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Catholicism and the Roots of Nazism

Religious Identity and National Socialism

Derek Hastings

Publication Date - December 2009

ISBN: 9780195390247

312 pages
6 1/8 X 9 1/4 inches

Retail Price to Students: $33.95

An illuminating account of an important and largely overlooked aspect of early Nazi history, going back to the years after World War I--when National Socialism first emerged--to reveal its close early ties with Catholicism


Derek Hastings here illuminates an important and largely overlooked aspect of early Nazi history, going back to the years after World War I--when National Socialism first emerged--to reveal its close early ties with Catholicism. Although an antagonistic relationship between the Catholic Church and Hitler's regime developed later during the Third Reich, the early Nazi movement was born in Munich, a city whose population was overwhelmingly Catholic. Focusing on Munich and the surrounding area, Hastings shows how Catholics played a central and hitherto overlooked role in the Nazi movement before the 1923 Beerhall Putsch. He examines the activism of individual Catholic writers, university students, and priests and the striking Catholic-oriented appeals and imagery formulated by the movement. He then discusses why the Nazis embarked on a different path following the party's reconstitution in early 1925, ultimately taking on an increasingly anti-Catholic and anti-Christian identity.


  • Explores the earliest roots of Nazism in the Catholic Church in Bavaria
  • Hitherto unexplored aspect of National Socialism

About the Author(s)

Derek Hastings is Assistant Professor of History at Oakland University.


"Sometimes good things come in strange packages. I was looking through Derek Hastings' new book Catholicism & the Roots of Nazism to figure out what his arresting title could possibly mean. Hastings demonstrates beyond doubt that before the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in 1923, significant segments of Catholic clergy and faithful in Munich were among the most important supporters of National Socialism, very much in tune with its increasing emphasis on Aryan racial supremacy and its contempt for Jews. ...a sound scholarly account of the links between Modernist Catholicism and National Socialism up until 1923. Though the book is provocatively titled, Hastings knows the difference between orthodoxy and Modernism. Specialists will find his work valuable."--CatholicCulture.org

"Hastings's scholarly narrative...connects historic anti-Semitic ideology to the empire that implemented the Final Solution." -- ForeWord Reviews

"The interpretation of early Nazism is quite insightful and sheds significant new light." -- CHOICE

"[An] authoritative monograph [that] has incorporated archival and printed sources to show how the Nazi movement and Catholic identity were intertwined in Bavaria."--Catholic Historical Review

"This remarkable and highly original new book...sheds light on an important and hitherto neglected dimension of the history of National Socialism. Combining different historical approaches, Derek Hastings's lucid, beautifully written and persuasive study examines the party's early history in the local context of the Bavarian capital in light of its relationship with the Catholic Church." -Anna von der Goltz, German History

"Highly recommended for those interested in the history of the Christian Churches, Nazism, and the Shoah." -Eugene J. Fisher, Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations

"Though previous scholarship has already shown that a significant number of Christians in the Third Reich embraced Nazism, Derek Hastings breaks new ground by demonstrating that völkisch Catholics in and around Munich played an essential role in the origin and establishment of the Nazi party during the 1920s...A significant contribution to our understanding of Nazism in its earliest stages." -Heath A. Spencer, Catholic History

"The revelations contained in Hasting's book contribute significantly to our current understanding of Munich's contribution to the early Nazi movement...it presents original and indispensable scholarship on the roots of Nazism that can be found in Munich and in Catholicism and, hence, is required reading for all scholars of Bavaria and of religion in the dark twentieth century." --The Journal of Modern History

Table of Contents

    1. Ultramontanism and Its Discontents: The "Peculiarities" of Munich's Prewar Catholic Tradition
    2. The Path Toward Positive Christianity: Religious Identity and the Earliest Stages of the Nazi Movement, 1919-20
    3. Embodying Positive Christianity in Catholic Munich: The Ideal of Religious Catholicism and Early Nazi Growth, 1920-22
    4. A "Catholic-Oriented Movement": The Zenith of Catholic-Nazi Activism, 1922-23
    5. The Beerhall Putsch and the Transformation of the Nazi Movement After 1923

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