RFI President Eric Patterson: “The Sin of Silence”

December 1, 2023

RFI President Eric Patterson wrote an article for WORLD titled, “The sin of silence.” In it, he asks the question, “Where was the church as Germany careened toward tyranny 100 years ago?” To get to that difficult question, Patterson begins by offering a historical account of the inter-war period:

One autumn day in 1923, Max Erwin Scheubner-Richter, along with his National Socialist (Nazi) comrades Adolf Hitler, Rudolph Hess, and Hermann Goering, led an armed revolt on the Bavarian state government. Scheubner-Richter was shot dead, pulling to the ground the man he was marching arm-in-arm with. That man was Adolf Hitler. Had Hitler been the one that died that day 100 years ago, history might have been very different. 

Historians call the event the “Beer Hall Putsch” because the revolt originated in a beer hall in Munich. In the ensuing trial, Hitler’s oratory made him a media sensation. Though the revolt failed, it propelled Hitler to the leadership of the Nazi party, and ultimately, Germany itself. The reason Hitler was successful is that he seemed to provide answers and inspiration to the great issues of his day. Sadly, German Christianity had abdicated its responsibility long before. 

Why did they attack the provincial government? They were responding to a period of communist insurgency and the political and economic chaos of the Weimar Republic. Today, few recall that what goaded the kaiser and his advisors to finally stop fighting in November 1918 was the fall of Russia to Soviet communists, the mutiny of Germany’s fleet at Kiel, and massive communist demonstrations in German cities. During this time, a Corporal Adolf Hitler was fighting on the French front, where he saved his company commander’s life (receiving the Iron Cross) and was gassed. 

In the months after the armistice, German cities faced a small civil war as communists attempted an armed takeover. As that threat was beaten back, Adolf Hitler, along with many others, debated “What went wrong?” How did they lose the war, despite there never being a battle fought on German soil? Why did they have to accept “war guilt” and pay reparations? How did communism come to infect some of Germany’s youth and working class? And, importantly, what should be the right model for an authentically German society and government?

Read the full article: “The sin of silence.”