The German population before WW2 was roughly half Catholic half Protestant. Before and during WW2, was there any significant disparity between the support for NSDAP across the religious line? In other words, was one of the religious groups more Nazi than the other or was it pretty even?

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    This is a very misleading question, as the Nazi's took control of the 'church' and thus it was not a 'church' but a government institution. The 'church leaders' were puppets of Nazism.
    – Paul
    Apr 30, 2019 at 12:37
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    There's a pretty good section on what @Paul is talking about here on Bonhoffer's WP page, and in this full article on the Confessing Church. Yes, the Nazis subverted and took over the German protestant church, first with a political pressure group, then by fiat. They eventually started doing crazy stuff, like banning the whole Old Testament (it was Jewish after all...)
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 30, 2019 at 13:16
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    We should pay attention to the time vector though. This all happened in 1932 and 1933, after or simultaneously with the elections mentioned in jwenting's answer.
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 30, 2019 at 13:34
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    I don’t have a fully sourced answer but I offer a few fragments: the Catholic Church and Nazi Germany agreed to the Reichskonkordat meaning the Catholic Church would remain confessionally independent but apolitical (as an extremely brief summary). The nazis took or tried to take over the protestant churches but did not succeed in the cases of Hannover, Bavaria, Württemberg and Westfalia. In places where the protestant church was taken over, the Confessing Church often formed a more or less underground replacement.
    – Jan
    Apr 30, 2019 at 15:41
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    @Paul, it's a very clear question, and very bottom line. If more perecent of one group supported the Nazis, then that leads to the answer. Cut and dry. Seems like you don't like the answer would rather deflect to moralization about causality
    – amphibient
    May 1, 2019 at 4:16

2 Answers 2


This article shows maps of the German census and election results of 1932, showing what appears to be a clear link between Protestanism and Nazism.

BUT, this only reflects the 1932 elections. These were held during a time when the Vatican forbade Catholics from support fascism and naziism.

By the time of the November 1933 elections that put the NDSAP in power and Hitler as Reichskanzler, this had been changed and the Vatican now condoned fascism and naziism. As a result the 1933 election results show near universal support for the NDSAP across religious lines (when taken by general area) though still less in the border regions with France, the Czech Republic, and Austria).

My guess is that many Catholics didn't vote NSDAP in 1932 because of the strictures placed on the party by the Church, and once those strictures were lifted voted what they wanted, NSDAP.

Wikipedia article on the November 1933 elections

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    Hitler became chancellor on January 30, 1933 and seized absolute power with the "Enabling Act" on March 23, 1933. By the November 1933 elections, all opposing parties had been banned, so the results are meaningless.
    – Dennis
    Apr 30, 2019 at 13:52
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    "the Vatican now condoned fascism and naziism" Is there a go-to source for this I can read up on?
    – thosphor
    Apr 30, 2019 at 14:03
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    "[...] once those strictures were lifted voted what they wanted, NSDAP." This kinda implies "Catholics wanted to vote NSDAP". I'm not religious myself, but coming from an area where at least one church and several schools and streets are named after a beatified catholic martyr who was killed by the nazis, this seems like a harsh generalization to me.
    – R. Schmitz
    Apr 30, 2019 at 15:07
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    @thosphor - Probably the most famous work covering this is Hitler's Pope. The part that's novel to me is that the church was ever against it. As near as I can tell, there was some bad blood between the Catholic church and the Prussian (protestant) power structure in Germany dating back to Bismark's time. Perhaps the Nazis, being the German Nationalist standard bearers, inherited that.
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 30, 2019 at 16:54
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    Famous perhaps, but not definitive. ("The author has been praised for attempting to bring into the open the debate on the Catholic Church's relationship with the Nazis, but also accused of making unsubstantiated claims and ignoring positive evidence. The author has moderated some of his allegations since publication of the book. ") The best one can say about Pius XII is that he tried hard to find compromises; it was a very ambiguous relationship. Apr 30, 2019 at 17:13

The German population before WW2 was roughly half Catholic half Protestant.

That's not strictly true. According to Population by Religious Denomination (1910-1939) from the GHDI, 62.7% of 1933's population identified as protestant, while 32.5% identified as catholic; the Protestants outnumbered the Catholics almost 2:1.

Before and during WW2, was there any significant disparity between the support for NSDAP across the religious line?

Support for the conservative and politically Catholic Z/BVP—the Catholic Centre Party— was practically constant in the last five free general elections (December 1924, 1928, 1930, July 1932, and November 1932), changing from 15.1%, to 14.8%, to 15.7%, to 15.0%. They also remained largest party in predominantly Catholic constituencies, implying that a large portion of the Catholic minority voted for Z/BVP.

Meanwhile, support for non-Z/BVP conservative parties and non-NSDAP right-wing parties diminished severely. In December 1924, the nationalist-conservative DNVP, the right-wing liberal DVP, the far-right NSFB, the conservative WP, and right-wing LB together occupied 38.2% of the seats in the Reichstag. In July 1932, the aforementioned parties and three other minor ones (CSVD, DL, VRP) held only 8.7% of the seats, while the NSDAP managed to seize 37.8% of them.


In other words, was one of the religious groups more Nazi than the other or was it pretty even?

It's much harder to answer that question. It also depends on what definition of Nazism you're using.

If you simply mean voting for the NSDAP, that seems to be the case. Center-to-right Catholics didn't switch to the NSDAP nearly as much as center-to-right Protestants did. Left-wing voters mostly kept voting for left-wing parties anyway...

If you mean the historical definition of Nazism (the political principles of the NSDAP), I'm not so sure anymore. Note that one of these political principles was anti-Communism, which caused even Pope Pius XI to express support for the Nazis by saying

I have changed my mind about Hitler, it is for the first time that such a government voice has been raised to denounce bolshevism in such categorical terms, joining with the voice of the pope.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Pius_XI#Relations_with_Germany_and_Austria

More or less at the same time, the Catholic Centre Party unanimously voted in favor of the Enabling Act, through which Hitler seized absolute power in March of 1933. Of course, all of this support was based on false promises to leave the Catholics and the Centre Party alone...

If we go by the modern definition of Nazism (based on what they actually did, not just their political principles), I'm not so convinced that that many people were Nazis in the first place.

The Great Depression, the record unemployment rate in 1933, and the repercussions of The Great War made people susceptible to the propaganda of the National Socialist German Workers' Party; they hoped Hitler would save them and—at least at first—they didn't care what they would have to give up in return or how it affected other people. In the last free election (November 1932), after the NSDAP had been the dominant party for only three months, they went from 37.3% of the popular vote to 33.1%, so it seems many people had already realized that they made a mistake...

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    Also, Communism was the big bogeyman in the 1920's-1930's. For some people, anything was better - for Christians perhaps more so, since Communism was atheistic.
    – TheHonRose
    Apr 30, 2019 at 21:07
  • Of course, when one party has hundreds of thousands of stormtroopers terrorizing politicians of other parties, and murdering them by the dozens, which was in fact the situation with the Nazis in Germany in 1931, you certainly can't call the subsequent election a fair election, nor a free one.
    – C Monsour
    May 9, 2019 at 2:12

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