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Several telephone reports which reached here as early as the evening of the 2nd of August, 1934, from offices of the Party and regional [Bezirk] authorities, concerning refusal to sound the funeral knell ordered by the Reich Government, and also numerous written reports, caused the Bavarian Political Police to come to the decision, a copy of which is enclosed, and which has already been submitted to your office.
The result was as follows: In more than 70 parishes bells were not tolled on the 2nd of August, in 20 parishes on the 2nd and 3rd of August, and in 4 parishes on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of August. The reason given in about 56 cases was that no definite order had been issued from the responsible diocesan office, or dean's office. Of the clergy involved, 32 in all are politically tainted-two of them read holy mass on the 26th of July for the deceased Chancellor of the Austrian Confederation Dollfuss, or remembered him in a sermon and had prayers said for him. It appears that no special order of the senior church authorities was necessary for this. In one case the sacristan was interrupted in ringing the knell by the priest.
When asked for an explanation by enraged fellow Germans and fellow party members, every possible excuse was used-let us only call attention to the following ones, to show what type they were:
Alleged disturbance of the religious service.
Nothing is done on orders from lay authorities.
Absence, either accidental, or alleged to be by reason of duty.
Alleged state of decay of the belfry.
Alleged defectiveness of the bells.
Alleged ignorance of the decree of the Reich Government.
Hindenburg was a Protestant; by a decree of the Bavarian Ministry of Public Worship and Education (Resolution of the State Minister for Education and Public Worship, dated 29.6.34, No. I 19763) the vicar was only pledged to obey the order of the church authorities with respect to the ringing of church bells.
Bells had only been rung in the morning on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the outbreak of war.
On his own authority, the bishop of Wuerzburg. Matthias Ehrenfried, a sufficiently well-known cleric, fixed the ringing of bells for the morning, between 11-0 and 12-0 o'clock. [pencil note referring to underling] How so?
Another minister had the incredible lack of taste to point out that the enforced ringing of church bells when Kurt Eisner was shot, had been the occasion of the order that this should in future only be done by order of the church authorities. The mentioning of the name of the immortal president of the Reich von Hindenburg in the same breath as an incident connected with Eisner, the traitor and Jew, is the most despicable feature [Gemeinheit] of the affair.
From the foregoing it is not difficult to see that the Catholic clergy in their intolerance, have done their utmost to disturb the peace between laymen and clergy. There is no doubt that the obstructive attitude of the clergy is due, on the one hand, to that fact that the deceased Reichpresident was a Protestant, and on the other, to the fact that the Catholic Church was to obey a suggestion made by the National-Socialist Reich Government. The conduct shown in this case provides once more a clear evidence of the international attitude and lack of German feeling and perception in Catholic clerical circles.
In three cases the taking into protective custody, in order to guarantee them personal safety, of refractory clergy could not be avoided, in the interests of the maintenance of public security and order, and on account of the anger of the people.
The following clergy are in question:
The Parish priest, Father Johann Quinger of Altenkunstadt BA., Lichtenfels. He was taken into protective custody on 3.8 on the express order of the State Ministry of the Interior, because he assaulted SA leaders and SA men who were ringing the bells against his wishes. He was released from custody on 10.8.34.
The Parish priest, Father Ludwig Obholzer of Kiefersfelden BA Rosenheim. For his personal safety he was in police custody from 2400 hours on the 2.8.34, till 1000 hours on 3.8.34. On 5.8.34, he said sarcastically in his sermon, referring to the SA men who had carried out the ringing of the funeral knell on their own account, "Lord forgive them, for they know not what they do!"
The Parish priest, Father Johann Nepomuk Kleber of Wiefelsdorf, BA., Burglengenfeld, refused to ring the church bells on the 2nd and 3rd. He is badly tainted politically and had to be taken into protective custody from the 5th to the 8th of August 34 in the interests of his own safety.
The behaviour of the diocesan office of the archbishopric of Munich and Freising, [underlined in red pencil], which is in accordance with the principle "Attack is the best defence" deserves special note. in two letters of the 10th and 11th of August 1934 a touching complaint is lodged about the behaviour of members of the SA and the Party on ringing the church bells without authorization, and also about the fact that the clergymen named above were restricted in their personal liberty. In this connection it should be stressed that the clergy concerned were treated with extreme leniency. We could refer here to the case of Quinger, where the SA men, in spite of the injuries which the clergyman inflicted on them, with exemplary discipline did not return the assaults. The State authorities did everything to ensure the continuance of worship undisturbed. Moreover, the length of imprisonment was confined in all cases to the minimum.
It must again be pointed out, most emphatically, that the unspeakable behaviour of the clergy concerned in this matter leads us to deduce the existence of a very special frame of mind, and spotlights the true internal attitude of the Catholic clergy to the National-Socialist State. It is not to be wondered at if here and there, in face of the incredible behaviour of the clergy and the threadbare excuses they used, the people and the SA resorted to an act of self-defense which was not perhaps in conformity with strict law, but was very understandable. Narrow-minded jurisprudence, as the elders of the church choose to practice it, is not in place here, and is not understood by the mass of the people, as events have shown.
Since the diocesan office of the archbishopric of Munich and Freising has announced that it will also "report" the incidents to the Reich Ministry of the Interior, it is absolutely necessary to acquaint the above office with the contents of the present report.By order
(Above) Copy to the Reich Governor of Bavaria, for the attention of State Secretary Hofmann, Munich, requesting that it should be noted.By order
Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV
Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality
Washington, DC : United States Government Printing Office, 1946