Catholic Missionary Work in German Conquered Areas is Banned by Hitler Hot

Catholic Missionary Work in German Conquered Areas is Banned by Hitler

Adolf Hitler, 1941

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Adolf Hitler issues orders forbidding Catholic missionary activity in regions conquered by the German Army. Hitler is reacting to a recently written memo by Reinhold Heydrich, chief of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA, Reich Main Security Office), entitled "New Tactics in Vatican Russia Work."

Heydrich believes that the Vatican is recruiting chaplains to be sent with German forces to the Eastern Front. There they would establish Catholicism in the wake of the German advance, thereby planting seeds of anti-Nazi activity in the newly conquered territories.

Heydrich argues:

"It is necessary to prevent Catholicism from becoming the real beneficiary of the war in the new situation that is developing in the Russian area conquered by blood."

Given how Catholic Ustashi are imposing Catholicism by force in Croatia, apparently with the Vatican's tacit blessing, this memo probably didn't seem all that far-fetched at the time.

It is also true that Pope Pius XII would like to replace Russian Bolshevism with Roman Catholicism, even at the expense of the Orthodox Christian Church which historically held sway in that region of the world.

Large numbers of priests from the Vatican "Commission for Russia," founded by Pius himself (as Eugenio Pacelli) in 1929 to train men for missionary work in Russia, do travel east after Hitler's invasion of Russia, often working in some capacity for the German Army.

Once they find a suitable place for missionary and pastoral work, they desert and set to the task of promoting Catholicism. It is unknown how many are killed by the Nazis for desertion, or the Russians as spies, but some think that the numbers are very high.


Reinhard Heydrich: Hitler's Successor and Architect of Totalitarian Rule in Nazi Germany

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