologically the ways in which both sides sought to justify their responses to Nazism. Finally, through critical study of the Barmen Declaration, students will be asked to consider the relevance of the Kirchenkampf for our own day. 
Learning Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:

  • identify the main causes of the German Kirchenkampf
  • describe some of the ways in which the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches in Germany responded to Nazism
  • articulate the key theological issues at stake
  • critically assess the actions and attitudes of the Confessing Church
  • analyse the Barmen Declaration and its ongoing influence.
  • 1,000-word document study (30%)
  • 3,000-word essay (50%)
  • tutorial presentation (face-to-face) OR forum (online) on one of the weekly topics, equivalent to 500 words (20%)
Recommended Reading:

*recommended for purchase

K. Barth, Theological Existence Today: A plea for theological freedom, trans. R. Birch Hoyle, (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1933).

D. Bergen, Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996).

J.S. Conway, The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933-1945, (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1968; repr. Regent College Publishing, 1997).

S. Heschel, The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010).

K. Scholder, The Churches and the Third Reich, 2 vols, (Fortress Press, 1988).

R. Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003; repr. 2005).

‘The Barmen Declaration’, (1934).