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CES Dissertation Workshop

Conscientious Objection and the Revaluation of Resistance: West Germany, 1951-1961


September 29, 2017
2:00pm - 4:00pm
Goldman Room, Adolphus Busch Hall
September 29, 2017
2:00pm - 4:00pm
Goldman Room, Adolphus Busch Hall

This paper is the fourth chapter of my dissertation, "Faith for This World: Protestantism and the Reconstruction of Constitutional Democracy in Germany, 1933-1968." The chapter shows how a network of Protestant theologians, jurists, and politicians in 1950s West Germany petitioned the federal government and constitutional court for an expansion of the right of conscientious objection to military service, beyond members of historically pacifist churches. Central to Protestant claims, I argue, was an ongoing reappraisal of the legacy of the resistance to the Nazi state, in particular the failed coup d'état of July 20, 1944 in which a number of conservative Protestants had participated. Resistance against National Socialism challenged the conventional boundary German Protestants drew between political and spiritual affairs, engendering debate about the proper scope of the church's political action in postwar West Germany.

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