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Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich

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Twisted Cross German Christian Movement

Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich

The relationship between Christianity and Nazism has long been a subject of debate. On the one hand, the principles of Christianity would seem to be opposed to Nazism and should cause Christians to fight it; on the other hand, millions of German Christians went along with Nazism and some even cooperated eagerly. What happened?


Title: Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich
Author: Doris L. Bergen
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
ISBN: 0807845604

•  Sheds light on a little-known aspect of Nazi Germany - with many photographs
•  Describes the process by which Christianity can become twisted and evil
•  Provides reasons to be skeptical of any innate “goodness” in religion or Christianity.

•  Too few people will end up reading this

•  History of the “German Christians” who sought to blend Christianity with Nazism
•  Argues that German Christians played an important role in Nazi Germany
•  Explains how the accommodated Christian doctrines to Nazi ideology


Book Review

In fact, not all Christians in Germany actually believed that Nazism and Christianity contradicted one another. Many did, it is true, and many top Nazis also believed the two to be incompatible. There was, however, a large and committed group of Christians who regarded Nazi ideology as something of a modern fulfillment of Christian expectations. How and why this was so is the subject of Doris L. Bergen‘s fascinating book Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich.

Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bergen focuses on the “German Christians,” a movement of over a half million Germans all over the country who held key positions in the government or Protestant churches. They influenced the course of German policy as well as the development of Christian education and ministry within Germany, attempting to blend Nazism and Christianity into a unified whole.

How and why this occurred is a vital question that should be of great concern to religious believers generally and Christians in particular. As Bergen asks early on, “What is the value of religion, and in particular of Christianity, if it provides no defense against brutality and can even become a willing participant in genocide?” In fact, as Bergen herself explains, Christianity has always been a willing participant in the affairs of state, assisting those with power:

    “The history of Christianity could be seen as a series of...accommodations and mergers, involving groups as divergent as the Roman imperial elites and the indigenous peoples of the Americas.”
Twisted Cross German Christian Movement

Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich

It was not, however, a movement driven by a desire for personal, political, or social advancement. Because many Nazis leaders were contemptuous of the Christianity of the day, they did not always harbor positive feelings towards the German Christian movement. People who sought advancement could find a much easier route without promoting their connections to a Protestant church; those who did, did so out of devotion to a cause and a conviction about the righteousness of their goals.

How did they try to unite Christianity with Nazism?

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