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Hitler's Pope by John Cornwell
notes & commentary by William P. Meyers

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Pacelli, however, was not worried about Bruning’s troubles or unemployment. He tried to use the situation as leverage in getting his all-important Reich Concordat favorably negotiated. But even most Center Party politicians saw Pacelli’s demands as impossible. When Bruning tried to explain how Protestants and socialists would react to Pacelli’s demands, Pacelli suggested Bruning “form a right-wing administration precisely in order to achieve a Reich Concordat, and that it should be a condition that the treaty be concluded at once.” [119-121]

Hitler had become Chancellor on January 30, 1933, but in the March 5th elections failed to obtain an absolute National Socialist majority in the Reichstag so he enlisted Hugenberg’s German National People’s Party as allies. The Catholic Center Party had received 13.9% of the vote. Certain aspects of the National Socialist program had been denounced by Catholic Bishops. Hitler needed a Concordat that would silence opposition Catholics, but could not get it without becoming dictator, which would require a supermajority to pass an Enabling Act. In the cabinet meeting of March 7, Papen (vice-chancellor and Catholic heavy) said Pacelli, through Ludwig Kaas, had offered to cooperate with Hitler. The potential deal offered was an Enabling Act for the Concordat. [132-134]

On March 13, 1933 Pacelli, now Vatican Secretary of State, “brought to the Führer’s attention recent words of praise uttered by the Pope for the Reich chancellor’s anti-Bolshevist crusade.” However, Pius XI’s and Pacelli’s support for Hitler shocked many German bishops. [134]

Ludwig Kaas, the then leader of the Center Party, in March meetings argued with Bruning about the Enabling Act, which Bruning opposed as unconstitutional. But Kaas had apparently already made a deal with Hitler. Kaas was also “in close communication with Pacelli in Rome.”  “In 1937 Goebbels stated in his newspaper Der Angriff that Kaas had agreed to the Enabling Act in exchange for the government’s agreement to negotiate a Reich Concordat.” Kaas pleaded with the Center Party to vote for the Enabling Act “to exert a moral hold over Hitler.” “In his speech before the Reichstag, Hitler had gone out of his way to declare his determination to seek accommodation with the Vatican. [135]

After an internal debate, “Bruning was persuaded that a split in the Center Party would destroy any prospect of future Catholic resistance to religious persecution … the minority eventually fell in with the majority. They joined their colleagues and marched through the battalions of jeering storm troopers to the Kroll Opera House to take the vote… The act, passed later that day by 441 to 94 votes (only the Social Democrats opposed), gave Hitler a comfortable majority vote to pass laws without the consent of the Reichstag and to make treaties with foreign governments (the very first of which was to be his treaty with Pacelli). [136]

On March 26, 2010 Protestant churches [WPM: Lutheran] “formally acknowledged their acceptance of Hitler and his regime. On March 28th the German Catholic bishops issued a statement of reconciliation, saying “For Catholic Christians, to whom the voice of the Church is sacred, it is not necessary at the present moment to make special admonition to be loyal to the lawful government and to fulfill conscientiously the duties of citizenship, rejecting on principle all illegal or subversive behavior.” [WPM: In other words, obey the Fuhrer][138]

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