The Holocaust Historiography Project

Document 3433-PS


      Decree concerning the Constitution of the German
             Protestant Church, of 14 July 1933

The Reich Cabinet has adopted the following
Decree, which is hereby promulgated:

                          Article 1

A new constitution for the German Protestant
Church is ordained as of 11 July 1933.  Together
with the Introductory
Ordinance it is recognized by the Reich and
published in the enclosure.

                          Article 2

(1)  The German Protestant Church is a Corporation of Public
  Law of the Reich.

(2)  The rights and obligations of the German Protestant
  Ecclesiastical League are assumed by the German Protestant

                          Article 3

Should the competent agencies of a State Church
refuse to include assessments of the German
Protestant Church in their budget, the appropriate
State Government will cause the expenditures to be
included in the budget upon request of the Reich

                          Article 4

In the case of formal disciplinary action against
church officials.

1.   Church Disciplinary Authorities are authorized to
  administer oaths to witnesses and experts.

2.   The Lower Courts must comply with requests of the
  Church Disciplinary Authorities for legal assistance.

                          Article 5

(1)  The State Churches federated as the German Protestant
  Church will hold new election on the 23 July 1933 for those
  ecclesiastical agencies which are constituted by direct vote
  of church members on the basis of current State Church Law.

(2)  Where further agencies are to be constituted by
  indirect vote on the basis of State Church Law, these
  elections will take place before 31 August 1933.

(3)  The Supreme Administrative Authorities of the State
  Churches are authorized to promulgate by administrative
  decree the regulations necessary for carrying out the new
  elections.  Electors absent from their local church will be
  authorized to vote by proxy.  Where it is necessary for this
  purpose, or in order to adhere to the time limits prescribed
  in this article, deviations from the provisions of
  Ecclesiastical Law and Church Constitutions concerning the
  external mechanism of the electoral procedure are

(4)  A Plenipotentiary of the Reich Minister of the Interior
  will supervise the impartial implementation of the
  provisions of this chapter.

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                          Article 6

The carrying out of this decree is vested in the
Reich Minister of the Interior.

                          Article 7

This decree becomes effective on the day of its

Berlin, 14 July 1933

                              The Reich Chancellor
                                      Adolf Hitler
                The Reich Minister of the Interior



At a time in which our German people is
experiencing a great historical new era through
the grace of God, the German Protestant Churches
are combining to form a united German Protestant
Church as continuation and consummation of the
unity initiated by the German Protestant
Ecclesiastical League.

It federates into a solemn league all
denominations that stem from the Reformation and
stand equally legitimately side by side, and
thereby bears witness to:  “One Body and One
Spirit, One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, One God
and Father of All of Us, who is Above All, and
Through All, and In All.”

The German Protestant Church ordains the following
Constitution for itself:

                          SECTION I

                          Article 1

The inviolable basis of the German Protestant
Church is the Gospel of Jesus Christ as attested
to us in Holy Writ, and as made manifest anew in
the Confessions of the Reformation.  The authority
which the Church needs for its mission is thereby
determined and delineated.

                         SECTION II

                          Article 2

(1)  The German Protestant Church is composed of Churches
  (State Churches-Landeskirchen).

(2)  Churches with related creeds may become affiliated.
  The nature of the affiliation will be determined by law.

(3)  In matters of Dogma and Cult the State Churches remain

                                        [Page 139]

(4)  The German Protestant Church may issue by law uniform
  directives to State Churches for their constitutions,
  insofar as the latter are not based on dogma.  It is
  incumbent upon it to promote and guarantee legal uniformity
  among the State Churches in the administrative and judicial

(5)  Ordination of leading officials in the State Churches
  will take place after the German Protestant Church has been

(6)  When assuming office all Church Officials are to be
  pledged to the Constitution of the German Protestant Church.

                         SECTION III

                          Article 3

(1)  The German Protestant Church regulates all legal
  aspects pertaining to the German Church.

(2)  It settles [ordnet] its relationship to the State.

(3)  It determines its position in relationship to other
  religious communities.

                          Article 4

(1)  The German Protestant Church aims at equipping and
  committing German Protestant Christendom, which is united in
  it, for the fulfillment of the Divine mission of the Church.
  On the basis of Holy Writ and the Confessions of the
  Reformers it is therefore incumbent upon it to strive for a
  uniform attitude within the Church, and to prescribe goal
  and direction for ecclesiastical work.

(2)  It devotes special solicitude to the German folk
  [Volkstum], particularly  to youth.

(3)  It takes under its helpful protection undenominational
  ecclesiastical work of importance to the entire Church,
  especially Home and Foreign Missions.

(4)  It is incumbent upon it to preserve and strengthen
  connections with Protestant Germans abroad.

(5)  It cultivates relations to friendly Churches in foreign

                         SECTION IV

                          Article 5

(1)  The Church is headed by the Lutheran Reich Bishop.

(2)  The Reich Bishop will assisted by an Ecclesiastical
  Council [Geistliches Ministerium].

(3)  A German Protestant National Synod takes part in
  nominating the leading officials of the Church and in

                                        [Page 140]

(4)  Advisory Chapters guarantee unhampered creative
  cooperation in the service of the Church to the talents
  active in German Protestant Folk [Volkstum].

                          Article 6

(1)  The Reich Bishop represents the German Protestant
  Church.  He is called upon to make visibly manifest the
  community of church life in the State Churches, and to
  vouchsafe uniform leadership for the work of the German
  Protestant Church.  He takes the measures requisite to
  safeguard the Constitution.

(2)  The Reich Bishop will familiarize the members of the
  Ecclesiastical Council with the functions of their office.
  He will regularly meet the leading officials of the State
  Churches for discussion and to take counsel.  He will
  undertake the appointment and dismissal of the officials of
  the German Protestant Church.

(3)  The Reich Bishop is authorized to officiate at all
  clerical functions, more especially to preach sermons, to
  issue proclamations in the name of the German Protestant
  Church and to institute, Special Penitence and Festival

Insofar as it is a question of preservation and
cultivation of a denomination other than his own,
this authority will be exercised by the competent
member of the Ecclesiastical Council.

4.   The Reich Bishop will be assigned a parish.

The official residence of the Reich Bishop for the
handling of church administration is in Berlin.

5.   The Reich Bishop is installed into his bishopric by the
  National Synod after nominations have been submitted to the
  National Synod by the leading officials of the State
  Churches together with the Ecclesiastical Council.

6.   Details will be determined by law.

                          Article 7

1.   Under the leadership of the Reich Bishop, it is
  incumbent upon the Ecclesiastical Council to guide the
  German Protestant Church and to issue laws.

2.   It consists of three clergymen and one legal member.
  In appointing the clergymen, due consideration is to be
  accorded to the denominational structure of the German
  Protestant Church.  In case of necessity the number of
  members may be increased.  The members perform the functions
  of their office without supervision.  They are responsible
  to the Reich Bishop for the Unity of the Church.

3.   It is the special task of the clerical members to
  strengthen the spiritual ties between the State Churches and
  the German Protestant Church, to strengthen the community of
  members of

                                        [Page 141]

the same denomination and their relationship of
mutual trust to the other elements of the German
Protestant Church.

4.   The Members of the Ecclesiastical Council are appointed
  by the Reich Bishop.  The Clerical members will be suggested
  to the Reich Bishop by the leading officials of the State
  Churches.  The Legal Member of the Administration of the
  Protestant Church of the Old Prussian Union.  The position
  will be filled in agreement with the Reich Bishop. The
  occupants of this position must be qualified for the office
  of Judge or for the Higher Administrative.

5.   The Legal member is the Reich Bishop’s Deputy in legal
  matters; he is in charge of the German Protestant Church
  Chancery as the supreme ecclesiastical administrative

6.   Details will be determined by law.

                          Article 8

1.   The German Protestant National Synod consists of sixty
  members.  Two thirds will be delegated by the German
  Protestant State Churches from Synods and Church governing
  Bodies.  The German Protestant Church will appoint one third
  from individuals who have conduced themselves well in the
  service of the church.

2.   Appointment of the members of the National Synod will
  be determined by law.  The tenure of office for members will
  be six years.

Whenever the National Synod is newly constituted,
special consideration will be given to the
integration of new forces.

3.   The National Synod will be convened by the Reich Bishop
  at lest once a year.  At other times the Reich Bishop shall
  give due consideration to a request of the National Synod
  that it be convened.  Place and date of the convention will
  be determined by the Reich Bishop.  He will open the synod
  with Divine Service and will preside at the initial session
  until the chairmanship has been agreed upon.  The Synod will
  establish for itself an order for business.

                          Article 9

1.   The advisory Chapters will be called upon by the
  Ecclesiastical Council for continuous responsible work.
  They are entitled to render advisory opinions.

2.   Members will be appointed by the Reich Bishop in
  agreement with the Ecclesiastical council.

                          SECTION V

                         Article 10

Laws of the German Protestant Church are decided
on by the National Synod in collaboration with the
Ecclesiastical Council, or by the latter alone.
They will be signed by the Reich Bishop and
promulgated in Legal Gazette of the German
Protestant Church.  They will become effective on
the fourteenth day after publication in the Legal
Gazette, unless a different date has been set.

                         SECTION VI

                         Article 11

1.   An annual budget will list all receipts and
  expenditures.  It will be determined by law before the
  beginning of the fiscal year.

2.   A law is also requisite for any decision concerning the
  negotiation of loans or the assumption of obligations on
  behalf of the German Protestant Church.

3.   Accounts of receipts and expenditures will be rendered
  to a Budget Committee to be designated by the National
  Synod.  It approved the accounts.

4.   The German Protestant Church raises its funds through
  assessing the State Churches.

                         SECTION VII

                         Article 12

1.   The constitution may be amended by law if the
  provisions concerning Dogma and Cult are not affected
  thereby.  The law must be approved by two thirds of the
  members of the National Synod present, or approved
  unanimously by the Ecclesiastical Council.

2.   Approval of the National Synod is required for a law
  amending the Constitution of the structures or the executive
  agencies of the German Protestant Church are effected

                              Berlin, 11 July 1933

On behalf of the Protestant Church of the Old
Prussian Union:  JAGER (also on behalf of all
Prussian State Churches).