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The Catholic Church And Nazi Germany Paperback – February 4, 2000

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo ed edition (February 4, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306809311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306809316
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,007,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The tragic failure of the Catholic Church to live up to its moral canons in the confrontation with Nazism is traced in shattering detail in this disturbing book." -- The New York Review of Books

About the Author

Guenter Lewy left his native Germany in 1939 at the age of fifteen, emigrating to Palestine and then to the U.S. He has been on the faculties of Columbia University, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts and is the author of Religion and Revolution, America in Vietnam, The Cause That Failed, and The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
This book is a case study in the behavior of one group.
Douglas Hyden
This is a very interesting, accurate and informative read, albeit a little dry at times.
Captain Moderate
If I hear one more time that Pius XI or Cardinal Faulhaber defended Jews I will scream!
N. Ravitch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 66 people found the following review helpful By John Boland on September 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Having read, "Hitler's Pope" I eagerly grabbed Lewy's book as it became available. To my mind, it is far more scholarly than the former, and thus more convincing. Many of the criticisms leveled at "Hitler's Pope" will be undone by the new year 2000 release of Gunter Lewy's work. He has done his homework and it is painfully clear that "evil triumphs when good men do nothing." One watches the gradual trend from outright condemnation of Nazism by the German Catholic bishops, such as forbidding mutual membership in both th Nazi party and the Catholic church; forbidding the sacraments to Nazi party members; forbidding the wearing of the Nazi uniform in church, etc., to first softening their views, then allowing their protests to be couched in such ambiguous language as to have little effect, then accomodating portions of the Nazi program, then outright concluding an agreement between the Church and Reich. Pressure of the reality of the growing power of the Nazi regime, the desire of the Catholic laity to be both Catholic and Nazi (after all the Nazi party controlled their jobs and all of the societal institutions, in time), and the timorous hope of the Church that by accomodating the Reich, it might favorably influence the Reich toward a more humane perspective, all combined to give Hitler the sanction of the most widely recognized moral authority in the world. Frightening, to be sure.
One sees similar arguments in the recent agreement between the United States and Communist China. We expect to reform them, by getting into bed with them, so to speak. If "The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany" is any indication of how such accomodations work, they will do more to corrupt us than we do to reform them.
Worth reading. A bit difficult to read because of its very methodical scholarship, but compelling nevertheless.
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64 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Hyden on May 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Christian contribution and response to the actions of Nazi Germany, in particular the Holocaust, is perhaps the most apalling event in the history of Western civilization. One reads Mr. Lewy's contribution to Holocaust scholarship with an ever growing sense of rage. One's rage is not directed at the Catholic Church in particular, because there were no corporate heroes in this tragic episode. There were individual acts of heroism, to be sure, but at best the Church (and by Church, I mean Protestant as well as Catholic)is guilty of massive self-interest and moral cowardice. This book is a case study in the behavior of one group. A sense of fairness and dry scholarship pervades this book. One will not find diatribes here; neither will one find the selective omission of facts favorable to the church mentioned by one reviewer. One will find the facts laid out by someone who has bent over backward to give the benefit of the doubt but who has also laid out the case against the Church with the skill of a brilliant and experienced prosecutor. Only occasionally do his outrage and passion shine through, and then only in summary and conclusion paragraphs. Is the author fair? He is at pains to describe the persecution of the Catholic Church by the Nazis. He leaves no doubt that throughout the Nazi period, the very existence of the Church as a moral force was endangered by Nazi arrogance, contempt, deceit, and betrayal. The Church was, indeed, a wounded church, dealing from a position of weakness, not strength. And yet. In its zeal to protect the institution, the Church abandoned, perhaps forever, any claim it may have ever had to moral legitimacy (my claim, not Lewy's). Better for the German Catholic Church to have died a martyr's death than to live as Hitler's more or less willing pawn. People are more precious in God's sight than institutions.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Peter S. Bradley on July 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a difficult book to assess. This is the "go-to" book for the recent crop of Catholic-bashing authors. J.S. Conway's The Nazi Persecution of the Churches (1968) calls it "one-sided.") In addition, Lewy opens his book with a quotation from Rolf Hochhuth's "The Deputy." Since The Deputy is supposedly a work of fiction and was written as part of a Communist propaganda action against the Catholic Church, Lewy's ratification of Hochhuth's smear job is not a promising start for the integrity of his work.

On the other hand, for the first 90% of the book, I was impressed with the even-handedness of Lewy's presentation. Lewy presents the evidence pertaining to the interaction of the Nazis and the Catholic Church by presenting facts pertaining to both the Nazi persecution of the Catholic Church and the repeated calls of the Catholic hierarchy for solidarity and loyalty to the Nazi regime, even after and notwithstanding that persecution.

It is probably a sad commentary that what was considered one-sided in 1968 can be viewed as even-handed in 2014. Most people today start from the default position communicated by the Kultursmog that somehow the Catholic Church promoted the Nazis into the office of Chancellor. Books rarely mention the facts that Lewy offers up about the Catholic Church banning Nazi members from attending Mass and advising Catholics to vote for the Catholic Center Party and the Bavarian People's Party. Likewise, Lewy describes the arrest and imprisonment of Catholics, the banning of Catholic Center Party members from employment and the murder of prominent Catholics in 1935.
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