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While Nazi antisemitism embraced modern pseudo-scientific racial principles, ancient antipathies between Christianity and Judaism contributed to European antisemitism.
The Church hierarchy attempted to co-operate with the new government, but in 1937, the Papal Encyclical ‘’Mit brennender Sorge’’ accused the government of "fundamental hostility" to the church.
The Church in Germany had spoken against the rise of Nazism, but the Catholic aligned Centre Party capitulated in 1933 and was banned.
Adolf Hitler and several key Nazis had been raised Catholic, but became hostile to the Church in adulthood.
Germany's senior cleric, Cardinal Bertram, developed an ineffectual protest system, leaving broader Catholic resistance to individual conscience.
By 1937 the church hierarchy, which initially sought dètente, was highly disillusioned.
In early 1933, following Nazi successes in the 1932 elections, lay Catholic monarchist Franz von Papen, and acting Chancellor and Presidential advisor, General Kurt von Schleicher, assisted Adolf Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor by President Paul von Hindenburg.
In March, amidst the intimidating atmosphere of Nazi terror tactics and negotiation the allied BNVP and the monarchists DNVP voted for the Enabling Act.
Prior to 1933, Catholic leaders denounced Nazi doctrines while Catholic regions generally did not vote Nazi.
Though hostility between the Nazi Party and the Catholic Church was real, the Nazi Party first developed in largely Catholic Munich, where many Catholics, lay and clerical, offered enthusiastic support.
The Vatican, surrounded by Fascist Italy, was officially neutral during the war, but used diplomacy to aid victims and lobby for peace.
Vatican Radio and other media spoke out against atrocities.
When president Hindenberg died in August 1934, the Nazis claimed jurisdiction over all levels of government and a referendum confirmed Hitler as sole Führer (leader) of Germany.