Himmler’s »Monastery Storm« (Klostersturm) in 1940–1941 represented the high point of the Nazis’ anti-church struggle in World War II. Within a single year, more than 300
monasteries and Catholic institutions fell victim to this operation. With her remarkable account, Annette Mertens opens a new, unknown chapter in the history of National Socialist religious policy.
The motives behind Monastery Storm, its string pullers, and the course of its events are systematically examined for the first time here. The exceptional situation obtaining in wartime provided
Himmler’s SS and police fortuitous circumstances for realizing one of the central aims of Nazi church policy under the guise of the national interest. Hundreds of monasteries and other Catholic
properties were confiscated, the members of religious orders expelled. Alongside the Gestapo, the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle (Ethnic German Liaison Office) played a leading role by targeting monastic
properties for confiscation in order to house resettled ethnic Germans there. Following massive public protests on the part of the Church and the population, Hitler had the confiscations suspended in
summer 1941 but the expropriation of the monasteries was quietly continued.
The aftereffects of Monastery Storm were felt well beyond 1945. The reparations lawsuits dragged on into the 1970s and for many religious orders the persecution they suffered
during the Second World War constituted a turning point after which they never fully recovered.