Michael von Faulhaber

Michael von Faulhaber
Michael von Faulhaber
Cardinal-Priest of S. Anastasia

Cardinal von Faulhaber in 1931
Appointed 7 March 1921
Enthroned 7 March 1921
Reign ended 12 June 1952
Predecessor Andrea Carlo Ferrari
Successor James Francis Aloysius McIntyre
Other posts Bishop of Speyer (1910-1917)
Archbishop of München und Freising
Ordination 1 August 1910
Consecration 19 February 1911
by Franziskus von Bettinger
Created Cardinal 7 March 1921
Personal details
Birth name Michael von Faulhaber
Born 5 March 1869(1869-03-05)
Klosterheidenfeld, Unterfranken, Germany
Died 12 June 1952(1952-06-12) (aged 83)
Munich, Germany
Nationality German
Denomination Roman Catholic
Memorial stone of von Faulhaber in the Munich Frauenkirche.

Michael von Faulhaber (born 5 March 1869, Klosterheidenfeld, Unterfranken — died 12 June 1952, Munich) was a Roman Catholic Cardinal who was Archbishop of Munich for 35 years, from 1917 to his death in 1952.


Early life and ordination

In 1916 he won the Iron Cross (as the first clergyman in the German Empire) at the Western Front for his frontline support of troops by acting as a military chaplain.[1] He presided as Archbishop of Munchen and Freising, in Munich, from 1917 until his death in 1952 - despite the historical importance of the ecclesiastical centre of Freising, the archdiocesan administrative complex was located in the heart of Munich, in the shadow of the Munich Frauenkirche.[2] In 1921 he became a Cardinal, with the title of Cardinal-Priest of Santa Anastasia, and at his death was the last surviving Cardinal appointed by Pope Benedict XV.

Faulhaber served as a priest in Würzburg from 1892 until 1910 when he was appointed Bishop of Speyer, serving there for six years. His studies included a specialisation in the early Christian writer, Tertullian. From 1925 to 1928 Faulhaber was a member in the International Catholic League against Antisemitism and Racism Amici Israël, in which many Jewish converts to Roman Catholicism (priests, sisters, monks) took membership.[3][4] He supported the group by distributing its writings, saying "we must ensure wide distribution of the writings of the Amici Israel" and admonishing preachers to steer clear of any statements that "might sound in any way anti-Semitic."[4]

Faulhaber and the Nazi Party

Faulhaber is sometimes noted as a vocal opponent of the Nazis,[1][5][6][7] and sometimes as something more ambivalent.[8] His books were banned in Germany[citation needed] and there were two attempts on his life, in 1934 and 1938.[9]

Faulhaber was a key figure in the negotiations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Hitler regime and is often cited in works dealing with the Roman Catholic Church and the Nazi state.

Rise of the Nazi Party

Faulhaber, disgusted by Nazi totalitarianism, neopaganism, and racism, contributed to the failure of Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch and the Nazis indeed blamed him for this failure followed by protests against Faulhaber, as well as the Pope, for an entire weekend.[7][10] In 1923 Faulhaber declared in a sermon that every human life was precious, including that of a Jew.[11] When the Nuncio wrote to Rome in 1923 complaining about the persecution of Catholics, commented that "The attacks were especially focused on this learned and zealous" Faulhaber, who in his sermon and correspondence "had denounced the persecutions against the Jews."[6][10]

In February 1924 Faulhaber spoke of Hitler and his movement to a meeting of Roman Catholic students and academicians in Munich.[12] He spoke of the "originally pure spring" that had been "poisoned by later tributaries and by Kulturkampf." but Hitler, he asserted, knew better than his minions and that the resurrection of Germany would require the help of Christianity.[12] During the run up to the elections of March 1933 Faulhaber, unlike several other bishops who endorsed the Roman Catholic Centre party, refrained from any comment in his pastoral letter issued on February 10. The book of a Catholic author issued later in the year attributed the losses incurred by the Roman Catholic Bavarian People's Party to the neutral position adopted by Faulhaber by asking "Had the Cardinal not indirectly pointed out the path to be followed in the future?"[13] And after the April 1, 1933 boycott of Jewish-owned-and-operated stores Cardinal Pacelli received a letter from Faulhaber explaining why the Church would not intervene to protect Jews;- "This is not possible at this time because the struggle against the Jews would at the same time become a struggle against Catholics and because the Jews can help themselves as the sudden end of the boycott shows." [14]

In December 1933, Faulhaber's Advent sermons were given in St. Michael's, the largest church in Munich, - though crowds were so great that both the neighbouring churches, the Studienkirche and Bürgersaal, had to be connected by loudspeakers.[15] In the sermons Faulhaber declared that he could not remain silent against attacks on, "the sacred books of the Old Testament [-] When racial research, in itself not a religious matter, attacks the foundations of Christianity." He argued: "After the death of Christ Israel was dismissed from the service of Revelation [-] She had repudiated and rejected the Lord's Anointed, had driven Him out of the city and nailed Him to the Cross." Acceptance of the Old Testament did not mean Christianity was " a Jewish religion. These books were not composed by Jews;they are inspired by the Holy Ghost - Antagonism to the Jews of today must not be extended to the books of pre-Christian Judaism."[16] The packed sermons had been attended by both Protestants and Jews, as well as Catholics,[17] and Munich rabbi Leo Baerwald was encouraged by the sermons, "even though the cardinal had neither commented on Nazi antisemitism nor broken with the ancient Christian idea of a curse on the Jewish people."[18]

Historian Michael Phayer notes that unlike some clerics in Hungary and Croatia, "most German bishops were not mean-spirited toward Jews", and Faulhaber exhibited "typical Christian antisemitism, but it was not Nazi antisemitism." [18] Phayer noted that Faulhaber did not condone Nazi anti-semitism as he was the primary drafter of Mit Brennender Sorge which denounced racism.[18]

Faulhaber's sermons were published week by week during Advent by A. Huber, Munich. The book of sermons was subsequently banned by the Nazis.[citation needed]

Faulhaber on Persecution of Jews

In Faulhaber's sermons of Advent 1933 he defended the Old Testament against Nazi anti-semitic readings, especially those advanced by Nazi theorist Alfred Rosenberg.[19] He admonished, "God always punishes the tormentors of his Chosen People, the Jews."[19] He also noted: "No Roman Catholic approves of the persecutions of Jews in Germany."[20]

In early 1933 the Nazis began an orchestrated boycott of Jewish businesses. German bishops discussed possible responses against these measures but Faulhaber was of the opinion it would only make matters worse.[21] In a communication to Cardinal Pacelli he explained that "the struggle against the Jews would then, at the same time, become a struggle against the Catholics, and because "the Jews can help themselves".[22] At a meeting of the Bavarian Council of Ministers on 24 April 1933, shortly after the boycott, the Premier was able to report "that Cardinal Faulhaber had issued an order to the clergy to support the new regime in which he (Faulhaber) had confidence" [parentheses in original]. [1] According to Saul Friedländer:

:The 1933 boycott of Jewish businesses was the first major test on a national scale of the attitude of the Christian churches toward the situation of the Jews under the new government. In historian Klaus Scholder's words, during the decisive days around the first of April, no bishop, no church dignitaries, no synod made any open declaration against the persecution of the Jews in Germany.[2]

In a letter to Pacelli in the early 1930s Faulhaber referred to the Nazi persecution of Jews as "unjust and painful".[23] During Advent 1933 Faulhaber preached five sermons that Scholder describes as "being not directed against the practical, political anti-Semitism of the time, but against its principle, the racial anti-Semitism that was attempting to enter the [Roman Catholic] Church."[24] Saul Friedlander notes that Faulhaber himself later stressed he was not in these sermons "commentating on contemporary aspects of the Jewish issue."[25] Friedlander notes that these sermons employed some of the more common stereotypical depictions of traditional religious anti-Semitism: "The daughters of Zion received their bill of divorce and from that time forth, Ahasuerus wanders, forever restless, over the face of the earth."[25] In his December 17 Advent sermon Faulhaber spoke to the "People of Israel" about the "Old Testament" and declared "This treasure did not grow in your own garden...this condemnation of usurious land-grabbing; this war against the oppression of the farmer by debt, this prohibition of usury, is certainly not the product of your spirit!".[26] Guenter Lewy concludes: "It, therefore, is little short of falsification of history when Faulhaber's sermons in 1933 are hailed by one recent Catholic writer [Yves Congar] as a 'condemnation of the persecution of Jews.'"[27]

In November 1941 a small group of German Roman Catholic bishops drafted pastoral letter that proposed to protest against hostile measures taken against the church by the Nazi regime.[28] The proposed letter didn't mention the Jews. Saul Friedlander sees this lack of willingness to a public stand to the growing awareness of the mass exterminations in the East as being calculated because Faulhaber recorded in a memo his thoughts as to the proposed letter contents and his belief that raising "the Jewish question" and other matters would hurt the reputation of the German people and it's government.[28] In his New Year's Eve sermon in 1938, two months after the pogrom against the Jews and the burning of the synagogues Faulhaber commented: "That is one advantage of our time; in the highest office of the Reich we have the example of a simple and modest alcohol-and nicotine-free way of life."[29] Also in 1938 the Nazis raided and turned upside down Faulhaber's office.[6] During Kristalnacht he provided the Chief Rabbi of Munich a truck to save the synagogue's possessions before it was destroyed.[30] Pinchas Lapide opined that Faulhaber "preached half-heartedly against the desecration of Jewish prayer-houses" and objects that the truck was only provided at the behest of the pope.[31] Martin Rhonheimer, who, although he notes that Faulhaber "had long been know as a friend of the Jews", wrote of Faulhaber's Advent sermons “It is clear that Faulhaber's steadfast opposition to Nazi racial theories was never intended as a defence of post-Christian Jewry or of his Jewish fellow citizens against their persecutors.”[32] Despite Rhonheimer and Lapide's objection to the speeches as half-hearted, they nonetheless resulted in the arrival of uniformed Nazis at Faulhaber's home, shouting "Take the traitor to Dachau!" and breaking his shutters and window frames.[6]

Racial theory

The writer Sidney Ehler has written that Faulhaber's series of sermons in December 1933, condemned "the fundamental errors contained in the racial theory and its 'German Christian' offshot."[33] And Ronald Rychlak has averred that Faulhaber defended the principles of racial tolerance and instructed Germans to respect Judaism.[34] The Nazis took objection to these sermons and his palace was fired upon.[35] Martin Neimoller, the Protestant clergyman who spent seven years in concentration camps for resistance, said Faulhaber's semons demonstrated that he was a "great and courageous man"[36]

Some historians, while granting that Faulhaber objected to Nazi racism assert that he insufficiently objected to anti-semitism, asserting that he merely defended Judaism and the Old Testament, not sufficiently Jews themselves. Such historians have noted qualifying comments in his sermons regarding the acceptability of a "community of blood:: "Blood and race...have participated in the shaping of German history."[37] In August 1934 the Prague Socialist newspaper Sozialdemokrat carried what Pinchas Lapide considers a mistaken report that Faulhaber had preached against racism which was copied by several Swiss newspapers.[26] Lapide says Faulhaber immediately cabled the newspaper Basler Nationalzeitung "Faulhaber sermon against racism never held. Request denial of false report."[26] On the following day he wrote to Hitler's Minister of the Interior:

It is urgent that the public sale of such a heinous article, which is based on a Marxist forgery, be forbidden by the police and that the public be swiftly enlightened about this shameless lie."[26]

Lapide also notes, when the World Jewish Council heard of the supposed preaching of Faulhaber they sent a communication to him thanking him for his courageous words.[26] Faulhaber wrote back to them "protesting vigorously against the very mention of his name at a conference which demands a commercial boycott against Germany.[26] The cardinal also stated "in his Advent sermons of the previous year has defended the Old Testament of the children of Israel but not taken a position with regard to the Jewish question of today."[27]

In 1935, Nazis called for Faulhaber to be killed.[30] In 1936, Nazi police seized and destroyed one of his semons, and did the same two times in 1937.[6]

Faulhaber was a major contributor to the only Papal encyclical ever written in German (in the hopes of having a greater impact on the offenders), Mit brennender Sorge.[38] Faulhaber spent three nights working a draft which condemned the Nazi's idolization of race and state.[38] The encyclical sought to undercut the Nazi's attempt to alter Christianity to support racism: "The culmination of Revelation in the Gospel of Jesus Christ is final, is binding forever. This revelation has no room for addenda made by human hand, still less for an ersatz or substitute religion based on arbitrary revelations, which some contemporary advocates wish to derive from the so-called myth of blood and race." [19] One historian praised Faulhaber as "one of the most fearless" German churchmen who in pastoral letters and sermons "denounced in no uncertain terms the treatment of Jews, the theories of German christians, and various actions of the Nazis" and that he noted the "debt of Christianity to the Jews".[39]

Rabbi David G. Dalin has described him as "a famous opponent of the Nazis". [3] One historian of modern Germany described him as "the most articulate anti-Nazi in the Catholic hierarchy".[5] Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, a noted American voice for the Jewish cause during the war, called Faulhaber "a true Christian prelate", saying he tried to protect Jews when he "had lifted his fearless voice".[6]

Relations with Hitler

Faulhaber had a difficult relationship with Hitler's regime and it was worsened due to the Papal encyclical Mit Brenender Sorge which criticised the Nazis and was largely written by Faulhaber.[40] Faulhaber condemned Nazi ideology, most notably in his Advent sermons of 1933.[41] When the Nazis tried to appoint two Nazi party members to the University of Munich's faculty of Catholic theology, Faulhaber vetoed the appointments, ultimately leading the Nazis to shut down the University's faculty of Catholic theology.[42] Faulhaber rejected Hitler's concept of nationalism and the Nazi idea that serving Hitler and serving Germany meant serving God.[43] The Nazis tried to intimidate him, attacking his home and trying to set if afire and calling him "the friend of the Jews", but Faulhaber would not be intimidated so they set about to lessen the influence of the Church, including by actions such as removing crucifixes from schools and even banning some students from making the sign of the cross.[43]

Pinchas Lapide wrote that Faulhaber, in common with virtually all the German episcopacy, assured Hitler of their sincere cooperation.[26] On April 24, 1933 the Premier reported to the Bavarian Council of Ministers that Faulhaber had issued an order to the clergy to support the new Nazi regime in which Faulhaber had confidence.[44] On the 12th March 1933 the Faulhaber was received by Pope Pius XI in Rome. On his return he reported:

After my recent experience in Rome in the highest circles, which I cannot reveal here, I must say that I found, despite everything, a greater tolerance with regard to the new government...Let us meditate on the words of the Holy Father, who in a consistory, without mentioning his name, indicated before the whole world in Adolf Hitler the statesmen who first, after the Pope himself, has raised his voice against Bolshevism[45]

After the signing of the Concordat between the Nazi regime and the Roman Catholic Church in 1933 Faulhaber sent a note of congratulations to Hitler:

What the old parliaments and parties did not accomplish in 60 years, your statesmanlike forsight has achieved in six months. For Germany's prestige in East and West and before the whole world this handshake with the Papacy, the greatest moral power in the history of the world, is feat of immeasurable blessing.[46]

Faulhaber ended his note with a wish "coming from the bottom of my heart: May God preserve the Reich Chancellor for our people."[46] In June 1936 the German press reported the case of a Swiss Roman Catholic who prayed for the death of Hitler and by extension accused all Catholics of sharing a similar inclination towards sedition. Faulhaber responded in a sermon: A lunatic abroad has had an attack of madness - does this justify wholesale suspicion of the German Catholics? You are all witnesses for the fact that on all Sundays and holidays at the main service we pray in all churches for the Führer as we have promised in the Concordat. And now one can read in big letters of the papers at the street corners, "They pray for Hitler's death!" We feel offended on account of this questioning of our loyalty to the state. We will today give an answer, a Christian answer: Catholic men, we will now pray together a paternoster for the life of the Führer. This is our answer.[47]

In August 1936, the German bishops met for their annual conference, at Fulda. Discussion of the Spanish Civil War dominated the proceedings. The German bishops fundamentally accepted the Nazi presentatiion of the role of Bolsheviks in this war - Goebbels's propaganda ministry instructed reporters to call the Republicans simply the Bolsheviks - and in a letter the joint episcopacy stated ; " German unity should not be sacrificed to religious antagonism, quarrels, contempt and struggles. Rather our national power of resistance must be increased and strengthened so that not only may Europe be freed from Bolshevism by us, but also that the whole civilized world may be indebted to us." Nuncio Cesrae Orsenigo arranged for Faulhaber to have a private meeting with Hitler. On November 4, 1936, Faulhaber travelled to Hitler's mountain retreat near Berchtesgaden. According to Michael Burleigh's account of this meeting, Hitler dominated the conversation, expressing his disappointment in the Church's response to Nazi actions and dismissing the Reich's attacks on the Church - the meeting sputtering out in a reciprocal lack of understanding.[48] Historian Beth Griech-Polelle however, delivers a quite different account in which, according to Faulhaber's account, early tension eased as the meeting progressed and that when Hitler had argued his goal was to protect the German people from congenitally afflicted criminals such as now wreak havoc in Spain Faulhaber had immediately replied : " The Church, Mr Chancellor, will not refuse the state the right to keep those pests away from the national community within the framework of moral law." On November 18 Faulhaber met with leading members of the German hierarchy of cardinals to ask them to warn their parishioners against the errors of communism. On November 19, Pius XI announced that communism had moved to the head of the list of "errors" and that a clear statement was needed. On November 25 Faulhaber informed the Bavarian bishops that he had promised Hitler that the bishops would issue a new pastoral letter in which they condemned "Bolshevism which represents the greatest danger for the peace of Europe and the Christian civilization of our country." "To Faulhaber's mind, much like Bishop Galen's, the two approaches of pontiff and Fuhrer were not incompatible." [49] In addition, Faulhaber stated, the pastoral letter " will once again affirm our loyalty and positive attitude, demanded by the Fourth Commandment, toward todays form of government and the Führer. " [50]

When the timetable for this announcement fell through - suppressed for its reference to state violations against the Reich-Vatican Concordat - Faulhaber set to work on another draft that he submitted to the German bishops. On December 24, 1936 the German joint hierarchy ordered its priests to read the pastoral letter entitled On the Defense against Bolshevism, from all their pulpits on January 3, 1937. "The pastoral letter's text revealed the capitulation of Faulhaber to Hitler's wishes : "Bolshevism has begun its march from Russia to the countries of Europe..the fateful hour has come for our nation and for the Christian culture of the Western world ...the Fuhrer and Chancellor Adolf Hitler saw the march of Bolshevism from afar and turned his mind and energies towards averting this enormous danger.. The German bishops consider it their duty to do their utmost to support the leader of the Reich with every available means in this defense" "The bishops also warned Catholics they should not fall into discontent, as " such a mood has always provided fertile soil for Bolshevik sentiments." [51]

Some modern critics have painted the meeting as a failure on Faulhaber's part with regard to Jews. Michael Phayer, however, notes that Saul Friedlander, based on the what Phayer calls the "distorted" work of Ernst Klee, "tenuously links" Faulhaber with Nazi racism, but his own analysis of the text of Faulhabers notes of the meeting leads him to reject this suggestion.[52] Phayer observes that the meeting was not about Jews but about church-state relations.[53]

In his notes on the November 1936 meeting Faulhaber recorded that Hitler "spoke openly, confidentially, emotionally, at times in a spiritual way he lashed out at Bolshevism and at the Jews" saying 'How the sub-humans, incited by the Jews, created havoc in Spain like beasts." Faulhaber noted "on this he was well informed....He would not miss the historical moment." Faulhaber recalled to Hitler how he had been present when Pope Pius XI said that Hitler was the first statesman who had agreed with the Pope about the danger of Bolshevism.[54] Friedlander comments that Faulhaber seemed to agree with Hitler's points by noting Faulhabers comments "All of this was expressed by Hitler in a moving way in his great speech at the Nuremberg Party rally".[55] Hitler discussed with Faulhaber tensions between the Church and Party:

Think about all this, Cardinal, and consult with other leaders of the Church how you can support the great undertaking of National Socialism to prevent the victory of Bolshevism and how you can achieve a peaceful relationship to the state. Either National Socialism and the church are both victorious or they perish together. Rest assured, I shall do away with all these small things that stand in the way of a harmonious co-operation....I do not wish to engage in horse trading. You know I am opposed to compromises, but let this be a last attempt.[56]

Faulhaber was impressed by Hitler, writing "[the Fuhrer] is in better command of diplomatic and social etiquette than a born sovereign" speaking also of Hitler's "simplicity of manner"[56] He left the meeting convinced that "Hitler was deeply religious" and that 'The Reich Chancellor undoubtedly lives in belief in God..He recognises Christianity as the builder of Western culture".[57] Following this meeting the German bishops issued a pastoral letter condemning Bolshevism but also making mention of current problems and complaints of the Church. It was for the latter reason the Nazis suppressed the letter.[58] Faulhaber wrote a revised version. It stated the duty of the German bishops to support Hitler by all means at the disposal of the Church and that repelling the Bolshevik threat was a religious task though a call for a new war was not stated as it fell within the political realm [59] The letter pointed out that the Church's support for the Nazi battle against Bolshevism would be more effective if the Church were to enjoy the freedoms guaranteed by divine law and the Concordat.[60] Lewy asserts that the letter fulfilled the bishops share of the bargain made with Hitler by declaring their support for Hitler's foreign policy and by encouraging the Roman Catholic laity to have confidence in Hitlers leadership.[60] However, in his opinion Hitler never kept his part of the "quid pro quo" as the Nazis were unsympathetic to the Church's desire for Catholic organisations and schools outside the direct control of the Nazis.[60] He also notes Faulhabers remarks to the German bishops that the comments of "emigrants" regarding this pastoral letter were of no consequence ("we do not care a wrap") and that they all knew who the "emigrants"referred to were. In Lewy's opinion Faulhaber is referring to Catholics who had left Germany[59] The Dutch Roman Catholic newspaper "Der Deutcsche Weg" expressed disappointment of the pastoral letter:

We find it hard to understand that despite the events of June 30, despite the inhuman brutalities perpetrated in concentration camps, despite the currency and defamation trials, despite the the [sic?] personal insults against individual princes of the Church, against the Holy Father and the entire Church, and in spite of all the hostile measures amounting to another kulturkampf...the bishops find words of appreciation for what (next to Bolshevism) is their worst enemy".[61]

The French Roman Catholic anti-Nazi newspaper Kulturkampf asserted that "if the Nazis would only stop their attacks against the Church, National socialism and the German Catholics could again be allies.[61] Paul Johnson describes Faulhaber as sharing in a common illusion of German Christians of a distinction between the Fuhrer, whom he thought was well intentioned, and a certain number of Hitler's "evil associates".[62] After a plot had been uncovered to assassinate Hitler in 1943 Fulhaber was questioned by the Gestapo over his contacts with Carl Goerdeler who was involved with the generals plan.[63] he was said to have vigorously condemned the assassination plot and to have affirmed his loyalty to the Führer.[64]

Faulhaber Defending the Church Against Nazis

In June 1933 Faulhaber complained to Hitler about acts of violence against Roman Catholic journeymen that had taken place in Munich and the arrest of almost one hundred priests[65] He protested that the religious freedom of the church could be threatened by such acts even though the Church had made public expressions of loyalty to the state and a willingness to participate in it.[66] Later in the year he complained also to the Bavarian State Chancellery about curbs introduced by the new regime.[67] In June 1937 he condemned the arrest of the Jesuit priest Rupert Mayer during a sermon.[68] The Roman Catholic Church opposed then, as now, sterilization. When the Nazis proposed introducing compulsory sterilization of people afflicted with certain diseases or disabilities in January 1934 he protested.[69] The German Bishops asked that Roman Catholics in relevant occupations should not be forced to act against their conscience and Church teachings.[69] The Nazis were hostile to the perceived criticism of the German bishops and accused them of encouraging disobedience.[70] Faulhaber responded by asserting:

The bishops repeatedly and in no uncertain terms have declared their willingness to promote the peaceful cooperation of the Church and State. However, in those questions where a law of state conflicts with an eternal command of God, the bishops cannot through silence betray their holy office.[70]

In September 1939 Hitler issued an order that sanctioned the killing of people with incurable diseases. Euthanasia was, and still is, against Church teaching. The program was started in secret but when word leaked out Faulhaber was one of the German bishops who protested at the killings and wrote to Minister of Justice:

I have deemed it my duty of conscience to speak out in this ethico-legal, non-political question, for as a Catholic bishop I may not remain silent when the preservation of the moral foundations of all public order is at stake.[71]

Daniel Goldhagen argues that as Faulhaber had spoken out publicly and clearly against the mass murder of the mentally ill he and the Church ought to have done the same when Jews were being exterminated.[72] In April 1941 the Nazis proposed the removal of crucifixes from classrooms that resulted in an eruption of civil disobedience by ordinary Roman Catholics that led to the dropping of the ban.[68] During the course of the disturbances Faulhaber added his criticism of the ban: "The German soldier is honoured publicly by being called a crusader against Bolshevism. This title of honour would not be deserved, if at the same time at home war is declared"

Annexation of Austria

In March 1938 the Nazis crossed the Austrian frontier and Austria was declared a province of the German Reich.[73] Previously Faulhaber had thought the ringing of Church bells for purely political reasons was not to be encouraged and he refused to order a peal of bells on the eve of the plebiscite in March 1936[74] (In February 1919 he had refused to allow the ringing of bells after Kurt Eisner, the Socialist Prime Minister of Bavaria had been assassinated by a Roman Catholic nobleman).[75] In the aftermath of the Anschluss Faulhaber recommended the issuing of a statement ordering the ringing of bells in Catholic Churches and exhorting the faithful on April 10 "in this hour of world historical significance, to pledge their fidelity to the Fuhrer and Chancellor of the Reich, Adolf Hitler, and to pray for the peaceful cooperation of Church and State in the Greater German Reich". The bells were rung but the Bishops of Bavaria along with others omitted mention of Hitler.[76]

Invasion of Czechoslovakia

In October 1938 the Nazis crossed the border into Czechoslovakia and occupied the Sudetenland. Sharing in the widespread relief that war had now been averted Faulhaber suggested sending a telegram, in the name of the German Bishops Conference, to Hitler. Signed by Bertram it read:

The great deed of safeguarding international peace moves the German episcopate, acting in the name of all Catholics of all the German dioceses, respectfully to tender congratulations and thanks and to order a festive peal of bells on Sunday.[77] In 1944 Pope Pius XII wrote to Faulhaber indicating that in the event of a negotiated peace Germany should not have to give up Austria and the Sudeten province of Czechoslovakia.[78]

War with the Soviet Union

In June 1941 the Nazis launched their attack on the Soviet Union which solidified the support of the episcopate for the struggle against Bolshevism and in one instance earned the praise of Reinhard Heydrich.[79] The confiscation of Church bells as part of the war effort was met by Faulhaber with: "for the dear fatherland we will make also this sacrifice if now it has become necessary for a successful end of the war and for the defeat of Bolshevism.[80] As the war in the East turned against the Nazis Faulhaber defended the Church against the Nazi charge that it had become lukewarm towards the cause:

Nobody in his heart can possibly wish for an unsuccessful outcome of the war. Every reasonable person knows that in such a case the State and the Church, and organised society altogether, would be overturned by the Russian chaos.[81]
Street named in his honour Kardinal-Faulhaber-Straße, in Munich. In the background the Munich Frauenkirche cathedral.

Negotiating the Concordat

Faulhaber was also involved with Cardinal Pacelli in the negotiations of the Reichskonkordat which was signed on July 20, 1933 and ratified in September of that year. [4] It was typical policy of the Church to sign Concordats with the nations of Europe and the Church had signed dozens of treaties with all sorts of European nations in the decades prior. The Concordat also sought protection for Catholics when the influence of their traditional protector, the Catholic Center party, had waned (the party was established when Pius IX was Pope to defend Catholics during Chancellor Otto von Bismark's anti-Catholic program, the Kulturkampf, but by the time of signing of the Concordat the party had lost influence and had been dissolved even before the signing). [5] Paul Johnson's opinion was that the Kulturkampf had left the German episcopate in a state of fear of once again being considered anti-German and this had encouraged the Church to come to an agreement with Hitler.[82] Even before the rise of Hitler he believes this attitude was demonstrated by Faulhaber when the Cardinal tried to excel in patriotic rhetoric by describing the first world war as having been undertaken in order to avenge the murder in Sarajevo, believing that it would enter the annals of Christian ethics as 'the prototype of the just war'.[82] According to Ronald Rychlak Faulhaber was of the opinion that Hitler wanted a concordat with the Vatican for propaganda purposes and counselled caution as Hitler “sees what a halo his government will have in the eyes of the world if the Pope makes a treaty with him” nor would German Catholics understand why they had entered into such an agreement when “a whole row of Catholic officials are sitting in prison.”[83] Faulhaber and Pacelli sought through the Concordat to gain a strategic and legal basis to challenge violent repression of the Church, in part for its condemnations of Nazi racial doctrine. The German hierarchy was wary of the precariousness of deals with the government, Faulhaber observing, "With the concordat we are hanged, without the concordat we are hanged, drawn and quartered".[84] Pacelli is reported to have told the British ambassador to the Holy See: "I had to choose between an agreement and the virtual elimination of the Catholic Church in the Reich." He felt that "a pistol had been held to his head" and he was negotiating "with the devil himself."[6] On the 24th of July Faulhaber sent a handwritten letter to Hitler, noting that "For Germany's prestige in the East and the West and before the whole world, this handshake with the papacy, the greatest moral power in the history of the world, is a feat of immeasurable importance."[85] In a sermon given in Munich during 1937 Cardinal Faulhaber declared:

At a when the heads of the major nations in the world faced the new Germany with reserve and considerable suspicion, the Catholic Church, the greatest moral power on earth, through the Concordat, expressed its confidence in the new German government. This was a deed of immeasurable significance for the reputation of the new government abroad.[86]

After the conclusion of the Concordat, Faulhaber coupled his comments regarding the agreement with his expectation that the German state would comply with it and, as historian Michael Burleigh writes, with an appeal for amnesty for victims in concentration camps - an appeal which Burleigh points out is not noted by Faulhaber's modern-day critics.[87]

The bishops of Austria, Hitler's country of birth, but outside the control of Nazi repression at that time, publicly expressed their view of the Concordat, Nazism, and the situation in Germany in a letter of 23 December 1933: "The concordat recently concluded between the Holy See and Germany does not mean that the Catholic Church approves of the religious errors of Nazism. Everybody knows how tense is the situation between the Church and State in Germany. . . . The Catholic Church has never agreed with the three fundamental errors of Nazism, which are first, race madness, second, violent anti-Semitism, and third extreme nationalism." The Austrian bishops' letter, the New York Times noted, "is regarded as a challenge to national-socialism not only in Austria but also in Germany." [7]

In 1933 Faulhaber implicitly criticized the violent character of the new Nazi leadership by declaring: "A state based on right, which strives from the first for a peaceful solution, must win the victory over a state based on might, which seeks to gain right with bloody weapons." The speech was widely considered an act of opposition against Hitler's rule.[1]

In his Advent 1933 sermon, Faulhaber preached: "Let us not forget that we were saved not by German blood but by the blood of Christ!" in response to Nazi racism. The SS interpreted the sermon as an intervention in favour of the Jews. [8]

In 1934 an unknown person fired two shots at the cardinal's study. In 1935 some Nazis called in an open meeting for the killing of Faulhaber.[23] In 1949 the council of the Landesverband der Israelitischen Kultusgemeinde in Bayern (Regional Union of Israelitic [Jewish] Communities in Bavaria) thanked Faulhaber with the following words:

"As representatives of the Bavarian Jewish synagogues, we will never forget how you, honourable Mister Cardinal, in the years after 1933, with unseen courage, have defended the ethics of the Old Testament from your pulpits, and how you saved thousands of Jewish persons from terror and lethal violence."[88]

Views on Communism

Cardinal Faulhaber had preached against communism in 1930 and from 1935 until about late 1941, but was silent on the topic from late 1942 until 1945; after the end of the war, he continued his public attacks against "Bolshevism".[1]

Post War Years

Styles of
Michael von Faulhaber
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Munich

After the war Faulhaber pled for Father Josef Tiso who was President of the Slovakian Peoples Party which persecuted Jews in 1941 and 1944. Faulhaber described Tiso as a "prelate in good standing".[89] Tiso was hanged for war crimes and Vatican radio refused to defend him saying "There are certain laws that must be obeyed no matter how much one loves his country." Michael Phayer blames Faulhaber's mistake on the failure of the Vatican to keep informed its prelates, describing it as a "dead end for information about genocide."[89] After the war the German Bishops conference issued a statement that many Germans, including Roman Catholics, had been war criminals.[90] The most controversial section dealing with the issue of personal or collective guilt for the Holocaust caused a rift between the predominately Catholic population of southern Germany and the Occupational Military Government-United States when the latter censored the bishops letter. Faulhaber refused to publish a censored version.[91] He also said that German Jews should be welcomed back to the country as they belonged just as much as any other Germans, offering to pay for their transportation costs to Germany from Theresienstadt.[92] Faulhaber received expressions of gratitude from the Jewish Community Centre who noted his well meaning attitude shown to Jews in Munich during the years of persecution.[92] Faulhaber called anti-Semitism a scourge of mankind and gave the assurance to an Anglo-American group "that I will do all in my power to convince the Roman Catholics of Bavaria that they must tear out all remaining anti-Semitism from their hearts."[93] He said he would ask the Pope to issue a pastoral letter on anti-Semitism.[94] Michael Phayer is of the opinion that in practice Faulhaber, along with Cardinal Preysing, accomplished "little or nothing" of significance in attacking anti-Semitism and that this was due to the priorities of the Vatican and the envoy of Pope Pius XII, Bishop Aloysius Muench.[93] On 29 June 1951 Faulhaber ordained Joseph Ratzinger (who was later elected as Pope Benedict XVI) and his brother Georg Ratzinger, both then deacons, to the priesthood.


Faulhaber remains a controversial personality. The Nazis reportedly considered Faulhaber a "friend of the Jews" and a Catholic "reactionary" (the term used by the Nazis to refer to opponents of the Nazis who were not left-wing).[95] Ronald Rychlak is of the opinion that the views expressed by people like Faulhaber to Cardinal Pacelli (counselling silence on the assumption that speaking out would make matters worse) influenced Cardinal Pacelli's future responses to issues.[96] In “We Remember: A Reflection of the Shoah”, a declaration issued by the Vatican in 1998, Faulhaber's Advent sermons of 1933 were praised for their rejection of “Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda.”[97] The principle author of the document, Cardinal Cassidy, was challenged at a meeting in 1999 by an elderly rabbi, who as a sixteen year old lived in Munich at the time of the Advent sermons, when he recalled that Faulhaber had declared “that with the coming of Christ, Jews and Judaism have lost lost their place in the world.”[97] When historians at the meeting pointed out that Faulhaber himself said he had only been defending the “Old Testament” and pre-Christian Jews, James Carroll reported that the Cardinal seemed embarrassed and replied that the disputed assertion in “We Remember” had not been in his original document but had been added “by historians.”[97]

West Germany granted Faulhaber its highest honor, the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit.[7]


  1. ^ "History as Bigotry: Daniel Goldhagen slanders the Catholic Church" by Rabbi David G. Dalin, Ph.D, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (originally published 10 February 2003, The Weekly Standard).
  2. ^ Rychlak, Ronald J. Another Reckoning: A Response to Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair', Crisis Magazine, 1 January 2003.[dead link]
  3. ^ Lewy, Guenter (2000) The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany. New York: Da Capo Press; ISBN 0-306-80931-1. pg. 41. Amazon Books. Retrieved 8 May 2005.
  4. ^ Friedlaender, Saul. (1997). "Consenting Elites, Threatened Elites". Chapter 2 in Nazi Germany and the Jews, Vol I – The Years of Persecution 1933–1939. New York. History-of-the-Holocaust.org. Retrieved 8 May 2005.
  5. ^ Ibid.
  6. ^ See Lewy, pgs. 72-3, 101–4.
  7. ^ Rabbi David G. Dalin, Ph.D The Myth of Hitler's Pope: Pope Pius XII and His Secret War Against Nazi Germany pg. 60. Regnery Publishing, Inc. (25 July 2005)
  8. ^ The Record of Pius XII's Opposition to Hitler. Catholic Culture.
  9. ^ New York Times, "Austrian Bishops Oppose the Nazis: Bid Catholics Support Dollfuss Regime to Avert Situation Like That in Germany". 23 December 1933, pg. 8.
  10. ^ Friedlaender, op cit.
  11. ^ Friedlaender, Ibid.
  12. ^ See Lewy, pg. 265.

Reference books


  1. ^ a b c d Speaking Symbol 23 June 1952. Time Magazine article on Cardinal von Faulhaber.
  2. ^ Derek Hastings, Catholicism and the Rise of Nazism p, 12
  3. ^ Tagespost, 28 January 2008
  4. ^ a b Wolf,Hubert and Kenneth Kronenberg, [Harvard University Press, 2010 Pope and Devil: the Vatican's archives and the Third Reich], pp. 89-90, Harvard University Press, 2010
  5. ^ a b Dill, Marshall, Germany: a modern history, p. 369, University of Michigan Press, 1970
  6. ^ a b c d e f Blamires, Cyprian, World fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 1, p. 231, ABC-CLIO, 2006
  7. ^ a b c Michael von Faulhaber, Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 22 Sep. 2011
  8. ^ See for example, Beth A. Griech-Polelle, in Antisemitism, Christian Ambivalence and the Holocaust, 121-136
  9. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica Online
  10. ^ a b Burleigh, Michael, Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, from the Great War to the War on Terror, p. 169, HarperCollins, 2008
  11. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 274
  12. ^ a b Lewy, 1964, p. 7
  13. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 29
  14. ^ Beth Griech-Polelle, Bishop von Galen, p.52
  15. ^ Foreword, Judaism, Christianity & Germany, p.vii, Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd, 1934
  16. ^ Judaism, Christianity & Germany, p.5,14, Burns Oates & Washbourne, 1934
  17. ^ Ryback, Timothy W., Hitler's private library: the books that shaped his life, p. 133, Random House Digital, Inc., 2008
  18. ^ a b c Phayer, Michael, The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930-1965, p. 15, Indiana Univ. Press 2001
  19. ^ a b c Allen, John L., Cardinal Ratzinger, pg. 26, Continuum International Publishing 2000
  20. ^ Philip Friedman, Their Brothers' Keepers (New York: Holocaust Library, 1978), p.93
  21. ^ Friedlander, 1997, p. 42
  22. ^ Friedlander, 1997, p. 43
  23. ^ a b Goldhagen v. Pius XII
  24. ^ Friedlander, 1997, p. 47-48
  25. ^ a b Friedlander, 1997, p. 48
  26. ^ a b c d e f g Lapide, 1967, p. 106
  27. ^ a b Lewy, 1964, p. 276
  28. ^ a b Friedlander, 2007, p. 302
  29. ^ Friedlander, 1997, p. 297
  30. ^ a b Rychlak, World fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 1, p. 231, ABC-CLIO, 2006
  31. ^ Lapide, 1967, p. 114; cf Lewy, 1964, p. 284
  32. ^ Rhonheimer, 2003
  33. ^ Ehler, Sidney Z., Church and State Through the Centuries, p. 517, Biblo & Tannen Publishers, 1988
  34. ^ Rychlak, World fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 1, p. 231, ABC-CLIO, 2006
  35. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 275
  36. ^ Rychlak,World fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 1, p. 231, ABC-CLIO, 2006
  37. ^ Lapide, 1967, p. 239; see also Lewy, 1964, p. 163
  38. ^ a b Burleigh, Michael, Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, from the Great War to the War on Terror, p. 189, HarperCollins, 2008
  39. ^ Latourette, Kenneth Scott The Twentieth Century in Europe, pgs. 181–2, Taylor and Francis 1973
  40. ^ McBrien, Richard P., The HarperCollins encyclopedia of Catholicism, p. 1005, HarperCollins, 1995
  41. ^ Krieg, Robert Anthony, Catholic theologians in Nazi Germany, p. 95, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004
  42. ^ Krieg, Robert Anthony, Catholic theologians in Nazi Germany, p. 96-97, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2004
  43. ^ a b Thomsett, Michael C., The German Opposition to Hitler: The Resistance, the Underground, and Assassination Plots, 1938-1945, p. 55, McFarland 2007
  44. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 41
  45. ^ Falconi, 1966, p. 194; Falconi notes that this "papal eulogy" would be remembered by the German bishops in a joint memorandum to Hitler on 20 August 1935 when it stated "In the face of this proclamation of the Pope's confidence, millions of men abroad, both Catholics and non-Catholics, have overcome their initial mistrust and accorded credit to your Government.", p. 194
  46. ^ a b Lewy, 1964, p. 104
  47. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 310
  48. ^ Burleigh, Michael, Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, from the Great War to the War on Terror, p. 188, HarperCollins, 2008
  49. ^ Antisemitism, Christian Ambivalence and the Holocaust, p.129
  50. ^ Lewy,208
  51. ^ Griech-Polelle, p.130 , Antisemitism , Christian Ambivalence and the Holocaust
  52. ^ Phayer, 2000, p. 231, fn. 85
  53. ^ Phayer, 2000, p. 231
  54. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 207
  55. ^ Friedlander, 1997, p. 183-184
  56. ^ a b Lewy, 1964, p. 208
  57. ^ Hitler, Ian Kershaw, p. 373, 2008, Penguin, ISBN 978-0-14-103588-8
  58. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 208-209
  59. ^ a b Lewy, 1964, p. 209-210
  60. ^ a b c Lewy, 1964, p. 210
  61. ^ a b Lewy, 1964, p. 211
  62. ^ Johnson, 1976, p. 482
  63. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 316
  64. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 317
  65. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 101, 73
  66. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 102
  67. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 181
  68. ^ a b Lewy, 1964, p. 315
  69. ^ a b Lewy, 1964, p. 259
  70. ^ a b Lewy, 1964, p. 260
  71. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 264-265
  72. ^ Goldhagen, 2002, p. 79-80, p. 237
  73. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 212
  74. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 213
  75. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 311
  76. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 214-215
  77. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 218
  78. ^ Phayer, 2000, p. 58
  79. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 230
  80. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 231
  81. ^ Lewy, 1964, p. 232
  82. ^ a b Johnson, 1976, p. 481
  83. ^ Rychlak, 2000, p. 330, fn. 107
  84. ^ Burleigh, Michael, Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, from the Great War to the War on Terror, p. 175, HarperCollins, 2008
  85. ^ Lapide, p. 102
  86. ^ "Constantine's Sword", James Carroll, , 2002, Houghton Mifflin (Mariner books ed), ISBN 978-0-618-21908-7
  87. ^ Burleigh, Michael, Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, from the Great War to the War on Terror, p. 176, HarperCollins, 2008
  88. ^ "Als Vertreter der Bayerisches Kultusgemeinden werden wir nie vergessen, wie Sie, verehrter Herr Kardinal, in den Jahren ab 1933 mit einem Mut sondergleichen die Ethik des Alten Testaments von der Kanzel verteidigten und Tausende jüdischer Menschen vor dem Terror und der Gewalt geschützt haben." In: Peter Pfister, Susanne Kornacker, Volker Laube (ed.) (2002). Kardinal Michael von Faulhaber 1869–1952. Eine Ausstellung des Archivs des Erzbistums München und Freising, des Bayerischen Hauptstaatarchivs und des Stadtarchivs München zum 50. Todestag. Generaldirektion der Staatlichen Archive Bayerns: Munich, pgs. 18–20
  89. ^ a b Phayer, 2000, p. 46
  90. ^ Phayer, 2000, p. 135
  91. ^ Phayer, 2000, p. 136
  92. ^ a b Phayer, 2000, p. 151
  93. ^ a b Phayer, 2000, p. 152
  94. ^ Phayer, 2000, p. 181
  95. ^ Peter Pfister, Susanne Kornacker, Volker Laube (ed.) (2002). Kardinal Michael von Faulhaber 1869–1952. Eine Ausstellung des Archivs des Erzbistums München und Freising, des Bayerischen Hauptstaatarchivs und des Stadtarchivs München zum 50. Todestag. Generaldirektion der Staatlichen Archive Bayerns: Munich, pgs. 18–20.
  96. ^ Rychlak, p. 77
  97. ^ a b c Carroll, 2001, p. 683, fn. 23

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Franziskus von Bettinger
Archbishop of Munich
Succeeded by
Joseph Wendel
Preceded by
Andrea Carlo Ferrari
Cardinal Priest of Santa Anastasia
Succeeded by
James Francis McIntyre

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