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The Illegitimacy of Chaplains in German Army in WWII

The Dilemma of Chaplains in the German Army during World War II

Discussing the legitimacy of the WWII German Chaplains.
1.First, you will argue the illegitimacy of the German Chaplains from a historical and biblical basis.
2.Second, you will argue the legitimacy of the German Chaplains from a historical and biblical basis.

The Illegitimacy of Chaplains in German Army in WWII

From a historical perspective, Chaplains in the German army served an illegitimate cause given
the fact that they rendered their services to an army that became infamous for one of the most
gruesome genocides in recent history. The traditional role of a Chaplain has always been to so to
say ‘bless the cannons.’ What this means is that by working within the ranks of the German
soldiers, they led their flock into believing that their work was sanctioned by God. This then
served to tarnish the name of the Catholic church given that majority of them came from this
Christian group.
From a Biblical point of view Chaplains in the German army is again illegitimized. This is
because individuals in the Bible who served in roles tantamount to Chaplaincy served as the
conscience of the army. This includes prophets like Samuel who ensured the soldiers adhered to
their objective while maintaining a good moral standing. Evidence that emerged recently
suggests that there were several incidents of murder of innocents and looting, activities that are
obviously sinful and therefore condemned by scripture (Bergen, 2004).
Legitimacy of Christian Chaplains from a Historical and Biblical perspective
The fact that many of the soldiers in the Wehrmacht were serving away from home meant that it
was necessary for them to continue being ministered to. Other than the distance factor the theater
of war exposed them to many horrors that could have led anyone to have an acute spiritual crisis
especially considering the fact that they had to come to terms with mortality first hand. As such it

was essential for them to have someone minister to them, much in the same way prophets did in
the Old Testament.
From a historical point of view they were very much legitimized with respect to the objective
their government had. As much as it is unacceptable to many, the government was pushing a
Nazi agenda and for this to work they needed to use all tools at their disposal. One of their most
favored tools was propaganda. Having ‘men of the cloth’ among the ranks of soldiers helped to
pacify their consciences and thus accomplish their objectives in the short run.

Bergen, Doris L. The Sword of the Lord: military chaplains from the first to the twenty-first
century. Univ of Notre Dame Pr, 2004.

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