"The teaching of the youth to appreciate the value ... of the community, derives its strongest inner power from the truths of Christianity. For this reason it will always be my special duty to safeguard the right and free development of the Christian school and the Christian fundamentals of all education."

- Adolf Hitler

Hitler Was Christian - Get Over It !

A number of statements have been made in this thread on the subject of

the churches' attitudes towards Hitler; these have led me to do a little

reading on the subject to find out what actually happened. There is a vast

literature in this field (isn't there always?), and I don't claim to have

looked at more than two or three books (principally _The German Churches

under Hitler_, by Ernst Helmreich, and _The German Church Struggle and

the Holocaust_, edited by Franklin Littell and Hubert Locke). In addition,

I've only had time to look at the Protestant churches so far. My first

conclusion is that the issue is complicated (which is also usually the

case). Thus, you can find "official" pro-Nazi pronouncements like this

one from the Reich Church Council:

. . . we admonish and ask the Evangelical congregations to support

with prayer, loyalty and obedience Volk, Reich, and Fuhrer. We

said yes to the National Socialist creation of a nation on the

basis of race, blood, and soil. We say yes to the will for

freedom, national honor, and social sacrifice, even to the

surrender of life for the community of the people. We

recognize in this the God-given reality of our German nation.

In the same year (1936), on the other hand, you can find other

statements, also claiming to speak for the church, like this one

from a letter that the Second Provisional Directory of the Confessing

Church (about which more later) wrote to Hitler:

When blood, folk, race, and honor are accorded the place of

eternal values, the Evangelical Christian, by the first commandment,

is forced to deny this evaluation. When the Aryan person is

glorified, God's word testifies to the sinfulness of all

men; when within the concepts of National Socialist Weltanschauung

an anti-Semitism is forced on Jews which demands hatred of the

Jews, there stands opposed to this the Christian command of love

your neighbor.

The main reason for this confusion is that from 1934 (at least) on, the

large Protestant churches (the Lutheran and Reformed "Land", i.e.

provincial, churches) were disrupted by a power struggle between pro- and

anti-Nazi factions (the "Church Struggle" referred to in the title above);

further confusing matters, Hitler was attempting at the same time to bring

the churches under a unified, national administration (under the control of

the pro-Nazi faction, of course). The anti-Nazi faction(s) refused to

recognize some or all of the new administrative entities as legitimate.

Since the struggle was carried out within the confines of the churches,

there is no single entity that one can look to for "the" official church

position. The council that issued the first statement above, for example,

was appointed by the government.

A brief summary of events:

1933: Hitler comes to power. Most churchmen were either silent or

welcomed the new regime, which promised both to restore order and protect

Christian values (Hitler himself, by the way, was apparantly

completely indifferent to religious matters). Nobody seems to have cared

much about the Nazis' anti-Semitism.

1933-1935: In opposition to a growing movement within the churches (the

"German Christians") that combined Christianity and Naziism in both

belief and practice, the Confessing Church was organized; the latter

rejected German Christianity as a perversion of Christianity. The only

number I've run across regarding the popularity of the German Christian

movement is from a provincial church election, in which they won 1/3 of

the vote. The estimate I've seen for the strength of the Confessing

Church is that it involved 1/3 of German pastors. The laity seem more likely

to have been involved in the former, the better-known church leaders and

theologians in the latter. The struggle in this stage was entirely

within the church, with Hitler interfering only modestly.

1935-1938: Hitler changed course and began actively attacking the

Confessing Church; 500 were sent to concentration camps in 1937, the

peak year of the attack. The estimate I've seen is that a total of 500

pastors and church leaders died in camps, out of roughly 18,000 total

(for comparison, ~1800 died in action in the war).

1938-1945: The "church struggle" fizzled. With the church organization

effectively taken over by the state, and lacking any theological

tradition of opposing the state, the vast majority of clergymen did not

make the transition to active resistence to the state. The one notable

exception was Dietrich Bonheoffer, the well-known young theologian who had

returned to Germany from abroad in order to work against the Nazis. He was

eventually executed by the Gestapo for his part in the attempt on Hitler's

life.

On only one issue, apart from church government, did the churches

directly oppose the government. Both Protestant and Roman Catholic

officials strongly protested the on-going Nazi program of "euthanasia" of

the insane, the mentally handicapped and epileptics. They received

wide-spread public support in their effort, and the government did in

fact drastically curtail the program (which had already killed ~70,000).

Two observations:

1) However feeble their opposition, the churches were the only

important institutions in German society to resist control by the

Nazi state. In particular, political parties, unions and

universities all submitted without significant protest.

2) On the other hand, to the extent that the churches did resist

Hitler, they did so largely for the defense of their theology and

independence (i.e. in behalf of the perceived interests of their

congregations), not on humanitarian grounds. In particular, early

attacks on anti-Semitism by the church were almost non-existent. Even

the Confessing Church recognized only late and gradually that they

had a responsibility to speak out on behalf of non-Christians. The

only institutional exception seems to have been the German Baptists

(a small group), who in 1934 approved the following statement at the

Fifth Congress of the Baptist World Alliance:

This Congress deplores and condemns as a violation of the

law of God, the Heavenly Father, all racial animosity, and

every form of oppression or unfair discrimination toward

the Jews, toward colored people, or toward subject races

in any part of the world.

The statement went on to urge "respect for human personality regardless of

race". It is perhaps relevant that Baptists, unlike Lutherans, have

traditionally had a strong emphasis on the separation of church and

state (which emphasis has recently begun to change in the U.S., by the

way).

Within the Confessing Church movement, again only Dietrich

Bonhoeffer seems to have recognized early the magnitude of the evil

involved. In an earlier post, someone asked about confessions of guilt

on the part of the church. There were a number of such official

statements after the war, but I will quote Bonhoeffer's words, written

in 1940:

The Church confesses . . . her timidity, her evasiveness,

her dangerous concessions. She has often been untrue to her

office of guardianship and to her office of comfort. And through

this she has often denied to the outcast and to the despised

the compassion which she owes them. She was silent when she should

have cried out because the blood of the innocent was crying

aloud to heaven. She has failed to speak the right word in

the right way and at the right time. She has not resisted to

the uttermost the apostasy of the faith, and she has brought

upon herself the guilt of the godlessness of the masses.

The Church confesses that she has taken in vain the name of

Jesus Christ, for she has been ashamed of this name before the

world and she has not striven forcefully enough against the misuse

of this name for an evil purpose. She has stood by while

violence and wrong were being committed under cover of this

name. . . .

The Church confesses that she has witnessed the lawless

application of brutal force, the physical and spiritual

suffering of countless innocent people, oppression, hatred and

murder, and that she has not raised her voice on behalf of the

victims and has not found ways to hasten to their aid. She

is guilty of the deaths of the weakest and most defenceless

brothers of Jesus Christ.

"Religious writers often claim that the cause of Nazism is the secularism

or the scientific spirit of the modern world. This evades the facts that

the Germans at the time, especially in Prussia, were one of the most religious

peoples in Western Europe; that the Weimar Republic was a hotbed of mystic

cults, of which Nazism was one; and that Germany's largest and most devout

religious group, the Lutherans, counted themselves among Hitler's staunchest

followers."

"Given their commitment to the method of faith (and their tendency to imitate

the Catholic Church), it is not astonishing that some Nazis went all the way

in this issue. A tendency never given the status of official ideology yet

fairly prominent in the movement was voiced in a demand made by several of its

leading figures (though Hitler himself regarded it as impractical until the

Nazis won the war): the demand that Nazism itself be turned into a full-fledged

religion. These voices urged a state religion supplanting the older creeds,

with its own symbols, its own rituals, and its own zealots avid to convert

christians into fanatic Hitler-believers, as, once, ancient missionaries had

converted pagans into fanatic christians. "Adolf Hitler," exclaimed one such

believer (the Nazi Minister for Church Affairs), "is the true Holy Ghost!"

(15)

"The Nazis did not survive long enough to complete this development. To the

end, they could not decide whether to retain christianity, construing Nazism

merely as its latest, truest version ("positive christianity," this wing often

called it)--or to concoct a distinctively Nazi creed out of a hodgepodge of

elements drawn from pagan Teutonic mythology and romanticist metaphysics. In

either case, however, whether advanced as a form of or a successor to christ-

ianity, what Nazism did unfailingly demand of its followers was the essence of

the religious mentality: an attitude of awed, submissive, faithful adoration.

"We believe on this earth SOLEY (emphasis by writer) in Adolf Hitler...,"

intoned Dr. Robert Ley to a reverent audience of 15,000 Hitler Youths. "We

believe that God has sent us Adolf Hitler." (16)

Excerpts from "The Ominous Parallels" by Leonard Peikoff.

(15) Viereck, op. cit., p.289; quoting from Eugene Lyons, "Dictators into

Gods" (American Mercury, March 1939).

(16) Ibid.; quoting from the New York Times, February 11, 1937.

But of course, no one was killed in the name of god. (Eyes closed tight and

exclaiming, "Did not!")

The connection between the Catholic church an Facism lies not in the actual

teachings of Catholicism but in the methodology of teaching it. Hitler admired

the Church for this reason; its knowledge of human nature, it hierarchal

organization, its discipline, its uncommonly clever tactics.

Hitler is quoted as saying, "I have followed the Church in giving our party

program the character of unalterable finality, like the Creed. The Church has

never allowed the Creed to be interfered with. It is fifteen hundred years

since it was formulated, but every suggestion for its ammendment, every

logical criticsm or attack on it, has been rejected. The Church has realized

that anything and everything can be built upon a document of that sort, no

matter how contradictory, or irreconcilable with it. The faithful will

swallow it whole, so long as logical reasoning is never allowed to be

brought to bear on it."

Most of the mainstream denominations in Germany expressed support

for Hitler and for his regime at some time or other.

The Catholic Bishops conference in 1933 "expressed joy that through

the new state Christianity had been promoted, morality improved, and

and the struggle against Bolshevism and godlessness condicted with

energy and success"

In the same year, 1933 "The Catholic Students Union hails the

National Socialist revolution as the greatest spiritual breakthrough

of our time".

In 1934, responding to an enquiry from the Ministry for Church

affairs, the Catholic Seamen's Mission listed the books and papers

they provided to seamen. The list included Hitler's own anti-

semitic Mein Kampf, and the newspaper Volkischer Beobachter.

In 1936, the Bishops of Hannover, Wurtemburg and Bavaria signed

a statement that said in part "We, together with the Reich Church

Committee, stand behind the Fuhrer in the life-struggle of the

German people against Bolshevism. In this struggle, the Church

mobilizes the forces of christian belief against unbelief."

In 1939, The Bishop of Hannover, Marahans, was one of the signers

of a statement that explained the need for the foundation of an

institute to "dejudaize" the Church. "The foundation of this

institute is based on the conviction that Jewish influence in

all areas of German life, including therefore that of the Church

and religon, must be brought to light and eliminated."

At the outbreak of war, the Protestant bishops signed a statement

which read in part "So at this hour too we join with our nation

in intercession for the Fuhrer and the Reich...."

In November 1941, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Rottenburg

wrote "The fact that so many believing soldiers are among the

lists of the fallen justifies the conclusion that it is above all

those soldiers with true Christian belief who have helped to win

the great victories."

It is also true that many individual Christians and Priests

resisted Hitler. However, the Churches themselves gave their

followers a highly ambiguous and collaborationist message.

Not only was Hitler a Catholic, he was an altar boy, wanted

to be a priest, but was refused. And although he was into paganism, you'll

note from the following, that he used 'Christian' type speeches to sway the

populas...

.

"My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior

as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness,

surrounded only 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 against

the Jewish poison.

"Today, 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. And when I look

on my people I see them work and work and toil and labor, and at

the end of the week they have only for their wages wretchedness

and misery.

"When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in

their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I

would be no Christian, but a very devil, if I felt no pity for

them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn

against those by whom today this poor people are plundered and

exploited."

.

Adolph Hitler, in a speech delivered April 12, 1922

Published in "My New Order"

Quoted in "Freethought Today" April 1990

Most of the mainstream Christian denominations in Germany

expressed support for Hitler and for his regime at some time

or other.

The Catholic Bishops conference in 1933 "expressed joy that through

the new state Christianity had been promoted, morality improved, and

and the struggle against Bolshevism and godlessness condicted with

energy and success"

In the same year, 1933 "The Catholic Students Union hails the

National Socialist revolution as the greatest spiritual breakthrough

of our time".

In 1934, responding to an enquiry from the Ministry for Church

affairs, the Catholic Seamen's Mission listed the books and papers

they provided to seamen. The list included Hitler's own anti-

semitic Mein Kampf, and the newspaper Volkischer Beobachter.

In 1936, the Bishops of Hannover, Wurtemburg and Bavaria signed

a statement that said in part "We, together with the Reich Church

Committee, stand behind the Fuhrer in the life-struggle of the

German people against Bolshevism. In this struggle, the Church

mobilizes the forces of Christian belief against unbelief."

In 1939, The Bishop of Hannover, Marahans, was one of the signers

of a statement that explained the need for the foundation of an

institute to "dejudaize" the Church. "The foundation of this

institute is based on the conviction that Jewish influence in

all areas of German life, including therefore that of the Church

and religon, must be brought to light and eliminated."

At the outbreak of war, the Protestant bishops signed a statement

which read in part "So at this hour too we join with our nation

in intercession for the Fuhrer and the Reich...."

In November 1941, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Rottenburg

wrote "The fact that so many believing soldiers are among the

lists of the fallen justifies the conclusion that it is above all

those soldiers with true Christian belief who have helped to win

the great victories."

It is also true that many individual Christians and Priests

resisted Hitler. However, the Churches themselves gave their

followers a highly ambiguous and collaborationist message.

Just the facts.

"Religious writers often claim that the cause of Nazism is the

secularism or the scientific spirit of the modern world. This

evades the facts that the Germans at the time, especially in

Prussia, were one of the most religious peoples in Western Europe;

that the Weimar Republic was a hotbed of mystic cults, of which

Nazism was one; and that Germany's largest and most devout religious

group, the Lutherans, counted themselves among Hitler's staunchest

followers."

"Given their commitment to the method of faith (and their tendency

to imitate the Catholic Church), it is not astonishing that some

Nazis went all the way in this issue. A tendency never given the

status of official ideology yet fairly prominent in the movement

was voiced in a demand made by several of its leading figures

(though Hitler himself regarded it as impractical until the Nazis

won the war): the demand that Nazism itself be turned into a full-

fledge religion. These voices urged a state religion supplanting

the older creeds, with its own symbols, its own rituals, and its

own zealots avid to convert christians into fanatic Hitler-believers,

as, once, ancient missionaries had converted Pagans into fanatic

christians. "Adolf Hitler," exclaimed one such believer (the Nazi

Minister for Church Affairs), "is the true Holy Ghost!" (15)

"The Nazis did not survive long enough to complete this development.

To the end, they could not decide whether to retain christianity,

construing Nazism merely as its latest, truest version ("positive

christianity," this wing often called it)--or to concoct a

distinctively Nazi creed out of a hodgepodge of elements drawn from

Pagan Teutonic mythology and romanticist metaphysics. In either case,

however, whether advanced as a form of or a successor to christianity,

what Nazism did unfailingly demand of its followers was the essence of

the religious mentality: an attitude of awed, submissive, faithful

adoration. "We believe on this earth SOLEY (emphasis by writer) in

Adolf Hitler...," intoned Dr. Robert Ley to a reverent audience of

15,000 Hitler Youths. "We believe that God has sent us Adolf

Hitler." (16)

Excerpts from "The Ominous Parallels" by Leonard Peikoff.

(15) Viereck, op. cit., p.289; quoting from Eugene Lyons, "Dictators

into Gods" (American Mercury, March 1939).

16) Ibid.; quoting from the New York Times, February 11, 1937.

As we see, not only was Hitler a True Christian -- just like Jim Jones,

Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart, David Duke, et al. -- Hitler enjoyed the

official sanction of the majority of the Christanic death cult at the

time.

If you would admit that Christianity is a death cult specifically

designed to allow tyrants to exploit the ignorant and the superstitious,

Hitler and his like couldn't use the death cult as justification for

their deeds. Instead you, as do all you death cultists, _must_like_ what

your death cult stands for. You _must_like_ the rape, torture, and

murder of little children; you _must_like_ the thought of six million

innocent Jews being gased (tell me if I'm wrong.)

There is no _valid_ reason to stick with the death cult than if you

agree with what it stands for and what it has done, Mike. No good

reason whatsoever. One doesn't demand thay're not a racist bigot and

then join the KKK to prove it, Mike.

Hitler was a True Christian by every standard of the term -- right up

until the death cultists learned that he was going to loose his "good

works" campaign. Then death cultists tried (and continue to try) to

distance themselves from him -- just as they have done for all of the

Christian horses they've backed which lost. 'Just as you're trying

to do.

The better educated aren't going to allow people to forget that Hitler

was one of _your_ well and trusted cult members. We're not going to let

it be forgoten so that we -- all of us; death cultist and better

educated together -- don't have to relive it.

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