Timing is everything. Born in 1878, von Galen was elected Bishop of Munster in the same year that Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. [What is 1933, Alex? That's correct. Choose again.] The choice was not popular, especially with those who knew von Galen, but at least one previous candidate had turned down the job. Although stormtroopers attended his consecration as bishop (in full swastika), Nazis had no reason to celebrate von Galen's elevation to bishop.
Ill-tempered and outspoken, he wasted no time in criticizing the new government. While no fan of democracy, he found Hitler's tyranny far more objectionable. He used Section 21 of the Reichskonkordat to defend Catholic schools against the Nazi attempt to secularize and nationalize all education. He criticized racial ideology and the Nazi cult of race supremacy. Then he criticized Gestapo brutality, arrests and confiscations.
The Boys in Black took notice. An officer named Walter Tiessler wrote to Martin Bormann, suggesting that the Gestapo eliminate Bishop von Galen, but the decision was deferred. As the terror mounted and the war heated up, he preached patience and endurance, noting that it was not the Allies but rather the Germans themselves who were destroying Germany. That kind of talk would be called treason in many countries, but it was tricky to know whether the government was better off eliminating him or letting him fulminate.
|taken from this site|
Following the war, Bishop von Galen was as critical of British and Soviet occupation forces as he had been of the Nazis. Since he was not in the Soviet zone of occupation (lucky for him), his protest of the wholesale rape and pillage of eastern Germany by the Red Army did little to change things. The British were more sensitive to his criticism, though initially that only prodded them to think of ways to shut him up. As an advocate for the German people with the credibility of a critic of the Nazis, he had sufficient standing to speak with impunity. The British didn't care for him, but they had to listen.
|The arms of Cardinal von Galen|