5St. Blaise's Church

Blasiikirchplatz

Luther Day advert with swastika
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Advertisement for Luther Day on 10 November 1933 (Kreisarchiv Landkreis Nordhausen)
Chancel with swastika and church flag
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Flagged chancel in the St Jacob's Church, undated (Stadtarchiv Nordhausen)

Nordhausen was one of the first German cities to join the Reformation. The role that the Protestant Church still plays in the life of the city today is correspondingly important. Soon after the National Socialist takeover, the majority of Protestant clergy in Nordhausen joined the Nazi movement, as the ideological views of "German Christians" and National Socialists were so closely aligned. Opposition within the Church remained marginal.

In the first half of the 20th century, the Protestant Church in Germany split into two main currents, whose conflict culminated in the church struggle of the 1930s. The German Christians followed the National Socialists in their political goals and shared their "Führerprinzip" and racial ideology. They achieved an absolute majority in the leadership of the German Protestant Church in the 1933 church elections. The "Confessing Church", which emerged as a counter-movement, attempted to protect the Protestant principles of faith, but accepted the administrative claim to leadership of the German Christians in high church offices.

In Nordhausen, the local group of German Christians was founded in June 1933 by superintendent Theodor Hammer and pastor Trautmann, among others. Trautmann, pastor of the St. Blaise's parish, ensured - as was customary elsewhere in the German Reich - that the flag of the church and the swastika were raised on church buildings on festive occasions from then on. As the local representative of the "Reich Mothers' Service", his wife organised so-called "mothers' training courses" in the parish hall. Behind the charitable façade of these courses stood ideological objectives: Women should earn their place in the "Volksgemeinschaft" by giving birth to as many "hereditarily healthy" children as possible and raising them in a National Socialist manner.

The NSDAP used the St Martin's celebration on Luther Day 1933 as a propaganda event. Superintendent Hammer, mayor Sting and the Thuringian Gauleiter Sauckel gave speeches on Adolf Hitler Square at town hall. On the same evening, a public book burning organised by the Hitler Youth took place.

In December 1933, the "Confessional Front" was founded in Nordhausen by opponents of the German Christians. By 1945, around 90 people belonged to this local group of the Confessing Church. However, no active pastor stood up for the opposition movement, meaning that no parish in Nordhausen officially represented the idea of the Confessing Church.