Holocaust and Catholic Conscience, The
Cardinal Aloisius Muench and the Guilt Question in Germany
256 pages, 0.00 x 0.00
Paperback | 9780268021870 | February 1994
Hardcover | 9780268021863 | March 2016
eBook (PDF) | 9780268076221 | February 1994
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268076214 | February 1994
American-born Cardinal Aloisius Muench (1889-1962) was a key figure in German and German-American Catholic responses to the Holocaust, Jews, and Judaism between 1946 and 1959. He was arguably the most powerful American Catholic figure and an influential Vatican representative in occupied Germany and in West Germany after the war. In this carefully researched book, which draws on Muench’s collected papers, Suzanne Brown-Fleming offers the first assessment of Muench’s legacy and provides a rare glimpse into his commentary on Nazism, the Holocaust, and surviving Jews. She argues that Muench legitimized the Catholic Church’s failure during this period to confront the nature of its own complicity in Nazism’s anti-Jewish ideology. The archival evidence demonstrates that Muench viewed Jews as harmful in a number of very specific ways. He regarded German Jews who had immigrated to the United States as "aliens," he believed Jews to be "in control" of American policy-making in Germany, he feared Jews as "avengers" who wished to harm "victimized" Germans, and he believed Jews to be excessively involved in leftist activities. Muench’s standing and influence in the United States, Germany, and the Vatican hierarchies gave sanction to the idea that German Catholics needed no examination of conscience in regard to the Church's actions (or inactions) during the 1940s and 1950s. This fascinating story of Muench’s role in German Catholic consideration—and ultimate rejection—of guilt and responsibility for Nazism in general and the persecution of European Jews in particular will be an important addition to scholarship on the Holocaust and to church history.
Suzanne Brown-Fleming is Senior Program Officer in the University Programs Division of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies in Washington, D.C.
"In this revealing study, Suzanne Brown-Fleming takes us back to a post–World War II Catholic world that had yet to come to terms with either Nazism or the Holocaust. One of the leading Catholic clerics in postwar Europe, Cardinal Aloisius Muench both reflected and helped promote German Catholic failures in this regard. Anchored in Cardinal Muench's private papers, this book conducts a fair-minded, but rigorous and morally animated assessment of a Catholic conscience that was later transformed by Vatican II. I recommend it highly." ~Michael R. Marrus, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies, University of Toronto