The Third Reich’s persecution of Christian churches began shortly after Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of the Weimer Republic, in January 1933. This story has been told in many books. See especially William L. Shirer’s account in his epic The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.1 The following article appeared in the New York Times on January 3, 1942:2
BERNE, Switzerland, Jan. 2—Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, long the antireligious polemist of modern Germany and the protagonist of the “new national church,” has just released for publication a thirty-point program that will form at the same time the program and tenets of the “religion of National Socialism.”
The Nazi religious concept is founded not on the worship of Wotan and Valhalla, dear to the memory of General Erich von Ludendorff, but surprisingly enough, in view of Dr. Rosenberg’s past attacks on Christianity and its teachings, on a partial worship of God, whose works are “eternal.”
Briefly but succinctly he outlines the organization and teachings of the church in the following phrases—for which, as the Swiss Socialist newspaper Volksrecht of Zurich points out, “one needs to be no ecclesiast to draw his own conclusion”:
1. The National Reich Church specifically demands the immediate turning over to its possession of all churches and chapels, to become national churches.