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Defending the FaithGlobal Histories of Apologetics and Politics in the Twentieth Century$
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Todd Weir and Hugh McLeod

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266915

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266915.001.0001

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Between Rome and the Godless: Martin Niemöller’s Apologetic Moves, 1930–50

Between Rome and the Godless: Martin Niemöller’s Apologetic Moves, 1930–50

(p.74) 4 Between Rome and the Godless: Martin Niemöller’s Apologetic Moves, 1930–50
Defending the Faith

Benjamin Ziemann

British Academy

Martin Niemöller’s apologetic interventions from the late 1920s to the early 1950s reveal a complicated trajectory. He stood at the front line of the Protestant struggle against aggressive secularism in Weimar Germany. After the Nazis seized power in 1933, Niemöller quickly emerged as the figurehead of attempts to defend the dogmatic integrity of the Protestant churches, yet also maintained the conversation with the German Christians in a common front against the ‘godless’ Bolsheviks and Freethinkers. After he had seriously contemplated converting to the Roman Catholic Church from 1939 to early 1941, he returned to a combative assertion of his Protestant identity vis-à-vis the Catholics in the early Federal Republic. Overall, the chapter argues that the dynamics of the religious field during the Third Reich are best understood as an intensification.

Keywords:   Confessing Church, Church Struggle, anti-Catholicism, secularization, confessional divide, Martin Niemöller

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