Ed Philp here. Beyond buying my partner 21 tiny fuzzy chicks and hiding them for her in our apartment to create a scavenger hunt, I don’t really celebrate Easter.
I’m going to follow one of Andrew’s modus operandii (? stopped Latin in Grade 12) today and post something largely uncut, namely excerpts from a tax decision by the German Reichsfinanzhof (Supreme Tax Court until 1945). The judgment is dated March 17, 1943.
I don’t want to comment on the judgment extracts, and Andrew may decide to provide some context in a later blog post on German judicial Gleichschaltung at a later point. I will provide some brief factual context and note in passing that the Federal Tax Court in Munich has a large and noticeable plaque commemorating the injustices committed under tax court authority in the Nazi era (among them, upholding a so-called Reichsfluchtsteuer – emigrant exit tax – of 25%, primarily aimed at Jewish and other persecuted persons fleeing Germany). In fact, a number of dissertations (e.g. here and here) have been written on the subject of the National Socialist tax programs.
A German charitable foundation (Stiftung) appealed against a decision by the tax authorities revoking the foundation’s tax-free charitable status. Under German laws, if such an organization pursues a non-charitable purpose among its charitable endeavors, tax-free status is denied for the entire organization. Charitable is defined as serving the public good.
Status was revoked because the organization in question, a Bible Society, had – among numerous other missionary activities – printed and distributed Old Testament bibles translated into Swahili in Africa.
For a tax decision, the obiter dicta (my translation) is quite something:
"A public benefit may only be assumed where the activity serves the common weal, i.e. the German national community (Volksgemeinschaft) in a material, spiritual or moral manner … whether this is the case is determined by the views of the people, whereby according to § 1 StAnpG (Tax Amendment Act) the National Socialist worldview (Weltanschauung) is determinative".
"It is subject to no doubt whatsoever that the preparation and distribution of the Old Testament, in which the Jewish race and its history is glorified, cannot be compatible with the National Socialist worldview. The National Socialist German people would find it incomprehensible that the publication and dissemination of a text which glorifies Judaism – against which the German people is fighting a life and death battle – and which presents these as God’s chosen people, should be supported and accorded preferential tax status."
"Since the heathen mission is primarily intended to convert foreign-raced people to Christianity, the purposes and effects thereof – even where these serve the benefit of the German people – cannot provide a basis for preferential tax status, as merely indirect purposes."