Third Reich

Table of Contents

The following review quote is from The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William A Shirer. On the 1st of July 1937, Doctor Niemoeller was arrested and confined to Moabit Prison in Berlin. On June 27, he had preached to the congregation which always overflowed his church at Dahlem, what was to be his last sermon in the Third Reich. As if he had a foreboding of what was to come he said, “We have no more thought of using our own powers to escape the arm of the authorities than had the apostles of old. No more are we ready to keep silent at man’s behest when God commands us to speak. For it is, and must remain the case that we must obey God rather than man.”

After 8 months in prison, he was tried on March 2nd 1938, before a Sondergericht, one of the “Special Courts” set up by the Nazis to try offenders against the state, and though acquitted of the main charge of “underhand attacks against the state” was fined 2000 marks and sentenced to seven months imprisonment for “abuse of the pulpit” and holding collections in his church. Since he had served more than his time, the court ordered his release, but he was seized by the Gestapo as he was leaving the courtroom, placed in “protective custody” and confined in concentration camps. first at Sachsenhausen and then at Dachau, where he remained for seven years until liberated by Allied troops.

Some 807 other pastors and leading layman of the “Confessional Church” were arrested in 1937, and hundreds more in the next couple of years. If the resistance of the wing of the church was not completely broken it was certainly bent. As for the majority of protestant pastors, they like almost everyone else in Germany, submitted in the face of Nazi terror. It would be misleading to give the impression that the persecution of protestants and Catholics by the Nazi state tore the German people asunder or even greatly aroused the vast majority of them. It did not. A people who had so lightly given up their political and cultural and economic freedoms were not, except for relatively few, going to die or even risk imprisonment to preserve freedom of worship. Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. More information can be found at


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