Catholic Youth Organizations Resistance and Collapse During the Nazi Regime

Faculty Sponsor

Matthew Becker


Christ College


Christ College

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-2-2015


Within the recent history of the Catholic Church, no period has been more critically scrutinized than the 1930s and 40s, especially with respect to the actions of the Pope vis-à-vis the Nazi regime in Germany. However, less well known and examined are the conflicts that arose regarding Catholic rights for church youth organizations in Germany at that time. Very little research has been done by English-speaking scholars on this issue and the pertinent German research has largely not been translated into English. While there has been growing interest in post-war German Catholicism, including the revitalization of Catholic youth organizations in the 1950s and 60s, little attention has been given to these organizations in the Nazi period itself and to the challenges they faced in those years. Individual Catholic youth organizations flourished in Germany as mostly independent groups in the early decades of the twentieth century. These organizations helped to instill Catholic teachings and values among the youth and became centers of vibrant Catholicism in Germany at that time. With the rise of Nazism and the Hitler Youth, however, these organizations came under pressure and even overt threat, despite the protections given to the Catholic Church in the Concordat that was ratified between Germany and the Vatican in 1933. In the face of these political and ideological threats, leaders in the Catholic Church in Germany argued that these Catholic youth organizations were protected under the Concordat. This paper evaluates the varying degrees of success Catholic youth organizations resisted Nazi pressures before their obliteration in 1939 by unearthing forgotten works by German scholars and synthesizing their findings with more recent research.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Sarah Black is a senior at Valparaiso University, majoring in biology and Spanish, as well as an associate from Christ College. While taking her theology class, "Christians in Nazi Germany," she was inspired to investigate her religious heritage by studying the Catholic youth movement during the Nazi period.

This document is currently not available here.