Research into recent church history in the diocese of Münster under the Hitler regime has concentrated exclusively on the person and activities of Bishop (from 1933–1946) Clemens Count von
Galen, who earned worldwide admiration as the »Lion of Münster.« The present study by Wilhelm Damberg widens this focus to examine the conduct of the Münster diocese’s clergy and lay
members in the struggle over confessional schools.
The National Socialist-controlled Weltanschauungsstaat (ideological state) claimed sole right of control over education and the school system. The resulting collisions between state authorities, Nazi
leaders, and the National Socialist Teachers League on the one hand and Catholics and their bishop on the other hand, which became only partially known at the time, undergo a thorough analysis here for
their substance and their consequences. A first climax occurred in early 1937, when a preventive mobilization of the Church’s members thwarted Nazi preparations to abolish confessional
schools. Two years later, however, even the most massive protests could no longer prevent their dissolution. During the Second World War it became apparent that the Nazi state intended to purge even the
final vestiges of the Christian schools system, including religious instruction, from its schools program.
Damberg’s study clearly profiles the ferocity of this struggle over schools, in the course of which the German Catholic population demonstrated a protest culture that
knew no parallels in the Third Reich.