Document 098-PS, in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume III, US Government Printing Office, Washington DC: 1946, pp. 152-157.
NATIONAL SOCIALIST GERMAN LABOR PARTY
Munich, 33, Brown house at present Berlin,
22 Feb 1940
Deputy of the Fuehrer Staff Leader
Mr. Reich leader Alfred Rosenberg
Berlin W 35 Margareten Str. 17
24 Feb 1940 rec. No. 555 copy AR and Urban St
Subject: Directions for the administration of classes in religion
Dear Party Member Rosenberg:
The deputy of the Fuehrer has heard from different sources, that Reich Bishop Mueller tells everywhere, that he received a commission from you to work out directions for formulating the teaching of religion for the schools.
I have not been able to examine the statements of Reich Bishop Mueller as to their correctness. The question, having come up for discussion again by the statements of Reich Bishop Mueller, is however in my mind of such fundamental importance for the future ideological position of the party, that I find it necessary, already now to point out to you the serious objections I have in regard to such a commission.
The ministry for education of the Reich has repeatedly indicated its desire in the course of the past few years for new directions for formulating the teaching of religion, which would also be acceptable to the NSDAP.
With your agreement, this request has repeatedly been refused by the Fuehrer's deputy. Just as your ministry did, so the deputy of the Fuehrer took the position based on the assumption, that it could not be the task of the party to give directions for the instruction of the teachings of Christian religions.
Christianity and National Socialism are phenomena which originated from entirely different basic causes. Both differ fundamentally so strongly, that it will not be possible to construct a Christian teaching which would be completely compatible with the point of view of the national socialist ideology; just as the communities of Christian faith would never be able to stand by the ideology of national socialism in its entirety. The issuing of national socialist directions for the teaching of religious classes would however be based on a synthesis of national socialism and Christianity which I find impossible.
If the directions should really be permeated by the spirit of national socialism, some very fundamental articles of faith of the Christian teachings could not be recognized. I am referring here only to the position of the Christian churches to the race question, to the question of hindrance or destruction of life not valuable, its position to marriage, which speaks for the celibacy of priests and the toleration and furtherance of orders for monks and nuns, the teaching, contradictory to German feeling, of the immaculate conception of Mary, etc.
No matter how these directions may be formulated, in no case will they ever simultaneously find the approval of the church and the party.
In addition to this, the religions themselves cannot agree on the contents of the christian teachings; as far as the Protestants themselves are concerned, there are not only the followers of the confessional church in the Reich and the German Christians, but also the adherents of a teaching, which is endeavoring to create a new Lutheran Christendom of a particular kind approximately in the shape which seems desirable to the Reich Minister of churches, party member Kerrl. The party thus would have to decide first which of these directions of faith it would give preference, or if it should even decide for a fourth. I do not think it entirely impossible that the Reich Bishop may take this latter road, since according to his last publication he himself has already turned sharply away from conceptions which up to now have been part of the faith of the German Christians.
But if directions for the instruction of religion should ever be worked out, it will not be enough, to my mind, to make them for Protestants only; respective directions should also be worked out for Catholics. To work out directions for instructions of Catholic faith, the Reich Bishop is hardly the suitable person, and one would probably have to choose a Catholic. Of course the directions for both faiths would differ in fundamental questions, each, however would lay claim to the fact that it really contained the truly authentic interpretation of article 24 of the party program.
By issuing directions nothing would therefore be improved in the present situation in the field of the churches. The fight between the faiths would be carried on in the old form and spread into the lines of the party. Yes, all faiths and Christian groups would attack state and party, because they had assumed to encroach upon their own territory, that of teaching the Christian faith and to try to reform it.
The churches cannot be conquered by a compromise between national socialism and Christian teachings, but only through a new ideology, whose coming you yourself have announced in your writings. Because of this conviction we have always been careful, not to exert a reforming influence on the Christian dogma in any shape nor to exert any influence on the church directives for religious teachings. In complete mutual agreement we have rejected the intention of the Reich Minister for churches who, against the objection of the party, always tried anew to renew the church life in the frame of national socialist spirit, in searching for a compromise between Christian teachings and the ideology of national socialism.
Should, however, any one personality emanating from the life of the church, be charged now to work out directions for the teaching of the Christian religion, the party would thereby basically approve and accept for itself the position of the Reich Minister for the churches previously opposed by it as there is no basic difference between a position which wants to reform and reorganize the church life in its entirety, and one which aims at this goal solely in the realm of the education of youth.
So far we have always been in accord, that by taking such a step the party would leave the soil on which it is firmly planted and would step on the swaying ground of the controversial Christian doctrines. It would enter into the domain of the interpretation of the teachings of Jesus, and there would doubtless be subordinate to those who for centuries have done nothing but interpret and rewrite the words and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth as written in the old books about the actual wording of which the scientists fight even today. When in later decades and centuries the German people's soul liberated by national socialism should once again be choked and crippled by Christian doctrines, it could be possible that it may have been caused by today's attempt to effect a synthesis between national socialism and Christianity.
On the other hand, of course I am also of the opinion that it is not possible to eliminate the religious instruction in schools without replacing it with something better for the moral education of youth.
Religious instruction as given in schools today does not only comprise the instruction in the Christian doctrines of faith, the teachings of the creation of the world and of the life thereafter; besides, the children receive also instructions in the ten commandments, which for most comrades of the people to this day still are the only directives for their moral behavior and for an orderly collective life in the people's community. If this instruction is taken from the children without replacing it with something better, the objection can be made -- in my estimation not without reason, that, as many contend, the present degradation of youth is in part caused by the lack of religious instruction in schools.
What, in my opinion, is therefore necessary is the preparation of a short directive about a national socialist life formulation. We need for the work of education in the party, especially also in the Hitler Youth a short resume in which the ethical principles are documented, to respect which each German boy and girl, who at one time will be representatives of the national socialistic Germany, must be educated. In such a directive for instance belongs the- law of bravery, the law against cowardness, the commandment of love for the soulful nature in which God makes himself apparent also in the animal and the plant, a commandment to keep the blood pure; many principles also belong here which are for instance also contained in the decalogue of the Old Testament, as far as they can be regarded as moral principles of all people's life.
The publication of such a directive can and must only come out of our national socialist conduct of life. Its commandments of customs need to be explained by reference to any doctrines of faith about the creation of life and about life of the soul after death.
They can and must originate beyond any confessional discussions.
I take the publication of such a directive to be of utmost importance, because the German boys and girls must once be told what they can and must do, and what is forbidden for them to do. I don't even think it necessary to introduce this directive immediately into the schools as a text; it would be sufficient if for the time being it would be introduced into the party and its affiliations. Later it could also be taken over by the schools just as the little Catechism also was not created by the school boards, but first taught by the Church and later taken over by the schools.
As far as the religious instructions in the schools is concerned, I do not think that anything has to be changed in the present situation. No fault can be found with any national socialist teacher, who after the unmistakenly clear instructions of the Fuehrer's deputy, is ready to give school instructions in the Christian religion. For the contents of this instruction, however, the directives should still be binding which have in former year been made by the churches themselves. In the circular of the Fuehrer's deputy No. 3/39 of 4 January 1939 it is stated explicitly that the teachers charged with religious instruction are not to choose from the material on biblical history at their own discretion, but have the obligation to teach the entire biblical instruction material. Interpretations, explanations and separations in the sense of several attempts of particular church directions have to be omitted. The pupils must be given the entire picture of the biblical instruction material.
However, the teachers have the right to present this material as property of biblical thought and not as that of Germany or national socialism. If thus in some cases comparison will be drawn, this, according to the circular, corresponds only to the duties of the educator. Against such instruction of religion the churches cannot have any objections.
When, sometime later, the proposed directive for a new German conduct of life first to be used in the educational work of the party, will have found entry into the schools, it shall in no way supplant classes in religion. It may perhaps be used as a foundation for some classes in German and must have validity for all pupils, without consideration of their religious affiliations. Against such educational procedure the churches could not object, either because it would really be a matter of additional education, which would take place next to the religious instruction and without any connection with it. On the contrary, the churches would have reason to be thankful to the state because it is not satisfied with the religious instruction according to the very insufficient moral education based on the ten commandments, but that it is giving youth an additional Education, which makes much higher demands on its moral conduct.
Parallel to that the desire of the parents for the instruction in the doctrines of faith may thus well go on. The stronger and more fertile our positive educational work in the schools will be formulated, however the more certain it is that instruction of religions will be losing in importance.
If the youth which is now being educated according to our moral laws will later have to decide if it is still willing to have its children brought up in the far inferior Christian doctrines, he decision will in most cases be negative.
I would think that today, seven years after taking over the power, it should be possible to set up principles for a national socialist conduct of life. They have long been apparent to the people from the numerous early fighters for the national socialist idea.
As long as we do not master this task, however, it will always be pointed out from various sides, and rightly so, that children, not taking part in religious instruction, are no longer taught even the most simple moral laws which are a standard for the communal life of all nations.
The Fuehrer's deputy finds it necessary that all these questions should be thoroughly discussed in the near future in the presence of the Reich leaders, who are especially affected by them. I would appreciate it very much if you would let me know your position in this matter before the discussion.
/s/ M. Bormann