Why did some German Catholics support and others oppose the police state that was the Third Reich? In this insightful analysis, Donald Dietrich explores the social-psychological dynamics behind the religious reactions of German Catholics to political and moral issues during the late Weimar and Third Reich eras.
Along with many other Germans, Catholics were enmeshed in a cruel dilemma. Assenting to Nazi ideals would mean a loss of moral credibility; opposing them would result in persecution. Dietrich shows how Catholics accommodated and sometimes resisted totalitarianism and the Final Solution. Three groups of Catholics are examined: the hierarchy, the theologians, and the laity.
The literature on Nazi Germany is enormous. But this is the first analysis of the dynamics shaping individual motivations and group response to Nazi ideals. This comprehensive work fuses results derived from social science research with the massive amount of historical data available. It is an interdisciplinary study relating religious values to patterns of behavior, an issue that retains its significance today.