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Hitler and Christianity

From: Constitutionalistnc and Thriceholy sites

Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, noted:

“The Fuhrer is deeply religious, though completely anti-Christian. He views Christianity as a symptom of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race… Both [Judaism and Christianity] have no point of contact to the animal element, and thus, in the end, they will be destroyed.”

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OFFICE OF STRATEGIC SERVICES

Research and Analysis Branch

R & A No. 3114.4

THE NAZI MASTER PLAN

Annex 4: The Persecution of the Christian Churches

Description

This study describes, with illustrative factual evidence, Nazi purposes, policies, and methods of persecuting the Christian Churches in Germany and occupied Europe.

DRAFT FOR THE WAR CRIMES STAFF

6 July 1945

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NAZISM AND CHRISTIANITY

(The above is a photo of a Nazi belt-buckle saying “Gott mit uns” — or “God with us”, in English. Which conception of god is being referred to is of course not specified. Nazism did have some attachment to old pagan gods and even Allah found some favour)

“My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.

— Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

So was Hitler really a Christian or was he just using the knowledge of Christianity that came from his Catholic schooling as a propaganda tool? I think the deeds of his regime answer that much more clearly than words could (for more on the words, see here) so let us look at what Nazism did and tried to do:

Adolf Hitler was politically astute enough to maintain some public distance between himself and the Neo-Pagan ideologues of the Nazi Party. But he was not far from them at heart. After his death documentation became available showing that Hitler had approved grandiose plans to wean the German churches away from Christianity and into the Neo-Pagan fold. To quote Shirer in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:

“…under the leadership of Rosenberg, Bormann and Himmler, who were backed by Hitler, the Nazi regime intended eventually to destroy Christianity in Germany, if it could, and substitute the old paganism of the early tribal Germanic gods and the new paganism of the Nazi extremists. As Bormann, one of the men closest to Hitler, said publicly in 1941, ‘National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable.’

What the Hitler government envisioned for Germany was clearly set out in a thirty-point program for the ‘National Reich Church’ drawn up during the war by Rosenberg, an outspoken pagan…

“The National Reich Church of Germany categorically claims the exclusive right and the exclusive power to control all churches within the borders of the Reich: it declares these to be national churches of the German Reich.

“The National Church is determined to exterminate irrevocably…the strange and foreign Christian faiths imported into Germany in the ill-omened year 800…

“The National Church has no scribes, pastors, chaplains or priests, but National Reich orators are to speak in them.

“The National Church demands immediate cessation of the publishing and dissemination of the Bible in Germany…'”

“On the altars there must be nothing but ‘Mein Kampf’ (to the German nation and therefore to God the most sacred book) and to the left of the altar a sword.

“On the day of its foundation, the Christian Cross must be removed from all churches, cathedrals and chapels…and it must be superseded by the only unconquerable symbol, the swastika.”

(The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L. Shirer, p. 240 in some editions, p. 332 in others. Chapter headed “Triumph and Consolidation”, subsection “The Persecution of the Christian Churches”)

Martin Bormann was faithful to Hitler till the end, sprinkling gasoline on the bodies after Hitler’s suicide. This true believer put it this way:

“National Socialist and Christian concepts are incompatible. The Christian Churches build upon the ignorance of men and strive to keep large portions of the people in ignorance because only in this way can the Christian Churches maintain their power. On the other hand, National Socialism is based on scientific foundations. Christianity’s immutable principles, which were laid down almost two thousand years ago, have increasingly stiffened into life-alien dogmas. National Socialism, however, if it wants to fulfill its task further, must always guide itself according to the newest data of scientific researches.

“The Christian Churches have long been aware that exact scientific knowledge poses a threat to their existence. Therefore, by means of such pseudo-sciences as theology, they take great pains to suppress or falsify scientific research…No one would know anything about Christianity if pastors had not crammed it down his throat in his childhood. The so-called loving God by no means reveals the knowledge of His existence to young people, but amazingly enough, and despite His omnipotence, He leaves this to the efforts of a pastor. When in the future our youth no longer hear anything about this Christianity, whose doctrine is far below our own, Christianity will automatically disappear.

“[…] When we National Socialists speak of a belief in God…[we mean] [t]he force which moves all these bodies in the universe, in accordance with natural law, is what we call the Almighty or God. The assertion that this world-force can worry about the fate of every individual, every bacillus on earth, and that it can be influenced by so-called prayer or other astonishing things, is based either on a suitable dose of naivete or on outright commercial effrontery.”

“Any influence that would impair or damage the leadership of the people exercised by the Fuhrer with the aid of the NSDAP has to be eliminated. To an ever increasing degree the people must be wrested from Churches and their agents, the pastors…Only the Reich leadership, together with the party and the organs and associations connected with it, has a right to lead the people. Just as the harmful influence of astrologists, soothsayers, and other swindlers has been suppressed by the state, so it must be absolutely impossible for the Church to exercise its old influence.”

(Martin Bormann, Reich Leader, 1942, ‘National Socialist and Christian Concepts are Incompatible’, From Kirchliches Jahrbuch fur die evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, 1933-1944, pp. 470-472, quoted pp. 245-247, George L. Mosse, Nazi Culture: A Documentary History).

Hitler’s contempt for Christians and the Bible was genuine and well-attested. Of Roman Catholic upbringing, he was, however, a theist, who seems to have had a vague religious faith, attributing his escape from Stauffenberg’s bomb to “Providence.” (Colonel Stauffenberg had placed a briefcase containing a bomb at the Fuhrer’s feet, then hastily departed. Not owing to any break in the course of nature, but simply because somebody found the clumsy briefcase to be in the way, it had been moved before exploding, and Hitler survived.) He spoke to the nation: “The bomb planted by Colonel Count Stauffenberg exploded two meters to the right of me…I myself an entirely unhurt, aside from some very minor scratches, bruises and burns. I regard this as a confirmation of the task imposed upon me by Providence…” (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer, p. 1069). He considered this “Providence” to favor the strong over the weak:

“…I may be no pious churchgoer, but deep within me I am nevertheless a devout man. That is to say, I believe that he who fights valiantly obeying the laws which a god has established and who never capitulates but instead gathers his forces time after time and always pushes forward—such a man will not be abandoned by the Lawgiver. Rather, he will ultimately receive the blessing of Providence.”

(Adolf Hitler, in his June 26, 1944 speech to industrialists, quoted by Albert Speer, p. 555, Inside the Third Reich.)

But He was no Christian, and his movement was no celebration of Christianity. He thought ill of Christianity, preferring Islam for its warrior spirit:

“You see, it’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn’t we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?”

(Adolf Hitler, quoted by Albert Speer, p. 96, Inside the Third Reich.)

The “meekness and flabbiness” to which Hitler objected in Christianity fell straight from the lips of its Founder:

“But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” (Matthew 5:39).

While it is difficult to fix the boundary between the fringe and the mainstream, the general tenor of Nazi ideology was in favor of the old Nordic paganism and against Christianity:

“The German people is no longer blinded by illusions as at the time of the Reformation. It has come to recognize not only Judaism, but Christianity too, as foreign to its genius.– Der Blitz, January 12, 1936, quoted p. 6, The War Against God, edited by Carl Carmer).

“But today a new faith is awakening: the myth of the blood…Then in place of the Old Testament stories of cattle breeders and the exploitation of prostitutes, we shall have the Nordic sagas and fairy tales, at first simply recounted, later assuming the form of symbols.” (Alfred Rosenberg, Myth of the Twentieth Century, 1932, quoted p. 6, The War Against God, edited by Carl Carmer).

“The teaching of mercy and love of one’s neighbor is foreign to the German race and the Sermon on the Mount is according to Nordic sentiment an ethic for cowards and idiots.– Hans Hauptmann, Bolshevism in the Bible (Nazi textbook), 1937, quoted p. 28, The War Against God, edited by Carl Carmer).

“If Jehovah has lost all meaning for us Germans, the same must be said of Jesus Christ, his son…He certainly lacks those characteristics which he would require to be a true German. Indeed, he is as disappointing, if we read his record carefully, as is his father.– E. K. Heidemann, ‘What the Christian Does not Know about Christianity,’ September, 1935, quoted p. 105, The War Against God, edited by Carl Carmer).

And perhaps a summary of the conclusions of Michael Burleigh should also form a summary here. Burleigh is the historian who has perhaps done most to look at the relationship between Nazism and religion:

“In both The Third Reich and Sacred Causes, Burleigh emphasizes the widely unknown or deliberately ignored fact that the strongest opposition to Nazi ideology and criminality came from conservative “men of God.” This is no accident. While left-wing critics of Nazism wrongly saw in it only a virulent version of either “late capitalism” or German nationalism, its conservative Christian opponents were far more sensitive to the movement’s profoundly antitraditional character. The more discerning among them saw in Nazism nothing less than a “revolution of nihilism.” And not a few of them courageously rose to the challenge of resisting the new barbarism.

In addition to Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen, the “lion of Munster,” who in a series of famous sermons in 1941 denounced the murderous Nazi euthanasia campaign, some of the Austrian and German bishops did not shrink from attacking the “racist madness” of Nazism. In his great encyclicalMit brennender Sorge (1938), written pointedly in German and clandestinely smuggled into Germany, Pope Pius XI attacked modern racialism, the cynical Nazi appropriation of Christian symbolism, nationalist idolatry, and a false cult of human greatness. Likewise, in the first encyclical of his pontificate, Summi pontificis, released in the fall of 1939, Pius XII affirmed the “fundamental unity” of the human race and expressed his profound sympathy for the plight of Poland. The whole world had no doubt at the time whom the same pontiff had in mind in his 1942 Christmas message when he spoke of “the hundreds of thousands of innocent people put to death or doomed to slow extinction, sometimes merely because of their race or descent.” This prudent, perhaps too prudent, diplomat-pope, despising National Socialism but solicitous of putting an end to a suicidal total war, helped inspire the heroic witness of groups like Temoignage chretien in France (whose anti-Nazi pamphleteers included such eminent philosophers and theologians as Gaston Fessard and Henri de Lubac) as well as the Italian Catholics who saved tens of thousands of Jews in the fall of 1944 when the Nazis unleashed full scale war against the Jews in occupied Italy.

The rewriting of history to suggest that the Christian West was somehow culpable in the murderous agenda of the National Socialists is one of the greatest intellectual distortions of our time. Burleigh has done a great service by recovering an appreciation for the impregnable wall that separated the Christian religion — with its affirmation of the fundamental unity of the human race and of conscience informed by right reason — from both the “horrors of applied rationality” (communism) and the National Socialist religion of the absolutized human will. This project of historical and moral restoration achieves something like its finished form in his magisterial two-volume history of political religion, Earthly Powers and Sacred Causes.

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THE ACCUSATION

 

What motivated Adolf Hitler to exterminate millions of human beings? Some people say, the Christian faith. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a leading Jewish critic of Christianity, lists the Holocaust in a series of atrocities committed by followers of Jesus “in his name:”

It is unjust to hold Jesus accountable for the millennia of anti-Semitism perpetrated in his name. . . Jesus never urged crusaders onward as they marched through Europe massacring Jews. . . And what he certainly did not do was put the Zyklon-B gas into the crematoria of Auschwitz.”

(Boteach, Shmuley (2011-12-07). Kosher Jesus. Gefen Publishing House. Kindle Edition.).

Is this perception accurate, that the Nazis acted in the name of Jesus? Another:

“In his Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography, John Toland wrote of Hitler’s religious position at the time of the ‘final solution:’ ‘Still a member in good standing of the Church of Rome despite detestation of its hierarchy, he carried within him its teaching that the Jew was the killer of god. The extermination, therefore, could be done without a twinge of conscience since he was merely acting as the avenging hand of god — so long as it was done impersonally, without cruelty.'” (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, p. 311).

You would think Darwinians would be embarrassed to mention Hitler, but these people know no embarrassment. This accusation, that Adolf Hitler was a devout Christian whose crimes were motivated by zeal for Jesus, is oft repeated by the New Atheists. Is it accurate?

Against this claim is the historic fact that German Jews could not save themselves through conversion, a historic escape route from religious persecution. Adolf Hitler did not much care what a person’s religion was, rather he cared about racial background, which is unaffected by present belief or confession. Moreover, there remains an abundance of evidence as to the religious convictions of the Nazis. They were religious in their own way, though nothing so conventional as Christianity. How best to describe their faith? Was it a new sect or variant of Christianity, or is it better categorized as neo-Paganism?

When challenged to defend their claim that Adolf Hitler was a devout Christian, the atheists substitute a completely different accusation, namely that those Europeans of the day who were Christians, whether through cowardice, inertia, or indifference, failed to do what was in their power to stop Hitler. This latter accusation no doubt carries substantial weight, but it is completely different from the initial indictment. Moreover these critics display a childish ingratitude, seeming unaware that it wasn’t Jewish atheists alone who brought Hitler down. Looking to those brave men who gave their lives to defeat Nazism, what more do these critics expect, no, demand, them to have done? To restore the focus where it belongs, on the initial charge: what was the Nazis’ religion? Were their murders indeed motivated by their purported Christian faith, as is alleged?

Idolatry

Adolf Hitler was politically astute enough to maintain some public distance between himself and the Neo-Pagan ideologues of the Nazi Party. But he was not far from them at heart. On the one hand he put out the ‘welcome’ mat for Christians to enter his movement: “The most devoted Protestant could stand side by side with the most devoted Catholic in our ranks without having his conscience disturbed in the slightest as far as concerned his religious convictions.” (Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Locations 8778-8779). Kindle Edition.) On the other hand he plotted the destruction of the Christian churches, or rather the substitution of alien content for the gospel proclamation. After Hitler’s death documentation became available showing that Hitler had approved grandiose plans to wean the German churches away from Christianity and into the Neo-Pagan fold: “…under the leadership of Rosenberg, Bormann and Himmler, who were backed by Hitler, the Nazi regime intended eventually to destroy Christianity in Germany, if it could, and substitute the old paganism of the early tribal Germanic gods and the new paganism of the Nazi extremists.” (William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, p. 240).

Like fellow dictators Kim Il Sung and Josef Stalin, Hitler even offered himself as an object for worship. School children in Cologne were instructed to recite the following ‘invocation’ before meals:

“Fuhrer, my Fuhrer, bequeathed to me by the Lord,

Protect and preserve me as long as I live!

Thou hast rescued Germany from deepest distress,

I thank thee today for my daily bread.

Abideth thou long with me, forsaketh me not,

Fuhrer, my Fuhrer, my faith and my light!

Heil, mein Fuhrer!” (George L. Mosse, Nazi Culture, p. 241)

This is ‘religious’ to be sure; however, it would make Christians uneasy. The early Christian martyrs perished rather than offer worship to Caesar, a mere man.

Some took offense: “Oskar Kusch, the commander of U-154, destroys a photograph of Hitler in an outburst of iconoclasm, shouting ‘We don’t worship idols here.’ Shortly afterwards he is denounced by his second in command, Ulrich Abel, who was a judge before joining the Navy. Accused of sedition and defeatism, Kusch is executed immediately.” (Video Documentary, U-Boats: Hitler’s Sharks, Part 3, ‘The Sound of Drums,’ presented by Eduardo Estrella Suanzes, a Pacific Media Production, 44:06-33).

Selective Breeding

Hitler’s central perception that ‘Nature’ was a machine set up for the purpose of selective breeding was, of course, not original with himself. Credit must be given to Charles Darwin. This paradigm led to the murder of blameless retarded children, and ultimately to the Jews as well, considered a degraded race; these were the worthless and useless “excrescences” which a healthy society must prune away:

No, the sentimental attitude would be the wrong one to adopt. Even in those days I already saw that there was a two-fold method by which alone it would be possible to bring about an amelioration of these conditions. This method is: first, to create better fundamental conditions of social development by establishing a profound feeling for social responsibilities among the public; second, to combine this feeling for social responsibilities with a ruthless determination to prune away all excrescences which are incapable of being improved.

Just as Nature concentrates its greatest attention, not to the maintenance of what already exists but on the selective breeding of offspring in order to carry on the species, so in human life also it is less a matter of artificially improving the existing generation – which, owing to human characteristics, is impossible in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred – and more a matter of securing from the very start a better road for future development. ”

(Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Locations 635-642). Kindle Edition).

Where, after all, does all this come from?

“In striving for this it must bear in mind the fact that we are members of the highest species of humanity on this earth, that we have a correspondingly high duty, and that we shall fulfill this duty only if we inspire the German people with the racial idea, so that they will occupy themselves not merely with the breeding of good dogs and horses and cats, but also care for the purity of their own blood.” (Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Locations 10036-10039). Kindle Edition.)

“The Weltanschhauung which bases the State on the racial idea must finally succeed in bringing about a nobler era, in which men will no longer pay exclusive attention to breeding and rearing pedigree dogs and horses and cats, but will endeavour to improve the breed of the human race itself.” (Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Locations 6400-6402). Kindle Edition.)

If Darwinian atheists like Richard Dawkins were capable of feeling shame, they would keep quiet about this man. He took their ideas and built a society around them. It was a horror. People who are not familiar with the New Atheists may be surprised to learn the levels to which intellectual dishonesty can descend: they make this man the center-piece of their case against Christianity, claiming he was a Christian. In reality, he is proof against the idea that, if matters of ethics are under discussion, the Darwinians should be let into the room. Else this is what we get:

“We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. . .Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.” (Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, Chapter 5).

PAGAN NATURE MYSTICISM

Richard Dawkins speaks longingly of a future religion of the pale blue dot: a religion based, not on Bronze Age myths, but on Darwinian evolution. Where has he been? They already had that; it’s called Nazism, and it didn’t work: it left a great big pile of dead bodies that needed to be cleaned up.

While it is difficult to fix the boundary between lunatic fringe and mainstream in a political movement which was all lunatic fringe, the general tenor of Nazi ideology was in favor of the old Nordic paganism and against Christianity:

“The German people is no longer blinded by illusions as at the time of the Reformation. It has come to recognize not only Judaism, but Christianity too, as foreign to its genius.Der Blitz, January 12, 1936, quoted p. 6, The War Against God, edited by Carl Carmer).

“But today a new faith is awakening: the myth of the blood…Then in place of the Old Testament stories of cattle breeders and the exploitation of prostitutes, we shall have the Nordic sagas and fairy tales, at first simply recounted, later assuming the form of symbols.” (Alfred Rosenberg, Myth of the Twentieth Century, 1932, quoted p. 6, The War Against God, edited by Carl Carmer).

“The teaching of mercy and love of one’s neighbor is foreign to the German race and the Sermon on the Mount is according to Nordic sentiment an ethic for cowards and idiots. Hans Hauptmann, Bolshevism in the Bible (Nazi textbook), 1937, quoted p. 28, The War Against God, edited by Carl Carmer).

“If Jehovah has lost all meaning for us Germans, the same must be said of Jesus Christ, his son…He certainly lacks those characteristics which he would require to be a true German. Indeed, he is as disappointing, if we read his record carefully, as is his father. E. K. Heidemann, ‘What the Christian Does not Know about Christianity,’ September, 1935, quoted p. 105, The War Against God, edited by Carl Carmer).

This new pagan nature mysticism, a hot-house plant springing up under Nazi care, lacked coherent definition, but owed its martial character to Charles Darwin’s conception of nature as a theater of struggle. The Nazis also took from Darwin and his successors their preference for racial eugenics.

SCIENTISM

As with Richard Dawkins’ longed-for ‘Pale Blue Dot’ religion, the Nazis’ paganism incorporated a generous dose of scientism: the idea that the scientific method is not only useful, but is an all-purpose guide to The Truth. Martin Bormann was faithful to Hitler till the end, sprinkling gasoline on the bodies after Hitler’s suicide. As Bormann, one of the men closest to Hitler, said publicly in 1941, ‘National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable.'” (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L. Shirer, p. 240). This true believer puts it this way:

“National Socialist and Christian concepts are incompatible. The Christian Churches build upon the ignorance of men and strive to keep large portions of the people in ignorance because only in this way can the Christian Churches maintain their power. On the other hand, National Socialism is based on scientific foundations. Christianity’s immutable principles, which were laid down almost two thousand years ago, have increasingly stiffened into life-alien dogmas. National Socialism, however, if it wants to fulfill its task further, must always guide itself according to the newest data of scientific researches.

The Christian Churches have long been aware that exact scientific knowledge poses a threat to their existence. Therefore, by means of such pseudo-sciences as theology, they take great pains to suppress or falsify scientific research. Our National Socialist world view stands on a much higher level than the concepts of Christianity, which in their essentials were taken over from Judaism. For this reason, too, we can do without Christianity.

No one would know anything about Christianity if pastors had not crammed it down his throat in his childhood. The so-called loving God by no means reveals the knowledge of His existence to young people, but amazingly enough, and despite His omnipotence, He leaves this to the efforts of a pastor. When in the future our youth no longer hear anything about this Christianity, whose doctrine is far below our own, Christianity will automatically disappear.

It is also astonishing that prior to our own era nothing was known to mankind about this Christian God and even since then the great majority of the inhabitants of our earth have known nothing about Christianity. Because of this, according to the arrogant Christian dogma, they are damned from the outset.

When we National Socialists speak of a belief in God, by God we do not understand, as do naive Christians and their clerical beneficiaries, a manlike being who is sitting around in some corner of the spheres. Rather, we must open the eyes of mankind to the fact that in addition to our unimportant Earth there exist countless other bodies in the universe, many of them surrounded, like the sun, by planets and these again by smaller bodies, the moons. The force which moves all these bodies in the universe, in accordance with natural law, is what we call the Almighty or God. The assertion that this world-force can worry about the fate of every individual, every bacillus on earth, and that it can be influenced by so-called prayer or other astonishing things, is based either on a suitable dose of naivete or on outright commercial effrontery.”

[…] Any influence that would impair or damage the leadership of the people exercised by the Fuhrer with the aid of the NSDAP has to be eliminated. To an ever increasing degree the people must be wrested from Churches and their agents, the pastors. Obviously, the Churches, from their standpoint, will and must defend themselves against this loss of power. But never again must the Church regain an influence in the leadership of the people. This must absolutely and finally be broken.

Only the Reich leadership, together with the party and the organs and associations connected with it, has a right to lead the people. Just as the harmful influence of astrologists, soothsayers, and other swindlers has been suppressed by the state, so it must be absolutely impossible for the Church to exercise its old influence.”

(Martin Bormann, Reich Leader, 1942, ‘National Socialist and Christian Concepts are Incompatible’, From Kirchliches Jahrbuch fur die evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, 1933-1944, pp. 470-472, quoted pp. 245-247, George L. Mosse, Nazi Culture: A Documentary History).

What, then, was the Nazi’s religion? Nature as the object of awe and wonder and the sole moral sanction:

“In contrast, we National Socialists call upon ourselves to live as naturally as possible — that is, in keeping with the laws of life. The more thoroughly we know and attend to the laws of nature and life, the more we adhere to them, the more do we correspond to the will of the Almighty. The deeper our insight into the will of the Almighty, the greater will be our success.” (Martin Bormann, Reich Leader, 1942, ‘National Socialist and Christian Concepts are Incompatible’, From Kirchliches Jahrbuch fur die evangelische Kirche in Deutschland, 1933-1944, pp. 470-472, quoted pp. 245-247, George L. Mosse, Nazi Culture: A Documentary History).

The “will of the Almighty,” in case you haven’t picked up on it by now, is the survival of the fittest.

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE

Other streams converged to make up this muddy flood, including atheist Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of the Superman. Atheist Friedrich Nietzsche perceived the Bible as the spark that lit a slave rebellion:

“The Jews—a people ‘born for slavery,’ as Tacitus and the whole ancient world say; ‘the chosen people among the peoples,’ as they themselves say and believe—the Jews have brought off that miraculous feat of an inversion of values. . .This inversion of values (which includes using the word ‘poor’ as synonymous with ‘holy’ and ‘friend’) constitutes the significance of the Jewish people: they mark the beginning of the slave rebellion in morals.” (Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, p. 108, Section 195, Natural History of Morals).

What is he talking about? As all atheists know, the Bible is a book championing the interests of slave-masters, not slaves. Only, not if you read it. Had the law of Moses been scrupulously followed, debt slavery should not have existed at all within nation Israel:

“If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. . . And if one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor, and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave. As a hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall serve you until the Year of Jubilee. And then he shall depart from you — he and his children with him — and shall return to his own family. He shall return to the possession of his fathers. For they are My servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. You shall not rule over him with rigor, but you shall fear your God.” (Leviticus 25:35-43).

Every 49 years Israel was to hold a year of jubilee. At this time, farmlands that had been sold were reclaimed by their original owners, debts were remitted, and anyone who had fallen into a condition of servitude was liberated. Every 49 years the deck was reshuffled and economic inequities that had built up in the meantime were drawn back to the starting point. For many years after the Civil War, African Americans celebrated the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation as ‘Jubilee Day’. We have a sort of rolling jubilee built into our own law code, in the form of bankruptcy law.]

Friedrich Nietzsche was important to the Nazis because he pioneered a frankly non-egalitarian morality. An atheist, he was in no way beholden to the sentimental concern for others’ welfare that motivated, for example, the Christian abolitionists:

Hitler took from Nietzsche the “aristocratic principle,” that the strong are the good and the weak are contemptible:

“The Jewish doctrine of Marxism repudiates the aristocratic principle of Nature and substitutes for it the eternal privilege of force and energy, numerical mass and its dead weight.” (Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Locations 1181-1182). Kindle Edition.)

Though they perhaps overstated the degree of synergy, there certainly was an element of convergence between the atheist Nietzsche’s thought and their own:

“Consciousness is only a tool, a detail in the totality of life. In opposition to the philosophy of the conscious, Nietzsche asserts the aristocracy of nature. But for thousands of years a life-weary morality has opposed the aristocracy of the strong and healthy. Like National Socialism, Nietzsche sees in the state, in society, the ‘great mandatory of life’ responsible for each life’s failure to life itself. ‘The species requires the extinction of the misfits, weaklings, and degenerates: but Christianity as a conserving force appeals especially to them.’ Here we encounter the basic contradiction: whether one proceeds from a natural life context or from an equality of individual souls before God. Ultimately the ideal of democratic equality rests upon the latter assumption. The former contains the foundations of a new policy. It takes unexcelled boldness to base a state upon the race. A new order of things is the natural consequence.” (‘Nietzche and National Socialism,’ by Alfred Baeumler, quoted in George L. Mosse, Nazi Culture, p. 100).

The Nazis conserved that element in Nietzsche’s thought that assigned a positive value to possessors of health, strength, and success, and a negative one to those afflicted by sickness, weakness, and failure. To the former belong praise and honor, to the latter contempt. Who has ever thought otherwise? Think, the Beatitudes.

What were America’s Christian abolitionists thinking? Didn’t they know the Bible endorses slavery? Today’s atheists are convinced that it does. They might be less convinced were they ever to read it. For more resources on slavery, the Bible, and Christianity, see:

Was Adolf Hitler a Christian?

Hitler’s contempt for Christians and the Bible was genuine and well-attested. Of Roman Catholic upbringing, he was, however, a theist, who seems to have had a vague religious faith, attributing his escape from Stauffenberg’s bomb to “Providence.” (Colonel Stauffenberg had placed a briefcase containing a bomb at the Fuhrer’s feet, then hastily departed. Not owing to any break in the course of nature, but simply because somebody found the clumsy briefcase to be in the way, it had been moved before exploding, and Hitler survived.) He spoke to the nation: “The bomb planted by Colonel Count Stauffenberg exploded two meters to the right of me…I myself an entirely unhurt, aside from some very minor scratches, bruises and burns. I regard this as a confirmation of the task imposed upon me by Providence…” (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer, p. 1069). He considered this “Providence” to favor the strong over the weak:

“…I may be no pious churchgoer, but deep within me I am nevertheless a devout man. That is to say, I believe that he who fights valiantly obeying the laws which a god has established and who never capitulates but instead gathers his forces time after time and always pushes forward—such a man will not be abandoned by the Lawgiver. Rather, he will ultimately receive the blessing of Providence.” (Adolf Hitler, in his June 26, 1944 speech to industrialists, quoted by Albert Speer, p. 555, Inside the Third Reich.)

Hitler viewed human history as a directed process, as the opening lines of Mein Kampf demonstrate: “It has turned out fortunate for me to-day that destiny appointed Braunau-on-the-Inn to be my birthplace.” (Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Location 252). Kindle Edition.) History as a goal-oriented process, whether the underlying paradigm be pantheism, paganism or Hegelianism:

“At that time my lot in life seemed to me a harsh one; but to-day I see in it the wise workings of Providence. The Goddess of Fate clutched me in her hands and often threatened to smash me; but the will grew stronger as the obstacles increased, and finally the will triumphed.” (Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Locations 503-505). Kindle Edition.)

Again, “He who is not capable of passionate feeling and speech was never chosen by Providence to be the herald of its will.” (Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Locations 1849-1850); “Nations that make mongrels of their people, or allow their people to be turned into mongrels, sin against the Will of Eternal Providence.” (Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Locations 5191-5192). Kindle Edition). Whether ‘Providence’ is the same thing as the oft-invoked ‘Nature,’ hypostatized as a willing, devising agent, is not expressly stated but seems like a safe bet.

In his autobiography, Hitler explains that he had not been raised an anti-semite:

“To-day it is hard and almost impossible for me to say when the word ‘Jew’ first began to raise any particular thought in my mind. I do not remember even having heard the word at home during my father’s lifetime. If this name were mentioned in a derogatory sense I think the old gentleman would just have considered those who used it in this way as being uneducated reactionaries.” (Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Locations 979-982). Kindle Edition.)

Hitler first began to hate the Jews upon his discovery of their disproportionate representation in the ranks of the Marxist leadership:

“I recalled to mind the names of the public leaders of Marxism, and then I realized that most of them belonged to the Chosen Race – the Social Democratic representatives in the Imperial Cabinet as well as the secretaries of the Trades Unions and the street agitators. Everywhere the same sinister picture presented itself. I shall never forget the row of names – Austerlitz, David, Adler, Ellenbogen, and others.” (Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Locations 1128-1132).Kindle Edition.)

Incidentally he did not have to go to Vienna to observe this phenomenon, had he emigrated to the United States, he would have seen the very same thing: “Many of these younger radicals aligned themselves with communism during the Great Depression and World War II, the heyday of both the Communist Party and Jewish women’s involvement in its work. . .CP historians estimate, moreover, that almost half of the party’s membership was Jewish in the 1930s and 1940s, and that approximately 100,000 Jews passed through the party in those decades of high member turnover.” (Jewish Women’s Archive, Article, ‘Communism in the United States.’) Hitler posits that Marxism, were it ever triumphant, would exterminate the human race. This is a gross over-statement,— Marxism triumphant would lead to the impoverishment, both physical and spiritual, of the world, but not its extinction, nor do the Marxists themselves intend that outcome,— but it leads to his conclusion that, “And so I believe to-day that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord.” (Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Locations 1188-1189). Kindle Edition.)

Believing as he does in a ‘Providence’ displaying will and intentionality, indeed in creation as the willful act of some agent undefined but presumably more than a figure of speech, Hitler cannot fairly be foisted on the atheists. An accurate description of his religious affiliation would be ‘Neo-Pagan.’ Though there is undeniably an element of play-acting and artificiality in the Nazis’ re-enactment of ancient pagan Teutonic rituals, issuing in a religion as authentic as ‘Kwanzaa,’ they did sincerely believe that way lay health, while Christianity was sickness. You cannot make these people Christians in spite of themselves. Certainly Adolf Hitler was no Christian, and his movement no celebration of Christianity. He thought ill of Christianity, preferring Islam for its warrior spirit:

“You see, it’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn’t we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?” (Adolf Hitler, quoted by Albert Speer, p. 96, Inside the Third Reich.)

The “meekness and flabbiness” to which Hitler objected in Christianity fell straight from the lips of its Founder:

But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”

(Matthew 5:39).

Our own “War President” deals with such troublesome verses mostly by ignoring their existence.

While they obviously think there is somebody out there so naive as to believe Hitler was a Christian, the New Atheists are obliged to give a nod to the mountain of evidence that he was not:

“The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity. . .

“The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity.

“When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let’s be the only people who are immunized against the disease.”

(quotations from Adolf Hitler’s Table Talk, Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, pp. 312-313).

To paper over the obvious contradiction between these Hitler quotes and the New Atheist thesis that Hitler was a Christian, Richard Dawkins floats the preposterous hypothesis that Hitler experienced a “deconversion” in 1941! The problem here is that the New Atheists have convinced themselves that no difference between religions can be anything other than trivial and inconsequential. How else could their fundamental syllogism hold valid: ‘Nineteen Muslims hijackers flew airplanes into the World Trade towers, therefore Christianity is false’? Hitler was religious: he was a neo-Pagan. Aha, they say: he was religious, therefore he was a Christian! This is a distinction they cannot draw. The only categories they can bring to bear in analyzing ‘religion’ are ‘more’ and ‘less:’ if you are more religious, then you are a jihadi. And partly also they are following the lead of Jewish writers not quite clear on the difference in meaning between ‘Christian’ and ‘Gentile.’ The New Atheists cannot make any distinction between a man who falls prostrate between the “Goddess of Destiny” and a Christian, because their enterprise stands or falls with the assertion that such differences are meaningless.

Nobody over the age of 50 is likely to fall for the notion that Hitler was a Christian, because the night torch-light processions the Nazis loved so well, which were pagan to the core, are too firmly imprinted on the memory of the older generation. When the Nazis came in, Christmas was out, the winter solstice was in: “And the racial experts of the party already spoke reverently about renewing the myth. The traditional festivals had to take a back seat. Christmas developed into a feast of the winter solstice. The Hitler Youth no longer sang Christian Christmas carols, but ‘High Night of Clear Skies.’(From ‘Herne 1933-1945:’ Die Zeit des Nationalsozialismus, edited by Hermann Meyerhoff, excerpted p. 377, George L. Mosse: Nazi Culture). But, they say, there’s a sucker born every minute.

Germany’s Lutheran Church was so hollowed out by decades of liberalism that it provided very little resistance when the Nazis pushed on it. Like a post hollowed out by termites, it collapsed with a touch. Adolf Hitler cannot join the ranks of the twentieth century’s atheist mass killers, because he was a theist entranced with the occult, not an atheist, but he was certainly no Christian either. While he does not indulge in the open and vitriolic anti-Christian rhetoric of the Nazi ideologues, like Alfred Rosenberg, this seems less a matter of conviction that a cautious political pose. The correct category is ‘Neo-Pagan:’ there are forces operative in our world of such grandeur and power as to excite wonderment, principally the endless eternal struggle of organisms to survive, and these forces, slightly personified, as ‘Nature,’ ‘Fate,’ ‘Providence,’ are properly the objects of religious devotion. The Nazi propagandists turned out by the yard breathless invocations of these forces of nature, endued with a numinous aura. Richard Dawkins is on a quest to find the very same thing: the religion of the pale blue dot. While some of his associates seem to have wanted to resurrect the old Teutonic gods, I don’t think Hitler was quite that crazy: he was just a Darwinian evolutionist who worked up his preconceptions into a the finished form of pagan nature mysticism.

ETERNAL STRUGGLE

One striking divergence between Nazi political thought and Christianity is the conviction that “struggle” is, not a necessary evil which sometimes cannot be avoided, but the entire purpose of life:

The movement ought to educate its adherents to the principle that struggle must not be considered a necessary evil but as something to be desired in itself. Therefore they must not be afraid of the hostility which their adversaries manifest towards them but they must take it as a necessary condition on which their whole right to existence is based. They must not try to avoid being hated by those who are the enemies of our people and our philosophy of life, but must welcome such hatred.”

(Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Locations 5574-5577) . Kindle Edition).

This discordant theme is struck over and over:

“They were brought back into the world of everlasting struggle, where one creature feeds on the other and where the death of the weaker implies the life of the stronger.” (Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Locations 10507-10508). Kindle Edition.)

‘Nature’ is a theater of battle, and if you have been paying attention, ‘Nature’ is God. Who is to blame for this? Charles Darwin. There is no other responsible party at whose feet to lay the moral burden of having invented this abomination. The mythology of an endless struggle for existence, whose outcome is the survival of the fittest, is his baby. Ever notice how the loudest voices of the ‘Hitler was a Christian’ chorus belong to the New Atheists, all of them enthusiastic followers of the very man responsible for this moral horror? They have, in the years since, tried to sweep Social Darwinism under the rug, by redefining the unit upon which ‘Natural Selection’ works from the races and peoples who Charles Darwin quite naturally and naively thought were at issue, to the conveniently invisible ‘Selfish Gene.’ Or they have explicitly, and irrationally, taken a stance of human exceptionalism. They have done everything in the world but take responsibility. The Nazis did not think it possible for a people to live without religion, and so they invented one. The building blocks of this new world-view were not new: they are boiler-plate Social Darwinism. Oddly enough, the very people who are trying the hardest to reposition Hitler, as a Christian, are those who share his world-view.

 

RESPONSIBLE PARTIES

 

In the immediate aftermath of the Third Reich’s collapse, the victorious allies looked to punish those responsible for the killing fields of the twentieth century. They put the highest ranking Nazis who survived on trial at Nuremburg. (Unfortunately one colossal butcher, Josef Stalin, was standing right beside them on the winning side and suffered no scrutiny.) As the years went by, the ripples spread out further, as those Germans who passively watched Hitler’s rise to power acknowledged a degree of guilt. Although Hitler never won a majority in any free election, neither did the people rise up to overthrow his tyrannical rule. Of course, the Nazis were quite efficient in stamping down any such stirrings in their infancy.

At some point, however, the ripples expanded beyond reason. Why would anyone demand that African Christians beg pardon for Hitler, when Hitler, no Christian, thought that Africans were apes and didn’t mind saying so:

“From time to time our illustrated papers publish, for the edification of the German philistine, the news that in some quarter or other of the globe, and for the first time in that locality, a Negro has become a lawyer, a teacher, a pastor, even a grand opera tenor or something else of that kind. . .It does not dawn on the murky bourgeois mind that the fact which is published for him is a sin against reason itself, that it is an act of criminal insanity to train a being who is only an anthropoid by birth until the pretense can be made that he has been turned into a lawyer; while, on the other hand, millions who belong to the most civilized races have to remain in positions which are unworthy of their cultural level.” (Hitler, Adolf (2012-07-28). Mein Kampf (Kindle Locations 6795-6802). Kindle Edition.)

What’s next: demanding that the Gypsies apologize for Hitler? There is no justice in blaming other victims, not to mention those who fought on the other side and at great personal sacrifice brought down the Third Reich, for this man’s crimes.

On the other hand, it is true that Christian theologians who might be expected to know better have endorsed the old accusation that the Jews had enriched themselves through usury. It’s truly a shame Thomas Aquinas’ response to Margaret of Flanders shows no awareness of the principle underlying the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, that is, equal protection under the laws. Whatever revenue exactions her greedy heart desired should have fallen equally upon all those long-suffering souls unfortunate enough to be her subjects:

Now, following the judgment of this sort of restraint, you can in accordance with the customs of your predecessors make an exaction upon the Jews, only if, however, nothing else stands in the way. For it seems that, as far as I was able to conjecture from those things which you subsequently asked, your doubt mostly concerned this, that the Jews of your land seem to have nothing except what they acquired through the depravity of usury. And, hence, consequently you ask whether it is not licit to require something from them, and to whom the things thus required are to be restored.

On this matter therefore, it seems the response should be this, since the Jews may not licitly keep those things which they have extorted from others through usury, the consequence is also that if you receive these things from them neither may you licitly keep them, unless perhaps they be things that the Jews had extorted from you or from your ancestors hitherto. If, however, they have things which they extorted from others, these things, once demanded from them, you should restore to those to whom the Jews were bound to restore them.”

(Thomas Aquinas, Letter to Margaret of Flanders).

The correct response cannot possibly be to pretend that Adolf Hitler, with his cruel ideology of blood, endless struggle, race, and the survival of the fittest, was a Christian. The people who still believe that ideology ought to drop it, others need not apologize for the harm done by beliefs they do not hold. Some of what’s written on this topic is incoherent. Did the Nazis do things as were also done by the mobs of the Middle Ages, for completely different reasons? So did the Hutus do things like what the Turks had done to the Armenians. Therefore the Turks are responsible for the massacre of the Tutsis? The same party is responsible for all these things: the old Adam. They have no other linkage.

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