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Title: For Christ and Germany : German Catholicism and the Second World War
Author: Brodie, Thomas O.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 7743
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This dissertation examines the roles played by Catholicism on the German Home Front during the Second World War. It analyses to what extent German Catholics supported their nation’s war effort, and how they sought to reconcile their religious convictions with Nazism and its conduct of the conflict. The thesis examines the oscillations of morale within the Catholic ‘milieu’ during the war years, and analyses its responses to German defeats from 1943 onwards. In addition to these overtly political themes, this dissertation analyses the social history of religion during this period. In order to focus its analysis on a manageable scale, this thesis focuses on the experiences and activities of Catholics from the Rhineland and Westphalia. Its concluding chapter uses its findings concerning Catholicism during the war years to revise current understandings of the formation of a conservative ‘restoration’ in West Germany after May 1945. Many existing works concerning German Catholicism during this period provide a monolithic portrayal of the confession’s internal coherence, and domination of its adherents’ political beliefs. This thesis, by contrast, argues that profound divides existed amongst German Catholics during the Second World War. Younger clergymen were frequently more sympathetic to völkisch nationalism than their older colleagues, and desired a more pro-Nazi stance from the German episcopate. The Catholic laity, moreover, was similarly often frustrated by the conservatism of episcopal Neo-Scholastic theology, and wanted sermons and pastoral letters that would endorse the German war effort in more unambiguous terms. The war years witnessed a complex negotiation of religious, political and national loyalties amongst Catholic communities, ensuring the thesis provides a nuanced picture of the confession’s place in German society during this period.
Supervisor: Stargardt, Nicholas Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History ; Modern Britain and Europe ; History of the Third Reich