Ulrich von Hehl’s study examines the Kirchenkampf (church struggle) using the case of the Archdiocese of Cologne. The author reconstructs the give-and-take of National Socialist challenges and
reactions of the Catholic Church on the basis of all available source materials from church and state archives. In this way, he outlines the main features of these tense confrontations: how, after a
half-year of uncertainty beginning in fall 1933, the respective battlefronts hardened; how National Socialism first attempted to eliminate the Church’s external activities, in the form of
associations, the press, and confessional schools; how the foreign currency and morality trials in the years 1935 to 1937 were intended to shake confidence in the Church’s leadership; how the
Church was increasingly forced onto the one-way street of a »Christianity confined to the sacristy« and how, after the outbreak of war, it faced obstacles even in its pastoral work.
Parallel to describing these events, Hehl discusses the conduct of the diocesan leadership, the clergy, and lay Catholics. With some exceptions, these demonstrated a widely unbroken will to
self-assertion, which in individual cases grew into faith-based resistance.
Numerous actions, instigated in Cologne but extending beyond the diocese’s boundaries, and the more than 17 million printed works published there underline the
leading role the Archdiocese played in the defensive struggle against the National Socialist world-view.