Open main menu
Theophil Wurm

Theophil Heinrich Wurm (7 December 1868, Basel – 28 January 1953, Stuttgart) was the son of a pastor and was a leader in the German Protestant Church in the early twentieth century.

Wurm was active in politics. He was a member of the Christian Social Party before World War I, and thereafter of the Citizens’ Party. He held a seat in the Württemberg State Parliament (German: Landtag) until 1920.

As a young man Wurm was a prison chaplain, and became a parish pastor when he was 45. He progressed in the hierarchy of the Lutheran Evangelical State Church in Württemberg and became church president in 1929, with this office being retitled into Landesbischof (bishop of the regional Protestant church) in 1933. Like many churchmen, he initially favored the Nazi regime, but its church policy soon moved him into opposition.

In September 1934 Wurm was deposed from his bishopric by Reich's bishop Ludwig Müller because of his views on church policy (including the Barmen Declaration), and was placed under house arrest. These extreme measures were eventually rescinded by Hitler in the wake of protests and the stripping of power from Müller.[1] Wurm then held the office of bishop until 1948.

Wurm withdrew from the German Christians and aligned himself with the Confessing Church, attending its synods, but he did not advocate the more extreme policies of the church's more militant wing. Nevertheless, he was not politically apathetic and made numerous complaints to the Nazi party and the Nazi state. After the start of the war, he protested the murders of psychiatric patients under the Nazi euthanasia program. Wurm and the Catholic Bishop of Münster, Clemens August Graf von Galen, were able to lead widespread public opposition to the murder of invalids.[2] This earned him a 1944 ban against public speaking and writing.

He associated with the resistance movements that centered on Carl Goerdeler and Ludwig Beck.

He was admired by his fellow churchmen and in 1945 (in connection with the Allies' de-nazification efforts) he was elected chairman of the Council of the newly created Protestant umbrella Evangelical Church in Germany.

He was a signatory of the October 1945 Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Helmreich, Ernst C. (1969). "The Arrest and Freeing of the Protestant Bishops of Württemberg and Bavaria September-October 1934". Central European History. 2 (2): 159–169. doi:10.1017/S0008938900000182. JSTOR 4545525.
  2. ^ Peter Hoffmann; The History of the German Resistance 1933-1945; 3rd Edn (First English Edn); McDonald & Jane's; London; 1977; p.24

Further readingEdit

  • Barnes, Kenneth C. (1991). Nazism, Liberalism, & Christianity: Protestant social thought in Germany & Great Britain, 1925-1937. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-8131-1729-4.
  • Barnett, Victoria (1992). For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 978-0-19-512118-6.
  • Hockenos, Matthew D. (2004). A Church Divided: German Protestants Confront the Nazi Past. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34448-9.
  • Wyneken, JonDavid K. (2006). "Memory as Diplomatie Leverage: Evangelical Bishop Theophil Wurm and War Crimes Trials, 1948-1952". Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte. 19 (2): 368–388. JSTOR 43751864.

External linksEdit