Means of Compromises

Reading Dietrich Von Hildebrand’s memoirs about WII reminds me of what Solomon declared – there is nothing new under the sun.

Early in Hitler’s reign in Germany, Von Hildebrand met the Provincial of the German Dominicans in Paris. They had this exchange:

Provincial: “But we have no reason at all to reject Hitler when he stresses the idea of authority and the value of the nation. Above all, he keeps speaking about God.”

Von Hildebrand: “Hitler is so stupid that he does not even know what the word, ‘God,’ means; when he uses the word, in no way does it mean that he is professing the true God.”

Provincial: “We Catholics have to put ourselves in the front ranks of National Socialism and in this way give everything a Catholic turn.”

Von Hildebrand: “National Socialism and Christianity are absolutely incompatible, and besides it is a terrible illusion to think that Catholics would be able to influence this movement by means of compromises.”

(Dietrich Von Hildebrand, My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich, p. 71)

Von Hildebrand reflected thus in his memoirs:

I was beside myself. These two unfortunate friars showed me the entire tragedy of the situation of Catholics in Germany, the terrible temptation of being drawn into compromises, and I saw more than ever before how right it was that I had left Germany. In the attitude of the two friars, I saw so clearly the danger of compromise by German Catholics.

Von Hildebrand reflected much on “the means of compromises” and those that sought to persuade and control Hilter by supporting him. In all of his reflections (so far), none has been positive.


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