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Denazifying Germany: German Protestantism and the Response to Denazification in the American Zone, 1945-1948

Coates, Malcolm (2014) Denazifying Germany: German Protestantism and the Response to Denazification in the American Zone, 1945-1948. MA by research thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

Following the Second World War, Germany underwent a process designed to remove elements of Nazism from its population called denazification, and this process was the most far reaching in the United States’ Zone. As Germany lay in ruins, the Church experienced a surge in popularity, and the Protestant church in particular began to explore issues of guilt and judgment. In this dissertation, I aim to explore the relationship between the US Military Government, led by General Lucius Clay, and the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD), led by Bishop Theophil Wurm, Martin Niemöller and others, on this issue of denazification. The first phase of denazification, which lasted from May 1945 – March 1946 was administered by the United States. This was the harshest phase of the process, where everyone in the US Zone had to defend their time during the war years, and many were arrested without trial simply for having an affiliation with Nazism. Due to the size of the task and the return home of many American troops, however, denazification was transferred over to German administration in 1946, and generally made more lenient thereafter. Although the council of the EKD accepted their own guilt at Stuttgart, they believed that denazification could not morally rehabilitate the Germans into society. They fought against denazification in letters, statements, sermons, testimony, and numerous other ways that I will explain in my work. I aim to complete a picture started by other historians and explain the relationship between US Military Government and the EKD drawing heavily on German, British and American sources found in archives, memoirs, memorandums, laws, newspapers, and secondary historical works. The aim is to give equal focus to both the German Protestant church’s moves against denazification and the US Military Government’s response.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Depositing User: Mr Malcolm Coates
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2015 12:14
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:14
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7843

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