Catholics, Protestants And The Nazis
Hitler and the Christians, by Waldemar Gurian (Sheed and Ward, 5s.) Reviewed by OUR GERMAN CORRESPONDENT.
Born in St. Petersburg, Dr. Waldemar Gurian is an authority on Bolshevism. His main work Bolshevism: Theory and Practice was first published in 1931. Transla tions appeared in five languages. The English edition (Sheaf and Ward) was described by Mr. Middleton Murry as the best comprehensive study of its subject that has appeared in English; The Times Literary Supplement called it Head and shoulder above the bulk of anti-BolShevist literature.
Dr. Gurian used to play an important part in German Catholic journalism, An address which he delivered at a Congress of the Katholischer Akademiker-Verband (Association of Catholic University People) about the vocation of the Catholic writer became famous. Since 1934, he is living, like many of his colleagues, in exile.
A year ago, the Catholic Herald reviewed a remarkable neer booklet by Waldemar Gurian which was published in Switzerland and has since appeared in an English translation (The Future Of BOlshevistn, Sliced and Ward). It is a comparison between Russian Bolshevism and German Hitlerism and shows that red Bolshevism is in many respects already out-of-date and mainly dangerous for backward peoples, while National Socialism is a more modern and therefore more dangerous form of Bolshevism for nations which claim to be in the front • ranks of civilisation.
Gurian's new book Hitler and the Christians should be read by all those who are interested in the religious and philosophical struggles of the Third -Reich. The author take-us behind the scene and gives us an authoritative interpretation of what is going on beyond the Rhine.
For 400 years, the German-speaking peoples have been split into two portions almost equally large: Catholics and Protestants. The tragical cleavage has made impossible the realization of that German unity of which poets, philosophers and romantic statesmen have been dreaming all through the centuries. National Socialism is a desperate answer to that longing for unity. It means the totalitarian diminu tion of a political power. It recognizes nothing beyond political values and has no use for true religion.
In dealing with the two Christian confessions, the Nazis are, however, anxious to avoid frontal attacks which would give the impression that Christianity is to be exterminated and which would automatically bring about a united resistance. The Churches are not to be destroyed, but to be degraded to simple instruments of the rul
ing'class. The fight is carried through elder the .pretext that pure religion must be protected against political abuse by the clergy.
Hitler and the Christians gives the historical and philosophical background which is necessary to understand the German Church struggle. Gurian gives also a survey of the most outstanding facts, both in the Catholic and in the Protestant front. The danger of over-estimating certain movements and tendencies and of under-estimating others is obviously great for any observer. Gurian is one of the few people who arc able to give a well-balanced judgment.
The first forty pages of the book provide an historical introduction under the head ings The Christian Creeds and the German Nation and The Christian Creeds under the Republican Regime. Then comes the most important chapter, entitled The Third Church as the completion of the Third Reich. The following two chapters are naturally the longest ones and tell the story of the Protestant and the Catholic Church struggle respectively. A final chapter called The Outlook and a very valuable Chronolugii.a! Table of Events conclude the volume.
Gurian's language is not easy to translate, but on the whole the translator (E. F. Peeler) must be congratulated on his or her remarkable .achievement.