Saturday, February 14, 2015

Wehrmacht Kriegspfarrer and Oberschütze in Norway

Wehrmacht Kriegspfarrer (left) and Oberschütze in Norway. Kriegspfarrer (War Priests or Chaplains) served on the general staff of Armeegruppen, Armee, Korps, and Divisionen withinin the Personnel Group or Adjutantur staff position. While some high ranking Nazi party officials were very religious, it is a well-known fact that most were not and many were rabidly anti-Christian. Nonetheless, it was decided that an immediate banning of Christianity would be too risky. The Nazi party decided that the best strategy was to slowly chip away at the influence of the churches in the daily lives of Germans. It is for this pragmatic reason - as well as due to the military tradition of chaplains in the Wehrmacht - that chaplains were allowed to remain. Since the Luftwaffe and the Waffen-SS were newer branches of the Wehrmacht that did not have any long-standing traditions and were also more strongly controlled by the Nazi Party, it was probably felt that it would be relatively safe to not have appointed chaplains for these two branches. Nonetheless, there is photographic and anecdoatal evidence that priests serving in the Luftwaffe and Waffen-SS in a combatant role were allowed to serve in the capacity of a chaplain as a sideline to their official duties.

Tore Eggan collection

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