The relationship of the Catholic Church and National Socialism remains a controversial topic. Despite intensive research, many questions remain unresolved. Detailed studies such as this one provide
important building blocks for the foundation on which eventual answers can be attempted.
Simone Höller examines an institution that, in its ideological intentions, its attitude toward »racial questions,« and its international interrelations, stood contrary to Nazism on all counts, yet still
survived that regime: the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith (Päpstliches Werk der Glaubensverbreitung, PWG) in Germany.
The author has unearthed astonishing findings from widely dispersed archival materials. The PWG, soon cut off from Rome and its connections throughout the world, survived foreign currency legislation and
foreign currency trials, revocation of its non-profit status, and other various restrictions. Its journals were prohibited, recruitment of members and donations limited to the immediate church
environment. A Mission Administration Society (Missions-Verwaltungsgesellschaft; MVG), led by the later CDU politician and federal cabinet minister Heinrich Krone, did enable occasional monetary
transfers to areas of mission work.
With the so-called »military hospital assistance,« the PWG and MVG achieved a master stroke amid Nazi turf battles. Shielded and supported by the Wehrmacht medical service,
they set up monasteries as military hospitals, thereby tying down donated funds and rescuing the order’s property from expropriation. The documentation of the conflict between the Wehrmacht and
Nazi cadres over the Divine Word Missionaries’ St. Xavier Mission School in Bad Driburg is a particular delicacy – and not only in that regard.