Carl Muth

Carl Borromäus Johann Baptist Muth (also Karl) (31 January 1867, Worms – 15 November 1944, Bad Reichenhall)[1] was a German writer publisher, best known for founding and editing the religious and cultural magazine Hochland.[2]


Muth attended gymnasium in Worms from 1877 to 1881. Desiring to become a missionary, he attended the school of the Steyler Missionaries from 1882 to 1884 and the missionary school in Algiers of the White Fathers from 1884 to 1885. He did military service in Mainz in 1890 and 1891, then studied for a year at the University of Berlin, taking classes in philosophy, history, and literature. He studied history and art in Paris (1892-1893) and Rome (1893), began writing for the Mainzer Journal, and befriended Georges Goyau. In 1894 he became editor at the newspaper Der Elsässer in Strasbourg, and he married Anna Thaler from Fulda in the same year. From 1895 to 1902 he worked as editor at the Catholic monthly family magazine Alte und Neue Welt.[3]

Prompted by a public debate over the "inferiority of German Catholics," Muth began publishing on Catholic literature; furthermore, he began to call for an end to the confessionalism that remained from the Kulturkampf, with its attendant narrow-minded morality, apathy, and prudery. Under the influence of Martin Deutinger, he emphasized the interaction between religion and art and maintained that a decrease in religious awareness also entailed a decrease in art's creativity. Muth's main accomplishment was founding and then editing Hochland, a magazine with a "supraconfessional" group of contributors, writing on sciences, poetry, arts, and music. The magazine soon attained a leading status in Catholic spiritual life. During World War I he defended German culture, and after the war Hochland attacked the primitivism and nihilism of Nazism; throughout the 1930s the magazine spoke out, partly covertly, against the perversion of (Christianity-derived) justice and the destruction of societal order.[4]

After Hochland was definitively banned in 1941, Muth successfully managed to avoid being arrested in connection with the White Rose. He died alone in a hospital in Bad Reichenhall.[5]

Patriotism and Christianity

Muth, whom historian David Blackbourn calls a "self-conscious Catholic modernist,"[6] was a patriot, though he never claimed to be a nationalist, and, in a defense of Germany's involvement in World War I, said, "Our ambition is not rooted in a conceited belief that we are fit and destined to lord it over the globe. Our heart is not set on industrial subjugation or commercial supremacy. We simply have a keen inborn sense that mother nature has made us a many-sided and objective sort of folk. We think we have a duty to ripen in ourselves a humanity that shall unite in harmony the several forces and faculties. A limited, self-centred, bigoted nationalism is foreign to our deeper character....The idea of universalism, catholicity, and world-embracing solidarity is essentially Christian. There is a natural kinship, then, between Christianity and German universalism."[7]


Muth founded Hochland in 1903 and edited it from 1903 to 1932 and again from 1935 to 1939. Hochland, a Catholic magazine devoted to religion and culture, loosened its strictly confessional attitude and became under his direction a forum for dialogue with other denominations and even with secular thinkers.[8] The articles he published were to elucidate how art and aesthetics could influence politics and religions, and they never followed any party's line;[9] Among his "friends", those authors who published regularly on Hochland, were such notables people as Theodor Haecker, Ruth Schaumann, Gertrud von Le Fort, Werner Bergengruen Sigrid Undset, Stefan Andres, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Romano Guardini, Max Scheler, Carl Schmitt (until 1930), Peter Wust, and Theodor Schieffer.[10][8]


Muth, personally and through Hochland, exerted influence on a number of people, including Gertrud von Le Fort,[11] and Hans and Sophie Scholl,[12] who rented a room in his house[13]).


  1. ^ Ziolkowski 224.
  2. ^ McBrien and Attridge 616.
  3. ^ Becker par. 1.
  4. ^ Becker par. 1.
  5. ^ Becker par. 1.
  6. ^ Blackbourn 298.
  7. ^ Muth 394-95.
  8. ^ a b Ackermann, Hochland. Monatsschrift für...
  9. ^ Zankel 208.
  10. ^ Grosse 127.
  11. ^ Ziolkowski 224.
  12. ^ Zankel 208.
  13. ^ Axelrod 53.


  • Ackermann, Konrad. "Hochland. Monatsschrift für alle Gebiete des Wissens, der Literatur und Kunst". Historisches Lexikon Bayerns (in German). Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  • Axelrod, Toby (2001). Hans and Sophie Scholl: German Resisters of the White Rose. Rosen. ISBN 978-0-8239-3316-7.
  • Winfried Becker (1993). "Carl Muth". In Bautz, Traugott. Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 6. Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 396–402. ISBN 3-88309-044-1.
  • Blackbourn, David (2003). History of Germany, 1780-1918: the long nineteenth century. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-23196-7. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  • Gottfried, Paul (1990). Carl Schmitt. Continuum. ISBN 978-1-870626-46-0.
  • Grosse, Rolf (2007). "Theodor Schieffer: Ein rheinischer Historiker und seine 'Begegnung mit der romanisch-französischen Welt'". In Ulrich Pfeil. Das Deutsche Historische Institut Paris und seine Gründungsväter: ein personengeschichtlicher Ansatz. Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag. pp. 119–38. ISBN 978-3-486-58519-3.
  • McBrien, Richard P.; Harold W. Attridge (1995). The HarperCollins encyclopedia of Catholicism. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-065338-5. Retrieved 22 July 2010.
  • Muth, Karl (1916). "Ideal Humanity Interpreted in German Thought and Art". In George Pfeilschifter. German culture catholicism and the world war: a defense against the book, La guerre allemande et le catholicisme. Wanderer. pp. 379–95. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  • Schmitt, Carl (1988). Ellen Kennedy, ed. The crisis of parliamentary democracy. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-69126-0. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  • Zankel, Sönke (2008). Mit Flugblättern gegen Hitler: der Widerstandskreis um Hans Scholl und Alexander Schmorell. Böhlau Verlag. ISBN 978-3-412-20038-1.
  • Ziolkowski, Theodore (2007). Modes of faith: secular surrogates for lost religious belief. U of Chicago P. ISBN 978-0-226-98363-9.

External links

Catholic resistance to Nazi Germany

Catholic resistance to Nazi Germany was a component of German resistance to Nazism and of Resistance during World War II. The role of the Church during the Nazi years was always, and remains however, a matter of much contention. Many writers, echoing Klaus Scholder, have concluded, "There was no Catholic resistance in Germany, there were only Catholics who resisted." The Vatican policy meant that the Pope never challenged Catholics to side either with National Socialism or with Catholic morality, and Pius XII was so adamant that Bolshevism represented the most terrible threat to the world that he remarked, 'Germany are a great nation who, in their fight against Bolshevism, are bleeding not only for their friends but also for the sake of their present enemies'. In a letter of autumn 1941 Pius XII wrote to Bishop Preysing, "We emphasise that, because the Church in Germany is dependent upon your public public declarations you are duty bound to exercise restraint" and "requires(d) you and your colleagues not to protest."From the outset of Nazi rule in 1933, issues emerged which brought the Church into conflict with the regime and persecution of the Church led Pope Pius XI to denounce the policies of the Nazi Government in the 1937 papal encyclical Mit brennender Sorge. His successor Pius XII faced the war years and provided intelligence to the Allies. Catholics fought on both sides in World War II and neither the Catholic nor Protestant churches as institutions were prepared to openly oppose the Nazi State.

An estimated one-third of German Catholic priests faced some form of reprisal from authorities and thousands of Catholic clergy and religious were sent to concentration camps. 400 Germans were among the 2,579 Catholic priests imprisoned in the clergy barracks at Dachau. While the head German bishop generally avoided confronting the regime, other bishops such as Preysing, Frings and Galen developed a Catholic critique of aspects of Nazism. Galen led Catholic protest against Nazi "euthanasia".Catholic resistance to mistreatment of Jews in Germany was generally limited to fragmented and largely individual efforts. But in every country under German occupation, priests played a major part in rescuing Jews. Israeli historian Pinchas Lapide estimated that Catholic rescue of Jews amounted to somewhere between 700,000 and 860,000 people - though the figure is contested. The martyrs St Maximilian Kolbe, Giuseppe Girotti and Bernhard Lichtenberg were among those killed in part for aiding Jews. Among the notable Catholic networks to rescue Jews and others were Hugh O'Flaherty's "Rome Escape Line", the Assisi Network and Poland's Żegota.

Relations between the Axis governments and the church varied. Bishops such as the Netherlands' Johannes de Jong, Belgium's Jozef-Ernest van Roey and France's Jules-Géraud Saliège issued major denunciations of Nazi treatment of Jews. Convents and nuns like Margit Slachta and Matylda Getter also led resistance. Vatican diplomats like Giuseppe Burzio in Slovakia, Filippo Bernardini in Switzerland and Angelo Roncalli in Turkey saved thousands. The nuncio to Budapest, Angelo Rotta, and Bucharest, Andrea Cassulo, have been recognised by Yad Vashem in Israel. The nationalist regimes in Slovakia and Croatia were pro-clerical, while in Slovene, Czech, Austrian and Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany, repression of the church was at its most severe and the Catholic religion was integral to much Polish resistance.

Hochland (magazine)

Hochland was a German Catholic magazine, published in Munich from 1903 to 1941 and again from 1946 to 1971. Founded by Carl Muth, it was regarded critically by the church, and published work by authors regardless of denomination on topics related to religion and culture.

Peter Wust

Peter Wust (28 August 1884, Rissenthal – 3 April 1940, Münster) was a German existentialist philosopher.

Sophie Scholl

Sophia Magdalena Scholl (9 May 1921 – 22 February 1943) was a German student and anti-Nazi political activist, active within the White Rose non-violent resistance group in Nazi Germany.She was convicted of high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich (LMU) with her brother, Hans. As a result, she was executed by guillotine. Since the 1970s, Scholl has been extensively commemorated for her anti-Nazi resistance work.

Theodor Schieffer

Theodor Schieffer (11 June 1910 in Bad Godesberg – 9 April 1992 in Bad Godesberg) was a German historian. He was professor of medieval history at the University of Mainz, then at the University of Cologne, and since 1952 he was president of the Association for Middle Rhine Church History. He is the author of Winfrid-Bonifatius und die christliche Grundlegung Europas, the authoritative biography of Saint Boniface.

Werner Bergengruen

Werner Bergengruen (September 16, 1892 – September 4, 1964) was a Baltic German novelist and poet. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

White Rose

The White Rose (German: die Weiße Rose) was a non-violent, intellectual resistance group in the Third Reich led by a group of students and a professor at the University of Munich. The group conducted an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign that called for active opposition to the Nazi party regime. Their activities started in Munich on 27 June 1942, and ended with the arrest of the core group by the Gestapo on 18 February 1943. They, as well as other members and supporters of the group who carried on distributing the pamphlets, faced show trials by the Nazi People's Court (Volksgerichtshof), and many of them were sentenced to death or imprisonment.

The group wrote, printed and initially distributed their pamphlets in the greater Munich region. Later on, secret carriers brought copies to other cities, mostly in the southern parts of Germany. In total, the White Rose authored six leaflets, which were multiplied and spread, in a total of about 15,000 copies. They denounced the Nazi regime's crimes and oppression, and called for resistance. In their second leaflet, they openly denounced the persecution and mass murder of the Jews. By the time of their arrest, the members of the White Rose were just about to establish contacts with other German resistance groups like the Kreisau Circle or the Schulze-Boysen/Harnack group of the Red Orchestra. Today, the White Rose is well-known both within Germany and worldwide.

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