Demonizing The Jews: Luther And The Protestant Church In Nazi Germany

Paperback | June 8, 2012

byChristopher J. Probst

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This innovative new work demonstrates that a significant minority of pastors, bishops, and theologians of varying theological and church-political persuasions utilized Martin Luther's writings about Jews and Judaism with considerable effectiveness to reinforce the anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism already present in substantial degrees among Protestants in Nazi Germany.

Scholarship on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust has typically viewed anti-Semitism as a modern, racially-based phenomenon. Anti-Judaism, on the other hand, has regularly been regarded as a pre-modern, religiously-based hatred of Jews. In this book, Christopher J. Probst, demonstrates that anti-Semitism pre-dates the modern era and anti-Judaism survived into and flourished during the Nazi era.

Following historian Gavin Langmuir, Probst argues that the traditional distinction between anti-Judaism as "theological" hostility and anti-Semitism as "racial" animus is not empirically demonstrable and thus should be abandoned. Instead, it is irrational thought that characterizes anti-Semitism; nonrational (symbolic) thought, the kind found in art and affirmations of belief, characterizes anti-Judaism. This schema helps us to comprehend with greater clarity how the nature of theological discourse shaped German Protestant approaches to the "Jewish Question."

The carefully situated case studies presented in the book demonstrate that a significant minority of pastors, bishops, and theologians of varying theological and church-political persuasions utilized Luther's writings about Jews and Judaism with considerable effectiveness to reinforce the cultural anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism already present in significant degrees among Protestants in Nazi Germany.

With material from Luther's writings forming an important part of their intellectual arsenal, many German Protestant theologians and clergy seized upon old ideas and overlaid them with more up-to-date connotations. Such anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism thus circulated widely through the largest theological confession in Germany. Thousands had access to such potent literature, much of which contained material that resembled Nazi ideology aimed at dehumanizing Jews, who died by the millions in Hitler's Third Reich.

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This innovative new work demonstrates that a significant minority of pastors, bishops, and theologians of varying theological and church-political persuasions utilized Martin Luther's writings about Jews and Judaism with considerable effectiveness to reinforce the anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism already present in substantial degrees am...

Christopher J. Probst is a visiting assistant professor of modern European history at Saint Louis University. He was a Charles H. Revson Foundation Fellow at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:270 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:June 8, 2012Publisher:Indiana University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0253001005

ISBN - 13:9780253001009

Customer Reviews of Demonizing The Jews: Luther And The Protestant Church In Nazi Germany

Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Gets points for examining Luther's anti-Semitism but loses them for not doing so in a readable and substantive way I bought this book, and unfortunately, I was disappointed by it. The author focuses to much on the writings and thinking of the protestant movement in the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany and not on how it contributed to Nazi thought (other than a Luther to Hitler thesis which I admit was interesting but this is few and far between) I often found it difficult to keep reading, because what should be a piercing study comes off as underwhelming. To be fair, the author does use illustrations very well and his look at Luther's anti-Semitism and the anti-Semitism in the time in which he lived and how his efforts to coerce the Jews into converting were nearly identical to the tools the Nazis used to oppress the Jews is quite interesting and valuable. This unfortunately cannot save the book. The author deserve credit for trying to look at this subject (which, to often goes unnoticed in the studies of Anti-semitism) but loses them because he ends up doing and underwhelming job
Date published: 2016-12-01

Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Introduction
1. Protestantism in Nazi Germany
2. "Luther and the Jews"
3. Confessing Church and German Christian Academic Theologians
4. Confessing Church Pastors
5. German Christian Pastors and Bishops
6. Pastors and Theologians from the Unaffiliated Protestant "Middle"
Conclusion
Bibliography

Editorial Reviews

"[B]y introducing us to new figures and showing us how three different church groups in Germany responded to 'The Jewish Question,' this book makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the churches under Nazism." -Lutheran Quarterly