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Reichsbischof

Protestant church office in Nazi Germany. Following Hitler's accession to power, many churchmen favored uniting the twenty-eight separate provincial churches into one with a national (Reich) bishop as head. The pro- Nazi German-Christians* supported the candidacy of Ludwig Müller (1883-1945) for the post, but he lost the election in 1933 to Friedrich von Bodelschwingh,* director of the Bethel charitable foundation in Westphalia. The German-Christians, with Nazi support, forced his resignation, and Müller was elected later that year at a national synod in Wittenberg. The Nazis soon abandoned the German-Christians, and with the creation of the Ministry of Church Affairs in 1935 the reichbishop was deprived of any effective authority.