A RESPONSE TO "WAS HITLER A CHRISTIAN?"

Recently, Christian Scholars and the clergy haved contended that the Holocaust happened because the Germans and the Nazis were "not real Christians." And even have tried to justify that, well, the "allies were christian!" and "they stopped the war" For your information, Popes after the later crusades haulted the crusaders from wasting their time, does that make the crusaders non christian? Your not making any sense. After reading this, you'd conclude that Hitler was a bigger Zealot than Pat Robertson.

"The national government ... will maintain and defend the foundations on which the power of our nation rests. It will offer strong protection to Christianity as the very basis of our collective morality." - Adolf Hiter, The Speeches of Adolph Hitler, 1922-1939, Vol. 1 (London, Oxford University Press, 1942), pg. 871-872.

"Today Christians ... stand at the head of Germany ... I pledge that I never will tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity .. We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit ... We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press - in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past ... (few) years." - Adolf Hitler. Ibid, pg. 871-872.

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By Michael Hakeem, Ph.D.

Going by what the Christian clergy teach about the virtues that the faith inspires, Nazism, Hitler's wars, and the Holocaust should not have been possible. Not only did they occur, but with insignificant and wavering exceptions, neither theologians, clergy, nor ordinary Christians as individuals, nor churches as corporate bodies, objected. In fact they overwhelmingly supported them. Look at three of the most distinguished German Protestant theologians--Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus, and Emanual Hirsch. These men were highly respected, extremely erudite, uncommonly productive, and internationally known professors, each at a different, first-class university.

Professor Robert P. Erickson did an unusually comprehensive investigation of the three theologians' writings, utterances, and activities as they pertain to Nazism and the Jewish Question. He reports his findings in a book, Theologians Under Hitler. If anyone should know whether submission or opposition is demanded of the followers of the living Christ when confronted with a regime as totally reprehensible as that of the Nazis, surely it would be these theologians.

What conclusions did Erickson reach as to the stance of the three men who would be expected to exemplify the ultimate in the embodiment of those noble values that millions of Sunday school children are taught attach to Christian folk? They are grim:

"They each supported Hitler openly, enthusiastically, and with little restraint." In fact, they deemed it the Christian thing to do. They "saw themselves and were seen by others as genuine Christians acting upon genuine Christian impulses." Furthermore, all three tended "to see God's hand in the elevation of Hitler to power." Hirsch was a member of the Nazi party and of the SS. The Nazi state, he said, should be accepted and supported by Christians as a tool of God's grace. To Althaus, Hitler's coming to power was "a gift and miracle of God." He taught that "we Christians know ourselves bound by God's will to the promotion of National Socialism."

Kittel and a group of twelve leading theologians and pastors issued a proclamation that Nazism is "a call of God," and they thanked God for Adolf Hitler. Kittel was a party member and he himself proudly claimed that he was a good Nazi. He explains that he did not join it as a result of pressure or for pragmatic reasons but because he concluded that the Nazi phenomenon was "a v÷lkisch renewal movement on a Christian, moral foundation." He accorded Christianity a place of honor in Nazi Germany precisely because of its position on the Jewish Question. He said he was speaking for other theologians too when he maintained that agreement with state and FŘhrer was obedience to the law of God.

These theologians were drenched in anti-Semitism. For example, throughout the whole of the Nazi era, Kittel's writings, Erickson has determined, "correspond to and support Nazi politics, including all of the policies on the Jewish question, with the possible exception of genocide," but one is led to wonder. He never spoke out against extermination. Indeed, he actually propounded what was purported to be a theologically solid Christian justification for the oppression of the Jews, whom he referred to as "refuse."

Kittel discusses what he deems to be the only four options for dealing with the Jews. He rejects extermination but not at all because of humanitarian motivation but because he thinks it does not work. In fact, he warns against "so-called" Christian sensitivity, saying the faith is not weak sentimentality but a strong, principled anti-Jewish force. His solution is to strip Jews of German citizenship and make them "guests." He would deprive them of civil rights, debar them from the professions, keep them from marrying Germans, prohibit them from teaching Germans, and impose on them other disadvantages and hardships.

All this still gives only a meager sample of the abominations these men spawned. Erickson concludes that they "were not isolated or eccentric individuals .╩.╩.╩. Their assumptions, their concerns, and their conclusions represent a position that must have been common to many professors, theologians and pastors in Germany. They were not extremists." The largest middle group in the churches, Erickson observes, "probably held views resembling those of Kittel, Althaus, and Hirsch."

From one fact alone, noted by Richard Grunberger, and confirmed by numerous historians, it is possible to learn that the Protestant churches remained shrouded in silence while the Nazis were massively tormenting, torturing, imprisoning, deporting, enslaving and killing the Jews: "The Confessional Church of Prussia was the only Christian body in the twelve-year history of the Third Reich to protest publicly against the unspeakable outrages inflicted upon the Jews."

The other extreme has been noted by the historians Rubenstein and Roth: "Of all the churches of Europe during the period 1933-45, none was as silent or as indifferent to the known fate of the Jews, when it did not actively support National Socialist antisemitic politics, as was the German Lutheran Church."

One hears much about the "Church Struggle" in Nazi Germany. The very term suggests, and some unscrupulous, pious pretenders seek to persuade the world, that there was a mighty battle by the churches fought against the evils of Nazism and that some courageous Protestant leaders opposed the Hitlerian plan to annihilate all the Jews. That was not the Church Struggle. It was rather, as one writer put it, "the struggle of the church against the church for the church." The apologists misleadingly portray a handful of "heroes" and "martyrs" of this struggle as fearless fighters against the regime. In fact, the Church Struggle was fought out within the churches and was not in opposition to the Nazi regime as such and certainly not to its anti-Jewish policies.

The struggle was waged between a union of a number of regional Protestant churches, known as "German Christians" (it called itself the SA of Jesus) which was unreservedly committed to the support of the Nazi government and its anti-Jewish policies, and the "Confessing Church," a body within the larger Evangelical Church (Lutheran and Reformed), which was established particularly to oppose the "Aryan Paragraph." This was a law by which the state sought to prohibit the baptism of non-Aryans (almost entirely Jews, of course) and to prohibit non-Aryans from being pastors or holding other positions in the churches. The German Christians wholeheartedly adopted the Aryan Paragraph as church law. The Confessing Church was opposed to it.

That was at the core of the Church Struggle. The Confessing Church opposed the restriction against Christianized Jews because it went against scriptural doctrine, and it objected to the state's interference with the churches' self-regulation. Courageous as they were for what they did, the three leaders of the Confessing Church--Pastor Martin Niem÷ller and theologians Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth--still merit no more than one cheer because of the narrowness of their concern and particularly, as will be seen, because of their irrepressible anti-Semitism. In founding the Confessing Church, pains were taken to emphasize that it was as politically loyal to the state as were the German Christians and that it was not criticizing the measures taken by the Nazi state which it acknowledged must "bear the sword."

The Barmen Declaration of Faith, which is a statement of principles of the Confessing Church, composed mainly by Karl Barth, says nothing about the Jewish Question. It was Jews who had become Christians that the Church was concerned about. In the words of Professor John S. Conway: "The Confessing Church did not seek to espouse the cause of the Jews as a whole, nor to criticize the secular legislation directed against the German Jews and the Nazi racial philosophy." Further confirmation is provided by the latest, most comprehensive research on the matter, Victoria Barnett's For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler, published in 1992: "For the mainstream Protestant church and even within most of the Confessing Church, the question of church advocacy on behalf of non-Christians Jews did not even arise."

So it was not Jews the Confessing Church was interested in but Christians. It insisted that baptized Jews were no longer Jews; the state and the German Christians insisted that once a Jew always a Jew, even after baptism.

The "heroes" of the Confessing Church had strong antipathy toward Jews who refused to become Christian. Pastor NiemĂller's opposition to the Aryan Paragraph reflected more a concern for the church's independence from the government than humane consideration for those affected by the policy. He said, in effect, that defending the Christian Jews was a bitter pill that people had to swallow despite what they had to put up with from the Jews. He referred to their "dark and sinister history of this people which can neither live nor die because it is under a curse which forbids it to do either." The curse was imposed because they "brought the Christ of God to the cross."

Bonhoeffer saw in the Nazi atrocities proof of God's curse on the Jews. "The church of Christ," he said, "has never lost sight of the thought that the 'chosen people,' who nailed the redeemer of the world to the cross, must bear the curse for its action through a long history of suffering." Bonhoeffer, in his lectures of 1934, recommended that the Jews should never be expelled from Europe. They should remain there so they can serve as exemplification of divine wrath.

Barth was a rarity. From the beginning, he had no illusions about the nature of National Socialism, and he saw that it was not possible to compromise with it. He was outspoken, and unlike the overwhelming majority of his theological colleagues, he condemned the persecution of the Jews. In 1935 he emigrated to Switzerland. Barth would have received more than one cheer here for his courage had he been able to disavow his Christian anti-Semitism, but he could not. In 1942 he taunted the Jews for not subscribing to his religion: "There is no doubt that Israel hears; now less than ever can it shelter behind the pretext of ignorance and inability to understand. But Israel hears--but does not believe." In 1949 he continued to insist that the fate of the Jews' under Hitler was "a result of their unfaithfulness."

The clergy will contend that the Holocaust happened because the Germans and the Nazis were "not real Christians." But renowned theologians in Germany believed that Nazism and its pogroms and programs were the will of God. The unreasoning clergy don't seem to realize what a devastating blow it is to the coherence of Christianity to admit that there is no agreement on what is and what is not Christian.

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Michael Hakeem, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin--Madison.

For Further, info on this topic and even photographs of hitler with clergymen, dont forget to check out :

The Nazi Christian Policy

Hitler The Christian God

Stop the Doubts!

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