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Mennonites and HitlerJune 6, 2003
When we discuss our decision to be Christian peacemakers, we inevitably have to face the question, "But what would you do about Hitler?" Here is the record of what Mennonites did in Germany-a course we likely don't want to follow.
As we read these words of thanks from the Mennonite church to Chancellor Hitler, remember historical context: in 1933 the future looked very promising as Hitler attempted to rebuild the country after the devastation of WWI. The abuses followed, but at this early date, no one anticipated that Hitler would lead Germany into such a devastating abuse of power.
I've chosen to include this letter with Christian Citizenship Sunday to remind us how vital it is that we continually speak words of prophetic and sometimes painful truth to our government leaders, in addition to words of thanks.
Many thanks to John D. Thiesen, archivist and co-director of Mennonite Library and Archives at Bethel College, for his research work. I asked him whether there were letters from the Mennonite church in Germany to Adolf Hitler. He also faxed me 10 letters to presidents of the United States, made by Mennonite Church (1), General Conference Mennonite Church (3) and Mennonite Central Committee (6), between 1905-1975.
Susan Mark Landis, peace advocate, Mennonite Church USA
The most well known letter is this one (text is in the German Mennonite newspaper Mennonitische Blätter in 1993 p. 101). This hasn't been translated or published in English before, as far as I know. This was a telegram to Hitler.
John D. Thiesen