U.S. Catholics and Kristallnacht
Joseph A. Komonchak October 31, 2008 - 3:17pm
The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archivesannounces a new website: "American Catholics and Nazi Antisemitism:Father Maurice Sheehy, Father Charles Coughlin, and the 1938 CatholicUniversity Kristallnacht Broadcast." The site can be found at thefollowing url: http://libraries.cua.edu/achrcua/kristallnacht/index.htmlOur newest primary source materials website features digitized primarydocuments and audio from the American Catholic History Center andUniversity Archives related to U.S. Catholic responses to the Naziregime in 1930s Germany. The materials on the site suggest that AmericanCatholics responded to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany duringthe anti-Jewish pogrom known today as Kristallnacht in ways distinctfrom Catholics outside of the United States. Users will find, forexample, a recently discovered November 16, 1938 broadcast featuring agroup of 5 American Catholic clerical leaders and one laypersoncondemning the Nazi violence against Jews. The broadcast was made underthe auspices of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.and received considerable media attention as it presented an instance,unusual at the time, of Catholic priests and bishops voicing support fora religious group other than their own on a national level. In contrast,another prominent Catholic clerical leader with millions of devotedfans, Father Charles Coughlin, responded to Kristallnacht with aNovember 20, 1938 broadcast that justified the Nazi atrocities as anatural defense against a Jewish-dominated global communist movement. Atranscript of that Coughlin broadcast is reproduced here. In addition tothe CUA broadcast audio and the Coughlin transcript this site features aphoto gallery of participants in the CUA broadcast and relatedcorrespondence and press materials that help contextualize thebroadcasts.
About the Author
Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.