II. Government Correspondence Regarding the Sermon and the Charges Raised against Galen as a Result (August 12-13, 1941)
Division Chief — Propaganda
Berlin, 12 August 1941
To the Reich Minister for Propaganda and Popular Enlightenment
Concerning: Catholic Action
At the end 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 to disprove the charge of disturbing the unity of the people by claiming that it 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 sermon.
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 circles 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 priest 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 with 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 how 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.