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In the 1930s, Catholics constituted a third of the population of Germany and "Political Catholicism" was a major force in the interwar Weimar Republic.Prior to 1933, Catholic leaders denounced Nazi doctrines while Catholic regions generally did not vote Nazi.In every country under German occupation, priests played a major part in rescuing Jews, but Catholic resistance to mistreatment of Jews in Germany was generally limited to fragmented and largely individual efforts.Mary Fulbrook wrote that when politics encroached on the church, Catholics were prepared to resist, but that the record was otherwise patchy and uneven, and that, with notable exceptions, "it seems that, for many Germans, adherence to the Christian faith proved compatible with at least passive acquiescence in, if not active support for, the Nazi dictatorship".Vatican Radio and other media spoke out against atrocities.While Nazi antisemitism embraced modern pseudo-scientific racial principles, ancient antipathies between Christianity and Judaism contributed to European antisemitism.Expropriation of church properties surged from 1941.

His first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus, called the invasion of Poland an "hour of darkness", his 1942 Christmas address denounced race murders and his Mystici corporis Christi encyclical (1943) denounced the murder of the handicapped.Around a third of Germans were Catholic in the 1930s.The Church in Germany had spoken against the rise of Nazism, but the Catholic aligned Centre Party capitulated in 1933 and was banned.Its press, schools and youth organisations were closed, much property confiscated and around one third of its clergy faced reprisals from authorities.Catholic lay leaders were targeted in the Night of the Long Knives purge.

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