Theophil Wurm

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Theophil Heinrich Wurm (born December 7, 1868 in Basel , † January 28, 1953 in Stuttgart ) was a Protestant pastor and from 1929 to 1948 regional bishop of the Evangelical Church in Württemberg .

Pastor, dean, deputy

Theophil Wurm had been pastor at the Evangelical Society and the City Mission in Stuttgart since 1899. From 1901 he was its executive secretary at the collegiate church in Tübingen . From 1913 he was pastor in Ravensburg , from 1920 as dean in Reutlingen . Wurm was politically active at the beginning of the Weimar Republic for the national conservative Württemberg Citizens' Party (the regional branch of the DNVP ), where he was elected to the Stuttgart state parliament. After the Second World War it belonged to the provisional representative body for Württemberg-Baden as a representative of the Protestant Church.

Prelate, church president, regional bishop

In 1927 Wurm became prelate ( regional bishop ) in Heilbronn , in 1929 church president of the Württemberg regional church. In 1933 this leading office in the Württemberg Church was renamed Regional Bishop .

In the unification of the German regional churches into an imperial church , Wurm supported the German Christian pastor Ludwig Müller for the office of imperial bishop over Friedrich von Bodelschwingh, who was preferred by the pastors' emergency union . This initial support for the course desired by the NSDAP, however, turned into protest when the " Gleichschaltung" was not only limited to the Prussian regional church, but also extended to the Württemberg regional church. Theophil Wurm held a service in Ulm Minster on April 22, 1934 , which marked the connection of his regional church to the Confessing Church .

In 1934, he initially successfully opposed a more extensive integration of the Württemberg regional church, which he led, into the Reich Church. In October 1934, Wurm was given protective custody in the mildest form , a kind of house arrest, a commissioner was appointed as his representative and numerous senior church councils, prelates, deans and pastors were suspended . The majority of the church members, however, stuck to the regional bishop and showed this in the form of numerous meetings and demonstrations. Finally, the regional court decided that the church leadership and thus the regional bishop should be reinstated in all of his rights, Wurm remained bishop.

While almost all Protestant regional churches received bishops from the Nazi-friendly German Christians in 1933/34 , Württemberg, Bavaria and Hanover were spared this rule. These regional churches were therefore considered "intact" . In October 1934, brother councils of the Confessing Church were formed in the "destroyed" regional churches. In 1936, the inner unity of the Confessing Church finally broke due to this different development.

In 1937 Wurm was one of those who signed the declaration of the 96 Protestant church leaders against Alfred Rosenberg because of his writing Protestant Rome Pilgrims .

In March 1938 he instructed the parishes to welcome the annexation of Austria as a “divine providence” with a one-hour bell ringing .

In July 1940, Regional Bishop Wurm protested as the first German Protestant bishop against the so-called euthanasia program of the National Socialists. In his protest letter to Reich Minister of the Interior Frick of July 19, 1940, Wurm considers it his "duty to make the Reich Government aware that this matter (the euthanasia program) is causing a great stir in our small country" and concludes his letter of warning with the biblical words "Dixi et salvavi animam meam" (I say this to save my soul, Ez 3,19  LUT ). In 1943 he publicly protested against the persecution of the Jews . A few years earlier he had expressed himself 'moderately anti-Semitic', which led to major disputes within the regional church: “I do not deny the state with a single word to combat Judaism as a dangerous element . From my youth I have considered the judgment of men like Heinrich von Treitschke and Adolf Stöcker about the corrosive effects of Judaism in the religious, moral, literary, economic and political areas to be correct. "(Wurm's letter to Reich Justice Minister Gürtner of December 6, 1938, on the occasion of the pogrom night in November).

From 1940 he deviated more and more from his previous compromise position and approached the more radical wings of the Confessing Church, he also kept in contact with the resistance group of the "Kreisau Circle" . On July 16, 1943, he wrote to Hitler condemning the persecution and murder of Jews and opposed the planned divorce of mixed marriages . In 1944 he was banned from writing and speaking because of his protests . His "Church Unification Work", founded at the end of 1941, formed an important foundation for the development of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) after 1945.

First Chairman of the Council of the EKD

After the end of the war, Wurm fought to bring together the various Protestant regional churches in Germany. In August 1945 the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) was founded at the “ Church Leader Conference ” in Treysa (today a district of Schwalmstadt ), at which Wurm was elected the first council chairman. In addition, Wurm ensured that Protestant academics and those in charge of the economy were involved in the development of democratic structures in the post-war period: On September 29, 1945, on the initiative of Pastor Eberhard Müller , he invited to Bad Boll for “Days of Reflection” thereby founded the first church academy in Central Europe, the Evangelical Academy Bad Boll . In October 1945 he was one of the signatories of the Stuttgart Confession of Guilt , in which the Evangelical Church admitted its failure in the Third Reich and thus built a bridge to the churches of the war opponents. On the basis of this commitment, the resumption of the German Protestant churches in global ecumenical cooperation became possible. Wurm also began to actively campaign for a reconciliation with France and Italy on the basis of the Württemberg diaspora relations. The centenary of Statuto Albertino in Piedmont in 1948 and the 250th anniversary of the Waldensian emigration to Germany in Maulbronn in 1949 were used as an opportunity to engage in further exchange with representatives of the EKD such as the Waldensian communities in Germany, Italy and France come. The first town twinning between Germany and France was signed in 1950 between Ludwigsburg and the Protestant enclave Montbéliard , also based on the connections of the Württemberg regional church. Likewise, the Gustav-Adolf-Werk of the EKD continued to support the Italian and French diaspora communities.

Wurm protested to the victorious powers against the harshness of denazification . In letters to the main prosecutors of the Nuremberg Trials, he spoke out against the alleged use of "criminal methods and heinous tortures" to extort statements and confessions. He was on the founding board of Stillen Hilfe , an association founded in 1951 under the direction of Helene Elisabeth Princess von Isenburg , which supported imprisoned and convicted Nazi perpetrators in journalism, law and material.

In 1948 Theophil Wurm resigned from his office as regional bishop, but remained active in the church until his death. Theophil Wurm was chairman of the EKD council until 1949 and was instrumental in drawing up the constitution.

Wurm was a member of the Tübingen student union Luginsland.


Fonts (selection)

  • Evangelical Faith: Sermons . Quell-Verlag, Stuttgart 1931.
  • Life riddle and belief in God. A word about the needs of the present . Quell-Verlag, Stuttgart 1932.
  • The message of the church: sermons . Quell-Verlag, Stuttgart 1935.
  • The Religious Problem in Modern German History (Writing Service of the Chancellery of the Evangelical Church in Germany, No. 1) , Schwäbisch Gmünd 1949.
  • Fifty years in the service of the Church . Evangelical Publishing House, Stuttgart 1950 (sermons & speeches)
  • Memories from my life . Quell Verlag, Stuttgart 1953.


  • Frank Raberg : Biographical handbook of the Württemberg state parliament members 1815-1933 . On behalf of the Commission for Historical Regional Studies in Baden-Württemberg. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-17-016604-2 , p. 1056 .
  • Werner Raupp (Ed.): Lived Faith. Experiences and life testimonies from our country. A reading book, Metzingen / Württ .: Ernst Franz-Verlag 1993, pp. 352-357, 395 f. (Int., Source texts, lit.).
  • Jörg Thierfelder : The church unification work of the Württemberg state bishop Theophil Wurm . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1975 ( digitized version )
  • Jörg Thierfelder: Theophil Wurm . In: Profiles of Lutheranism. 20th Century Biographies . Edited by Wolf-Dieter Hauschild, 1998, pp. 743-758.

Individual evidence

  1. Klaus Scholder, The Churches and the Third Reich , Vol. 1, p. 419
  2. Friedrich Siegmund-Schultze (Ed.): Ecumenical Yearbook 1936–1937 . Max Niehans, Zurich 1939, pp. 240–247.
  3. Evangelical documents on the murder of the 'terminally ill' under National Socialist rule in the years 1939–1945 . Edited by Hans Christoph von Hase. Evangelisches Verlagswerk Stuttgart. Stuttgart 1964, pp. 9-13.
  5. Archived copy ( Memento of May 4, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  6. Document VEJ 11/56 in: Lisa Hauff (edit.): The persecution and murder of European Jews by National Socialist Germany 1933–1945 (collection of sources) Volume 11: German Empire and Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia April 1943–1945 . Berlin / Boston 2020, ISBN 978-3-11-036499-6 , pp. 218-219.
  7. ^ Barbro Lovisa: Italian Waldensians and Protestant Germany 1655 to 1989 . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1994 ISBN 978-3-525-56539-1
  8. Announcement of awards of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In: Federal Gazette . Vol. 3, No. 250, December 29, 1951.

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