Ernst Käsemann on The Mistake of Voting for Hitler

Chris Le Keith posted this and it’s worth repeating:

kasemann“I have admitted earlier that from 1930 to 1933 I too voted for Hitler.  My work in the congregation and for my dissertation left me little time for involvement in politics.  Every night, and for an entire year-and-a-half, while synodical vicar in Barmen, I was forced to experience the civil war at my very door.  I eagerly longed for order.  In family and school we continually heard that the Treaty of Versailles shamefully humiliated us Germans.  Finally, the war left behind six million unemployed in our country.  So my friends and I agreed that only a strong government could help us.  I did come to mistrust Hitler after his intervention on behalf of a criminal storm trooper in Silesia.  But I was naive enough to suppose that we could get rid of him at the next election in four years.  In the meantime, the party of the German Christians was formed.  In the summer of 1933 it grew from four to forty-five members among the representatives of my congregation.  Then, when the so-called Reichsbishop incorporated the evangelical youth groups into the Hitler youth, and when the Roehm putsch eliminated disputes within the Nazi leadership through mass murder, we could no longer ignore our having been handed over to thugs who unflinchingly used force and would yield only to force.  The founding of the Confessing Church at Wuppertal led to political opposition.  As early as the fall of 1933 I declared that the Reichsbishop was a traitor to the evangelical church.  From then on I was hated by the Nazis, later was denounced in the marketplace as a national traitor by the Gauleiter (district leader) in Gelsenkirchen, and was recommended to the higher authorities for assignment to a concentration camp.  The chairman of our congregation lent support in an appeal to headquarters in Berlin.  For either side there was no turning back. . . .

I should like to break off here.  It would lead to a full-scale autobiography if I were to tell how I  had to be a soldier for three years, perhaps to get out of reach of the area command and seizure by the Nazis; how I finally survived the camp at Kreuznach, in which 70,000 prisoners starved, then returned to a heavily bombed congregation. . . .  As a last word and as my bequest, let me call to you in Huguenot style: ‘Résistez!’ Discipleship of the Crucified leads necessarily to resistance to idolatry on every front.  This resistance is and must be the most important mark of Christian freedom.”*

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*Ernst Käsemann, On Being a Disciple of the Crucified Nazarene, xvii-xviii, xxi

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