Gerhard Ritter: Conservative Historian

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Gerhard Ritter was born on April 6,1888 in Bad Sooden-Allendorf, Prussia, Germany. His father was a Lutheran clergyman. He was a devout Lutheran his entire life. During World War I, he served as an infantryman for Germany. In 1919, he married Gertrud Reichardt and together they had three children. Ritter worked as a professor at Heidelberg University, (1918–1923), Hamburg University (1923–1925) and Freiburg University (1925–1956). A national conservative and a staunch anti-Communist, he welcomed the Nazi Party in 1933. However, he turned against the Nazis when they preached against Christianity and he later joined the Confessing Church, a movement opposed to Nazism. In 1938, he was appalled of the Nazi pogrom of Kristillnacht and was ashamed. He joined the German resistance group, the Freiburg Circle. While working in the German resistance he came in contact with many Catholics and Calvinists. He soon abandoned his prejudices against Catholic and Calvinists and became friendly with many of them. He worked together with them against Nazism. He was involved in the July 20,1944 plot to assassinate Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and free Germany of Nazism. After the plot failed, he was jailed by the Nazis from 1944 to 1945. He was freed after the war. In 1945, he encouraged Catholics and Protestants to form together a political party they can both belong to. This party became the Christian Democratic Union. In 1954, he wrote a biography of his friend Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, a devout Lutheran and resistance fighter against the Nazis who was executed by them in 1945. He continue to write on Germany history until his death on July 1,1967 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Württemberg, West Germany.

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