History Podcasts

During World War I, why were church bells stopped until the war was over?

During World War I, why were church bells stopped until the war was over?

I was watching a movie yesterday called War Horse. In this movie they mentioned that when England joined World War I, the church bells stopped tolling until the war ended. Then, the bells started ringing again.
What was the reason for that?

Source:

'War Horse': It's hard to care about animals while you're waiting for the sound of church bells.


Church bells have both an ecclesiastical use, and a secular use. In the secular realm, church bells are used to notify the local inhabitants of emergency conditions (particularly in an era when wireless & TV are not commonplace). Church bells were silenced to prevent false alarms.

Ringing church bells was forbidden by the Defense of the Realm Act.

During the war, Church bells thoughout the land were silenced, destined only to toll the ominous news that our shores were being invaded, so that now its unfamiliar resonant chime fell like music on our ears. BBC People's War although this refers to WWII

Wikipedia also notes,

In World War II in Great Britain, all church bells were silenced, to ring only to inform of an invasion by enemy troops.[25] The episode "The Battle of Godfrey's Cottage" of the BBC sitcom Dad's Army included a scene where the church bells rang by mistake, leading the Home Guard to believe that an invasion was taking place.

And a citation in the same wiki article leads me to the quote

"Bells came into use in our churches as early as the year 400, and their introduction is ascribed to Paulinus, bishop of Nola, a town of Campania, in Italy. Their use spread rapidly, as in those unsettled times the church-bell was useful not only for summoning the faithful to religious services, but also for giving an alarm when danger threatened."


Bells were not banned during World War 1 - it was World war 2. And they did not stay silent until the end of the war - Churchill ordered them to ring out to celebrate victory at El Alemein in 1942. Ringing resumed in 1943. For an entertaining podcast episode , where bell ringers of today read from the contemporary records of the time go to the fun with bells podcast


Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen, who wrote some of the best British poetry on World War I, composed nearly all of his poems in slightly over a year, from August 1917 to September 1918. In November 1918 he was killed in action at the age of 25, one week before the Armistice. Only five poems were published in his lifetime&mdashthree in the Nation and two that appeared anonymously in the Hydra, a journal he edited in 1917 when he was a patient at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh. Shortly after his death, seven more of his poems appeared in the 1919 volume of Edith Sitwell's annual anthology, Wheels: a volume dedicated to his memory, and in 1919 and 1920 seven other poems appeared in periodicals. Almost all of Owen&rsquos poems, therefore, appeared posthumously: importantly in the bestselling collection Poems (1920), edited by Siegfried Sassoon with the assistance of Edith Sitwell, contains 23 poems The Poems of Wilfred Owen (1931), edited by Edmund Blunden, adds 19 poems to this number and The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen (1963), edited by C. Day Lewis, contains 80 poems, adding some juvenilia, minor poems, and fragments but omitting a few of the poems from Blunden&rsquos edition. Owen wrote vivid and terrifying poems about modern warfare, depicting graphic scenes with honest emotions in doing so, young Owen helped to advance poetry into the Modernist era.

Wilfred Edward Salter Owen was born on March 18, 1893, in Oswestry, on the Welsh border of Shropshire, in the beautiful and spacious home of his maternal grandfather. Wilfred&rsquos father, Thomas, a former seaman, had returned from India to marry Susan Shaw throughout the rest of his life Thomas felt constrained by his somewhat dull and low-paid position as a railway station master. Owen&rsquos mother felt that her marriage limited her intellectual, musical, and economic ambitions. Both parents seem to have been of Welsh descent, and Susan&rsquos family had been relatively affluent during her childhood but had lost ground economically. As the oldest of four children born in rapid succession, Wilfred developed a protective attitude toward the others and an especially close relationship with his mother. After he turned four, the family moved from the grandfather&rsquos home to a modest house in Birkenhead, where Owen attended Birkenhead Institute from 1900 to 1907. The family then moved to another modest house, in Shrewsbury, where Owen attended Shrewsbury Technical School and graduated in 1911 at the age of 18. Having attempted unsuccessfully to win a scholarship to attend London University, he tried to measure his aptitude for a religious vocation by becoming an unpaid lay assistant to the Reverend Herbert Wigan, a vicar of evangelical inclinations in the Church of England, at Dunsden, Oxfordshire. In return for the tutorial instruction he was to receive, but which did not significantly materialize, Owen agreed to assist with the care of the poor and sick in the parish and to decide within two years whether he should commit himself to further training as a clergyman. At Dunsden he achieved a fuller understanding of social and economic issues and developed his humanitarian propensities, but as a consequence of this heightened sensitivity, he became disillusioned with the inadequate response of the Church of England to the sufferings of the underprivileged and the dispossessed. In his spare time, he read widely and began to write poetry. In his initial verses he wrote on the conventional subjects of the time, but his work also manifested some stylistic qualities that even then tended to set him apart, especially his keen ear for sound and his instinct for the modulating of rhythm, talents related perhaps to the musical ability that he shared with both of his parents.

In 1913 he returned home, seriously ill with a respiratory infection that his living in a damp, unheated room at the vicarage had exacerbated. He talked of poetry, music, or graphic art as possible vocational choices, but his father urged him to seek employment that would result in a steady income. After eight months of convalescence at home, Owen taught for one year in Bordeaux at the Berlitz School of Languages, and he spent a second year in France with a Catholic family, tutoring their two boys. As a result of these experiences, he became a Francophile. Later these years undoubtedly heightened his sense of the degree to which the war disrupted the life of the French populace and caused widespread suffering among civilians as the Allies pursued the retreating Germans through French villages in the summer and fall of 1918.

In September 1915, nearly a year after the United Kingdom and Germany had gone to war, Owen returned to England, uncertain as to whether he should enlist. By October he had enlisted and was at first in the Artists&rsquo Rifles. In June 1916 he received a commission as lieutenant in the Manchester Regiment, and on December 29, 1916 he left for France with the Lancashire Fusiliers.

Judging by his first letters to his mother from France, one might have anticipated that Owen would write poetry in the idealistic vein of Rupert Brooke: &ldquoThere is a fine heroic feeling about being in France. . &rdquo But by January 6, 1917 he wrote of the marching, &ldquoThe awful state of the roads, and the enormous weight carried was too much for scores of men.&rdquo Outfitted in hip-length rubber waders, on January 8, he had waded through two and a half miles of trenches with &ldquoa mean depth of two feet of water.&rdquo By January 9, he was housed in a hut where only 70 yards away a howitzer fired every minute day and night. On January 12 occurred the march and attack of poison gas he later reported in &ldquoDulce et Decorum Est.&rdquo They marched three miles over a shelled road and three more along a flooded trench, where those who got stuck in the heavy mud had to leave their waders, as well as some clothing and equipment, and move ahead on bleeding and freezing feet. They were under machine-gun fire, shelled by heavy explosives throughout the cold march, and were almost unconscious from fatigue when the poison-gas attack occurred. Another incident that month, in which one of Owen&rsquos men was blown from a ladder in their trench and blinded, forms the basis of &ldquoThe Sentry.&rdquo In February Owen attended an infantry school at Amiens. On March 19, he was hospitalized for a brain concussion suffered six nights earlier, when he fell into a 15-foot-deep shell hole while searching in the dark for a soldier overcome by fatigue. Blunden dates the writing of Owen&rsquos sonnet &ldquoTo A Friend (With an Identity Disc)&rdquo to these few days in the hospital. Throughout April the battalion suffered incredible physical privations caused by the record-breaking cold and snow and by the heavy shelling. For four days and nights Owen and his men remained in an open field in the snow, with no support forces arriving to relieve them and with no chance to change wet, frozen clothes or to sleep: &ldquoI kept alive on brandy, the fear of death, and the glorious prospect of the cathedral town just below us, glittering with the morning.&rdquo Three weeks later on April 25 he continued to write his mother of the intense shelling: &ldquoFor twelve days I did not wash my face, nor take off my boots, nor sleep a deep sleep. For twelve days we lay in holes where at any moment a shell might put us out.&rdquo One wet night during this time he was blown into the air while he slept. For the next several days he hid in a hole too small for his body, with the body of a friend, now dead, huddled in a similar hole opposite him, and less than six feet away. In these letters to his mother he directed his bitterness not at the enemy but at the people back in England &ldquowho might relieve us and will not.&rdquo

Having endured such experiences in January, March, and April, Owen was sent to a series of hospitals between May 1 and June 26, 1917 because of severe headaches. He thought them related to his brain concussion, but they were eventually diagnosed as symptoms of shell shock, and he was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh to become a patient of Dr. A. Brock, the associate of Dr. W.H.R. Rivers, the noted neurologist and psychologist to whom Siegfried Sassoon was assigned when he arrived six weeks later.

Owen&rsquos annus mirabilis as a poet apparently began in the summer of 1917, but he had, in fact, been preparing himself haphazardly but determinedly for a career as poet throughout the preceding five or six years. He had worshipped Keats and later Shelley during adolescence during his two years at Dunsden he had read and written poetry in the isolated evenings at the vicarage in Bordeaux, the elderly symbolist poet and pacifist writer Laurent Tailhade had encouraged him in his ambition to become a poet. Also in France in 1913 and 1914 he probably read and studied the works of novelist and poet Jules Romains, who was experimenting with pararhyme and assonance. While he was stationed in London in 1915 and 1916, he found stimulation in discussions with another older poet, Harold Monro, who ran the Poetry Bookshop, a meeting place for poets and in 1916, he read Rupert Brooke, William Butler Yeats, and A.E. Housman. Owen was developing his skill in versification, his technique as a poet, and his appreciation for the poetry of others, especially that of his more important contemporaries, but until 1917 he was not expressing his own significant experiences and convictions except in letters to his mother and brother. This preparation, the three bitter months of suffering, the warmth of the people of Edinburgh who &ldquoadopted&rdquo the patients, the insight of Dr. Brock, and the coincidental arrival of Siegfried Sassoon brought forth the poet and the creative outpouring of his single year of maturity.

Before Sassoon arrived at Craiglockhart in mid-August, Dr. Brock encouraged Owen to edit the hospital journal, the Hydra, which went through twelve issues before Owen left. It seems likely that this sensitive psychologist and enthusiastic friend assisted Owen in confronting the furthermost ramifications of his violent experiences in France so that he could write of the terrifying experiences in poems such as &ldquoDulce et Decorum Est,&rdquo &ldquoThe Sentry,&rdquo and &ldquoThe Show.&rdquo He may also have helped him confront his shyness his intense involvement with his mother and his attempt, at the same time, to become more independent his resentment of his father&rsquos disapproval of his ambition for a career as a poet his ambivalence about Christianity and his disillusionment with Christian religion in the practices of the contemporary church his expressed annoyance with all women except his mother and his attraction to other men and his decision to return to his comrades in the trenches rather than to stay in England to protest the continuation of the war.

When Sassoon arrived, it took Owen two weeks to get the courage to knock on his door and identify himself as a poet. At that time Owen, like many others in the hospital, was speaking with a stammer. By autumn he was not only articulate with his new friends and lecturing in the community but was able to use his terrifying experiences in France, and his conflicts about returning, as the subject of poems expressing his own deepest feelings. He experienced an astonishing period of creative energy that lasted through several months, until he returned to France and the heavy fighting in the fall of 1918.

By the time they met, Owen and Sassoon shared the conviction that the war ought to be ended, since the total defeat of the Central Powers would entail additional destruction, casualties, and suffering of staggering magnitude. In 1917 and 1918 both found their creative stimulus in a compassionate identification with soldiers in combat and in the hospital. In spite of their strong desire to remain in England to protest the continuation of the war, both finally returned to their comrades in the trenches. Whatever the exact causes of Owen&rsquos sudden emergence as &ldquotrue poet&rdquo in the summer of 1917, he himself thought that Sassoon had &ldquofixed&rdquo him in place as poet. By the time Sassoon arrived, his first volume of poetry, The Old Huntsman (1917), which includes some war poems, had gained wide attention, and he was already preparing Counter-Attack (1918), which was to have an even stronger impact on the English public. In the weeks immediately before he was sent to Craiglockhart under military orders, Sassoon had been the center of public attention for risking the possibility of court martial by mailing a formal protest against the war to the War Department. Further publicity resulted when he dramatized his protest by throwing his Military Cross into the River Mersey and when a member of the House of Commons read the letter of protest before the hostile members of the House, an incident instigated by Bertrand Russell in order to further the pacifist cause. Sassoon came from a wealthy and famous family. He had been to Cambridge, he was seven years older than Owen, and he had many friends among the London literati. Both pride and humility in having acquired Sassoon as friend characterized Owen&rsquos report to his mother of his visits to Sassoon&rsquos room in September. He remarked that he had not yet told his new friend &ldquothat I am not worthy to light his pipe. I simply sit tight and tell him where I think he goes wrong.&rdquo

If their views on the war and their motivations in writing about it were similar, significant differences appear when one compares their work. In the poems written after he went to France in 1916 Sassoon consistently used a direct style with regular and exact rhyme, pronounced rhythms, colloquial language, a strongly satiric mode and he also tended to present men and women in a stereotypical manner. After meeting Sassoon, Owen wrote several poems in Sassoon&rsquos drily satirical mode, but he soon rejected Sassoon&rsquos terseness or epigrammatic concision. Consequently, Owen created soldier figures who often express a fuller humanity and emotional range than those in Sassoon&rsquos more cryptic poems. In his war poems, whether ideological, meditative, or lyrical, Owen achieved greater breadth than Sassoon did in his war poetry. Even in some of the works that Owen wrote before he left Craiglockhart in the fall of 1917, he revealed a technical versatility and a mastery of sound through complex patterns of assonance, alliteration, dissonance, consonance, and various other kinds of slant rhyme&mdashan experimental method of composition which went beyond any innovative versification that Sassoon achieved during his long career.

While Owen wrote to Sassoon of his gratitude for his help in attaining a new birth as poet, Sassoon did not believe he had influenced Owen as radically and as dramatically as Owen maintained. Sassoon regarded his &ldquotouch of guidance&rdquo and his encouragement as fortunately coming at the moment when Owen most needed them, and he later maintained in Siegfried&rsquos Journey, 1916-1920 that his &ldquoonly claimable influence was that I stimulated him towards writing with compassionate and challenging realism. . My encouragement was opportune, and can claim to have given him a lively incentive during his rapid advance to self-revelation.&rdquo Sassoon also saw what Owen may never have recognized&mdashthat Sassoon&rsquos technique &ldquowas almost elementary compared with his [Owen&rsquos] innovating experiments.&rdquo Perhaps Sassoon&rsquos statement in late 1945 summarizes best the reciprocal influence the two poets had exerted upon one another: &ldquoimperceptible effects are obtained by people mingling their minds at a favorable moment.&rdquo

Sassoon helped Owen by arranging for him, upon his discharge from the hospital, to meet Robert Ross, a London editor who was Sassoon&rsquos friend. Ross, in turn, introduced Owen&mdashthen and in May 1918&mdashto other literary figures, such as Robert Graves, Edith and Osbert Sitwell, Arnold Bennett, Thomas Hardy, and Captain Charles Scott Moncrieff, who later translated Proust. Knowing these important writers made Owen feel part of a community of literary people&mdashone of the initiated. Accordingly, on New Year&rsquos Eve 1917, Owen wrote exuberantly to his mother of his poetic ambitions: &ldquoI am started. The tugs have left me. I feel the great swelling of the open sea taking my galleon.&rdquo At the same time, association with other writers made him feel a sense of urgency&mdasha sense that he must make up for lost time in his development as a poet. In May 1918, on leave in London, he wrote his mother: I am old already for a poet, and so little is yet achieved.&rdquo But he added with his wry humor, &ldquocelebrity is the last infirmity I desire.&rdquo

By May 1918 Owen regarded his poems not only as individual expressions of intense experience but also as part of a book that would give the reader a wide perspective on World War I. In spring 1918 it appeared that William Heinemann (in spite of the paper shortage that his publishing company faced) would assign Robert Ross to read Owen&rsquos manuscript when he submitted it to them. In a table of contents compiled before the end of July 1918 Owen followed a loosely thematic arrangement. Next to each title he wrote a brief description of the poem, and he also prepared in rough draft a brief, but eloquent, preface, in which he expresses his belief in the cathartic function of poetry. For a man who had written sentimental or decorative verse before his war poems of 1917 and 1918, Owen&rsquos preface reveals an unexpected strength of commitment and purpose as a writer, a commitment understandable enough in view of the overwhelming effects of the war upon him. In this preface Owen said the poetry in his book would express &ldquothe pity of War,&rdquo rather than the &ldquoglory, honour, might, majesty, dominion, or power,&rdquo which war had acquired in the popular mind. He distinguished also between the pity he sought to awaken by his poems (&ldquoThe Poetry is in the Pity&rdquo) and that conventionally expressed by writers who felt less intensely opposed to war by this time than he did. As they wrote their historically oriented laments or elegies for those fallen in wars, they sought to comfort and inspire readers by placing the deaths and war itself in the context of sacrifice for a significant cause. But Owen&rsquos message for his generation, he said, must be one of warning rather than of consolation. In his last declaration he appears to have heeded Sassoon&rsquos advice to him that he begin to use an unmitigated realism in his description of events: &ldquothe true poet must be truthful.&rdquo

Owen&rsquos identification of himself as a poet, affirmed by his new literary friends, must have been especially important in the last few months of his life. Even the officer with whom he led the remnant of the company to safety on a night in October 1918 and with whom he won the Military Cross for his action later wrote to Blunden that neither he nor the rest of the men ever dreamed that Owen wrote poems.

When Owen first returned to the battlefields of France on September 1, 1918, after several months of limited service in England, he seemed confident about his decision: &ldquoI shall be better able to cry my outcry, playing my part.&rdquo Once overseas, however, he wrote to Sassoon chiding him for having urged him to return to France, for having alleged that further exposure to combat would provide him with experience that he could transmute into poetry: &ldquoThat is my consolation for feeling a fool,&rdquo he wrote on September 22, 1918. He was bitterly angry at Clemenceau for expecting the war to be continued and for disregarding casualties even among children in the villages as the Allied troops pursued the German forces. He did not live long enough for this indignation or the war experiences of September and October to become part of his poetry, although both are vividly expressed in his letters.

In October Owen wrote of his satisfaction at being nominated for the Military Cross because receiving the award would give him more credibility at home, especially in his efforts to bring the war to an end. Lieutenant J. Foulkes, who shared command with him the night in October 1918 that all other officers were killed, described to Edmund Blunden the details of Owen&rsquos acts of &ldquoconspicuous gallantry.&rdquo His company had successfully attacked what was considered a &ldquosecond Hindenburg Line&rdquo in territory that was &ldquowell-wired.&rdquo Losses were so heavy that among the commissioned officers only Foulkes and Owen survived. Owen took command and led the men to a place where he held the line for several hours from a captured German pill box, the only cover available. The pill box was, however, a potential death trap upon which the enemy concentrated its fire. By morning the few who survived were at last relieved by the Lancashire Fusiliers. Foulkes told Blunden, &ldquoThis is where I admired his work&mdashin leading his remnant, in the middle of the night, back to safety. . I was content to follow him with the utmost confidence.&rdquo Early in his army career Owen wrote to his brother Harold that he knew he could not change his inward self in order to become a self-assured soldier, but that he might still be able to change his appearance and behavior so that others would get the impression he was a &ldquogood soldier.&rdquo Such determination and conscientiousness account for the trust in his leadership that Foulkes expressed. Owen was again moving among his men and offering encouragement when he was killed the next month.

In the last weeks of his life Owen seems to have coped with the stress of the heavy casualties among his battalion by &ldquoinsensibility,&rdquo much like that of soldiers he forgives in his poem of the same title, but condemns among civilians: &ldquoHappy are men who yet before they are killed / Can let their veins run cold.&rdquo These men have walked &ldquoon the alleys cobbled with their brothers.&rdquo &ldquoAlive, he is not vital overmuch / Dying, not mortal overmuch.&rdquo Owen wrote to Sassoon, after reading Counter-Attack , that Sassoon&rsquos war poems frightened him more than the actual experience of holding a soldier shot through the head and having the man&rsquos blood soak hot against his shoulder for a half hour. Two weeks before his death he wrote both to his mother and to Sassoon that his nerves were &ldquoin perfect order.&rdquo But in the letter to Sassoon he explained, &ldquoI cannot say I suffered anything, having let my brain grow dull. . I shall feel anger again as soon as I dare, but now I must not. I don&rsquot take the cigarette out of my mouth when I write Deceased over their letters. But one day I will write Deceased over many books.&rdquo

After Wilfred Owen&rsquos death his mother attempted to present him as a more pious figure than he was. For his tombstone, she selected two lines from &ldquoThe End&rdquo&mdash&rdquoShall life renew these bodies? Of a truth / All death will he annul, all tears assuage?&rdquo&mdashbut omitted the question mark at the close of the quotation. His grave thus memorializes a faith that he did not hold and ignores the doubt he expressed. In 1931 Blunden wrote Sassoon, with irritation, because Susan Owen had insisted that the collected edition of Owen&rsquos poems celebrate her son as a majestic and tall heroic figure: &ldquoMrs. Owen has had her way, with a purple binding and a photograph which makes W look like a 6 foot Major who had been in East Africa or so for several years.&rdquo (Owen was about a foot shorter than Sassoon.)

Harold Owen succeeded in removing a reference to his brother as &ldquoan idealistic homosexual&rdquo from Robert Graves&rsquos Goodbye to All That, and specifically addressed in volume three of his biography the questions that had been raised about his brother&rsquos disinterest in women. Harold Owen insisted that his brother had been so dedicated to poetry that he had chosen, at least temporarily, the life of a celibate. He also explains, what was undoubtedly true, that Owen expressed himself impulsively and emotionally, that he was naive, and that he was given to hero worship of other men.

Owen&rsquos presentation of &ldquoboys&rdquo and &ldquolads&rdquo&mdashbeautiful young men with golden hair, shining eyes, strong brown hands, white teeth&mdashhas homoerotic elements. One must recognize, however, such references had become stock literary devices in war poetry. The one poem which can clearly be called a love poem, &ldquoTo A Friend (With an Identity Disc),&rdquo carefully avoids the use of either specifically masculine or feminine terms in addressing the friend. Eroticism in Owen&rsquos poems seems idealized, romantic, and platonic and is used frequently to contrast the ugly and horrible aspects of warfare. Of more consequence in considering Owen&rsquos sexual attitudes in relation to his poetry is the harshness in reference to wives, mothers, or sweethearts of the wounded or disabled soldiers. The fullness of his insight into &ldquothe pity of war&rdquo seems incomprehensibly limited in the presentation of women in &ldquoThe Dead-Beat,&rdquo &ldquoDisabled,&rdquo &ldquoThe Send-Off,&rdquo and &ldquoS.I.W.&rdquo

In several of his most effective war poems, Owen suggests that the experience of war for him was surrealistic, as when the infantrymen dream, hallucinate, begin freezing to death, continue to march after several nights without sleep, lose consciousness from loss of blood, or enter a hypnotic state from fear or excessive guilt. The resulting disconnected sensory perceptions and the speaker&rsquos confusion about his identity suggest that not only the speaker, but the whole humanity, has lost its moorings. The horror of war, then, becomes more universal, the tragedy more overwhelming, and the pity evoked more profound, because there is no rational explanation to account for the cataclysm.

In &ldquoConscious&rdquo a wounded soldier, moving in and out of consciousness, cannot place in perspective the yellow flowers beside his hospital bed, nor can he recall blue sky. The soldiers in &ldquoMental Cases&rdquo suffer hallucinations in which they observe everything through a haze of blood: &ldquoSunlight becomes a blood-smear dawn comes blood-black.&rdquo In &ldquoExposure,&rdquo which displays Owen&rsquos mastery of assonance and alliteration, soldiers in merciless wind and snow find themselves overwhelmed by nature&rsquos hostility and unpredictability. They even lose hope that spring will arrive: &ldquoFor God&rsquos invincible spring our love is made afraid.&rdquo Anticipating the search that night for the bodies of fallen soldiers in no man&rsquos land, the speaker predicts that soon all of his comrades will be found as corpses with their eyes turned to ice. Ironically, as they begin freezing to death, their pain becomes numbness and then pleasurable warmth. As the snow gently fingers their cheeks, the freezing soldiers dream of summer: &ldquoso we drowse, sun-dozed / Littered with blossoms trickling where the blackbird fusses.&rdquo Dreaming of warm hearths as &ldquoour ghosts drag home,&rdquo they quietly &ldquoturn back to our dying.&rdquo The speaker in &ldquoAsleep&rdquo envies the comfort of one who can sleep, even though the sleep is that of death: &ldquoHe sleeps less tremulous, less cold / Than we who must awake, and waking, say Alas!&rdquo All these &ldquodream poems&rdquo suggest that life is a nightmare in which the violence of war is an accepted norm. The cosmos seems either cruelly indifferent or else malignant, certainly incapable of being explained in any rational manner. A loving Christian God is nonexistent. The poem&rsquos surface incoherence suggests the utter irrationality of life. Even a retreat to the comfort of the unconscious state is vulnerable to sudden invasion from the hell of waking life.

One of Owen&rsquos most moving poems, &ldquoDulce et Decorum Est,&rdquo which had its origins in Owen&rsquos experiences of January 1917, describes explicitly the horror of the gas attack and the death of a wounded man who has been flung into a wagon. The horror intensifies, becoming a waking nightmare experienced by the exhausted viewer, who stares hypnotically at his comrade in the wagon ahead of him as he must continue to march.

The nightmare aspect reaches its apogee in &ldquoThe Show.&rdquo As the speaker gazes upon a desolate, war-ravaged landscape, it changes gradually to the magnified portion of a dead soldier&rsquos face, infested by thousands of caterpillars. The barbed wire of no-man&rsquos-land becomes the scraggly beard on the face the shell holes become pockmarked skin. Only at the end does the poet&rsquos personal conflict become clear. Owen identifies himself as the severed head of a caterpillar and the many legs, still moving blindly, as the men of his command from whom he has been separated. The putrefying face, the sickening voraciousness of the caterpillars, and the utter desolation of the ruined landscape become symbolic of the lost hopes for humanity.

&ldquoStrange Meeting,&rdquo another poem with a dreamlike frame, differs from those just described in its meditative tone and its less&mdashconcentrated use of figurative language. Two figures&mdashthe poet and the man he killed&mdashgradually recognize each other and their similarity when they meet in the shadows of hell. In the background one becomes aware of multitudes of huddled sleepers, slightly moaning in their &ldquoencumbered&rdquo sleep&mdashall men killed in &ldquotitanic wars.&rdquo Because the second man speaks almost exclusively of death&rsquos thwarting of his purpose and ambition as a poet, he probably represents Owen&rsquos alter ego. Neither figure is differentiated by earthly association, and the &ldquostrange friend&rdquo may also represent an Everyman figure, suggesting the universality of the tragedy of war. The poem closes as the second speaker stops halfway through the last line to return to his eternal sleep. The abrupt halt drives home the point that killing a poet cuts off the promise of the one more line of poetry he might have written. The last line extends &ldquothe Pity of war&rdquo to a universal pity for all those who have been diminished through the ages by art which might have been created and was not.

Sassoon called &ldquoStrange Meeting&rdquo Owen&rsquos masterpiece, the finest elegy by a soldier who fought in World War I. T.S. Eliot, who praised it as &ldquoone of the most moving pieces of verse inspired by the war,&rdquo recognized that its emotional power lies in Owen&rsquos &ldquotechnical achievement of great originality.&rdquo In &ldquoStrange Meeting,&rdquo Owen sustains the dreamlike quality by a complex musical pattern, which unifies the poem and leads to an overwhelming sense of war&rsquos waste and a sense of pity that such conditions should continue to exist. John Middleton Murry in 1920 noted the extreme subtlety in Owen&rsquos use of couplets employing assonance and dissonance. Most readers, he said, assumed the poem was in blank verse but wondered why the sound of the words produced in them a cumulative sadness and inexorable uneasiness and why such effects lingered. Owen&rsquos use of slant-rhyme produces, in Murry&rsquos words, a &ldquosubterranean . forged unity, a welded, inexorable massiveness.&rdquo

Although Owen does not use the dream frame in &ldquoFutility,&rdquo this poem, like &ldquoStrange Meeting,&rdquo is also a profound meditation on the horrifying significance of war. As in &ldquoExposure,&rdquo the elemental structure of the universe seems out of joint. Unlike the speaker in &ldquoExposure,&rdquo however, this one does not doubt that spring will come to warm the frozen battlefield, but he wonders why it should. Even the vital force of the universe&mdashthe sun&rsquos energy&mdashno longer nurtures life.

One of the most perfectly structured of Owen&rsquos poems, &ldquoAnthem for Doomed Youth,&rdquo convinced Sassoon in October 1917 that Owen was not only a &ldquopromising minor poet&rdquo but a poet with &ldquoclassic and imaginative serenity&rdquo who possessed &ldquoimpressive affinities with Keats.&rdquo By using the fixed form of the sonnet, Owen gains compression and a close interweaving of symbols. In particular, he uses the break between octave and sestet to deepen the contrast between themes, while at the same time he minimizes that break with the use of sound patterns that continue throughout the poem and with the image of a bugle, which unifies three disparate groups of symbols. The structure depends, then, not only on the sonnet form but on a pattern of echoing sounds from the first line to the last, and upon Owen&rsquos careful organization of groups of symbols and of two contrasting themes&mdashin the sestet the mockery of doomed youth, &ldquodying like cattle,&rdquo and in the octave the silent personal grief which is the acceptable response to immense tragedy. The symbols in the octave suggest cacophony the visual images in the sestet suggest silence. The poem is unified throughout by a complex pattern of alliteration and assonance. Despite its complex structure, this sonnet achieves an effect of impressive simplicity.


1. It struck in three waves across the world

Three pandemic waves: weekly combined influenza and pneumonia mortality, United Kingdom, 1918–1919 (Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The first wave of the 1918 pandemic took place in the spring of that year, and was generally mild.

Those infected experienced typical flu symptoms – chills, fever, fatigue – and usually recovered after several days. The number of reported deaths was low.

In the autumn of 1918, the second wave appeared – and with a vengeance.

Victims died within hours or days of developing symptoms. Their skin would turn blue, and their lungs would fill with fluids, causing them to suffocate.

In the space of one year, the average life expectancy in the United States plummeted by a dozen years.

A third, more moderate, wave hit in the spring of 1919. By the summer it had subsided.


V-E Day 1945 in the British Isles

In London, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill learned of the German surrender at 7:00 a.m. on May 7, but no official announcement was made until 7:40 that evening. The Soviet Union’s premier Josef Stalin wanted to keep to the agreed-upon schedule of holding off on announcements until May 9. Finally, Churchill growled that he was not going to give the Communist leader the satisfaction of holding up the news that was already spreading. (Germany had already informed its people of the surrender.)

The understated official announcement from Britain’s Ministry of Information said simply, “In accordance with arrangements between the three great powers, tomorrow, Tuesday (May 8), will be treated as Victory in Europe Day and will be regarded as a holiday.”

Tens of thousands rushed into the streets of London and continued celebrating until heavy rains arrived around midnight that night.

On V-E Day the next day, celebrations continued as best they could with rationing still in place. The Home Office declared, “Bonfires will be allowed, but the government trusts that only material with no salvage value will be used.” The Board of Trade lifted rationing of cloth just a smidgen: “Until the end of May you may buy cotton bunting without coupons, as long as it is red, white or blue, and does not cost more than one shilling and three pence a square yard.”

English novelist Mollie Panter-Downes wrote in a letter that ran in New Yorker Magazine on May 19 that even dogs trotted along wearing immense tricolored bows, and “American sailors and laughing girls formed a conga line down the middle of Piccadilly.” Others, however, noted that many faces in the crowds were glum, too deeply affected by the war to be jubilant.

Churchill, greeted with cries of, “Winnie, Winnie,” from the crowds, announced Britons “may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing. Advance Britannia. Long live the cause of freedom! God save the King!” Then it would be time to get back to the work of finishing the war against Japan.

In Scotland, the people joined in their national dance, the “eightsome reel,” and enjoyed nighttime illumination that had been forbidden for five years when all of Great Britain was “blacked out” to keep from helping German bombers find targets.

In Wales, street parties broke out. Sugar had been sharply rationed during the war and would not be available in any quantity for some time to come, but the Welsh used whatever they had managed to save to create sweets for the children. Long tables with the treats were set up in the streets the young ones also enjoyed a two-day holiday from school.

In Northern Ireland, bunting and Union Jack flags hung from the houses, flying above spontaneous celebrations. As in Wales and elsewhere, whatever reserves of sugar could be found were used to bake desserts and special treats. (The Republic of Ireland remained neutral during the war. Some 5,000 men of its Irish Defense Force who went AWOL in order to enlist elsewhere in the war against the Germans were officially designated as deserters until they were officially pardoned in 2013.)


The Church and the American Flag

As we stand between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, it is a good time to reflect on the fraught relationship between Christian churches and American civil religion. One of the most contentious issues is whether churches should have an American flag in their worship space.

The place of the flag in church has always been controversial in American history. For instance, as Timothy Wesley tells the story in his book The Politics of Faith During the Civil War, a wartime Methodist church in border-state Missouri was being used by both Northern and Southern Methodist congregations. The Southern Methodists arrived one Sunday morning to find an American flag hanging from the pulpit, left over from the Unionists’ meeting. Some Unionists were attending the Southern Methodist meeting that day, and after the sermon, they took down the flag and held it over the door, trying to force the Southern Methodist minister to walk under it.

This was too much for the Southern sympathizers to take. One pro-Southern woman grabbed the flag, threw it on the ground, and stomped on it to show her contempt for Lincoln and the Union. Clearly, church and the flag had become hotly politicized!

Scholars agree that flags became more common in American churches during World War I. German immigrant churches and pastors suffered humiliating incidents related to the flag, with pastors being forced to genuflect before the flag and kiss it by anti-German nativist crowds.

In the late 1910s, the Ku Klux Klan was revived as an anti-immigrant, anti-Communist movement. Klansmen pointedly gave a number of local churches and pastors American flags, which they insisted that they display in sanctuaries. A letter from Klansmen to a Methodist minister in Arkansas stated that the Klan stood for the “two greatest gifts that Heaven has bestowed, namely the Holy Bible” and “the American flag.”

Some pastors rejected overtures to display the flag. When Herman Hoeksma, minister of a Christian Reformed church in Holland, Michigan, refused to put the flag in the sanctuary during World War I, he was reviled as a pro-German traitor and a Communist. One newspaper suggested that Hoeksma should be deported or shot. Another Dutch Christian Reformed minister in Iowa was run out of town, and had his church burned by vigilantes, for declining to display the flag. (For more, see James Bratt’s Dutch Calvinism in Modern America.)

All this suggests that there was an ugly, coercive side to the story of American flags in churches. But some immigrant and ethnic minority groups embraced the idea of displaying the flag in religious services as a way to affirm their patriotism. Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox immigrants from Europe routinely displayed the flag in parades and meetings in the 1920s.

Jack Delano, “At a church service in a Negro church. Heard County, Georgia,” 1941. Library of Congress, Public Domain.

One of the most affecting scenes of the flag in a church appears in a 1941 photograph of an African-American church in rural Georgia. The picture is clearly not trying to document the flag, but there the Stars and Stripes is, hanging from the otherwise unadorned wall behind a couple of ladies’ pews. (A coat is also hanging over the flag.)

We don’t want to over-interpret the meaning of this flag photo. But I suspect if pressed, church members would have said that the flag meant that they believed in the promise of American liberty. In an unguarded moment, they might have admitted that they believed in this promise, in spite of the prejudice and legal disadvantages under which they suffered in pre-World War II America.

These vignettes of the flag and the church in American history tell us that (1) the American flag has not always been a fixture in American sanctuaries, and( 2) when it was introduced, it came for reasons—often troubling ones—specific to that historic moment.

Thomas S. Kidd is the Vardaman distinguished professor of history at Baylor University and the author of many books, including Who Is an Evangelical? The History of a Movement in Crisis (Yale, 2019) Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father (Yale, 2017) Baptists in America: A History with Barry Hankins (Oxford, 2015) George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father (Yale, 2014) and Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots (Basic, 2011). You can follow him on Twitter.


A Brief History of Anti-Fascism

Eluard Luchell McDaniels traveled across the Atlantic in 1937 to fight fascists in the Spanish Civil War, where he became known as “El Fantastico” for his prowess with a grenade. As a platoon sergeant with the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion of the International Brigades, the 25-year-old African American from Mississippi commanded white troops and led them into battle against the forces of General Franco, men who saw him as less than human. It might seem strange for a Black man to go to such lengths for the chance to fight in a white man’s war so far from home—wasn’t there enough racism to fight in the United States?—but McDaniels was convinced that anti-fascism and anti-racism were one and the same. “I saw the invaders of Spain [were] the same people I’ve been fighting all my life," Historian Peter Carroll quotes McDaniels as saying. "I’ve seen lynching and starvation, and I know my people’s enemies.”

McDaniels was not alone in seeing anti-fascism and anti-racism as intrinsically connected the anti-fascists of today are heirs to almost a century of struggle against racism. While the methods of Antifa have become the object of much heated political discourse, the group’s ideologies, particularly its insistance on physical direct action to prevent violent opression, are much better understood when seen in the framework of a struggle against violent discrimination and persecution began almost a century ago.

Historian Robert Paxton’s Anatomy of Fascism—one of the definitive works on the subject—lays out the motivating passions of fasicsm, which include “the right of the chosen group to dominate others without restraint from any kind of human or divine law”. At its heart, fascism is about premising the needs of one group, often defined by race and ethnicity over the rest of humanity anti-fascists have always opposed this.

Anti-fascism began where fascism began, in Italy. Arditi del Popolo—"The People’s Daring Ones”—was founded in 1921, named after the Italian army’s shock troops from World War I who famously swam across the Piave River with daggers in their teeth. They committed to fight the increasingly violent faction of blackshirts, the forces encouraged by Benito Mussolini, who was soon to become Italy’s fascist dictator. The Arditi del Popolo brought together unionists, anarchists, socialists, communists, republicans and former army officers. From the outset, anti-fascists began to build bridges where traditional political groups saw walls.

Those bridges would quickly extend to the races persecuted by fascists.

Once in government, Mussolini began a policy of "Italianization" that amounted to cultural genocide for the Slovenes and Croats who lived in the northeastern part of the country. Mussolini banned their languages, closed their schools and even made them change their names to sound more Italian. As a result, the Slovenes and Croats were forced to organize outside of the state to protect themselves from Italianization, and allied with anti-fascist forces in 1927. The state responded by forming a secret police, the Organizzazione per la Vigilanza e la Repressione dell'Antifascismo, the Organization for vigilance and repression of anti-fascism (OVRA), which surveilled Italian citizens, raided opposition organizations, murdered suspected anti-fascists, and even spied on and blackmailed the Catholic Church. Anti-fascists would face off against the OVRA for 18 years, until an anti-fascist partisan who used the alias Colonnello Valerio shot Mussolini and his mistress with a submachine gun in 1945.

Similar dynamics presented themselves as fascism spread across pre-war Europe.

The leftists of Germany’s Roter Frontkämpferbund (RFB) first used the famous clenched-fist salute as the symbol of their fight against intolerance when, in 1932, they became Antifaschistische Aktion, or “antifa” for short, they fought Nazi anti-Semitism and homophobia under the flags with the red-and-black logo that antifa groups wave today. That fist was first raised by German workers, but would go on to be raised by the Black Panthers, Black American sprinters Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics and Nelson Mandela, among many others.

German anti-fascists (Rotfront) give the clenched fist salute. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)

In Spain, anti-fascist tactics and solidarity were put to the test in 1936, when a military coup tested the solidarity among working and middle class groups who were organized as a board based popular front against fascism. The anti-fascists stood strong and became an example of the power of the people united against oppression. In the early days of the Spanish Civil War, the Republican popular militia was organized much like modern antifa groups : They voted on important decisions, allowed women to serve alongside men and stood shoulder to shoulder with political adversaries against a common enemy.

Black Americans like McDaniels, still excluded from equal treatment in the U.S. military, served as officers in the brigades of Americans who arrived in Spain ready to fight against the fascists. Overall, 40,000 volunteers from Europe, Africa, the Americas and China stood shoulder to shoulder as antifascist comrades against Franco’s coup in Spain. In 1936 there were no black fighter pilots in the U.S., yet three black pilots— James Peck, Patrick Roosevelt, and Paul Williams—volunteered to fight the fascists in the Spanish skies. At home, segregation had prevented them from achieving their goals of air combat, but in Spain they found equality in the anti-fascist ranks. Canute Frankson, a black American volunteer who served as head mechanic of the International Garage in Albacete where he worked, summed up his reasons for fighting in a letter home:

We are no longer an isolated minority group fighting hopelessly against an immense giant. Because, my dear, we have joined with, and become an active part of, a great progressive force on whose shoulders rests the responsibility of saving human civilization from the planned destruction of a small group of degenerates gone mad in their lust for power. Because if we crush Fascism here, we’ll save our people in America, and in other parts of the world from the vicious persecution, wholesale imprisonment, and slaughter which the Jewish people suffered and are suffering under Hitler’s Fascist heels.

In Madrid, on March 30, 1933, students demonstrate against Nazism and Fascism. ( Keystone-France / Getty Images) 15,000 New Yorkers marched in a torchlit parade down 8th Avenue, topped off by several hours of oratory at Madison Square Garden. The parade was a protest of American participation in the Olympic Games in Berlin. (Bettmann / Getty Images)

In the United Kingdom, anti-fascists became an important movement as anti-Semitism emerged as a salient force. In October 1936, Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists attempted to march through Jewish neighborhoods in London . Mosley's 3,000 fascists, and the 6,000 policemen who accompanied them, found themselves outnumbered by the anti-fascist Londoners who had turned out to stop them. Estimates of the crowd vary from 20,000 to 100,000. Local children were recruited to roll their marbles under the hooves of police horses, while Irish dockworkers, Eastern European Jews, and leftist workers stood side-by-side to block the marchers' progress. They raised their fists, like German anti-fascists, and chanted “No pasaran” ("They shall not pass!", the slogan of the Spanish militia), and they sung in Italian, German and Polish . They succeeded: The fascists did not pass, and Cable Street became a symbol of the power of a broad anti-fascist alliance in shutting down fascist hate speech on the streets.

During the Second World War, anti-fascism passed into its second stage, as it moved from the streets to stand alongside those in the seats of power. Winston Churchill and other imperialists stood against fascism even as they stood for the colonialism that left Indian people to starve to support their war effort. An alliance between committed anti-fascists and temporary anti-Nazis was formed. It’s become a social media meme of sorts that those who fought in the Second World War were anti-fascists, but this strains at the core of anti-fascist belief. The U.S. military that defeated the Nazis alongside the Allies was segregated, black troops were relegated to second class roles and could not serve alongside white troops in the same unit. Anti-fascism opposed the primacy of any group anti-fascist soldiers in Spain had stood next to Black comrades as equals, American troops in the Second World War did not.

After the war, anti-fascism left the corridors of power and returned to the streets. Britain had fought against fascism, but never exorcised its homegrown hate and quickly released detained fascist sympathizers after the war. British Jewish ex-servicemen who had fought fascism on the battlefields of Europe, returned home to see men like Mosley continue to deliver anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant rhetoric in spaces. Through new organizations they founded, they would soon infiltrate Mosley’s speeches and literally deplatform him by rushing the stage and pushing it over.

Riots between anti-Fascists and Blackshirts (British Fascists) for a march through the East End of London in what is now called the Battle of Cable Street ( ullstein bild Dtl. / Getty Images)

The same anti-immigrant logic that sustained Mosley’s fascism in the U.K. later appeared in Germany in the 1980s, and again antifascists stepped up to confront hate and racism in the form of Nazi skinheads who had begun to infiltrate the punk scene. This so-called third wave of anti-fascism embraced tactics like squatting while reviving the raised fist and black and red logos used by their grandparents in the 1930s .

The most radical and numerous squats were found in Hamburg, where diverse groups of young people occupied empty buildings as part of an urban counterculture that rejected both the Cold War and the legacy of fascism. When German football club FC St Pauli moved its stadium nearby, the anti-racist, anti-fascist culture of the squats became the club’s guiding principle. Even as anti-immigrant enthusiasm had returned to German politics in the 1980s, and football fan culture turned racist and violent, some German football fans—most notably those of the St. Pauli club—stood up against racism. This fan culture became legendary among the global left and the club itself embraced it: Today, the St. Pauli stadium is painted with slogans such as “no football for fascists,” “football has no gender,” and “no human being is illegal.” They've even set up a team for refugees.

The team, with its skull and crossbones logo borrowed from Hamburg’s 14th century anti-authoritarian pirate hero Niolaus Stoertebeker, might represent the coolest anti-fascism has ever been. I’ve seen their stickers in the filthy bathrooms of punk shows on three continents and saw that skull and crossbones flag at a Black Lives Matter rally this week.

In New York in 1938, women communists show their support for the Spanish loyalists during the Spanish Civil War (FPG / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

But today's anti-fascism isn’t about waving flags at football matches it's about fighting, through direct action, racists and genocidaires wherever they can be found. Anti-fascist volunteers , drawing on the experience of their predecessors in Spain, have been quietly slipping through international cordons to northeastern Syria since 2015 to fight against against Isis and Turkish conscripts . In the Syrian region known as Rojava, just as in Republican Spain, men and women fight side by side, raise their fists for photographs and proudly display the black-and-red flag logo as they defend the Kurdish people abandoned by the world.

When Italian volunteer Lorenzo Orzettiwas killed by ISIS in 2019, the men and women of Rojava sung "Bella Ciao," an anti-fascist ditty from 1920s Italy. The song grew popular in the mountains of Syria nearly 90 years later, and today there are dozens of Kurdish recordings available. Just as anti-fascism protected persecuted Slovenes and Croats, it takes up arms to defend Kurdish autonomy today. Back in Germany, the St. Pauli keep up with the news from their confederates in Syria, and fans often hold up colored cards to form the flag of Rojava at games.

And, of course, anti-fascism has made a resurgence in the United States. In 1988 Anti-Racist Action was formed, on the basis that anti-racism and anti-fascism are one and the same and that the ARR name might be more obvious to people in the U.S. In California, Portland, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, New York and across the country, autonomous groups have emerged to fight the rise in hate speech, stand by LGBTQIA and BIPOC people, and combat hate crime. In Virginia, the local clergy relied on Antifa to keep people safe during the “Untie the RIght” rally of 2017. Using the logo of the 1930s German antifa, the raised fist of the RFB, and the slogan No pasaran, these groups have stood in front of racists and fascists in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and New York—just as their predecessors did at Cable Street. Even though accusations have been leveled at Antifa for turning recent protests violent, little evidence exists that those affiliated with the anti-fascist cause have been behind any violence.

Anti-fascism has changed a lot since 1921. Today's anti-fascist activists spend as much time using open-source intelligence to expose white supremacists online as they do building barricades in the street. Just as their predecessors did in Europe, anti-fascists use violence to combat violence. This has earned them a reputation as “street thugs” in some parts of the media, just as was the case at Cable Street. The Daily Mail ran the headline “Reds Attack Blackshirts, Girls Among Injured” the day after that battle, which is now largely seen as a symbol of intersectional shared identity among the London working class.

When Eluard McDaniels returned home from Spain, he was barred from employment as a merchant sailor, and his colleagues were labeled “ premature anti-fascists'' by the FBI, even though the United States would end up fighting against the same Nazi Pilots just three years later. The last U.S. volunteer from the Spanish Civil War, a white Jewish man named Delmer Berg, died in 2016 aged 100. Berg, who was pursued by the FBI and blacklisted during the McCarthy Era, served as the vice president of his county’s NAACP branch, organized with the United Farm Workers and the Mexican-American Political Association, and credited his intersectional activism as the key to his longevity.

On the occasion of Berg’s death, Senator John McCain wrote an op-ed saluting this brave, “unreconstructed communist.” Politically, Mccain and Berg would have agreed on very little, and McCain notably avoided discussing the persecution Berg and his comrades faced on their return to America, but McCain did quote a poem by John Donne—the same poem that gave Hemingway’s novel about the Spanish Civil War its title. By quoting Donne, McCain suggests that anti-fascism as a basic human impulse, and Donne's poem captures the expansive humanitarian view that would motivate anti-fascists 300 years later:

Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

About James Stout

James Stout is a historian of anti-fascism in sport and a freelance journalist. His research is partially funded by the IOC Olympic Studies Centre and the PhD Students and Early Academics Research Grant Programme.


Where was the church during the holocaust?

Lets assume you mean the Roman Catholic Church. I will post what I have of a reply I have been working on in an effort to obtain some flair for myself. It deals with specifically Pius XII and the Holocaust.

The issue of Pius XII and the Nazis or Pius XII and the Holocaust are generally pursued with an agenda. This is not to say that there isn't good historical work done on the subject, but this subject is often a continuation of an already established bias.

To that end, I must admit that I am Catholic, myself. That said, I believe that I (and you, the reader) can look at the evidence and make my own conclusions without being unduly influenced by our starting biases. Further, Dalin was published in 2005. I did my research as an undergrad in 2004, and have not read Dalin's work. I assume that he has evidence to present that I do not have, and I recommend reading as much of the literature as you can if you are interested in the subject. With that said, let's move on to the allegations.

The Allegations

There are many allegations against Pius XII, brought by many sources. These include but are not limited to the following: (author, title, year published)

Cornwell, Hitler’s Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII, 1999 Michael Phayer, The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930-1965, 2000 Susan Zuccotti, Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy, 2000 Carlo Falconi, The Silence of Pius XII, 1970

Also deserving mention is a play--The Deputy, a Christian Trgedy--written by Rolf Hochhuth and first performed in 1963.

Allegation #1: Silence

Pius is accused of being silent about the holocaust. Falconi asserts that Pius XII was silent “almost as soon as he heard of the outbreak of hostilities between Germany and Poland." (Falconi, 31). Susan Zuccotti and Michael Phayer join Falconi in condemning Pius XII for his silence. Falconi is representative of this sentiment: “We look in vain among the hundreds of pages of Pius XII’s allocutions, messages and writings for the angry, fiery words that would brand such horrible acts forever.” (Zuccotti 167, Phayer 51)

Allegation #2: The Pope spoke in generalities

Another allegation against Pius XII is that when he did speak, he spoke in generalities. His words are called “evasive” by John Cornwell. Zuccotti brands Pius XII’s speeches as “cruelly ironic”, and Falconi blasts the Pontiff for his “vague and cautious words." (Cornwell, 293. Zuccotti 63. Phayer 206.). Cornwell goes so far as to assert that Pius XII was an anti-Semite. (Cornwell, 280)

Allegation #3: Only helping Catholics

Some historians also denounce Pius XII for only acting to aid Catholics. To support these claims, two different themes are developed. One is that the Church acted to protect only itself through a system of Concordats. The other thread of evidence is related to Catholic efforts to help some Jews escape persecution. In this particular case, the accusation is that the Vatican’s efforts were focused only on Jews that had converted to Catholicism. Some historians claim that this act is especially cynical when viewed alongside the alleged silence of Pius XII about the Holocaust. (Robert Graham, Pius XII’s Defense of Jews and Others: 1944-45, pg 5.)

Allegation #4: Pius was more concerned about communism than Nazism/the Holocaust.

Some historians also fault Pius XII for his well-documented dislike of Communism. Many historians point to Pius XII’s Christmas address in 1942 to assert that Pius XII was more concerned about Communism than he was about Nazism or the persecution of the Jews. (The full text of the message can be read at: http://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/p12ch42.htm). Falconi, Phayer, and Zuccotti are each explicit in their condemnation of Pius XII for not taking an equivalent action against Fascism. (Falconi, 32. Phayer, xv. Zuccotti, 314)

Allegation #5: Pius XII was pro-German

A related charge is that Pius XII was pro-German. His fluency in the German language is often cited as evidence, as is his service to the Church in Germany before the war. Cornwell goes so far as to say that Pius XII was in “collusion with tyranny." (Cornwell, xii). He further asserts that Pius XII and Hitler were both “authoritarians”. This charge of active support for Germany goes far beyond the allegations of simple silence in the face of the slaughter of millions and approaches an allegation of participation in the Holocaust.

Often tied to the implication that Pius XII was pro-German is the issue of Concordats. In the wake of the reunification of Italy, the Vatican lost much of her temporal land and power. To reestablish her position in Europe, bilateral treaties were signed between the Vatican and a number of countries. The Lateran Concordat, between the Vatican and Italy, was signed in 1929, and was still in force during Pius XII’s reign. In addition, the Reich Concordat was signed in 1933. This document formalized relations between the Reich under Hitler and the Vatican. Some historians view this as Pius XII cooperating with Hitler. (Zuccotti, 8)

Further, Pius XII is blamed for the collapse of the Catholic Center Party, who initially opposed Hitler’s rise to power. The assertion is that the Vatican wanted the Reich Concordat so badly that it forced the Catholic Center Party to disband, freeing Hitler to act. (Cornwell, 135)

Bias of the accusers

In their efforts to indict Pius XII for his words and actions during World War Two, some authors leave themselves open to questions about their motivations. Specifically, when Falconi speaks of the papacy, he says “today it is a temporal, economic, and political power—anything but a moral power." (Falconi, 236) Cornwell goes the furthest in his denouncements of Catholic doctrine. He decries “papal domination" through Canon Law (pg 6) He repeatedly asserts that long papal reigns are detrimental. (15) He decries Catholic appeals to Thomas Aquinas (35) as well as devotion to Mary. (344) Cornwell ties John Paul II to Hitler by calling both “authoritarian." (369) By criticizing the papacy and the Church on matters unrelated to Pius XII and the holocaust, the above critics can be accused of having an unrelated agenda and using their attacks on Pius XII to further that agenda.

Why the bias of the accusers may not matter

Irrespective of their motivations, these authors present powerful indictments against Pius XII. They each present evidence to support their conclusions, and their works have reached wide audiences. The implication of a Pope that stood by while millions were slaughtered is certainly dramatic and controversial. If true, no amount of bias from the accusers could lessen the impact of the allegations.

Evidence against allegations

Allegation #1: Silence

Eugenio Pacelli was elected on March 2, 1939. The Spanish Civil War is ongoing, the war between the Chinese and Japanese was underway, and there were unmistakable signs of growing unrest in Europe. Pacelli's past included positons as a papal nuncio, basically an ambassador from the Vatican to an area. Also, he had most recently been Cardinal Secretary of State for Pius XI, the man he would succeed as pontiff. The Cardinal Secretary of State role is akin to being Prime Minister of the Vatican. In these roles, Pacelli had gained a good deal of experience as a diplomat.

As a diplomat, he clearly saw the potential for war in the near future. So, i. His first speech on March 3 (just one day after his election), he pleaded for peace via radio message. (Pierre Blet, Angelo Martini, and Burkhart Schneider, The Holy See and the War in Europe: March 1939- August 1940, pg 91). He continued this message of peace in his Easter message of 1939. (Blet, 99) this was continued yet again on August 24, 1939 by saying, "Nothing is lost by peace. Everything can be lost by war." (Blet, 217) Of course, these pleas were not heeded.

This point about peace is important for two major reasons. First, it establishes that too few Catholics in Europe chose to follow the direction of Pius XII to stop the war. Secondly, it is important due to the German reaction to the pontiff's words. The Vatican’s newspaper was not delivered in Germany, and Vatican Radio was banned. (Nazareno Padellaro, Portrait of Pius XII, pg 93) Catholic publications were censored, (Padellaro, 127) and Catholic priests were arrested in Germany. (Padellaro, 171) Papal protests about the war could now only enter Germany illegally. (Zuccotti, 311)

On October 20, 1939, Pius XII issued the encyclical Summi Pontificatus. This document was an appeal for unity in society. First, he cites Poland as an example of a nation in distress. (Summi Pontificatus, 106) After Poland was conquered, Germany began to impose its will on the population. Jews suffered terribly, and Catholics in Poland were also persecuted. (Falconi covers this on pages 109-243)

In the same sentence that he decries the violence against Poland, Pius XII laments the blood of noncombatants being spilled. It is impossible to assert that this statement would not cover all noncombatants, including Jewish noncombatants. In addition, Pius XII expressed his hope that civilians would be spared during the war in a meeting with the Belgian ambassador on September 14, 1939. (Blet, 286)

This theme of sorrow at the prospect of noncombatant suffering and death was continued in Pius XII’s Christmas message in 1942. He expressed his “desire to bring [all peoples] every solace and help which is in any way at Our command.” Pius XII referenced violations of international agreements, specifically pointing out that noncombatants ought to be protected from harm. These statements were applicable to not only the Jews, but also to every other oppressed and threatened group around the world.

In that same address, Pius XII called for men to vow not to rest until God’s justice is done in this world. He continues by saying:

"Mankind owes that vow to the hundreds of thousands of persons who, without any fault on their part, sometimes only because of their nationality or race, have been consigned to death or to a slow decline. Mankind owes that vow to the many thousands of non-combatants, women, children, sick and aged, from whom aerial warfare—whose horrors we have from the beginning frequently denounced—has without discrimination or through inadequate precautions, taken life, goods, health, home, charitable refuge, or house of prayer. "

This statement denounces racial violence, condemns aerial bombardment of civilians, and describes the plight of the innocent in World War Two. The messages were unmistakably clear. An American newspaper later stated that Pius XII was “a lonely voice crying out of the silence of a continent”, and that his words were “like a verdict in a high court of justice." (Editorial, “The Pope’s Verdict,” New York Times, 25 December 1942). In addition, the same newspaper described Pius XII’s 1941 Christmas address as “strange and bold in the Europe of today”. (Editorial, “The Pope’s Message,” New York Times, 25 December 1941). (Author's note: these editorials are not a direct response to Summi Pontificatus, but rather are given as an outside reactions to Pacelli's words)

In June of 1943, Pius XII continued his denouncement of violence against civilians in another encyclical, Mystici Corporis Christi. This document deals primarily with the concept described in the letter of Paul that “we, though many, are one body in Christ." This text integrates theological ideals with calls for practical action. Pius XII made special mention of the weak, the sick, and children. (Mystici Corporis Christi, 93)

Further, he denounced euthanasia by calling for protection for the “unfortunate victims” that were being killed because they were “the deformed, the insane, and those suffering from hereditary disease”. (Mystici Corporis Christi, 94) This is yet another clear denouncement of Nazi practices.

So, we can see that Pius XII called for peace, decried violence against noncombatants, and deplored aerial bombardment. It is demonstrably clear that Pacelli was not silent overall. But where is his direct condemnation of the Holocaust? Please reference the below sections on "generalities" and on "speculative scenarios." (The latter section is not yet available, my apologies)

Allegation #2: The Pope spoke in generalities

The debate on Pius XII’s words seems to rely upon either acceptance or rejection of Pius XII’s use of generalities. One can either view this approach as weak and vague, or as being applicable to everyone and everywhere. Pius XII’s policy is described as being to prevent the war, limit the destruction, and relieve the misery. (Kenneth Whitehead, “The Pope Pius XII Controversy,” Political Science Reviewer 1 (2002): pg 325)

Historically, pontiffs have chosen to address the general over the specific, using particular instances as an example of a larger phenomenon. So why not address the Holocaust itself? First, the pope could not implicitly trust what intelligence he had. He was forced to discern what was the truth from what was propaganda--a non-trivial task. Secondly, if he addressed the assaults on Jews but neglected to mention other groups (including priests and other Catholics, Gypsies, the mentally ill, physically handicapped and others that this author is failing to mention) then those other groups would rightly feel neglected.

In the final analysis, either you accept that the Holocaust falls under the umbrella of objections to "violence against noncombatants" or you do not accept that it does.

Further, the Holocaust is not the only thing that the pontiff had to worry about or object to. There was aerial bombardment and its targeting of innocent civilians. There was deliberate and accidental sinking of civilian ships. There were attacks on neutral nations and the trampling of rights in other countries. There were allegations of systematic rape by soldiers. Each of the above was exploited by the combatant nations for propaganda purposes. I do not think it is surprising that Pius XII would chose to speak in generalities and hope that individuals would act according to their consciences. In fact, I will make the argument that this was Pacelli's plan in the section "What did Pius XII do? What was his plan?"

Allegation #3: Only helping Catholics

Mystici Corporis Christi (again, 1943) also clearly condemns forced conversions to Catholicism.

"Though We desire this unceasing prayer to rise to God from the whole Mystical Body in common, that all the straying sheep may hasten to enter the one fold of Jesus Christ, yet We recognize that this must be done of their own free will for no one believes unless he wills to believe. Hence they are most certainly not genuine Christians who against their belief are forced to go into a church, to approach the altar and to receive the Sacraments for the "faith without which it is impossible to please God" is an entirely free "submission of intellect and will." Therefore, whenever it happens, despite the constant teaching of this Apostolic See, that anyone is compelled to embrace the Catholic faith against his will, Our sense of duty demands that We condemn the act. For men must be effectively drawn to the truth by the Father of light through the spirit of His beloved Son, because, endowed as they are with free will, they can misuse their freedom under the impulse of mental agitation and base desires. Unfortunately many are still wandering far from the Catholic truth, being unwilling to follow the inspirations of divine grace, because neither they nor the faithful pray to God with sufficient fervor for this intention. Again and again We beg all we ardently love the Church to follow the example of the Divine Redeemer and to give themselves constantly to such prayer."

Mystici Corporis Christi, 104

Allegation #4: Pius was more concerned about communism than Nazism/the Holocaust.

Pius XII’s own words can be used to address the allegations made by some historians that he saw Communism as a greater evil than Fascism. In his 1942 Christmas address, Pius does condemn Communism. However, he also condemns Fascism at the same time. He states that despite the fact that these political theories are derived

"from opposite ideologies, [they] agree in considering the State. as an absolute and supreme entity, exempt from control and from criticism even when its theoretical and practical postulates result in and offend by, their open denial of essential tenets of the human Christian conscience." (Pacelli, Christmas message, 1942)


Contents

The construction of the church was part of a Protestant church-building programme initiated by Kaiser Wilhelm II and his consort Augusta Victoria to counter the German labour movement and socialist movement by a return to traditional religious values. Wilhelm II decided to name the church in honor of his grandfather Kaiser Wilhelm I. [1] The competition for the design was won by Franz Schwechten, member of the Bauakademie who had distinguished himself with the design of the Anhalter Bahnhof. Schwechten, a native Rhinelander, planned for a large church to be built in a Neo-Romanesque style modelled on the Bonn Minster with a Tuff stone facade. His design included 2,740 square metres (29,500 sq ft) of wall mosaic, a 113 metres (371 ft)-high spire (now 71 metres, or 233 ft) and a nave which seated over 2,000 people. [1]

The foundation stone was laid on 22 March 1891, which was Wilhelm I's birthday. [2] The church was dedicated on 1 September 1895, [2] the eve of the Day of Sedan. At that time, the entrance hall in the lower section had not yet been completed that part of the church was not opened and consecrated until 22 February 1906. [3] Construction costs mounted to 6.8 million gold mark, raised primarily through donations. The church design, quite unfamiliar in the Brandenburg region, inspired several architectural projects in the surrounding area, like the Romanisches Café building, also designed by Schwechten.

In World War II, on the night of 23 November 1943, the church was extensively damaged in an air raid. [1] Yet it was by no means beyond repair. A remnant of the spire and much of the entrance hall survived intact, as did the altar and the baptistry. [4] After the war, in 1947, the curatorium of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche foundation (Stiftung) decided in favor of rebuilding the church, but the manner in which this should be done was contentiously debated until the late 1950s. [5] In a two-phased design competition in 1956, the question of whether the secured remnant of the spire should be torn down or preserved was left open. [5] The winner of the competition, architect Egon Eiermann, initially proposed, in both his submissions, for the remnant of the old spire to be torn down, in favor of a completely new construction. [5] But that plan provoked a public outcry in which the ruined tower was characterized as the "heart of Berlin" as a result Eiermann revised the design to preserve the tower. [5] He had most of the remaining structure pulled down, in order to build the modern church that now occupies most of the site.

The new church was designed by Eiermann and consists of four buildings grouped around the remaining ruins of the old church. The initial design included the demolition of the spire of the old church but following pressure from the public, it was decided to incorporate it into the new design. [6] The four buildings comprise, on the west of the ruins, the new church with a foyer to its west, and to the east of the ruins, a tower with a chapel to its northeast. The plan of the church is octagonal while the plan of the tower is hexagonal. These components are sited on a plateau measuring 100 metres long and 40 metres wide. The new buildings are constructed of concrete, steel and glass. [7] The walls of the church are made of a concrete honeycomb containing 21,292 stained glass inlays. The glass, designed by Gabriel Loire, was inspired by the colours of the glass in Chartres Cathedral. The predominant colour is blue, with small areas of ruby red, emerald green and yellow. The church is 35 metres in diameter and 20.5 metres high with a capacity of over 1,000. [8] Because of the distinctive appearance of the new buildings, it is sometimes nicknamed "Lippenstift und Puderdose" (the lipstick and the powder box) by Berliners. [9]

Inside the church, opposite the entrance, a figure of the resurrected Christ is suspended above the altar. This is made from tombak and was designed by Karl Hemmeter. The cross on the altar, by Peter Tauchnitz, is of gilt silver with 37 rock crystals. To the left of the altar is the baptismal font on a stand filled with Carrara marble which contains a majolica bowl for the holy water. To the right of the altar is an octagonal pulpit. [10] Opposite the altar on a gallery is an organ containing about 5,000 pipes, which was built by Karl Schuke. Plexiglas panels have been installed over the organ gallery to improve the acoustics. [11] By the northeast wall of the church are three works of art. The first is a bronze plaque commemorating the Protestant martyrs who died during the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945. It incorporates a Spanish wooden crucifix dating from the 13th century. The plaque was placed in the church on 20 July 1964, the 20th anniversary of an attempt to assassinate Hitler. Next to this is the Stalingrad Madonna, a symbol of hope and reconciliation. This is a charcoal drawing made by Kurt Reuber during the time he was trapped inside Stalingrad at Christmas 1942. Copies of this drawing have been sent to Coventry Cathedral and the Russian Orthodox Church in Stalingrad (now Volgograd). The third item of art is an icon of the Virgin Mary from Volgograd. [12]

The tower is 12 metres in diameter and 53.5 metres high with a flat roof. Atop the tower is a pole carrying a gilded sphere above which is a gilded cross. It contains a belfry with six bronze bells cast from French cannon, booty from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71. [13] The foundation stone of the new church was laid on 9 May 1959, its roofing ceremony was carried out on 16 December 1960, the new bells were consecrated on 19 July 1961, the new church was consecrated on 17 December 1961 and the foyer and chapel were completed in December 1963. [2]

Different bells are rung on different occasions:

  • Devotions, family worship, baptisms and marriages: Bells 6, 5 and 4
  • Organ Vespers and funerals: Bells 6, 5, 4 and 3
  • Sunday worship: Bells 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2
  • Festive services: All bells (6-1)

The entrance hall in the base of the damaged spire was reopened to visitors, having been consecrated on 7 January 1987. [2] Its floor contains a mosaic of the Archangel Michael fighting the dragon. The vault shows a procession of Hohenzollern princes and includes a depiction of Crown Prince Wilhelm who never became king after his father, Wilhelm II, abdicated the throne in 1918. [15] Other mosaics show important monarchs in medieval Germany, Reformation thinkers and Reformation princes. Bas-relief sculptures illustrate scenes from biblical stories (Jacob wrestling with the angel, Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, and the pietà), scenes from the life of Kaiser Wilhelm I and symbolic figures representing war and peace. [16] In the north apse are 16 display panels which tell the story of the old church and its destruction. At the opposite end of the hall are three items which symbolise the history of the church. In the middle is a damaged statue of Christ which originally stood on the altar of the old church. To its right is the Cross of Nails which was made from nails in the roof timbers of Coventry Cathedral, which had been severely damaged in a German air raid on 14 November 1940. To the left of the statue of Christ is an icon cross [ clarification needed ] which was given by the Russian Orthodox Church and handed over in 1988. Outside the hall are four sandstone figures made by Stefan Kaehne. [17]

In December 2007, Charles Jeffrey Gray, a former British pilot who carried out World War II bombing raids over Germany, joined a campaign to rescue the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church from decay. After reading about the condition of the Church, Gray contacted Wolfgang Kuhla, the chairman of the church's advisory board, urging that its tower be restored. In response, a fund was launched to help raise the costs of its repair. [18] [19] [20] [21]


Contents

The German population responded to the outbreak of war in 1914 with a complex mix of emotions, in a similar way to the populations in other countries of Europe notions of overt enthusiasm known as the Spirit of 1914 have been challenged by more recent scholarship. [1] The German government, dominated by the Junkers, saw the war as a way to end being surrounded by hostile powers France, Russia and Britain. The war was presented inside Germany as the chance for the nation to secure "our place under the sun," as the Foreign Minister Bernhard von Bülow had put it, which was readily supported by prevalent nationalism among the public. The German establishment hoped the war would unite the public behind the monarchy, and lessen the threat posed by the dramatic growth of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which had been the most vocal critic of the Kaiser in the Reichstag before the war. Despite its membership in the Second International, the Social Democratic Party of Germany ended its differences with the Imperial government and abandoned its principles of internationalism to support the war effort.

It soon became apparent that Germany was not prepared for a war lasting more than a few months. At first, little was done to regulate the economy for a wartime footing, and the German war economy would remain badly organized throughout the war. Germany depended on imports of food and raw materials, which were stopped by the British blockade of Germany. Food prices were first limited, then rationing was introduced. In 1915 five million pigs were massacred in the so-called Schweinemord to both make food and preserve grain. The winter of 1916/17 was called "turnip winter" because the potato harvest was poor and people ate animal food, including vile-tasting turnips. During the war from August 1914 to mid-1919, the excess deaths over peacetime caused by malnutrition and high rates of exhaustion and disease and despair came to about 474,000 civilians. [2] [3]

The German army opened the war on the Western Front with a modified version of the Schlieffen Plan, designed to quickly attack France through neutral Belgium before turning southwards to encircle the French army on the German border. The Belgians fought back, and sabotaged their rail system to delay the Germans. The Germans did not expect this and were delayed, and responded with systematic reprisals on civilians, killing nearly 6,000 Belgian noncombatants, including women and children, and burning 25,000 houses and buildings. [4] The plan called for the right flank of the German advance to converge on Paris and initially, the Germans were very successful, particularly in the Battle of the Frontiers (14–24 August). By 12 September, the French with assistance from the British forces halted the German advance east of Paris at the First Battle of the Marne (5–12 September). The last days of this battle signified the end of mobile warfare in the west. The French offensive into Germany launched on 7 August with the Battle of Mulhouse had limited success. [5]

In the east, only one Field Army defended East Prussia and when Russia attacked in this region it diverted German forces intended for the Western Front. Germany defeated Russia in a series of battles collectively known as the First Battle of Tannenberg (17 August – 2 September), but this diversion exacerbated problems of insufficient speed of advance from rail-heads not foreseen by the German General Staff. The Central Powers were thereby denied a quick victory and forced to fight a war on two fronts. The German army had fought its way into a good defensive position inside France and had permanently incapacitated 230,000 more French and British troops than it had lost itself. Despite this, communications problems and questionable command decisions cost Germany the chance of obtaining an early victory.

1916 was characterized by two great battles on the Western front, at Verdun and the Somme. They each lasted most of the year, achieved minimal gains, and drained away the best soldiers of both sides. Verdun became the iconic symbol of the murderous power of modern defensive weapons, with 280,000 German casualties, and 315,000 French. At the Somme, there were over 400,000 German casualties, against over 600,000 Allied casualties. At Verdun, the Germans attacked what they considered to be a weak French salient which nevertheless the French would defend for reasons of national pride. The Somme was part of a multinational plan of the Allies to attack on different fronts simultaneously. German woes were also compounded by Russia's grand "Brusilov offensive", which diverted more soldiers and resources. Although the Eastern front was held to a standoff and Germany suffered less casualties than their allies with

770,000 Central powers casualties, the simultaneous Verdun offensive stretched the German forces committed to the Somme offensive. German experts are divided in their interpretation of the Somme. Some say it was a standoff, but most see it as a British victory and argue it marked the point at which German morale began a permanent decline and the strategic initiative was lost, along with irreplaceable veterans and confidence. [6]

In early 1917 the SPD leadership became concerned about the activity of its anti-war left-wing which had been organising as the Sozialdemokratische Arbeitsgemeinschaft (SAG, "Social Democratic Working Group"). On 17 January they expelled them, and in April 1917 the left-wing went on to form the Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (German: Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands). The remaining faction was then known as the Majority Social Democratic Party of Germany. This happened as the enthusiasm for war faded with the enormous numbers of casualties, the dwindling supply of manpower, the mounting difficulties on the homefront, and the never-ending flow of casualty reports. A grimmer and grimmer attitude began to prevail amongst the general population. The only highlight was the first use of mustard gas in warfare, in the Battle of Ypres.

After, morale was helped by victories against Serbia, Greece, Italy, and Russia which made great gains for the Central Powers. Morale was at its greatest since 1914 at the end of 1917 and beginning of 1918 with the defeat of Russia following her rise into revolution, and the German people braced for what General Erich Ludendorff said would be the "Peace Offensive" in the west. [7] [8]

In spring 1918, Germany realized that time was running out. It prepared for the decisive strike with new armies and new tactics, hoping to win the war on the Western front before millions of American and British Empire soldiers appeared in battle. General Erich Ludendorff and Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg had full control of the army, they had a large supply of reinforcements moved from the Eastern front, and they trained storm troopers with new tactics to race through the trenches and attack the enemy's command and communications centers. The new tactics would indeed restore mobility to the Western front, but the German army was too optimistic.

During the winter of 1917-18 it was "quiet" on the Western Front—British casualties averaged "only" 3,000 a week. Serious attacks were impossible in the winter because of the deep caramel-thick mud. Quietly the Germans brought in their best soldiers from the eastern front, selected elite storm troops, and trained them all winter in the new tactics. With stopwatch timing, the German artillery would lay down a sudden, fearsome barrage just ahead of its advancing infantry. Moving in small units, firing light machine guns, the storm troopers would bypass enemy strongpoints, and head directly for critical bridges, command posts, supply dumps and, above all, artillery batteries. By cutting enemy communications they would paralyze response in the critical first half hour. By silencing the artillery they would break the enemy's firepower. Rigid schedules sent in two more waves of infantry to mop up the strong points that had been bypassed. The shock troops frightened and disoriented the first line of defenders, who would flee in panic. In one instance an easy-going Allied regiment broke and fled reinforcements rushed in on bicycles. The panicky men seized the bikes and beat an even faster retreat. The stormtrooper tactics provided mobility, but not increased firepower. Eventually—in 1939 and 1940—the formula would be perfected with the aid of dive bombers and tanks, but in 1918 the Germans lacked both. [9]

Ludendorff erred by attacking the British first in 1918, instead of the French. He mistakenly thought the British to be too uninspired to respond rapidly to the new tactics. The exhausted, dispirited French perhaps might have folded. The German assaults on the British were ferocious—the largest of the entire war. At the Somme River in March, 63 divisions attacked in a blinding fog. No matter, the German lieutenants had memorized their maps and their orders. The British lost 270,000 men, fell back 40 miles, and then held. They quickly learned how to handle the new German tactics: fall back, abandon the trenches, let the attackers overextend themselves, and then counterattack. They gained an advantage in firepower from their artillery and from tanks used as mobile pillboxes that could retreat and counterattack at will. In April Ludendorff hit the British again, inflicting 305,000 casualties—but he lacked the reserves to follow up. Ludendorff launched five great attacks between March and July, inflicting a million British and French casualties. The Western Front now had opened up—the trenches were still there but the importance of mobility now reasserted itself. The Allies held. The Germans suffered twice as many casualties as they inflicted, including most of their precious stormtroopers. The new German replacements were under-aged youth or embittered middle-aged family men in poor condition. They were not inspired by the elan of 1914, nor thrilled with battle—they hated it, and some began talking of revolution. Ludendorff could not replace his losses, nor could he devise a new brainstorm that might somehow snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The British likewise were bringing in reinforcements from the whole Empire, but since their home front was in good condition, and since they could see inevitable victory, their morale was higher. The great German spring offensive was a race against time, for everyone could see the Americans were training millions of fresh young men who would eventually arrive on the Western Front. [10] [11]

The attrition warfare now caught up to both sides. Germany had used up all the best soldiers they had, and still had not conquered much territory. The British were out of fresh manpower but still had huge reserves from the British Empire, whereas the French nearly exhausted their manpower. Berlin had calculated it would take months for the Americans to ship all their men and supplies—but the U.S. troops arrived much sooner, as they left their supplies behind, and relied on British and French artillery, tanks, airplanes, trucks and equipment. Berlin also assumed that Americans were fat, undisciplined and unaccustomed to hardship and severe fighting. They soon realized their mistake. The Germans reported that "The qualities of the [Americans] individually may be described as remarkable. They are physically well set up, their attitude is good. They lack at present only training and experience to make formidable adversaries. The men are in fine spirits and are filled with naive assurance." [12]

By September 1918, the Central Powers were exhausted from fighting, the American forces were pouring into France at a rate of 10,000 a day, the British Empire was mobilised for war peaking at 4.5 million men and 4,000 tanks on the Western Front. The decisive Allied counteroffensive, known as the Hundred Days Offensive, began on 8 August 1918—what Ludendorff called the "Black Day of the German army." The Allied armies advanced steadily as German defenses faltered. [13]

Although German armies were still on enemy soil as the war ended, the generals, the civilian leadership—and indeed the soldiers and the people—knew all was hopeless. They started looking for scapegoats. The hunger and popular dissatisfaction with the war precipitated revolution throughout Germany. By 11 November Germany had virtually surrendered, the Kaiser and all the royal families had abdicated, and the German Empire had been replaced by the Weimar Republic.

War fever Edit

The "spirit of 1914" was the overwhelming, enthusiastic support of all elements of the population for war in 1914. In the Reichstag, the vote for credits was unanimous, with all the Socialists but one (Karl Liebknecht) joining in. One professor testified to a "great single feeling of moral elevation of soaring of religious sentiment, in short, the ascent of a whole people to the heights." [14] At the same time, there was a level of anxiety most commentators predicted the short victorious war – but that hope was dashed in a matter of weeks, as the invasion of Belgium bogged down and the French Army held in front of Paris. The Western Front became a killing machine, as neither army moved more than a few hundred yards at a time. Industry in late 1914 was in chaos, unemployment soared while it took months to reconvert to munitions productions. In 1916, the Hindenburg Program called for the mobilization of all economic resources to produce artillery, shells, and machine guns. Church bells and copper roofs were ripped out and melted down. [15]

By 1917, after three years of war, the various groups and bureaucratic hierarchies which had been operating more or less independently of one another in peacetime (and not infrequently had worked at cross purposes) were subordinated to one (and perhaps the most effective) of their number: the General Staff. Military officers controlled civilian government officials, the staffs of banks, cartels, firms, and factories, engineers and scientists, workingmen, farmers-indeed almost every element in German society and all efforts were directed in theory and in large degree also in practice to forwarding the war effort. [16]

Economy Edit

Germany had no plans for mobilizing its civilian economy for the war effort, and no stockpiles of food or critical supplies had been made. Germany had to improvise rapidly. All major political sectors initially supported the war, including the Socialists.

Early in the war industrialist Walter Rathenau held senior posts in the Raw Materials Department of the War Ministry, while becoming chairman of AEG upon his father's death in 1915. Rathenau played the key role in convincing the War Ministry to set up the War Raw Materials Department (Kriegsrohstoffabteilung - 'KRA') he was in charge of it from August 1914 to March 1915 and established the basic policies and procedures. His senior staff were on loan from industry. KRA focused on raw materials threatened by the British blockade, as well as supplies from occupied Belgium and France. It set prices and regulated the distribution to vital war industries. It began the development of ersatz raw materials. KRA suffered many inefficiencies caused by the complexity and selfishness KRA encountered from commerce, industry, and the government. [17] [18]

While the KRA handled critical raw materials, the crisis over food supplies grew worse. The mobilization of so many farmers and horses, and the shortages of fertilizer, steadily reduced the food supply. Prisoners of war were sent to work on farms, and many women and elderly men took on work roles. Supplies that had once come in from Russia and Austria were cut off. [19]

The concept of "total war" in World War I, meant that food supplies had to be redirected towards the armed forces and, with German commerce being stopped by the British blockade, German civilians were forced to live in increasingly meager conditions. Food prices were first controlled. Bread rationing was introduced in 1915 and worked well the cost of bread fell. Allen says there were no signs of starvation and states, "the sense of domestic catastrophe one gains from most accounts of food rationing in Germany is exaggerated." [20] However Howard argues that hundreds of thousands of civilians died from malnutrition—usually from a typhus or a disease their weakened body could not resist. (Starvation itself rarely caused death.) [21] A 2014 study, derived from a recently discovered dataset on the heights and weights of German children between 1914 and 1924, found evidence that German children suffered from severe malnutrition during the blockade, with working-class children suffering the most. [22] The study furthermore found that German children quickly recovered after the war due to a massive international food aid program. [22]

Conditions deteriorated rapidly on the home front, with severe food shortages reported in all urban areas. The causes involved the transfer of so many farmers and food workers into the military, combined with the overburdened railroad system, shortages of coal, and the British blockade that cut off imports from abroad. The winter of 1916-1917 was known as the "turnip winter," because that hardly-edible vegetable, usually fed to livestock, was used by people as a substitute for potatoes and meat, which were increasingly scarce. Thousands of soup kitchens were opened to feed the hungry people, who grumbled that the farmers were keeping the food for themselves. Even the army had to cut the rations for soldiers. [23] Morale of both civilians and soldiers continued to sink.

The drafting of miners reduced the main energy source, coal. The textile factories produced Army uniforms, and warm clothing for civilians ran short. The device of using ersatz materials, such as paper and cardboard for cloth and leather proved unsatisfactory. Soap was in short supply, as was hot water. All the cities reduced tram services, cut back on street lighting, and closed down theaters and cabarets.

The food supply increasingly focused on potatoes and bread, it was harder and harder to buy meat. The meat ration in late 1916 was only 31% of peacetime, and it fell to 12% in late 1918. The fish ration was 51% in 1916, and none at all by late 1917. The rations for cheese, butter, rice, cereals, eggs and lard were less than 20% of peacetime levels. [24] In 1917 the harvest was poor all across Europe, and the potato supply ran short, and Germans substituted almost inedible turnips the "turnip winter" of 1916–17 was remembered with bitter distaste for generations. [25] Early in the war introduced bread rationing, and the system worked fairly well, albeit with shortfalls during the Turnip Winter and summer of 1918. White bread used imported flour and became unavailable, but there was enough rye or rye-potato flour to provide a minimal diet for all civilians. [26]

German women were not employed in the Army, but large numbers took paid employment in industry and factories, and even larger numbers engaged in volunteer services. Housewives were taught how to cook without milk, eggs or fat agencies helped widows find work. Banks, insurance companies and government offices for the first time hired women for clerical positions. Factories hired them for unskilled labor – by December 1917, half the workers in chemicals, metals, and machine tools were women. Laws protecting women in the workplace were relaxed, and factories set up canteens to provide food for their workers, lest their productivity fall off. The food situation in 1918 was better, because the harvest was better, but serious shortages continued, with high prices, and a complete lack of condiments and fresh fruit. Many migrants had flocked into cities to work in industry, which made for overcrowded housing. Reduced coal supplies left everyone in the cold. Daily life involved long working hours, poor health, and little or no recreation, an increasing fears for the safety of loved ones in the Army and in prisoner of war camps. The men who returned from the front were those who had been permanently crippled wounded soldiers who had recovered were sent back to the trenches. [27]

Many Germans wanted an end to the war and increasing numbers of Germans began to associate with the political left, such as the Social Democratic Party and the more radical Independent Social Democratic Party which demanded an end to the war. The third reason was the entry of the United States into the war in April 1917, which tipped the long-run balance of power even more to the Allies. The end of October 1918, in Kiel, in northern Germany, saw the beginning of the German Revolution of 1918–19. Civilian dock workers led a revolt and convinced many sailors to join them the revolt quickly spread to other cities. Meanwhile, Hindenburg and the senior generals lost confidence in the Kaiser and his government.

In November 1918, with internal revolution, a stalemated war, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire suing for peace, Austria-Hungary falling apart from multiple ethnic tensions, and pressure from the German high command, the Kaiser and all German ruling princes abdicated. On 9 November 1918, the Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed a Republic, in cooperation with the business and middle classes, not the revolting workers. The new government led by the German Social Democrats called for and received an armistice on 11 November 1918 in practice it was a surrender, and the Allies kept up the food blockade to guarantee an upper hand in negotiations. The now defunct German Empire was succeeded by the Weimar Republic. [28] [ page needed ]

Seven million soldiers and sailors were quickly demobilized, and they became a conservative voice that drowned out the radical left in cities such as Kiel and Berlin. The radicals formed the Spartakusbund and later the Communist Party of Germany.

Due to German military forces still occupying portions of France on the day of the armistice, various nationalist groups and those angered by the defeat in the war shifted blame to civilians accusing them of betraying the army and surrendering. This contributed to the "Stab-in-the-back myth" that dominated German politics in the 1920s and created a distrust of democracy and the Weimar government. [29]

Out of a population of 65 million, Germany suffered 1.7 million military deaths and 430,000 civilian deaths due to wartime causes (especially the food blockade), plus about 17,000 killed in Africa and the other overseas colonies. [30]

The Allied blockade continued until July 1919, causing severe additional hardships. [31]

Despite the often ruthlessness conducted of the German that military machine, in the air and at sea as well as on land, individual German and soldiers could view the enemy with respect and empathy and the war with contempt. [32] Some examples from letters homework :

"A terrible picture presented itself to me. A French and a General soldier on their knees were leaning against each other. They had pierced each other with the bayonet and had dropped like this to the ground. Courage, heroism, does it really exist? I am about to doubt it, since I haven't seen anything else than fear, anxiety , and despair in every face during the battle. There was nothing at all like courage, bravery, or the like. In reality, there is nothing else than texting discipline and coercion propelling the soldiers forward" Dominik Richert, 1914. [33]

"Our men have reached an agreement with the French to cease fire. They bring us bread, wine, sardines etc., we bring them schnapps. The masters make war, they have a quarrel, and the workers, the little men. have to stand there fighting against each other. Is that not a great stupidity. If this were to be decided according to the number of votes, we would have been long home by now" Hermann Baur, 1915. [34]

"I have no idea what we are still fighting for anyway, maybe because the newspapers portray everything about the war in a false light which has nothing to do with the reality. There could be no greater misery in the enemy country and at home. The people who still support the war haven't got a clue about anything. If I stay alive, I will make these things public. We all want peace. What is the point of conquering half of the world, when we have to sacrifice all our strength. You out there, just champion peace! … We give away all our worldly possessions and even our freedom. Our only goal is to be with our wife and children again," Anonymous Bavarian soldier, 17 October 1914. [35]

  1. ^ Jeffrey Verhey, The Spirit of 1914: Militarism, Myth and Mobilization in Germany (Cambridge U.P., 2000).
  2. ^ N.P. Howard, "The Social and Political Consequences of the Allied Food Blockade of Germany, 1918-19," German History (1993), 11#2, pp. 161-88 online p. 166, with 271,000 excess deaths in 1918 and 71,000 in 1919.
  3. ^ Hew Strachan (1998). World War 1 . Oxford University Press. p. 125. ISBN9780198206149 .
  4. ^ Jeff Lipkes, Rehearsals: The German Army in Belgium, August 1914 (2007)
  5. ^ Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August (1962)
  6. ^ Fred R. Van Hartesveldt, The Battles of the Somme, 1916: Historiography and Annotated Bibliography (1996), pp. 26-27.
  7. ^ C.R.M.F. Cruttwell, A History of the Great War: 1914-1918 (1935) ch 15-29
  8. ^ Holger H. Herwig, The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914-1918 (1997) ch. 4-6.
  9. ^ Bruce I. Gudmundsson, Stormtroop Tactics: Innovation in the German Army, 1914-1918 (1989), pp. 155-70.
  10. ^ David Stevenson, With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 (2011), pp. 30-111.
  11. ^ C.R.M.F. Cruttwell, A History of the Great War: 1914-1918 (1935), pp. 505-35r.
  12. ^
  13. Allan Millett (1991). Semper Fidelis: The History of the United States Marine Corps. Simon and Schuster. p. 304. ISBN9780029215968 .
  14. ^
  15. Spencer C. Tucker (2005). World War I: A - D. ABC-CLIO. p. 1256. ISBN9781851094202 .
  16. ^ Roger Chickering, Imperial Germany and the Great War, 1914-1918 (1998) p. 14
  17. ^ Richie, Faust's Metropolis, pp. 272-75.
  18. ^ William H. McNeill, The Rise of the West (1991 edition) p. 742.
  19. ^ D. G. Williamson, "Walther Rathenau and the K.R.A. August 1914-March 1915," Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte (1978), Issue 11, pp. 118-136.
  20. ^ Hew Strachan, The First World War: Volume I: To Arms (2001), pp. 1014-49 on Rathenau and KRA.
  21. ^ Feldman, Gerald D. "The Political and Social Foundations of Germany's Economic Mobilization, 1914-1916," Armed Forces & Society (1976), 3#1, pp. 121-145. online
  22. ^ Keith Allen, "Sharing scarcity: Bread rationing and the First World War in Berlin, 1914-1923," Journal of Social History, (1998), 32#2, pp. 371-93, quote p. 380.
  23. ^ N. P. Howard, "The Social and Political Consequences of the Allied Food Blockade of Germany, 1918-19," German History, April 1993, Vol. 11, Issue 2, pp. 161-188.
  24. ^ ab
  25. Cox, Mary Elisabeth (2015-05-01). "Hunger games: or how the Allied blockade in the First World War deprived German children of nutrition, and Allied food aid subsequently saved them". The Economic History Review. 68 (2): 600–631. doi:10.1111/ehr.12070. ISSN1468-0289. S2CID142354720.
  26. ^ Roger Chickering, Imperial Germany and the Great War, 1914-1918 (2004) p. 141-42
  27. ^ David Welch, Germany, Propaganda and Total War, 1914-1918 (2000) p.122
  28. ^ Chickering, Imperial Germany, pp. 140-145.
  29. ^ Keith Allen, "Sharing scarcity: Bread rationing and the First World War in Berlin, 1914-1923," Journal of Social History (1998) 32#2, 00224529, Winter98, Vol. 32, Issue 2
  30. ^ Alexandra Richie, Faust's Metropolis (1998), pp. 277-80.
  31. ^ A. J. Ryder, The German Revolution of 1918: A Study of German Socialism in War and Revolt (2008)
  32. ^ Wilhelm Diest and E. J. Feuchtwanger, "The Military Collapse of the German Empire: the Reality Behind the Stab-in-the-Back Myth," War in History, April 1996, Vol. 3, Issue 2, pp. 186-207.
  33. ^ Leo Grebler and Wilhelm Winkler, The Cost of the World War to Germany and Austria-Hungary (Yale University Press, 1940)
  34. ^ N.P. Howard, N.P. "The Social and Political Consequences of the Allied Food Blockade of Germany, 1918-19," German History (1993) p 162
  35. ^ Bernd Ulrich said and Benjamin, ed., Ziemann, German Soldiers in the Great War: and Savey Letters and Eyewitness Accounts (Pen and Sword Military, 2010). This book is a compilation of German soldiers' letters and memoirs. All the references come from this book.
  36. ^German Soldiers in the Great War, 77.
  37. ^German Soldiers in the Great War, 64.
  38. ^German Soldiers in the Great War, 51.

Military Edit

  • Cecil, Lamar (1996), Wilhelm II: Emperor and Exile, 1900-1941, II, Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, p. 176, ISBN978-0-8078-2283-8 , OCLC186744003
  • Chickering, Roger, et al. eds. Great War, Total War: Combat and Mobilization on the Western Front, 1914-1918 (Publications of the German Historical Institute) (2000). 0-521-77352-0. 584 pgs.
  • Cowin, Hugh W. German and Austrian Aviation of World War I: A Pictorial Chronicle of the Airmen and Aircraft That Forged German Airpower (2000). Osprey Pub Co. 1-84176-069-2. 96 pgs.
  • Cruttwell, C.R.M.F. A History of the Great War: 1914-1918 (1935) ch 15-29 online free
  • Cross, Wilbur (1991), Zeppelins of World War I, ISBN978-1-55778-382-0
  • Herwig, Holger H. The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914-1918 (1996), mostly military
  • Horne, John, ed. A Companion to World War I (2012)
  • Hubatsch, Walther Backus, Oswald P (1963), Germany and the Central Powers in the World War, 1914–1918, Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas, OCLC250441891
  • Kitchen, Martin. The Silent Dictatorship: The Politics of the German High Command under Hindenburg and Ludendorff, 1916–1918 (London: Croom Helm, 1976)
  • Morrow, John. German Air Power in World War I (U. of Nebraska Press, 1982) Contains design and production figures, as well as economic influences.
  • Sheldon, Jack (2005). The German Army on the Somme: 1914 - 1916. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Books Ltd. ISBN978-1-84415-269-8 .

The militarism mean the countries need to develop military or army levels From 1880 to 1914,the military expenditure of the six bog powers(viz. Germany, Russia, Austria, Italy, France, and Britain)


More Comments:

Donald George Losey - 8/3/2010

read 1 Timothy 4:1-3
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,
1Ti 4:2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,
1Ti 4:3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

Joel Schwartz - 8/7/2003

Does anyone know how to get in touch with Vatican wistleblower Richard Sipe. Thanks in advance for any assistance in this regard--Js

Don Lester - 8/4/2003

I think this "man-made" rule is nuts. How can you say to a non-catholic married minister of another church, "If you join us and wish to become a priest , it's okay to keep your wife." BUT if your are a catholic you cannot become a priest and be married.

The church punishes it's own for being catholic. How stupid.
I am a catholic and I truly belive that one day common sense will prevail and a progresive Pope will bring the church to it's senses.

Coritateacher - 4/8/2003

Just a correction to a year old message, for anyone else who stumbles into this: Bernard of Clairvaux was born (

1090)after Gregory VII died.(

1085) Bernard could not have told Gregory anything.. at least, not here on earth.

Tom stilwell - 2/27/2003

Jan michael alano - 10/1/2002

why is it that priest are not allow to marry?

Keith miller - 5/16/2002

Found it necessary to clarify a matter or two. My two questions posed regarding post-Resurrection and Mary Magdalene likely marriage, thus sexual intercourse (non-platonic relationship) with Jesus, really I must say derives not only from treatment by Phipps, but also, let it be said, interpolations and thinking on my own. At this point, based upon a passage from Was Jesus Married? (just reading tonight) must assert something, which has always been true and sadly. That is, as Phipps gives it, people I have the utterly mistaken notion of Jesus as a "kill-joy." Why this should be particularly dumbfounds me, except for fact I appreciate all too well, specifically that the same people obstinately refuse to recognize that though (as I believe Jesus had a divine dimension) he was ALSO fully human in every sense of the world and loved life. That is why Phipps could very rightly head chapter 3 of The Sexuality of Jesus with this "Jesus the Philogynist" (by the way see p. 67 of that chapter, which should have referred to in previous comment on likely marriage of Jesus with Mary Magdalene, as I suggested in my two questions). To conclude then regarding the "kill-joy" theme and the very positive attitudes of Jesus on married life (and I would think would prove he would never have rejected such for himself) the whole of that being antithetical to celibacy as some kind of purer condition for believers, in particular leaders of the Church. Why after now two thousand years can we NOT manage (with Jesus as shining example of invariably caring and more--loving--of women, and very probable marriage with Mary Magdalene, with all that would entail in and out of bed) to abandon the pernicious notions that sex between a man and woman when in love and respecting each other in mind and body (and especially in marriage) is less worthy to God than a celibate life? One further point, which I offer as my "clincher" on this whole matter of Jesus, his probable marriage, and his remarkably open-to-living (ethical though certainly) but in joy and fullness at same time, to wit--the first miracle performed by Jesus was at a wedding feast at Cana and as the Gospel account gives it, the guests remarked, that wine, which Jesus transformed from water, was the best--normally opened first on such an occasion. You the reader tell me, if Jesus did not enjoy a good time and honor married life (perhaps above all in this our often "vail of tears") why did he choose a wedding banquet for performing the first of his miracles in Bible? Keith L. Miller

Keith miller - 5/15/2002

Dear Helen, You would recognize my name, as frequent contributor, especially to HNN Teachers Edition. Before providing an argument or two for marriage IN FACT of Jesus to Mary Magadalene (very persuasive too for me) want to alert you, if HNN Editor not yet made available e-mail from me on this (other readers of this comment might note the following too), Mr. Shenkman told me he will definitely post in not too distant future an article by me on homepage of HNN titled SEXUALTY AND THE LIBERATION OF WOMEN: THOUGHTS PROMPTED BY ABUSES OF CELIBATE CLERGY. In that article I discuss some salient aspects of 3 books by William E. Phipps (no "crack-pot," as I prove in the text), titled as follows: WAS JESUS MARRIED?: THE DISTORTION OF SEXUALITY IN THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION (1970) THE SEXUALITY OF JESUS: THEOLOGICAL AND LITERARY PERSPECTIVES (1973) and INFLUENTIAL THEOLOGIANS WO/MAN (1981), see especially on that 3rd book, chapter 3 "Sexual Shame in Augustine" (pp. 61-80). On a matter of related interest, I first discovered Phipps (that marvelous thinker that he is on sexuality and the Bible) about 20 years ago, leafing through a few volumes of Journal of the American Academy of Religion at Wabash Valley College Library, Mt. Carmel, Illinois--a college within 4-college system, in which I was then teaching. Here is what "leaped out at me"--Phipps's article in JAAR, to wit--"The Plight of the Song of Songs," vol. 42 (March 1974). That article demolishes down to "foundation," so to speak, centuries-held notions/beliefs that Song of Songs a sympolic representation of Christ and Church as "bride." Utter nonsense, as Phipps proceeds to prove, I would think to any sane person. What the Song of Songs then is all about instead--a love song (and very erotic too in good many places, if read without "blinders" of long-held doctrine of churchmen, whom Phipps manages to point out well, were very "hidebound" about the sexuality of the human body and most assuredly having (or contemplating) the act of sex! Now, to conclude with two questions (by which I suggest in brief, arguments by Phipps in WAS JESUS MARRIED? for that founder of Christianity as husband of Mary Magadalene (NOT in any platonic way either)--(1) if there was not some very close, probable sexual relationship, between that man and woman, why is it Mary, according to the Gospels, arrived FIRST at tomb after Resurrection, looking for Jesus? (2) why too of all those mentioned by Gospels at or near the tomb of Christ after Resurrection was Mary Magadalene the ONLY one of those people (man or woman), who reached out to him and/or actually touched him? Something more on this--Phipps would certainly know his Greek here (the original language of the New Testament) for he has Ph. D. in Biblical Criticism from St. Andrews, Scotland. Using that knowlege Phipps makes clear the King James Version of Bible has the Risen Lord render much too harsh a remark to Mary about touching him. Instead, Phipps makes excellent point that Jesus said rather something like this--"don't continue to cling to me." Which Phipps, with his knowledge of Greek, indicates is a phrase that includes a likely meaning even for act of sexual intercourse. So, Ms. Owen as fine a job as you did on your essay, must offer the above, along with the very positive evidence from Phipps, along with my own thinking, Jesus was NOT by any means (far from it) a eunuch! Would like to hear from you Helen by comment, especially as appreciate your posting of my essays at times (in your intern position for HNN). Cheers! Keith

Comment - 5/2/2002

Relative to when Catholic clergy embraced
celebecy that was an excellent tracing of the evolution of the practice
in the Catholic church save for one additional detail relating to the
encyclical which set the course in the 11th century. Frederick C.
Dietz, who was in his day the most preeminent Tudor/Stuart scholar in
America and one of the outstanding scholars on earlier English history
contended that a deal was struck between Pope Clement and William the
Conqueror to forbid the clergy to marry in a political deal intended to
prevent the clergy from having progeny to whom they could pass on
property which both the church and state covetted.
Edward M. Bennett Professor Emeritus Washington State University

Daniel Mulholland - 5/1/2002

As a consequence of the Union of Brest in 1594 between Orthodox and Catholics, the Uniate clergy were free not only to follow Orthodox liturgy but obliged parish priests to marry, as had been the case among Orthodox Christians.

Dr. Mario D. Mazzarella - 5/1/2002

The reform movement of the Cluniac monks, which began in the late 10th century and which reformed a western Church badly in need of it, pressed for clerical celibacy. It became popular and was supported by many ordinary believers. Many a priest, in France for instance, was compelled to repudiate his wife, not without much suffering. Interestingly, the decree of Gregory VII on clerical celibacy was opposed by St. Bernard of Clairveaux, himself a . Bernard warned Gregory that barring honorable marriage would introduce concubinage and a host of other evils. He was correct. See the excellent History of the Reformation by the late (Fr.) John P. Dolan.

Oh, yes. One more thing: I do not believe that anyone has ever averred that Jesus was a literal eunuch. His comment that, "There are those who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven," (Matthew 19:12) has commonly been taken as an invitation to voluntary celibacy--except for poor Origen, who took it literally, an action which probably kept him off the calendar of saints. Nice man, but you don't want people to practice EVERYTHING he did.

Chuck Abdella - 5/1/2002

A good article, but several other important historical points ought be made:

1) It was indeed Gregory VII (1073-1085) who was the 1st to require celibacy and it is vital to know that Gregory is one of the few popes to be drawn from the monastic orders. Before his elevation, Gregory was a monk named Hildebrand and thus possessed a bias in favor of chastity not necessaily shared by his contemporaries

2) 1139's dictate (and indeed Gregory's earlier one threatening excommunication) likely was not widely followed. Clerics simply changed "wives" to "housekeepers" and "children" to "nieces/nephews." Trent and the threat of the Reformation led to de facto celibacy for the first time.

3) More important than Anglican converts are the Eastern Rite Catholic clergy who are not converts, but are permitted to marry in the same way that Eastern Orthodox priests are.

4) Finally, an all-male priesthood has been the tradition for the life of the church and is certainly doctrine, but it is not dogmatic, i.e. essential teaching which cannot be reversed.

Mr. Charles Abdella
Instructor of History

James Lindgren - 5/1/2002

The rationales for celibacy seem incomplete, given the history recounted. The author writes:

"In the early 11th century Pope Benedict VIII responded to the decline in priestly morality by issuing a rule prohibiting the children of priests from inheriting property. A few decades later Pope Gregory VII issued a decree against clerical marriages."

Yet none of the rationales offered by experts here mention preventing inherited power or money. Clergy were central to most communities, relatively rich and powerful in many cases. To be allowed to pass down this wealth, power, and position to sons who might not merit it might have been seen as both unfair and counterproductive to the church's viability.

The history recounted suggests that concerns about inherited wealth, power, and position should probably be added to the list of rationales. This rationale has little relevance today--though other rationales might.


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