Historian Assails Church ‘silence’ During Nazi Annihilation of Jews

An American church historian told an international conference of church historians now being held in Bielfeld, Germany, that the German Evangelical Church as a whole maintained silence at the time of Nazi persecution of Jews, Reuter’s news agency reported today from Germany.

The historian, Dr. Otto Elias, told the second international conference on the history of church struggle that when the German Evangelical Church did raise its voice, it was not loud enough. He noted that the Confessional Church, a breakaway group from the official Evangelical Church, had done much for Jewish persons during the period of persecution, and its efforts, he said were more effective than either the Vatican or the Red Cross.

Dr. Elias was particularly critical of church leaders who failed to intervene decisively and opportunely on behalf of the Jews. He said there had been no official word of protest when a boycott of Jewish businesses was begun in 1933 or on the infamous “crystal night” pogrom in November, 1938. Dr. Elias said individual members of the Evangelical Church had raised their voices in protest in contrast.

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