Until that Day by Kressmann Taylor (1942) will be republished
Day of No Return
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Publisher's Note: "In the mid-1930s, a brave young theological student refused to preach Nazi doctrine and was denied ordination in the German Lutheran church. He struggled to resist the Nazi takeover of the church, but, with his life in danger, was ordered out of the country by his bishop. He fled to the United States, where, through the FBI, he contacted author Kressmann Taylor so she could tell his story.
"Day of No Return is Kressmann Taylor’s 1942 account of that true story, fictionalized to deceive the Nazis and protect “Karl Hoffman” and his family still in Germany. Now his subsequent life and true identity, which remained secret for the rest of her life, are at last revealed in this dramatic new edition.
Statement by biographer, Kressmann Taylor: “Karl Hoffman’s story is told here substantially as he told it to me. The story of what happened to him and to men like him in Germany is something of a modern miracle. The Nazis had prepared a perfect plan. By a subtle scheme that looked on the surface like cooperation they would take over the Lutheran Church and use it to serve their purposes. They would disarm the churchmen and place their own men at the head of a united Church.
“From their material viewpoint, the thing was accomplished. But gradually they became aware that something was wrong. . . . A force was resisting them, something they could not put their hands on—a belief.
“The strange thing about Karl Hoffmann’s story is that it is a story of the defeat of the tremendous Nazi force, inside of Germany.
Taking control of the church with the consent of the masses
Personal note: Someone sent us the copied pages of this eye-opening book several years ago, but we didn't find time to read it then. We no longer remember who sent it to us, but we pray that God will bless him or her for this special gift.
Until recently, we had been unable to find an actual copy of this this book. Nor could we find its original publisher. Since over fifty years had passed since this book was first published, we assumed that the copyright has expired.
We also believed that Karl Hoffmann, the faithful theology student who sensed the threats to Christian faith in Germany long before most pastors discerned the Nazi plan, would have been pleased to know that his vital message would be used to warn Christians in the 21st Century.
May American Christians be as alert to currents threats to religious freedom as were the courageous believers in Germany more than half a century ago.
Berit's summary: This autobiographical story of Karl Hoffmann, a young theology student in Germany during Hitler's rise to power back in the 1930s, exposes the strategies used by the Nazi hierarchy to subjugate the Church to the Nazi state.
Hitler seemed to win the first few rounds by his shrewd timing and deceptive propaganda aimed at the needs and wants of the masses. Faithful pastors were dismissed, arrested, imprisoned in harsh concentration camps. Into the empty pulpits stepped "German Christian" ministers -- handpicked puppets of the state, who preached Nazi ideology and replaced Biblical truth with utopian doctrines cloaked in Scriptural promises.
The people who called themselves Christians fit into three categories:
those who would rather face death than deny their Lord;
those who delighted in the new positive gospel of Nazi Germany; and
the complacent masses who couldn't tell the difference between the two.
From the start, one of the main leaders of the secret Christian resistance movement was the esteemed Pastor Martin Niemoller. His God-given wisdom and gentle strength spread hope and courage to the troubled souls that had counted the cost of resistance and could no longer turn back.
In the early years of this intensifying spiritual war, God's soldiers seemed to be losing ground. But under God's sovereign hand, their early "defeats" awakened thousands of complacent Christians to the unthinkable Nazi hatred for God and His ways. This deepening awareness led to an underground fellowship that God used to encourage His faithful people to take their stand in Him, hold fast to His Word, draw strength from His Spirit and, if necessary, be ready to die for His name's sake.
Under Pastor Niemoller's leadership, the movement became known as the Confessional Church. Their beloved pastor was arrested well before World War II began, but his message was multiplied during the dark years of Nazi tyranny through thousands of fellow warriors for Christ. Today, it still shines through Pastor Niemoller's example and familiar reminder:
"First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionist, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, there was no one left to speak for me."
The similarities between Germany back in the thirties and America at the dawn of the new century are partly hidden by the cultural changes of the last seventy years. But we hope that -- after reading the excerpts below -- you will see some of the parallel aims and strategies. You can look for some of the clues in the following articles:
KARL HOFFMANN’S story is told here substantially as he told it to me. If you should ask me, “Is it true?” I can only reply that it couldn’t be otherwise. I know that, because I have talked to the man. He is a broad-shouldered, humorous-faced man of thirty, diffident when he speaks of himself, controlled when he tells of the violence and tragedy he has had a part in; but when he speaks of what he believes, the words in his mouth become strangely important and new, as if they were being discovered for the first time.
The man, like his words, is alive from the inside out. He is not naďve; he is a sophisticated man, a scholar, but his scholarship is something that he pushes aside so that the intensity within him is all you see. You begin to think that if it were possible to subtract from him the belief that fills him there would be nothing left.
If you were told that he has recently escaped from Germany, where he lived through years of persecution, you would be startled. There is something missing from him that you have become accustomed to seeing in the refugees who have poured into America, the fear, the haunted eye, the shaken spirit. This young country pastor did not learn to be afraid.
The story of what happened to him and to men like him in Germany is something of a modern miracle. The Nazis had prepared a perfect plan. By a subtle scheme that looked on the surface like co-operation they would take over the Lutheran Church and use it to serve their purposes. They would disarm the churchmen and place their own men at the head of a united Church. They would control the whole organization and it would be an easy matter to destroy any dissenters. The Church, with its great authority, would become a strong tool for the dissemination of Nazi doctrine.
The scheme was foolproof. The first steps went off with the clocklike precision the Nazis had anticipated. All the outer appurtenances of churchly power fell into heir hands as they had planned. From their material viewpoint, the thing was accomplished. But gradually men became aware that something was wrong. They controlled the Lutheran Church but they did not control it. The organization they had their hands on was not the thing itself. A force was resisting them, something they could not put their hands on -- a belief.
Because they were materialists, the master of Germany turned to attack this resistance with physical forces. They had all the power; they were used to seeing organizations crumble under the sort of pressure they knew how to apply. But the thing they were attacking did not lie in an organization. There was a look in men's eyes -- but you could not arrest them for that. There was hope in patient faces -- but how are you to prove that hope is treason? There were words sounding in the air, commands from an unseen Leader, and against them the Nazis' counter commands rang futilely down the wind. And the words were: "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."
The strange thing about Karl Hoffmann’s story is that it is a story of the defeat of the tremendous Nazi force inside of Germany. ... The men who trust the forces of physical power can conquer but they cannot win. They have no weapon which can penetrate the reaches of the spirit.
This story emerged because young Hoffmann could no longer keep it to himself. In spite of the very real danger that lay in revealing his experiences, he was so filled with the significance of the struggle he had gone through that he felt it must be told in America. For obvious reasons fictitious names have been used in the book, except for a few well-known public figures. But the young man who today is filling a little back-country pulpit in this country refused to hold back his revelations through fear.
You can see by looking in Karl Hoffmann’s tolerant and generous face that he has not learned to be afraid, although many men have grown timorous who have endured far less. He has stumbled and groped his way as all humans must, during the bitter years, but he was never enslaved. He wears a man’s dignity because his strength is fed by the Source from which men first drew their dignity and learned to walk with their heads uplifted. God is the strength of man. Material forces have altered history hardly a jot, but ideas have moved it and faith has sent the men who held it to accomplish the impossible.
The story has been told in the first person because it is essentially a personal story. Karl Hoffmann lived through those dark happenings, and his reactions and his steadfastness are of more significance than are events and statistics. The choice he was forced to make between faith and complacency is one that faces all Americans, not for the duration of a war but for the duration of our democracy.
CHAPTER ONE (Germany, 1912-)
I WAS born into a time and a place where the tides of two strong beliefs were to meet and clash; One of them, the wide clear current of Christianity, has provided the smooth underlying stream of history for nineteen hundred years, and nations and dynasties, battles and armadas have been only surface excitations upon it. Most of us have supposed, have even taken for granted, that we should sail on it forever without check, so that when the black countercurrent appeared we did not recognize its strength in time. I was caught in the turmoil at the very point where the tides came together and I have fought the new force and seen its vigor and the appeal it exerts on men’s imaginations. I was catapulted out of the conflict before it was decided but I know how fiercely it still goes on and I believe that the real battle of Titans is being waged not between military powers but between men’s fundamental beliefs. In spite of all the catastrophes and the bitter discouragement I have seen, I do not doubt the outcome.
I made my first appearance in this world seven years before the end of the German monarchy, the year 1912, in one of the big upper bedrooms of a parsonage in the beautiful old city of Magdeburg on the river Elbe. I was christened Karl Augustus. My father, Franz Hoffmann, was pastor of the Domkirche, one of the largest Lutheran churches of the town and the spiritual fount of a substantial and prosperous suburb....
If we were all blinded to the larger implications of the events that were sweeping upon us it was not entirely due to the stubbornness with which the German mind clings to its old forms and disciplines. We were bound together by a strange sort of insularity of pride and of emotion. The German nation itself was shut away; we had been marked out and imprisoned within the walls of a caste system of nations. Good treatment, we felt, was afforded us as a sort of charity, and we were not invited to partake any longer in the great events of the world.
And with the inflation our inner system disintegrated utterly. Fortunes disappeared overnight. Money that one day would have meant lifelong security, on the next would not buy a loaf of bread. Workmen were paid daily and carried their baskets of paper marks in desperate haste to the stores, buying the first articles they could lay their hands on before the price should double. Then they began to be paid twice a day, staggering barrow-loads of bills that would be hardly enough to buy a cabbage by the time they could get to the market.
Professional men were bankrupt. Barons became paupers. Theft was a commonplace and it was unsafe for a well-dressed man to walk out at night alone. A body was found in our neighborhood with the clothes stripped from it and a knife wound in the back. Bands of discharged soldiers who could find no employment became a menace to outlying districts and many a farmer found his fields stripped or his barn broken open and his livestock gone at the hands of the hungry.
Security, the dignity we loved, were nowhere. So ugliness boiled up within us and resentment at the outer world which we were told was responsible for our catastrophes.
CHAPTER THREE (Germany, 1931-)
MY decision to enter the ministry was a fateful one. It was to involve me personally in the formidable events which were to shake and reshape Germany in the years immediately ahead and it was to give me an inside view of one of the cleverest, the most subtle and measured of persecutions the Church of God has endured during the long centuries since it became a power in the world.
I had no foretaste of coming drama when in the fall of the year 1931 I stood in the Aula, the great assembly hail of the University of Berlin, one of a crowd of thousands of awkward, incoming students. My friend Rudolph Beck from Magdeburg was one of them and so, to my pleasure, was my childhood’s companion, Erika Menz, who had surprised me by deciding to enter the theological school at the university at the same time I did. We were an awe-inspired lot, uneasy and feeling our provincialism as we looked up to the huge platform where stood the imposing figure of the rector, the head of that great institution of sixteen thousand students. The rector is elected yearly from among the deans of the various faculties, and with their advice, he is a sort of unlimited monarch of the university.... 
The German universities are the greatest professional schools and all their entrants are already college graduates....
At the time of my matriculating at Berlin political issues were in an uproar. One professor after another was attacking the Republic for its blunders. To many of them it appeared that our present leaders had misapprehended almost totally the vital potentialities of democratic government....
There were many shades of political opinion in evidence.... The Communists were extremely noisy, but the one group which was garnering large numbers of adherents among the students was the new National Socialist party, led by a remarkable orator named Adolph Hitler.... 
I have often wondered since if anything could have stemmed the tide at that time. The students saw into the Nazi promises a rising of Germany to her old power and glory. In Berlin, where patriotism had always been strong  and the political sentiment conservative, the dream of a rejuvenated Germany turned their eyes and their hopes toward the coming movement, The professors were not so easily persuaded and tried to warn us that dangers lurked in the strong nationalistic and anti-Semitic theories of the Nazis, but great numbers refused to listen to them and there was a tremendous ferment among the student body.
Then in January, with an overwhelming suddenness, the Nazi regime was upon us. Hindenburg in desperation appointed Hitler to the chancellorship. The Reichstag met and granted him absolute powers. Swastikas bloomed out all over the land the streets were filled the marching feet of the brown-shirts.
The first reaction at the university was almost universal rejoicing. Heinrich Gross, the arrogant young Nazi, strutted through the halls in his brown shirt, and even men who disliked him personally felt inclined to congratulate him because he was on the crest of the new tide. Brown shirts broke out among us by the score. Even those of us who distrusted the new leader felt that we were entering a fresh era. Whatever was coming, the old indecision was a thing of the past. We should be going ahead—somewhere—instead
of continuing to wander in an aimless circle.
One morning on the bulletin board where we were accustomed to look for university news, an unobtrusive notice appeared. Two or three of our elected student representatives had been “dismissed” and among the men who were named to fill their places by appointment of the Ministry of Education and Culture was Helmut Jansen, the hard-mouthed leader of the Nazi students. The others, we soon learned, were also Nazis. One by one our elected representatives were removed and replaced by Nazis. The university was henceforth to be governed by the “leader principle.”
The country had abandoned weak democratic forms, we were told, and we must do likewise. Nazi students were designated by the government to lead the men of each faculty; and in the theological school we found ourselves under the dictatorship of Heinrich Gross.... Now we were all obliged to take orders from him and he treated us much as a hard-boiled army sergeant would handle a group of raw privates. He was quick to report any student who failed to accord him the deference he felt was due his new position.
Silently and subtly, the government had taken over university rule and our free citizenship was a thing of the past. The hand-picked young Nazis who controlled us were an arrogant crew. We were required to salute them, to refrain from criticizing them, and to obey them on pain of expulsion or arrest. 
I was a member of a group of students who were discussing the new government one morning, when Gross strode up to us.
“All political discussion is forbidden,” he snapped.
“What price our free citizenship now?” said one of the boys to me as the group broke up.
Our lively discussions had been the basis of our whole university life. Now a strange paralysis lay upon the great halls, and the aggressive thinking that had characterized our days had no more voice. This silence that had been imposed on us was something so new, so removed from all our tradition, that we hardly knew how to face it. Even the Nazi doctrines were not allowed to be debated. The supremacy of the Nordic race, anti-Semitism, the importance of the state and the unimportance of the individual were not to be discussed. They were to be learned and adopted.
[In America, the dialectic process -- whether in schools, government, civic groups or churches -- is fast replacing traditional discussion or debate. Why? Because discussions are based on facts and logic and can be divisive. Dialogue trains people to avoid divisive facts and offensive truths -- and to set aside traditional conviction in order to seek unity and "common ground." The outcome is determined by the leader (or facilitator) who uses to the latest psycho-social strategies to stir strong feelings that help prompt the group toward the preplanned conclusions. This process produces "learning" -- the type of learning that reacts against the old ways and values but is open and ready to embrace the new attitudes and values.]
It seemed ridiculous and yet somehow frightening to see a whole roomful of men leap to their feet with arms extended, simply because young Gross, whom we all disliked, had entered in his brown shirt. Whenever one of these upstart officials passed, the “Heil Hitlers” resounded from all sides, but as our disillusionment progressed they were given with more noise than enthusiasm.
New requirements were made of the applicants who wished to enter the university. Not only must the new men prove their academic standing, as of old. They were brought before a board of Nazi students, whom they must satisfy as to the purity of their political background and convictions....
Then the Labor Service appeared. This was a new branch of Nazi activity which was developed at the universities. We were asked to volunteer for six months to build roads, reservoirs or landing fields for planes, and we were enticed into joining by the promise that time so spent would be credited as having been spent at the university.... There were not many volunteers.
Then one day the entire student body was summoned to a meeting, where we were to be addressed by Bernhard Rust, the grade-school teacher who had been named Minister of Culture and Education for Prussia. We were not invited, as had always been the custom; we were commanded to appear. I had a lecture at the same hour which I very much wished to attend, the class above all that I most enjoyed, but I decided to be prudent and go to the student body meeting. My individualism did not take the form of setting myself apart from the crowd by nonconformist action; I had no taste for notoriety and I did not see any point in encountering needless trouble. Thus I argued with myself, but I was also impelled by considerable curiosity to see what would occur in the assembly.
On my way through the halls I encountered Walther Vogler, one of the shabbier theological students, hurrying
in the other direction.
“Aren’t you coming?” I asked him.
“Listen to those demagogues when I have a chance to hear Lietzmann?” he said scornfully. “Come along, do, Herr Hoffmann. What do you want to let those Nazis make a sheep out of you for?”
“Don’t you think it might be dangerous to stay away?”
“How do I know? I haven’t yet sold them my soul to the point where I am going to regulate my conduct by their wishes or spend my time wondering whether I am displeasing them. When their punishments catch up with me then I’ll start worrying, but no sooner.”
I felt a little twinge of conscience which hinted to me that I should have made the same decision Vogler had come to, but I was too proud to change my mind because this boy I was accustomed to look down on had done better than I had.
“I think it will be curious,” I equivocated. “Besides, I want to see this Rust. I think there’s something up.”
“Suit yourself,” said Vogler, and went his way.
The students had gathered in great throngs in the Opernplatz, and you could hear the high buzzing of voices as they speculated on the meaning of the assembly. We never knew in those days what was going to happen to us next. Again the crowd was sprinkled with uniforms, but this time they were all of one color and that was brown. As on the Memorial day there were great flags flying, but these all bore the swastika. The minister was driven up in a shining big car. He addressed the students as “sharers in the new Germany,” and promised great things for the future.
Then he drew himself up stiffly and announced, “The Fuehrer is not pleased with the number of volunteers for the Labor Battalions. I have come today to proclaim that henceforth the Labor Service will be compulsory. A six- months’ term of labor will be required of every student who wishes a degree.”
[In states across America, "community service" or "service learning" is required for high school graduation and college admission. Soon it will be a universal requirement for all young people. See "Serving a Greater Whole"]
All through the assembly students looked sidewise at their neighbors. When Minister Rust left in his gleaming car there were cheers, but they were not very hearty ones, and no edict could have stemmed the roar of talk that followed. [57-59]
Those of us who had classes wandered glumly back to the lecture rooms. I was one of the soberest of them, for I had begun to feel that I had been used to swell the Nazi display and to share the humiliation of having to accept the enforced Labor Service cheerfully, when I might have been listening to our famous Dr. Hans Lietzmann talking on the Epistle to the Romans. I admitted to myself that a good many of us had been just precisely the sheep that young Vogler had called us.
Of my class, about two hundred of us walked in late and found that a large group of our fellows had chosen to disregard the assembly and had come to hear their professor instead. A number of them turned around and frowned or remonstrated with us for disturbing the lecture but Dr. Lietzmann grinned at us out of his lean, ascetic face and said, “I am happy these days when my students come to class at all. Don’t reprove them, gentlemen.” And he went on in his quiet voice with his eloquent interpretation of the ancient words:
“For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid. Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.”
And the familiar lecture room was about us with the sun coming through the windows and a fly batting himself happily against one of the panes. The words of a letter written centuries before rang again with a timeless importance and my world slowly righted itself. The magnitude of the Nazi assemblage paled and the years of my coming life seemed to stretch solidly before me, as undisturbed by the Nazi buzzing as Dr. Lietzmann was undisturbed by the fly, and the years as I saw them were filled with just such beautiful and timeless sentences as the ones that were falling from his firm and honest lips.
Walking across the wide square before the university, only a few days later, I heard my name shouted. Hands grasped my shoulders and I found myself looking into the merry face of Orlando von Schlack. .... As I looked at him I realized that this was not the petulant young degenerate of whom I had heard rumors. His eyes were bright and his handclap hard. I let my surprise spill out of me.
"You don't look the way I expected."
He caught the implication at once. "You have been hearing things."
"I'm sorry," I apologized. "But there were stories. You always managed to get yourself talked about, Orlando."
He grinned at me boyishly. "You didn't hear the half of it." Then he became swiftly sober. "I was pretty far gone. I had muddied my life up with just about everything you can think of, and a lot that your good simple mind couldn't think of. I even tried drugs, Karl. Finally I felt that there was only one sensation left to try and that was death.... But it is wonderful to see you again. Come along, we must have a cup of coffee and talk...."
When we were seated in the coffeehouse, Orlando asked me at once what I was doing, and when I told him he looked at me with mock sorrow and cried, "Dear Karl! You are just the same as ever. Even that musty God you live is still the same! Then he leaned toward me across the table and his eyes glowed with a fire that I had never seen in them. "Karl," he cried, "I believe. I am saved."
"What do you mean?" I asked him. I sensed something strange in him. Much of his old mockery seemed to have disappeared and his intensity to have sharpened.
"I am in love with a new god," he told me, clenching his fingers around mine, "and his name is Hitler."
"I don't believe you."
"It is true, Karl.... It is glorious.... There is something new in the world after all. I could never have tolerated following some misty religion of the past; my blood revolted at it because I belong to the new age. What I believe in is a religion that is just beginning-- it is going out into the future.... Now I have a leader. There are strong emotions left in me that I can put my teeth in, hatred, pride -- all the fierce virtues...."
"Orlando, you fool," I rapped at him, "you can't possibly believe all that Nazi claptrap."
"Dear Karl," his eyes laughed at me with a flash of their familiar mocker, "who are you to berate me for my mysticism? For how many years did you tell me that it is possible to believe without questioning? Now my leader demands it and I believe without questions."
"But it is so stupid, so irrational, what you believe."
"Ah, yes, that is what I used to tell you when we had our arguments about religions, isn't it? But look how mysterious both our faiths are--and how much alike. Why, they're absolutely parallel.... You believe in salvation by the blood of Christ and I believe in salvation by the strong red stream that flows in all Aryans. We should both be kneeling at the same altar...."
"Orlando, you blasphemous devil..."
But he was out of control, laughing and talking at the top of his voice.
"You and I, Karl," he shouted, "you and I--both ... saved by the blood!
His hand pounded the table and a little wave of coffee slopped out of the cup and spread in a slowly widening brown stain across the tablecloth. [61-63]
CHAPTER FOUR (Germany, 1932-)
The centralization of power in Nazi hands grew stronger from month to month. The political opposition was removed by the simple expedient of jailing the outspoken leaders of opposing parties and by declaring all the traditional parties illegal with the exception of one, the National Socialist....
The suddenness of these changes, together with the Germanic instinct of obedience, caused them to be accepted passively. It was hard to say at the moment whether the new plans would turn well or not.
When systematic persecution began to grow they were met with this same passivity, but here the desire for self-preservation played a large part. If your neighbor's house rang with cries of terror during the night, if you saw a Jew dragged from his shop and beaten, still it was not happening to you and your acquiesce might be the price of your own safety. Thus the Nazis were able without opposition to single out an isolated group for purge or oppression. No section of society which had not been touched or molested was willing to utter a word in defense of those who were suffering for fear they might thus mark themselves out for the next victims. If the voice of their brother's blood cried out to them from the ground, there were many who answered in the stony words of Cain:
"Am I my brother's keeper?"
I began to sense a new menace in the hold this man Hitler was exercising over the people, a new threat in the air. Nazism was itself becoming a religion.
Orlando had first personified to me the form it was taking; however, I had put down Orlando's exuberance to his intensely emotional nature. But the more I saw of him the more I appreciated the strength of his fanaticism. He was like one of the ancient missionary monks in the violence of his beliefs. He talked of turning the people to the old Germanic gods, but his own god was Hitler. And now in my classes at the university I began to notice a strange glorification of the Fuehrer which was almost of a religious nature. I began to wonder when this new religion would come to active grips with the old. [64-65]
I returned home for the Easter vacation in the spring of 1933 in a very unhappy state of mind. I had written to my father of the religious tendency I saw in Nazism but he had seemed to miss the whole point of my fears. He had replied that I seemed to be giving more attention than was needful to politics....
His answer only left me more worried than before. If, as I foresaw, a shadow was creeping toward the Church, this sort of apathy would provide the very opportunity the Nazis needed, just as they had utilized the political lassitude under the Republic to gain their ends. But wherever I turned I met the same complacency, even among the students of the theology who clearly felt that to anticipate trouble from the Nazis was to get ourselves on dangerous ground. 
A later conversation with his father:
"Father... can't you see that the Nazis are not promoting them in any such rational ways? They talk about their new form of government as divinely appointed, as if it had come into existence as an act of God. They aren't pushing the political program of a party. Their acts are all cloaked in a religious fervor-- the people must accept them as they accept religious laws, without doubt.... Nothing else can be right. It isn't enough to accept their results. Everyone has to accept their philosophy.
[This is true of the UN as well. See The UN Plan for Your Mental Health. The global education system with its dialectic process is designed to manipulate people everywhere into accepting its global vision, beliefs and values]
"In Berlin you can begin to see the shape of a religious persecution that strikes at anyone brave enough to question their doctrine. I know personally of instances where men went to jail merely because they spoke out against the Nazi theory of the divine quality of the state. Even the divine inspiration of Hitler is becoming something that must not be questioned. The state is God. That is the religioun they are preaching." 
"Hitler is one who knows how much of a religion he is preaching. Do you remember his great speech in January... the one that marked him as the man of the hour? ... And do you remember how he ended it? With the doxology from the Lord's Prayer? After his oratory had rushed to such sweeping heights, how his voice rang in the old words, 'the kingdom and the power and the glory' and how in his mouth they somehow took on a new meaning as if he were a Moses standing on a mountain top and pointing out to us a promised land? And it was not the Kingdom of God.... he meant; it was his own promised land that he showed us with those great words rolling from his tongue: "The Reich and power and the glory forever, Amen." He was posing as a prophet, not a political leader....."
"You are giving the controversy too much significance, I am afraid," my father said.... "You are young, and you are impressionable. Christianity is very old and very deeply rooted. I doubt that the government would try to teach a religious doctrine.... The history of the Church... will teach you that the people are willing to be deprived of many things, but not of their beliefs. They will suffer many outrages, but not the destruction of their religion. I do not recall that Hitler had ever attacked the church and I don't believe he will now."
"I wish you were right," I said, the old feeling of loneliness engulfing me. But I am afraid it isn't so simple even as that. The Nazi doctrine, doesn't intend to deprive people of their faith, but to substitute a new religion for an old one. I am afraid there are many people ready to accept a new faith. I have talked to numbers of them.... Now comes a new and shining promise, and I am afraid that many will follow it, especially since it promises more food on the table, more money in the pocket and more power for their country.
"It will never be strong enough," said my father.
I got on my feet. "Thank you, Father," I said, miserably. 
CHAPTER FIVE (Germany, 1932-)
The first blow fell on the day of my return to the university.... The courtyard was crowded with milling students, their voices loud with excitement.... I joined the first group with whom I was acquitted and noticed that they were too excited for formal greetings. ...
"Herr Hoffman may know whether it is true or not," Vogler said. "Have you heard the rumors?
"What has happened? I asked. "I don't know anything."
"We have just heard that the government has ordered all the Lutheran churches to unite."
Here it comes, I thought to myself; aloud I said, "I am not surprised. It is the first step."
"It doesn't seem very ominous to me," another student broke in. "Certainly it will not weaken the Church to be unified."
"I don't like the implication," I answered. "It is enough to know that the Nazis have begun to interfere in the Church affairs at all. If they can force one step on us, they will try another."...
"I fear the Greeks," said young Vogler fiercely, "when they bring gifts."  ...
The chief rumor proved to be that Hitler had issued an ultimatum to the churches, requesting them to unite in one body and warning that the government would do it for them if they failed to comply.
The students were all filled with a gloomy excitement, most of them with dark premonitions of an attack on our religious freedom. For me, even though my fears seeded about to be realized, there was relief in seeing that my companions were now also aware of the danger I had been dreading, that they too were awake to it at last.
Time after time I heard someone asking, "What will Lietzmann say?"
"He will be for it. Lietzmann was active in trying to unite the churches twelve years ago."
Don't you think it! Lietzmann is an independent. He isn't going to see the Church taking orders from the Nazis." 
Posted with permission
See also Trapped in Hitler's Hell and God Holds the Key
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