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Bishop von GalenGerman Catholicism and National Socialism$
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Beth A. Griech-Polelle

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780300092233

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300092233.001.0001

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Von Galen, Eugenics, and the Nazis

Von Galen, Eugenics, and the Nazis

(p.59) Chapter Four Von Galen, Eugenics, and the Nazis
Bishop von Galen

Beth A. Griech-Polelle

Yale University Press

This chapter looks at the three sermons that Bishop von Galen delivered during the summer of 1941. These sermons made him into a symbol for resistance, despite these being more focused on von Galen's fear that the Catholic institutions were about to be removed from Germany. The first section centers on the issue of when it became permissible to break one's oath and the role of conscience in relation to obedience. The discussion then shifts to the Germans' attempt to redefine euthanasia from mercy killing to that of an economic technique, one where useless individuals would be killed so that an imposed society would be able to save money and manpower. The medical community was also revealed to have presented several solutions for social control. The latter half of the chapter looks at the initial stages of the euthanasia program, von Galen's subsequent sermons in response to aerial attacks, and his rise as a martyr for the Catholic cause.

Keywords:   sermons, resistance, oath, conscience, euthanasia, social control, martyr

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