The Holocaust Historiography Project

Copy of document 3701-PS

  Translation of document from the Archives of the Catholic
                    Bishops' Conference,
   Fulda, given by Secretary of the Bishop of Fulda to Dr.
                        Edmund Walsh
                      in December, 1945


Concerning: Speech of the Bishop of Muenster on 3 August

Enclosed I submit the draft of a proposal by the Division
Chief for Propaganda, Ministry for Propaganda, for Dr.
Goebbels, in which, at the same time, he transmits the
speech of the Bishop of Muenster of 3 August 1941.

The proposal of the Propaganda Division to start an
enlightenment campaign regarding the Euthanasia question is,
in my opinion right — at least for the territories
concerned — but under no circumstances is it sufficient.

If against the lies of the bishop (that we are putting the
wounded to death), more severe measures are not taken than
an information and probable arrest, this counterpropaganda
will continue without a chance for us to offset it

I propose that we adopt in this case the only measure that
can be taken as good propaganda as well as legal punishment
-- namely: to hang the Bishop of Muenster. A general public
notice of the execution of the death penalty as well as a
detailed justification in connection with this measure
should be made.

By his lie the Bishop of Muenster not only seeks to insult
and to damage National Socialist Germany but at the same
time to damage the morale of the German wives and mothers
whose husbands and sons are on the battle fields.

Every German therefore will understand the kind of execution
I suggest provided we justify it in such a manner. On the
other hand, if we should find a more gentle kind of
punishment, a large portion of the German people will
presume that there is some truth in the accusation.

Besides, I should like to draw your attention to the fact
that such a consequence of the contemptible conduct of the
bishop offers the only chance of influencing other bishops
not to indulge in such actions. If the bishop should not be
punished at all, or if he should only be subjected to
imprisonment or fine, it would be almost like an invitation
for the other bishops to activate their attacks against
National Socialist Germany and the German people also.

Berlin, 12 August 1941


Division Chief — Propaganda
Berlin, 12 August 1941
To the Reich Minister for Propaganda and Popular

Concerning: Catholic action.

At the beginning of July and the beginning of August several
meetings of a rather select committee of the Bishops'
Conference of Fulda took place. It was decided at those
meetings to continue the line of increasingly sharp
opposition.  The execution of those decisions becomes
evident in three pastoral letters of the Bishop Count von
Galen of Muenster. In the pastoral letters of 13 and 20 July
the bishop attacked the Gestapo with harsh words because of
the closing of several Jesuit houses and convents of the
Mission Sisters of the Immaculate Conception; he calls the
officials of the Gestapo thieves and robbers.  Then he
connects those confiscations with several bombings of the
city of Muenster and calls them just punishment from heaven
for the misdeeds of the Gestapo. In these pastoral letters
he glorifies Pastor Niemoeller and attempts

                                                  [Page 407]

to disprove the charge of disturbing the unity of the people
by claiming that is only the Gestapo which is destroying the
unity of the people.

After such attacks against official organs of the state,
stronger in form and tenor than the earlier mentioned, more
hidden accusations, the Bishop of Muenster on 3 August in a
sermon to his diocesans came out with the most severe attack
against the leadership of the German government ever made
during the past decades. After first dealing again with the
closing of those religious houses and convents he turns
against the execution of measures concerning Euthanasia for
incurable cases of feeblemindedness. He first sets forth the
argument against Euthanasia and then goes so far as to claim
the following:

"Yes, citizens of Muenster, wounded soldiers are being
killed recklessly, since they are, productively, of no more
use to the state. Mother, your boy will be killed too, if he
comes back home from the front wounded.” He closes with the
remark that the inhabitants of Muenster had not understood
God’s vengeance which came in the form of English air
attacks and he incites the faithful to open opposition, even
if they should have to die for it.

For your information I enclose the original text of the

The allegation of the Bishop of Muenster that wounded
soldiers are threatened by measures of Euthanasia was spread
by several broadcasts of the London radio. The attitude of
the bishop is treason of a definite quality.

It is to be feared that this sermon and the utterances of
the bishop will get around by propaganda of mouth and will
be believed in wide circle of the Reich, especially among
the Catholic population. Moreover it is to be feared that
those treasonable accusations will find their way to the
Protestant population, especially among families who have
relatives at the front.

Measures taken by the state police against the bishop can
hardly be successful, because in case of an arrest and
judgment the bishop would be made a martyr by the Church,
and other bishops and priests would repeat his claims anew.
The most suitable measure would be the enlightenment of the
population concerning our measures in reference to
Euthanasia; I realized, however, that the present times are
very unfit for that. The manner and the means by which the
bishop prepared this action makes one fear that he will not
relax his attacks, unless we effect a fundamental change of
attitude particularly in the Catholic population.

I inquired at the Reich Ministry for Church Affairs as to

                                                  [Page 408]

they regard this matter over there. I was answered that the
authentic text of the sermon unfortunately was not yet known
in that Department. The sermon was on 3 August.

I beg the Reich Minister to decide whether or not the
Fuehrer shall be asked by group leader Bormann whether the
camouflage of Euthanasia thus far in practice ought to be
modified so that a defense against the treasonable claims of
the Bishop of Muenster can be inaugurated by launching a
campaign of popular enlightenment.

                                                Heil Hitler!



Concerning: Sermon of the Bishop of Muenster

After the conference of Ministers, Dr. Goebbels discussed
with me the sermon of the Bishop of Muenster. He could not
say what effective measures could be taken at the moment.

I explained to him that in my opinion there could be only
one effective measure, namely, to hang the bishop and that I
already had informed Reichsleiter Bormann accordingly.

Thereupon Dr. Goebbels said that this was a measure upon
which the Fuehrer alone could decide. He feared, however,
that the population of Muenster could be regarded as lost
during the war, if anything were done against the bishop,
and in that fear one safely could include the whole of

I pointed out to him that it would only be necessary to
expose properly that very vulgar lie through propaganda
channels. In that way it ought to be possible not only to
bring the population there to an understanding of that
measure but to create among them rebellion against the

To that Dr. Goebbels answered again that the Fuehrer himself
would certainly come to a decision in that question.

After that he observed that it would have been wiser, in his
opinion, not to challenge the Church during the war but to
try only to steer them according to our interests as far as
possible. For that reason he had ordered the interview with
party comrade Gutterer. But then he had not followed up the
matter in this way because the Chancery of the Party had
chosen the way of uncompromising refusal and open breach. As
much as it was for him — (in contrast to the other Reich's
Leaders) — a matter of course to suppress the press of the
Church, because in that regard he had proof

                                                  [Page 409]

and excuse concerning the Church. This preserved
appearances. He maintained the stand, however, that it would
have been better during the war to preserve appearances as
far as the Church is concerned. It is permissible always to
attack an opponent only if one is in a position to answer
properly at the decisive counterattack of that opponent. But
this was extraordinarily difficult in the case of the
counterattack of the Church during the war, yes, nearly
impossible. One should not enjoy a revenge with heat but
coldly. In politics one should know how to wait. This the
Fuehrer clearly and distinctly had proved again in the case
of Russia. If he would have had his way one would have
pretended during the war as if …
       [the following line at end of page is missing].

I explained to him that the procedure employed so far had
nevertheless accomplished this much, that the Church had
opened up and in doing so played into our hands by documents
valuable after the war for the struggle against it.

Dr. Goebbels said that in his opinion those measures would
have been possible after the war, even without the
documents, whereas the effect of the Church documents on the
attitude of the people was extraordinarily troublesome now.
In any case it is necessary now to establish an absolute and
clear rule as to the road to be followed. In the
deliberations which have to take place in this connection we
should not allow ourselves to be guided by the heart but by
completely cold logic.

I personally retain the viewpoint that, if the Fuehrer
should agree with my proposal to hang the bishop, we could
safely still continue along the lines used so far.  However,
should the Fuehrer reject this proposal and postpone a
reckoning, and defer action in the present case also, until
after the war, I herewith request that it be considered
whether Dr. Goebbels should not try, as far as might be
possible, to pursue the course he suggested.

Berlin, 13 August 1941


         Headquarters of the Fuehrer, 13 August 1941

Documentary remark for party comrade Walter Tiessler, Leader
   of the Reichsring for National Socialist Propaganda and
   Enlightenment, Berlin W. 8, Hotel Kaiserhof, Room 117.

The several speeches of Bishop Count Galen are known to me.
Also the Fuehrer has been given an over-all picture on the

                                                  [Page 410]

tude of the bishop. He ordered me to undertake first an
exact investigation of the bishop’s complaints concerning
the closing of cloisters in favor of the NSDAP. This was
done; but so far I have not been able to report to the
Fuehrer. Concerning the effects of the speeches of the
Bishop I am being continuously informed through the Gau
Leader as well as by the Secret State Police.

What kind of steps the Fuehrer will take against the bishop,
however, is yet to be decided. A death sentence certainly
would be appropriate; considering the state of the war,
however, the Fuehrer hardly will order such a measure.

The Fuehrer also will have to decide whether enlightenment
concerning the Euthanasia matters should be started. So far
the Fuehrer has declined to adopt this measure.

In your proposal for Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels a decision
is requested whether or not the Fuehrer should be asked by
one of the adjutants if the camouflage of Euthanasia so far
in effect could be modified. I request you to clarify in
your office that questions of this kind are not reported to
the Fuehrer by the adjutants but through me as the Leader of
the Chancery of the Party. This too is precisely one of the
reasons, why I should accompany the Fuehrer steadily, in
order that all such matters may be reported to the Fuehrer
through me.



             Proposal for Reichsleiter Bormann!

In consequence of your documentary remark of 13 August I
informed the Propaganda Division that questions of that kind
will not be reported to the Fuehrer through the adjutants
but through you. The office thereupon gave me the
information that there had been a regrettable
misunderstanding. It was Group Leader Bormann, yourself,
they meant, not the adjutant. I have been asked by the
office to beg your pardon on their behalf.

Berlin, 16 August 1941