Ludwig Kaas

Ludwig Kaas

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Ludwig Kaas was a German Roman Catholic priest and politician during the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

.

Early career


Born in Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

, Kaas was ordained a priest in 1906 and studied history and Canon law
Canon law (Catholic Church)
The canon law of the Catholic Church, is a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code and principles of legal interpretation. It lacks the necessary binding force present in most modern day legal systems. The academic...

 in Trier
Trier
Trier, historically called in English Treves is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC....

 and Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. 1906 he completed a doctorate in theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 and in 1909 he obtained a second doctorate in philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

. In 1910 he was appointed rector of an orphanage and boarding school near Koblenz
Koblenz
Koblenz is a German city situated on both banks of the Rhine at its confluence with the Moselle, where the Deutsches Eck and its monument are situated.As Koblenz was one of the military posts established by Drusus about 8 BC, the...

. Until 1933, he devoted his spare time to scholarly pursuits. In 1916 he published the book "Ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the Catholic Church in Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

" (Die geistliche Gerichtsbarkeit der katholischen Kirche in Preußen in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart mit besonderer Berücksichtigung des Wesens der Monarchie), demonstrating his expertise in church history, Canon law
Canon law (Catholic Church)
The canon law of the Catholic Church, is a fully developed legal system, with all the necessary elements: courts, lawyers, judges, a fully articulated legal code and principles of legal interpretation. It lacks the necessary binding force present in most modern day legal systems. The academic...

 and his political interests. In 1918 he requested to be sent to a parish, but Michael Felix Korum of Trier refused and instead appointed him professor of canon law at the Trier seminary in 1918. In that position, he published the study "Missing in war and remarriage in state law and canon law" (Kriegsverschollenheit und Wiederverheiratung nach staatlichen und kirchlichen Recht), dealing with remarriage in case of spouses missing in war. In 1919 he was offered the chair for canon law at the university of Bonn
Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

 and was initially inclined to accept it, but as he did not find the conditions in Bonn to his liking and after consultation with Bishop Korum he refused the offer.

Entry into politics


Distressed by the revolution
German Revolution
The German Revolution was the politically-driven civil conflict in Germany at the end of World War I, which resulted in the replacement of Germany's imperial government with a republic...

, Kaas also decided to engage in politics and joined the Centre Party
Centre Party (Germany)
The German Centre Party was a Catholic political party in Germany during the Kaiserreich and the Weimar Republic. Formed in 1870, it battled the Kulturkampf which the Prussian government launched to reduce the power of the Catholic Church...

. In 1919 he was elected to the National Assembly
National Assembly
National Assembly is either a legislature, or the lower house of a bicameral legislature in some countries. The best known National Assembly, and the first legislature to be known by this title, was that established during the French Revolution in 1789, known as the Assemblée nationale...

 and in 1920 to the Reichstag
Reichstag (Weimar Republic)
The Reichstag was the parliament of Weimar Republic .German constitution commentators consider only the Reichstag and now the Bundestag the German parliament. Another organ deals with legislation too: in 1867-1918 the Bundesrat, in 1919–1933 the Reichsrat and from 1949 on the Bundesrat...

, of which he was a member until 1933. He was also elected to the Prussian state council, the representation of Prussia's provinces. As a parliamentarian Kaas specialized in foreign policy. From 1926 to 1930 he was a German delegate to the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

.

Kaas considered himself a "Rhenian Patriot
Patriotism
Patriotism is a devotion to one's country, excluding differences caused by the dependencies of the term's meaning upon context, geography and philosophy...

" and advocated the creation of a Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

 state within the framework of the German Reich. In 1923, a year of crisis, he – just like Konrad Adenauer
Konrad Adenauer
Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer was a German statesman. He was the chancellor of the West Germany from 1949 to 1963. He is widely recognised as a person who led his country from the ruins of World War II to a powerful and prosperous nation that had forged close relations with old enemies France,...

, then mayor of Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

 – fought the separatists that wanted to break away the Rhineland from Germany. Despite French occupation, he sought reconciliation with France and voiced this desire in a famous Reichstag speech on December 5, 1923.

Despite personal reservations towards the Social Democrats
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

, he developed a cordial relationship with President Friedrich Ebert
Friedrich Ebert
Friedrich Ebert was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany .When Ebert was elected as the leader of the SPD after the death of August Bebel, the party members of the SPD were deeply divided because of the party's support for World War I. Ebert supported the Burgfrieden and...

 and willingly acknowledged the SPD's accomplishments after 1918. Kaas supported foreign minister Stresemann
Gustav Stresemann
was a German politician and statesman who served as Chancellor and Foreign Minister during the Weimar Republic. He was co-laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1926.Stresemann's politics defy easy categorization...

's policy of reconciliation and denounced nationalist agitation
Agitator
An agitator is a person who actively supports some ideology or movement with speeches and especially actions. The Agitators were a political movement as well as elected representatives of soldiers, including the New Model Army of Oliver Cromwell, during the English Civil War. They were also known...

 against this policy - agitation he considered to be irresponsible.

Advisor to the Nuncio Pacelli


In 1920 Eugenio Pacelli
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

, the Papal Nuncio to Bavaria
Apostolic Nuncio to Bavaria
The Apostolic Nunciature to Bavaria was an ecclesiastical office of the Roman Catholic Church in Bavaria. It was a diplomatic post of the Holy See, whose representative was called the Apostolic Nuncio to Bavaria, a state – consecutively during the nunciature's existence – of the Holy Roman Empire,...

, was also appointed Nuncio to Germany. In view of this new position, he asked Cardinal Adolf Bertram of Breslau, to provide him with experts who might serve as a link between the Nuncio in Munich and the Prussian bishops. Bertram suggested Kaas, who in his academic work had developed a special interest in the relations between the state and the Catholic Church.

The workload as a professor, a parliamentarian and as advisor to the Nuncio strained Kaas's energies. Though Kaas tried to convince himself that his primary obligation was to his own diocese, it was his academic post that always came out last. In 1922 he was prepared to resign his chair, but Bertram and Pacelli insisted that he should stay until he had obtained a secure position within the diocese that would not hinder his external commitments. Bertram, following Pacelli's wishes, proposed to the new bishop of Trier
Roman Catholic Diocese of Trier
The Roman Catholic diocese of Trier is a diocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic church in Germany. As former archbishopric and Electorate of Trier it was one of the most important as both an ecclesiastical principality of the Holy Roman Empire, and as a diocese of the church...

, Franz Rudolf Bornewasser, to make Kaas a cathedral canon, but the bishop refused. An angry Kaas announced he would give up all his other commitments and concentrate on his academic work, but eventually he was reconciled to Bornewasser. On 1 April 1924, Kaas was appointed to the Cathedral chapter.

Bishop Bornewasser had allowed Kaas to keep his parliamentary seat until September 1924, but expected him to resign it afterwards and concentrate on his administrative and academic work within the diocese. However, as Pacelli asked the bishop not to insist on this as it would "substantially hinder the hitherto influential work of Dr. Kaas and damage an effective representation of ecclesiastical interests in a deplorable way". Bornewasser, though legally in a stronger position, yielded to these considerations of expediency and did not press his demand again. In the same year, Kaas resigned from his academic chair.

Pascalina Lehnert described the relationship between Kaas and Pacelli, the later Pope Pius XII, in the following words:
In 1925, as Pacelli was also appointed Nuncio to Prussia and moved his office to Berlin, the cooperation between Pacelli and Kaas became even closer. Out of this involvement grew a formal but close and lasting friendship, which remained one of the basic factors throughout Kaas's life. In this position Kaas contributed to the successful conclusion of the Prussian Concordat negotiations with Prussia in 1929.

After this achievement, Pacelli was called back to the Vatican
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

 to be appointed Cardinal Secretary of State
Cardinal Secretary of State
The Cardinal Secretary of State—officially Secretary of State of His Holiness The Pope—presides over the Holy See, usually known as the "Vatican", Secretariat of State, which is the oldest and most important dicastery of the Roman Curia...

. Pacelli asked Kaas, who had accompanied him on his travel, to stay in Rome but Kaas declined because of his ecclesiastical and political duties in Germany. Nonetheless, Kaas would frequently travel to Rome, where he would stay with Pacelli, and experience first hand the conclusion of the Lateran Treaty, which he penned an article on. In 1931 and 1932 continued as an advisor in negotiations for a Reichskonkordat
Reichskonkordat
The Reichskonkordat is a treaty that was agreed between the Holy See and Nazi government, that guarantees the rights of the Catholic Church in Germany. It was signed on July 20, 1933 by Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli and Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen on behalf of Pope Pius XI and President...

), that however came to nothing.

In 1929, Kaas published a volume of Nuncio Pacelli's speeches. In the introduction, he described him as: “Angelus not nuntius, ... his impressive personality, his sacerdotal words, the popularity he generated in public meetings"

Kaas as party chairman


Without being a candidate, September 1928 Kaas was elected chairman of the Centre Party, in order to mediate the tension between the party's wings and to strengthen their ties with the Bishops.
From 1930 onwards, Kaas loyally supported the administration under the Centre's Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning was Chancellor of Germany from 1930 to 1932, during the Weimar Republic. He was the longest serving Chancellor of the Weimar Republic, and remains a controversial figure in German politics....

. In 1932 he campaigned for the re-election of Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

, calling him a "venerated historical personality" and "the keeper of the constitution". As his frequent Vatican travels hampered his work as chairman, Kaas was prepared to yield the leadership of the party to Brüning, whom Hindenburg had dismissed in May, but the former Chancellor declined and asked the prelate to stay.

Kaas and Brüning led the Centre Party into opposition to the new Chancellor: party renegade Franz von Papen
Franz von Papen
Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934...

. Kaas called him the "Ephialtes of the Centre Party". Kaas tried to re-establish a working parliament by cooperation with the National Socialists
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

.

When Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 became Chancellor on 30 January 1933 based on a coalition between NSDAP
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

, DNVP
German National People's Party
The German National People's Party was a national conservative party in Germany during the time of the Weimar Republic. Before the rise of the NSDAP it was the main nationalist party in Weimar Germany composed of nationalists, reactionary monarchists, völkisch, and antisemitic elements, and...

 and independent conservatives which excluded the Centre
Centre Party (Germany)
The German Centre Party was a Catholic political party in Germany during the Kaiserreich and the Weimar Republic. Formed in 1870, it battled the Kulturkampf which the Prussian government launched to reduce the power of the Catholic Church...

, Kaas felt betrayed. In the campaign leading up to the election on 5 March, Kaas vigorously campaigned against the new government, but after the government parties succeeded in attaining a majority, he visited Vice Chancellor Papen, offering to put an end to their old animosities.

Later that month, from 15 March, he was the main advocate supporting the Hitler administration's Enabling Act in return for certain constitutional and, allegedly ecclesiatic guarantees. Hitler responded positively via Papen. On the 21st and 22 March the Centre leadership negotiated with Hitler on the conditions and reached an agreement. A letter, in which Hitler would confirm the agreement in writing, was promised by the government but never delivered.

Kaas - as much as the other party leaders - was aware of the doubtful nature of any guarantees, and, when the Centre fraction assembled on 23 March to decide on their vote, he still advised his fellow party members to support the bill, given the "precarious state of the fraction", saying: "On the one hand we must preserve our soul, but on the other hand a rejection of the Enabling Act would result in unpleasant consequences for fraction and party. What is left is only to guard us against the worst. Were a two-thirds majority not obtained, the government's plans would be carried through by other means. The President has acquiesced in the Enabling Act. From the DNVP no attempt of relieving the situation is to be expected."

A considerable group of parliamentarians however opposed the chairman's course, among whom were the former Chancellors, his nemesis Brüning
Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning was Chancellor of Germany from 1930 to 1932, during the Weimar Republic. He was the longest serving Chancellor of the Weimar Republic, and remains a controversial figure in German politics....

 and Wirth
Joseph Wirth
Karl Joseph Wirth, known as Joseph Wirth, was a German politician of the Catholic Centre Party who served as Chancellor of Germany from 1921 to 1922.-Biography:...

 and former minister Stegerwald
Adam Stegerwald
Adam Stegerwald was a German Catholic politician and a leader of the left wing of the Centre Party. He served as Prime Minister of Prussia in 1921, and later as a minister in the national governments of Hermann Müller and Heinrich Brüning...

. The opponents also argued in regard to Catholic social teaching
Catholic social teaching
Catholic social teaching is a body of doctrine developed by the Catholic Church on matters of poverty and wealth, economics, social organization and the role of the state...

 that ruled out participating in an act of revolution. The proponents however argued that a "national revolution" had already occurred with Hitler's appointment and the presidential decree
Reichstag Fire Decree
The Reichstag Fire Decree is the common name of the Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State issued by German President Paul von Hindenburg in direct response to the Reichstag fire of 27 February 1933. The decree nullified many of the key civil liberties of German...

 suspending basic rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, and that the Enabling Act would contain revolutionary force and move the government back to a legal order. Both groupings were not unaffected by Hitler's self-portrayal as a moderate seeking co-operation, as given on the Day of Potsdam of 21 March, as against the more revolutionary SA
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 led by Ernst Röhm
Ernst Röhm
Ernst Julius Röhm, was a German officer in the Bavarian Army and later an early Nazi leader. He was a co-founder of the Sturmabteilung , the Nazi Party militia, and later was its commander...

.

In the end the majority of Centre parliamentarians supported Kaas's proposal. Brüning and his followers agreed to respect party discipline by also voting in favour of the bill.

On 23 March, the Reichstag
Reichstag (Weimar Republic)
The Reichstag was the parliament of Weimar Republic .German constitution commentators consider only the Reichstag and now the Bundestag the German parliament. Another organ deals with legislation too: in 1867-1918 the Bundesrat, in 1919–1933 the Reichsrat and from 1949 on the Bundesrat...

 assembled at midday under turbulent circumstances. Some SA men
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 served as guards, while others crowded outside the building, both to intimidate any opposing views. Hitler's speech, which emphasised the importance of Christianity to the German culture, was aimed particularly at assuaging the Centre Party's sensibilities and almost verbatim incorporated Kaas's requested guarantees. Kaas gave a speech, voicing the Centre's support for the bill amid "concerns put aside", while Brüning notably remained silent. When parliament assembled again in the evening, all parties except the Social Democrats
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

, represented by their chairman Otto Wels
Otto Wels
Otto Wels was the chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany from 1919 and a member of parliament from 1920 to 1933....

, voted in favour of the Enabling Act. This vote was a major step in the institution of the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler and is remembered as the prime example of a democracy voting for its own demise.

Because of Kaas's request for guarantees and because of his later involvement in the Reichskonkordat
Reichskonkordat
The Reichskonkordat is a treaty that was agreed between the Holy See and Nazi government, that guarantees the rights of the Catholic Church in Germany. It was signed on July 20, 1933 by Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli and Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen on behalf of Pope Pius XI and President...

 negotiations, it is sometimes alleged that Kaas's assent was part of a quid pro quo of interests between the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 and the new regime. His actions might very well be influenced by reflections on how to further and protect the Church's interests and how to obtain the long-desired objective of a nationwide concordat, needed even more given the anti-Catholic stance of the NSDAP. There is however no evidence for involvement of the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 in these dealings.

Kaas had planned to travel to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 since the beginning of the year, to discuss a conflict in Eupen
Eupen
Eupen is a municipality in the Belgian province of Liège, from the German border , from the Dutch border and from the "High Fens" nature reserve...

 and Malmedy
Malmedy
Malmedy is a municipality of Belgium. It lies in the country's Walloon Region, Province of Liège. It belongs to the French Community of Belgium, within which it is French-speaking with facilities for German-speakers. On January 1, 2006 Malmedy had a total population of 11,829...

, formerly German towns now belonging to Belgium, where priests had been arrested. This trip had been postponed by the political events - first Hitler's appointment, then the March elections, then by the Enabling Act -, but on 24 March, one day after the decision, Kaas finally managed to leave for Rome. During this stay, Kaas explained to Pacelli the Centre's rationale for acceeding to the Enabling Act. On 30 March, he was called back to Germany to take part in sessions of the working committee, that had been promised during the Enabling Act negotiations. This committee was chaired by Hitler and Kaas and was supposed to inform about further legislative measures, but it only met three times: on 31 March, on 2 April (followed by a private talk between Kaas and Hitler) and on 7 April. On 5 April Kaas also reported to the foreign office about his talk in the Eupen-Malmedy affair.

Reichskonkordat


On 7 April, directly after the third meeting of the working committee, Kaas once more left Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 and headed for Rome. The next day, after having changed trains in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, the Prelate happened to meet Vice-Chancellor Papen
Franz von Papen
Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934...

 in the dining car. Papen officially went on skiing holidays to Italy, but his real destination was Vatican City, where he was to offer a Reichskonkordat
Reichskonkordat
The Reichskonkordat is a treaty that was agreed between the Holy See and Nazi government, that guarantees the rights of the Catholic Church in Germany. It was signed on July 20, 1933 by Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli and Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen on behalf of Pope Pius XI and President...

 on his government's behalf. Kaas and Papen traveled on together and had some discussions about the matter on the train. After their arrival in Rome, Kaas was received first by Pacelli on 9 April. One day later, Papen had a morning meeting with Pacelli and presented Hitler's offer. Cardinal Pacelli
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

 subsequently authorized Kaas, who was known for his expertise in Church-state relations, to negotiate the draft of the terms with Papen
Franz von Papen
Lieutenant-Colonel Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was a German nobleman, Roman Catholic monarchist politician, General Staff officer, and diplomat, who served as Chancellor of Germany in 1932 and as Vice-Chancellor under Adolf Hitler in 1933–1934...

.

These discussions also prolonged his stay in Rome and raised questions in Germany as to a conflict of interest, since as a German parliamentarian he was advising the Vatican. On 5 May Kaas resigned from his post as party chairman, and pressure from the German government forced him to withdraw from visibly participating in the concordat negotiations. Though allegedly the Vatican tried to hold back the exclusion of Catholic clergy and organisations from politics, Pacelli and later Pope Pius XII was known to strongly favour the withdrawal of all priests from active politics, which is Church position in all countries even today. In the end, the Vatican accepted the restriction to the religious and charitable field. Even before the Roman negotiations had been concluded, the Centre Party yielded to increasing government pressure and dissolved itself, thus excluding German Catholics from participating in political life.

It is alleged that Pius XI
Pope Pius XI
Pope Pius XI , born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, was Pope from 6 February 1922, and sovereign of Vatican City from its creation as an independent state on 11 February 1929 until his death on 10 February 1939...

 favored Hitler as a "bulwark against Communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

" and because of this signed the Reichskonkordat
Reichskonkordat
The Reichskonkordat is a treaty that was agreed between the Holy See and Nazi government, that guarantees the rights of the Catholic Church in Germany. It was signed on July 20, 1933 by Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli and Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen on behalf of Pope Pius XI and President...

, through which Hitler gained international respectability. Relevant documents have only been made available by the Vatican since 2003, yet there is as of now no evidence to this. On the other hand it has been argued that the Pope stood before the alternative of either signing a concordat or undergoing another Kulturkampf
Kulturkampf
The German term refers to German policies in relation to secularity and the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, enacted from 1871 to 1878 by the Prime Minister of Prussia, Otto von Bismarck. The Kulturkampf did not extend to the other German states such as Bavaria...

 by not giving the Catholics a legal basis to defend themselves. Later on, the concordat was the basis for formal complaints about the Third Reich's measures against the Church.

Kaas and Pacelli, "on account of the exclusion of Catholics as a political party from the public life of Germany, found it all the more necessary that the Holy See assure government guarantees to maintain their position in the life of the nation" Hitler, had from the beginning no other aim, than a war of exermination of the Church Pacelli, now Pope Pius XII, met the German Cardinals March 6, 1939, three days after his election. He referred to the constant Nazi attacks against the Church, and the Nazi responses to his protests: They always responded, "sorry, but we cannot act because the concordat is not legally binding yet". But after its ratification, things did not get any better, they got worse. The experiences of the past years are not encouraging. Despite this, the Holy See continued diplomatic relations with Germany in order to "connect to the bishops and faithful in Germany". The Church had received from the Concordat more teachers, more school buildings and more places for Catholic pupils. At the same time it was well known to Pacelli and Pope Pius XI that the Jews were being treated very differently. The Centre party's vote for the Enabling Act, at Kaas's urging, was a vote which fostered the establishment of the Hitlerian tyranny.

At the Vatican


Kaas, who had played a pivotal role in the concordat negotiations, hoped to head an information office, watching over the implementation in Germany. However, Cardinal Bertram considered Kaas to be the wrong man, given his political past. Also, Kaas's conduct was controversial among his fellow party members, who saw his sudden and lasting move to Rome as an act of defection and his involvement in the concordat negotiations as treason to the party. A prime example of this view is Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning
Heinrich Brüning was Chancellor of Germany from 1930 to 1932, during the Weimar Republic. He was the longest serving Chancellor of the Weimar Republic, and remains a controversial figure in German politics....

, who denounced Kaas in his own memoirs written in exile and not undisputed among historians.

Cardinal Betram had proposed to elevate Kaas to honours without responsibilities. Accordingly, Kaas was appointed papal protonotary on 20 March 1934 and canon
Canon (priest)
A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

 of the Basilica of Saint Peter on 6 April 1935. Meanwhile, The dioceses of Trier stripped Kaas of his position in the cathedral chapter of Trier.

The exiled Kaas suffered from homesickness and from the rejection by his fellow party members and the German episcopate. On 20 August 1936, Kaas was appointed Economicus and Secretary of the Holy Congregation of the fabric of St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

.

Pacelli was elected Pope Pius XII on March 2, 1939. Late in that year, after the outbreak of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Kaas was one of the key figures for the secret Vatican Exchanges, in which Widerstand circles within the German army tried to negotiate with the Allies
Allies
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

 through the mediation of the Pope Pius XII. Josef Müller, a Bavarian lawyer, would travel to Rome from Berlin with instructions from Hans Oster
Hans Oster
Hans Oster was a German Army general, deputy head of the Abwehr under Wilhelm Canaris, and an opponent of Adolf Hitler and Nazism. He was a leading figure of the German resistance from 1938 to 1943.-Early career:...

 or Hans von Dohnanyi
Hans von Dohnanyi
Hans von Dohnanyi was a German jurist, rescuer of Jews, and German resistance fighter against the Nazi régime.-Early life:...

 and confer with Kaas or the Pope's secretary Pater Robert Leiber
Robert Leiber
Robert Leiber, S.J. , close advisor to Pope Pius XII, a Jesuit priest from Germany was Professor for Church History at the Gregorian University in Rome from 1930-1960...

, in order to avoid direct contact between Müller and the Pope. These exchanges resumed in 1943 after the Casablanca conference, but neither attempt was successful.

After his election, Pius XII had decided to accelerate the archaeological excavations under St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

 and put Kaas in charge. At the Christmas message of the Holy Year 1950 Pius XII presented the preliminary results, which deemed it likely that the tomb of Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 was resting below the Papal altar of the Basilica. Not all questions were solved, and Kaas continued excavations after 1950, despite of an emerging illness.

Ludwig Kaas died in Rome in 1952, aged 70. He was first buried in the cemetery of Campo Santo in the Vatican. Later, Pope Pius XII ordered the body of his friend to be put to rest in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

. Ludwig Kass is thus the only Monsignor who rests in the vicinity of virtually all Popes of the twentieth century. To succeed him in his work, Pope Pius XII appointed a woman, Professor Margherita Guarducci
Margherita Guarducci
Margherita Guarducci was an Italian archaeologist, classical scholar and epigrapher. She was a major figure in several crucial moments of the 20th century academic community. A student of Federico Halbherr, she edited his works after his death...

, another Vatican novelty.

List of publications


Ludwig Kaas was a scholar and prolific writer, addressing a wide range of issues in Latin or German concerning marital law, education reform, moral and systematic theology, canon law, prisoners of war, the speeches of Eugenio Pacelli, historical issues, policy issues of the Weimar Republic and the Reichskonkordat. Some of his writings were published after his death.

Sources

  • Halecki, Oscar. Pius XII, New York (1951).
  • Kaas, Ludwig. Eugenio Pacelli, Erster Apostolischer Nuntius beim Deutschen Reich, Gesammelte Reden, Buchverlag Germania, Berlin (1930).
  • Lehnert, Pascalina . Ich durfte ihm dienen. Erinnerungen an Papst Pius XII. Naumann, Würzburg (1986).
  • Proces Verbal de la 1. conference, Lettres de Pie XII aux Eveques Allemands, Vatican City (1967).
  • Proces Verbal de la 2. conference, Lettres de Pie XII aux Eveques Allemands, Vatican City (1967), p. 424–425.
  • Scholder, Klaus. Die Kirchen und das Dritte Reich. Ullstein (1986).
  • Tardini, Domenico Cardinale. Pio XII, Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana (1960).
  • Volk, Ludwig. Das Reichskonkordat vom 20.7.1933. Mainz (1972).