|Dr. Conrad Gröber|
Schwarzbraun ist die Haselnuss is the start of a German folk song, and the next line may be changed to ... and black-brown is Conrad too, i.e., Dr. Conrad Gröber, late archbishop of Freiburg and during the Third Reich nicknamed "Der Braune Conrad". Red Baron wrote about Gröber’s disregard for #MeToo in an earlier blog.
On Monday I listened to a lecture by Professor Wolfgang Proske titled: Erzbischof Conrad Gröber: Was ist dran an den Nazi-Vorwürfen? (Archbishop Conrad Gröber: The Nazi accusations, what is it about?).
It is well accepted that Gröber was a Helfershelfer (accomplice) of the Nazi regime. Professor Proske documented Gröber’s attitude with several slides. The copyright of all those is with Professor Proske.
During the Freiburg Synod on April 25 to 28, 1933, the archbishop called for a collaboration with the new regime:
"The constitutional state (!) and the republic are outdated in the parliamentary form they have had heretofore. We had to fear [---] that socialism and communism would soon overthrow and dominate all of Germany, but they are interned or on the brink of flight*. Blatant atheism and proletarian free-thinking [---] are dead religiously. Today we witness flight, sudden immersion, and complete death. Something new irresistibly prepares its way instead" [---] "We must not and we cannot reject the new state but must affirm it with unwavering cooperation. [---] We must adapt. [---] We must get involved.” And Gröber added, “Neither need we change our goals nor our ways nor basically ourselves, at most we need to change our method”.
*By that time the Communist Party was already outlawed and apprehended members were either dead or interned in concentration camps. The Social Democrat Party was outlawed on June 22, 1933.
While visiting Baden’s capital Karlsruhe on October 10, 1933, Gröber had fully embraced the Nazi regime:
"I am not revealing a secret when I declare that in the course of the last few months the church administration in Freiburg (!) and the government in Karlsruhe (!) have had the most friendly relations. I also think that I am not revealing a secret to you or to the German people when I say that I am fully (!) behind the new government and the new Reich.”
In June of 1933, a discussion flared in Freiburg whether religious classes in schools should be started with the Hitler salute. Trying to avoid any clash between the Catholic church and the Nazi regime Gröber decided that the salute may be followed by a "Praised be Jesus Christ".
On July 14, 1933, the Nazis issued the Law against the foundation of new parties making the NSDAP the only legal organization. The new rulers nevertheless organized a propaganda campaign without precedent for the election of the Reichstag (German parliament) on November 12, 1933, hoping for an overwhelming majority. Happy about the Reichskonkordat (Treaty between the Holy See and the German Reich) that Archbishop Conrad Gröber had advised on and German Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen had signed in Rome on July 20, the Catholic bishops* hastened to call their lambs to the polls for a freudige Stimmabgabe für den Führer (joyful vote for the Führer). The result of the election gave a stunning 92.1% for the single, the Nazi ticket.
*The Catholic party, the Zentrum, had decided its self-dissolution on July 5.
In 1935 Gröber wrote about the resistance of Catholics against the new regime in a truly Lutheran way*:
*Luther always claimed that Christians must be righteous, obedient, faithful subjects and are obliged to obey their worldly authorities.
"The Church forbids [...] insubordination and subversion, i.e., the illegal elimination of an existing state order, just as Christ had refused to acquire the favor of the people by political means and to call for internal and external resistance by raising arms against the hated Roman rule. [...] Even authorities who abuse their rights do not readily lose their rights”.
Max Joseph Metzger was sentenced to death by the Volksgerichtshof for his pacifist convictions, Conrad Gröber sent one letter to the President of the People's Court, Roland Freisler, "I deeply regret the crime of which he is guilty". In a second letter to the Reichsjustizminister (Minister of Justice) Otto Georg Thierak, Gröbner recommended not to inflict the death penalty but rather to send Metzger to the front so he may die a Heldentod (hero’s death). Gröber’s letter delayed Metzger’s execution on the guillotine by six months.
In 1935 Gröber wrote in his diary:
"From 1935 on (I belonged) to the pronounced opponents of the system."
Was this the reason that Gröber’s homilies in Freiburg’s minster church drew such enormous crowds during the Nazi area? What he said - he was an excellent preacher - must have been enlightening in the brown times or even brightening, e.g., when in 1939 he tried to prove by a somewhat Kafkaesque argumentation that Jesus was a half-Jew "only":
"By his human nature, Christ descended from a Jewish tribe. But only on his mother's side. Begotten by the Holy Spirit he had no earthly father,[...]. So Christ was the child of a Jewish mother. And in this sense salvation, according to his own words, comes from the Jews. Otherwise, however, he is enormously different from all the others in the Jewish country of that time. Yes, he almost forms a noticeable, sharp contrast to them, well-founded in his person and teaching.»
During the war, Gröber became deeply concerned about his Church. In 1942 he wrote to Bishop Heinrich Wienken (Berlin):
"I leave it up to you to judge who disturbs the inner front more, the Gestapo (Secret State Police) or our clergy. It would be wiser to deal with the communists, who are a real danger to the inner front, instead of troubling priests, Catholics, and Christians".
Gröber always remained in the focus of the Gestapo, but during the war, the Nazi regime could neither attack the Church openly nor take the risk of creating martyrs. Gröber became "the most evil agitator against the Third Reich", and by 1940 he had developed into "the greatest enemy of the NSDAP and the National Socialist state", as the Minister of Culture of Baden noted. In February 1940 Reichspropagandaminister Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary: "The Archbishop Gröber of Freiburg delivered a New Year's Eve speech that is clear-cut treason. We'll have to snatch the guy later."
The Gestapo summoned Gröber on several occasions but he survived all interrogations and the war. So he claimed “Soviel ist sicher, dass ich durch die geheime Staatspolizei und ihre Helfershelfer seelisch mehr gelitten habe als viele von denen, die in Dachau misshandelt wurden oder starben“ (One thing is sure. I have suffered more emotionally through the secret state police and their accomplices than many of those who were abused or died at Dachau).
In 1947 the former sponsoring member of the SS number 400609 of March 6, 1934, Conrad Gröber wrote to the governor of the French occupation zone:
"I never belonged to the party or any of its organizations."
What a hypocrite. May God have mercy on Conrad’s soul.