European Protestant

Dialogika Resources

Declaration of the Protestant Free Church Congregations in Germany

A statement presented at the Congress of the European Baptist Federation, Hamburg, August 1984

A survey of the 150 years of history of the Baptists in Germany includes the turmoil of the period under National-Socialist domination.

Both among and through our people much injustice was done. We are filled with shame and grief, particularly when we recall the persecution and mass extermination of the Jews. Because of this, our national guilt, we are dependent upon the forgiveness of God. Instigated by Germany, the Second World War brought immeasurable suffering to many and ended in a horrifying catastrophe. To this day, we and, to an even greater degree, the peoples of other countries, must bear the consequences.

To recognize the evil from the beginning was more difficult than it seems in retrospect today. There were those amongst us who saw through the then regime, warned against it and bravely opposed the injustice. But we did not ally ourselves openly with the struggles and suffering of the Confessional Church and likewise failed to set ourselves unequivocally against the violation of the divine commandment and precepts. It weighs heavily upon us that we, as the German Federation, often succumbed to the ideological temptations of the time and did not show greater courage in professing truth and justice. Even after the collapse of the Hitler regime. it was only individuals, and not officially the Union of Evangelical Free Church Congregations, who voiced an opinion on these events.

As those who lived through this period only in part or not at all, we see ourselves involved in and sharing the guilt of our people and of our community. We acknowledge this today before you, our brothers and sisters of the European Baptist Federation. We pray to God that we have learnt from this chapter of our history that we must be more vigilant in perceiving the spiritual temptations of our time.