Master's Theses

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Date of Award

Summer 1967

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Advisor

Gordon W. Davidson

Abstract

This thesis is a study of the life, thought, and activities of Gerald Burton Winrod. Winrod was a preacher, publisher, and politician who resided at Wichita, Kansas. During the 1930s and 1940s he received a great deal of publicity and achieved some notoriety because of his anti-Semitic activities. He was also accused of being a Nazi, and during World War II was indicted and tried for sedition. Also Winrod attempted, in 1938, to win the Republican nomination as candidate for United States Senator from Kansas. All of these activities are discussed in the thesis including his religious ideas which provided the basis for everything he did. In gathering material for this thesis the writer spent a great deal of time in the library of the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka. There he found copies of the periodicals published by Winrod, plus copies of his speeches and other materials used during the 1938 Senatorial campaign. The writer also read several books written by Gerald B. Winrod. These materials plus the newspaper accounts of his activities provided the primary source materials for this thesis. Secondary source materials included several periodical articles written about Winrod or about native Nazism and anti-Semitism in America. The writer also consulted several books on Nazism, anti-Semitism, and “radical” Protestantism. The research was rounded out by a two hour interview with Gordon Winrod, son of the study's subject. In this way an insight was gained which could not have been achieved merely by reading. The conclusions reached in this thesis are as follows: Winrod considered himself to be first and foremost a preacher of Christianity. It was his understanding of the Christian faith which held his life together and motivated his activities. His religious convictions led him into anti-Semitic denunciations of Jews whom he believed were plotting to destroy Christian Civilization. His “fundamentalist” approach to Christianity produced a moral puritanism which led him to praise the Nazi regime in Germany because he believed Adolph Hitler was “cleaning up” Germany. Winrod himself, however, was not a Nazi and later spoke very critically of them. It was also Winrod’s religious principles which led him into politics. He opposed legalized liquor and what he considered a soft line toward Communism. He hoped to reverse these trends by making the Senate a sounding board for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The indictments and the trial for sedition were, this writer believes, the result of “war hysteria”. The general assessment of Gerald Winrod which this thesis arrives at is that although Winrod was wrong about many things; and although some of his ideas were asinine and abhorrent, he was a sincere preacher and practicer of what he believed to be right.

Rights

Copyright 1967 Larry B. Sullivan

Comments

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