Website accessibility
Show or hide the menu bar
Main home
Section home
Log in

Concordat Watch - Germany - content area

Hitler's concordat (1933) : Text and background

Fritz Hirschberger, a Holocaust survivor,
painted a Nazi officer and a faceless Cardinal
standing on the body of a Jewish prisoner. 
He titled it "The Concordat".
Cardinal Pacelli who negotiated the 1933 concordat
with Hitler later became Pope Pius XII.


It was a marriage of convenience between Hitler and the Vatican, one which disenfranchised the Catholic laymen. As Hitler cynically put it:

"We should trap the priests by their notorious greed and self indulgence.  We shall thus be able to settle everything with them in perfect peace and harmony.  I shall give them a few years' reprieve.  Why should we quarrel?  They will swallow anything in order to keep their material advantages.  Matters will never come to a head.  They will recognize a firm will, and we need only show them once or twice who is master.  They will know which way the wind blows."  [Quoted in  Guenter Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany (2000), pp. 25-26]

This marriage of convenience between Hitler and the Church hierarchy was deeply confusing to Catholics who looked to their church for guidance. Jared Israel explains the signals they received when Hitler was granted a concordat:

"Put yourself in the position of a 1933 German Catholic as you read the text of the Concordat between Nazi Germany and the Vatican, the Reichskonkordat.

"The German Catholic Church has rescinded its ban on joining the Nazi Party. The Catholic Centre party has dissolved itself. [And Articles 31 and 32 prevent any revival of this democratic Catholic party which had opposed the Nazis.] In the Reichskonkordat, the Vatican has promised that German Bishops and their subordinates will be obedient to and honour the Nazi state (Article 16). It has promised that German Catholic educators will teach children patriotic love for the Nazi state (Article 21). It has requested and received the Nazi dictatorship's promise to enforce internal Church decisions (Article 10). Cardinal Bertram of Breslau has called on Catholics to avoid all subversive or illegal (by Nazi definition) activities.

"How should you respond to the Nazi's new nightmare state? Doesn't the Catholic Church teach you to view Church officials as exemplary? Shouldn't they be emulated? Isn't the Pope's word law, and didn't the Pope sign the Reichskonkordat, an agreement with the Nazi dictatorship, that [in Article 16 contains this pledge for new bishops]:

In the performance of my spiritual office and in my solicitude for the welfare and the interests of the German Reich, I will endeavour to avoid all detrimental acts which might endanger it.

This concordat with Nazi Germany was negotiated by Cardinal Pacelli, who in 1939 became Pius XII. Undaunted by his wartime record, the Vatican is now attempting to have him declared a saint. In his ongoing canonisation process he has reached the venerable stage, which is Church certification that he was "heroic in virtue". Could this be a smokescreen of incense? 

Reichskonkordat (1933): Full text

Here is the complete text: Concordat, Supplementary Protocol and Secret Supplement. Article 27 of the Concordat provides for military chaplains in case the Germany re-armed in contravention of the Versailles Treaty, and the Secret Supplement exempted Catholic clergy from military service. Even today the Secret Supplement does not appear in most translations: the Church won't admit to knowing that Hitler was about to start a war.

Hitler’s concordat poster

Hitler's 1933 election poster boasts of his alliance with the Catholic Church. This refutes the claims of Benedict XVI on his trip to Britain, that atheism helped the Nazis to power. Actually, it was his own church that filled that role. It appears that already in 1933 Hitler and the pope were conspiring to send the Germans off to war to fight their common enemy, Communism.

“The Concordat was a classical political kickback scheme”

This is an excerpt by Gregory S. Paul on the mutual advantages of the Concordat to the Vatican and the Nazis. It is taken from his article, The Great Scandal: Christianity's Role in the Rise of the Nazis – Part I.

Just another neutral state: The Vatican in the Holocaust

This short excerpt from a noted scholar of the Holocaust, Prof. R.S. Landau, depicts the behaviour of the State of the Vatican City as no different from that of any other neutral country anxious to avoid being attacked and to emerge on the winning side.

The Vatican and the Holocaust: A Preliminary Report International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission (2000)

The International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission which was set up to examine the record of the Vatican during the Holocaust. These professional historians were expecting to be given access to the Vatican archives in order to assess the evidence, but this was denied them. Here are some questions they posed on the basis of the edited, long-published volumes, which is all they were allowed to see.

Von Papen, papal chamberlain and Nazi negotiator

Franz Baron von Papen, negotiated the concordat on behalf of Germany. He faithfully served both Hitler and the pope, but escaped punishment at Nuremberg because his crimes were political.

Pius XII, concordat negotiator and Holocaust pope

This is a gateway to more than a dozen online articles about the the connections between Hitler, Pius XII and the concordat. “Intended as a shield for the church, the [concordat] lent Hitler international credibility, criminalised Catholic political activity [the Catholic Centrum Party], and demoralised bishops and priests who opposed Nazi rule.” Cardinal Faulhaber called the concordat a “handshake with the papacy”.

Sainthood doublecross?

Was Israel tricked into supporting sainthood for Hitler’s pope? An Israeli negotiator and a Catholic theologian both maintain that shortly after World War II the Vatican promised to recognise Israel if their diplomats and politicians would defend Pius XII against charges that he had turned his back on the Jews.

Go to Notanant menuWebsite accessibility

Access level: public

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies: OK