Healing the Wounds of History
The Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt (1945) as a Constitutive Act of the Post-war German Evangelical Church
The history of both societies and social institutions provides us with the examples of whether acts or documents, which, while expressing various ideas and values, have become sources of political, social and cultural inspirations as well as a reference points for active struggling for these ideas and values. The examples of such documents are numerous: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN, the constitutions of particular states, the Treaty of Maastricht as a founding act of the European Union.
Another illustration of such an historic document is also the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt (Die Stuttgarter Schulderklärung), which was released in 1945 by the Evangelical Church of Germany and today is declared to be one of its most fundamental acts. The document was prepared by the group of theologians and church leaders who were involved in the resistant movement against the German Nazi-state. The declaration confirmed an awareness on the part of the German Evangelicals that the Protestant Churches in Germany were also held responsible for the moral disaster of Nazism, even though their blame consisted, above all, in a passive attitude towards evil. The paper surveys the main aspects of the history of declaration and attempts to provide a brief reflection on its theological and sociological importance. Furthermore, it stresses the links between the secularization processes and the nationalism reflected in the history of the German state and German church.
Keywords: The Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt, Evangelical Church in Germany, nationalism, secularism
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