- Hitler's Bavarian Antagonist: Georg Moenius and the Allgemeine Rundschau of Munich, 1929-1933
Gregory Munro's well-researched intellectual study of the Allgemeine Rundschau steered under the 1929–33 editorship of Father Georg Moenius, a priest of the Bamberg archdiocese, makes a significant contribution to the literature [End Page 165] on Catholic resistance to National Socialism, prior to 1933. Founded in Munich in 1904 by Armin Kausen, the Allgemeine Rundschau was a Catholic weekly that covered German politics, culture, and religion. After acquiring co-ownership of the journal in 1929, Moenius immediately acted in an editorial direction that placed him in conflict with diocesan authorities, the Catholic Bavarian People's Party, and the National Socialist Party. In part influenced by his colleague Friedrich Wilhelm Foerster, Moenius not only argued for the acceptance of the Versailles Treaty, especially article 231, which placed primary blame for the war on Germany, but also "welcomed the revolution of 1918–19 as a form of providential justice . . . to atone for the sins committed by Imperial Germany" (p. 22). This latter view contradicted the stance of his bishop and led for a time to Moenius's suspension from ministry and eventual reassignment to a remote parish. Moenius's Allgemeine Rundschau cautioned the Bavarian People's Party from working with the Nazi Party in some kind of coalition by pointing out that Nazism was "exclusively obsessed with the acquisition of Lebensraum according to a racial creed of Germanic supremacy which permitted no room for the Christian world view" (p. 213).
According to Munro, a unique critique of Reichsideologie provided the intellectual impetus for Moenius and the staff of the Allgemeine Rundschau to resist National Socialism. Such thinking that "a traditional Roman Catholic concept of a German historical calling to a universal, peacefully oriented German Reich governed under a genuine federal constitution" (p. 60) challenged the dominant Protestant-Borussian historical view. At the core of this thinking was the notion of Romanitas that echoed the "the culture of the High Middle Ages when church, state, society, and philosophy were understood as an integral whole." Moenius regarded Charles Maurras's Action Française and Mussolini's Fascist Italy as the "two most significant protagonists" (p. 11) of such a position. By contrast, National Socialism with its Nordic neo-paganism and anti-Semitism set itself apart from the two former movements. Likewise, Moeinus asserted, National Socialism was an "instrument of a vengeful Prussianism" in "Germany's struggle against Rome and the Occident." The Allgemeine Rundschau also continually warned its readers that Hitler was a "fanatical ideologue who embodied many of the sentiments of hatred and revenge harbored by völkisch ideologues as well as the quasi-religious impulses behind Prussia's German mission in Europe" (pp. 209–10). In turn, Moenius' journal correctly concluded that Hitler harbored great hostility against Christianity, which he believed "constituted a major blemish on German völkisch culture" (p. 213).
The Allgemeine Rundschau also regularly criticized National Socialism's paganism and anti-Semitism. In this vein, it directly challenged the popular and often anti-Semitic Austrian Catholic journal, Die Schönere Zukunft, whose editor Joseph Eberle increasingly led its leadership to support National Socialism. Still, on the negative, the Allgemeine Rundschau's contributors continued to believe in the legitimacy of a "Jewish problem" in Germany, which [End Page 166] they primarily attributed to secular Jews who, through their "unwholesome obsession with the accumulation of wealth" (p. 222), damaged German culture. In addition, after Hitler's appointment of Chancellor in January 1933, Alexander Emmerich and Josef Minn, two regular contributors to Allgemeine Rundschau, became deeply involved in Kreuz und Adler, an organization established to promote mutual harmony between Catholicism and Nazism.
Though the basis of Moenius's intellectual pining might be questionable, his bold and courageous stand against National Socialism is not. By early March 1933, the Nazis had heard enough from the Allgemeine Rundschau and sent SA-men to ransack its editorial office and take Moenius...