The National and International Church: National Socialism, German Protestantism, and the Watching World
The German Protestant Church Struggle was an international story. German Protestants were leading participants in international Protestantism, and the global ecumenical community took keen interest in German church affairs under National Socialism. International concerns affected German state church policies, and international Protestant interventions proved effective in the early years of the Third Reich. This dissertation considers the complicated interplay of German Protestantism, international Protestantism, and the National Socialist state from 1933-1937. The following examination incorporates analysis of a broad cross section of German Protestant groups, the German state, and global Protestantism to demonstrate the impact of international Protestant concern on German domestic church politics. It employs a strict chronological approach in order to demonstrate the dynamic nature of church/state relations in Nazi Germany, which were neither monolithic nor static. It considers German Protestant minorities alongside the state-supported churches in order to make sense of the government’s conflicting attitudes towards global Protestantism. World Protestantism exerted significant influence on the German state’s church policy considerations and the agency of German Protestants from Hitler’s accession to power until reaching a zenith of influence in the autumn of 1934. After a shift in state church policy in 1935, global Protestant interventions carried diminishing weight until the state-mandated withdrawal of German Protestants from ecumenical engagement in 1937.