Preaching in Hitler’s Shadow: Sermons of Resistance in the Third Reich

Dean G. Stroud, Editor, Eerdmans, 2013, Eerdmans

This small book is potent. During the decisive early years when everyone and every institution had to express a Nazi orientation and perspective, these sermons were preached by pastors who knew what was at stake. Dean Stroud’s remarkable 50 page introduction gives the background for the sermons and provides the context for the church struggle. Stroud, emeritus professor of German Studies at the University of Wisconsin in LaCrosse, pays particular attention to Nazi rhetoric and language and its conflict with Christian rhetoric and language and shows how every sermon faithful to Christ left the pastor open to arrest and worse. Besides well known preachers like Bonhoeffer, Barth and Niemoller included are courageous sermons by others like small-town pastor Paul Schneider, who became the first pastor martyred by the Nazis.

Discernment about what was going on was essential. It still is.

“Throughout the Reich, the Church Struggle took place in both pulpit and pew. Preaching in Hitler’s shadow was risky business. But always Jesus Christ was real and uncompromising in his claim on preacher and congregation alike. “ (p. 48)

—Kyle Childress, pastor, Austin Heights Baptist Church, Nacogdoches, TX