EFFORT TO SAVE WORKERS' UNIONS
From Our German Correspondent There was once a strong Christian labour Inovement in Germany. It counted more than a million members. From all coun'ries of the world visitors, came to its headquarters to study the different organiealions and their achievements. Christian trade unions. Catholic workers unions. youth associations. the Kolping Society, co-operatives, study houses and holiday centres. social institutions of every descripilin, the Christian labour relief and so on were flourishing and exercising a considerable influence. Sonic leaders were sitting in the Reichstag. in territorial parliaments and in the National Economic Council. Others had become cabinet ministers. governors of provinces and police presidents.
4' Ketteter Unions"
Of all this. nothing has survived except the Catholic workers unions ( A rbeitervere ine). They are still existing. but their woik had to be reduced to strictly religious actisities. Outlawed by nazi authorities. threatened every day with violent diseolu• tiorn the are doubtful what their future may be.
But their members believe firmly that they have. in spite of all difficulties, a great miseion to fulfil. This mission appears to titem in a speeial light in the numerous workers' pilgrimages which lead to Mainz to the tomb of the great pioneer of Catholic social action. Bishop leetteler.
More and more workers' unions change their names and call themselves Ketteler
Unions. Their most important weekly, the 144eirdeurec.he A rbeiterzeitung (West Cierinan Labour Weekly) has been rechristened Kerteler-Wacht. This paper has, in spite of all persecutions. still a circulation of 144.000.
The conflict between nazis and Cafficlics about the workers' unions is almost two years old: the German Labour Front claims to be the only German workers' organization. whereas Catholics point out that their workers' unions belong to those associations whose existence has been solemnly guaranteed by the concordat.
Dr. Ley. leader of the Labour Front. has long ago issued a decree forbidding workers to he at the same time members of it and of a denominational association. As the membership card of the Labour Front is indispensable for anybody who does not want to lose his job or who wants to get one, that ordinance was meant to ruin the Catholic organizations.
As a matter of fact it has only worked in a few places. Catholic workers simply continued to belong to both groups, and some bishops even formally asked them to pay no attention to that decree whieh is aeoinst the concordat and therefore unlawful.
Bishops' Declaration But a new campaign against the Catholic woreers' unions has been started, and Dr. Ley has ordered his decree to be enforced everywhere. So the hierarchy has been
compelled to issue a declaration. This declaration cannot be published in the daily press or in the religious weeklies: it is simple communicated to the clergy who are askedto make it known to Catholic workers in their parishes. So farothat has been done in the archdioceses orMunieh. Bamberg and Breslau,
The declaration relates the negotiations which have taken place between the hierarchy and the state and party authorities. arid protests against Dr. Ley's decree.
" In the eyes of the bishops Al i5 a
serious injustice to effuse the members of Catholic unions. became of their faithfulness to the church and to the or
gankations recognized by the Church,
those rights of honour and those eco
'monk rights which are given other frzem
hers of the Gernutn Labour Front."
The bishops also protest against Dr. Ley's proclamation that the workers' education must exclusively belong to the Labour Front. In order to refute definitely the statement that the Catholic workers' unions are bodies belonging to the dissolved Centre party, the bishops say authoritatively that the object of the uniors is religious. educational and charitable only and that any political or trade union activity is strictly excluded. There is no fustification at all, says the declaration, for forbidding double membership in the Labour Front and in a Catholic union.
1 or future negotiations for the settlement of these difficulties, the bishops demand that the property of the Catholic -corkers' unions be respected and that the
_ Labour Front be forbidden to ask of Catholic workers anything incompatible with their religious and moral beliefs. They demand, too, that meetings of the Catholic workers' unions shall be protected against terrorist disturbers.
But in spite of the endeavours of the hierarchy it seems rather doubtful whether the existence of the Catholic workers' unions, even in their purely religious form. can be maintained.