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Wiener Library

Gerstenmaier, Eugen: German Evangelical Church during the Third Reich


Reference code(s): GB 1556 WL 558a

Held at: Wiener Library

Title: Gerstenmaier, Eugen: German Evangelical Church during the Third Reich

Date(s): 1930s-1958

Level of description: collection

Extent: c 250 frames

Name of creator(s): Unknown


Administrative/Biographical history:

Dr. Eugen Gerstenmaier was one of the founding fathers of the Federal Republic of Germany. A leading Christian Democrat during its first twenty years, he was president of the Bundestag from 1954-1969. A Protestant theologian, he came into conflict with Nazism in the 1930s and was among those arrested in the wake of an aborted attempt on the life of Hitler in 1944. Gerstenmaier was born in Kirchenheim near Stuttgart, on August 25 1906. He left school at 14 and worked for 8 years as a clerk before embarking on studies in philosophy and theology at Tübungen University. His first clash with Nazism came in 1934 when he was arrested while still a student. His continued opposition to the regime cost him a teaching post at Berlin University two years later, and he turned to work in the Evangelical Church. His post in the Church's foreign department enabled him to travel and make contact with various churchmen abroad during World War Two, and this later enabled him to accelerate the return of many POWs. During the war he became a member of the Evangelical resistance group led by Graf Moltke which was involved in plotting against Hitler. After the failure of the assassination attempt on Hitler in June, 1944, Gerstenmaier was arrested and sentenced to seven years' hard labour, but was rescued by the advancing American army. In the aftermath of the war he devoted his energies to the Evangelisches Hilfswerk, which, under his leadership, became a powerful Protestant welfare organisation in Germany. As an expert in church social work he also became the German delegate to the Ecumenical Church Council of Churches in Geneva. With his election to the founding session of the Bundestag in 1949, however, he flung himself into the nascent political life of the new republic. He was a senior figure in the Christian Democrat Union and in 1954 became the first elected President (speaker) of the Bundestag. In January 1969 he resigned from the presidency. He died on 13 March 1986.


Scope and content/abstract:

Microfilm of correspondence and papers detailing the activities of the German Evangelical Church during the Third Reich, in particular the role of Eugen Gerstenmaier, [1933-1958]. Also included are a number of periodicals of German Evangelical organisations during the 1930s and other related reports and papers.


Language/scripts of material: German

System of arrangement:

Original order

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies can be made for personal use. Permission must be sought for publication.

Physical characteristics:


Finding aids:

Detailed description on the Wiener Library's online catalogue



Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Jewish Central Information Office



Archivist's note: Entry compiled by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Mar 2008

Christianity | Ancient religions | Religions
Church and State | Church | Religious institutions
Freedom of religion | Freedom of thought | Civil and political rights | Human rights
Third Reich | Nazism | Totalitarianism | Political doctrines

Personal names
Gerstenmaier | Eugen Karl Albrecht | 1906-1986 | German Evangelical theologian

Corporate names

Germany | Western Europe | Europe