Hitler and Christianity

One of the major issues clouding Christianity in the 20th century has been the question of how far Christianity was responsible for the horror of the Holocaust. Historians tracing the origins of the genocidal anti-Semitism of the Third Reich have suggested that it was at least partly based on Christian anti-Semitism which took on a distinctly German character through the influence of Lutheranism and the rise of viciously anti-Semitic Christian socialist parties like those of Adolf Stoecker in Austria and Karl von Luegerer in Vienna in the 19th century fin de siecle. Christian theologians like the Protestant Franklin H. Littell and the French Roman Catholic scholar have discussed the origins of the Holocaust in the traditional contempt for Judaism, which they felt permeated Christian theology. 1 The racial nationalism which expressed itself in the political sphere in the Nazi party had its religious counterpart in the German Christians, who sought to purge Christianity of its Jewish elements and create a militaristic, ultra-patriotic church in which military drills, patriotic marches and Nazi flags were added to the Christian liturgy. 2 There were also, odiously, elements within the Roman Catholic church which were extremely favourable to the Nazi regime. There was a Nazi Roman Catholic periodical, Reich and Kirche, dedicated to building the Third Reich through Nazism and Roman Catholicism, while the Catholic historian Joseph Lortz in his The Catholic Entrée to National Socialism, saw Nazism and the Third Reich as saving Germany and Europe from the threat of Communism. Karl Adam, a theologian, wrote in its pages essays like ‘The German Volkstum and Catholic Christianity’ celebrating Nazi racism as a recovery of German national consciousness, viewed as ‘German blood and Christianity’. 3 A Christian bishop presided over Hermann Goring’s marriage to his second wife, Emmy Sonnemann. The Lutheran bishop Ludwig Muller and the Benedictine Abbot Alban Schachleiter both met Hitler to give their support to his regime.4 Christian ministers served in and gave communion to the garrisons of the concentration camps.

This complicity of certain parts of the Christian churches in the horrors of the Nazi regime has rightly troubled the post-War Christian conscience, and there have been considerable attempts by Christian theologians to address this issue and promote reconciliation between Christians and Jews. However, to many people still Christianity remains ultimately responsible for Nazism and the Holocaust. There are a number of atheist websites that explicitly claim that the Nazis were Christians. Last week this claim was angrily advanced yet again after Dinesh D’Souza presented a piece rebutting the supposed Christian basis of the Third Reich. Thus, it’s time to re-examine these claims that the Nazis were Christians, and see if there is any truth to them. It’s a vast subject, but some insight into the views the Nazis had of religion, and their intentions for it, can be gained by Hitler’s own pronouncements as stated in Mein Kampf and his private comments recorded by Martin Bormann in his Table Talk.

Luther and Anti-Semitism

Firstly, while Protestants have found Luther’s theology inspiring and liberating, it is true that his character was marred by antisemitism. After hoping that his theology would appeal to Jews, he was severely disappointed when they did not convert and became vehemently hostile to them in the 1540s. His 1543 tract On the Jews and Their Lies, recommended a savage campaign of persecution, demanding the banning of rabbinic teaching, Jewish prayer books, and razing their homes, synagogues and schools. If the Jews still refused to convert, then he recommended that they should be expelled from Germany, even going so far as to say that Christians would be ‘at fault for not slaying them’. However, the German authorities showed absolutely no interest in following his recommendations, and so Luther contented himself by stating that the solution to the problem of the Jews would have to wait till the return of the Christ at the end of time. 5 However, antisemitism certainly is not part of Lutheran theology and over the centuries there have been countless Protestants who have looked upon Luther as a hero, while utterly rejecting his antisemitism.

Luther’s influence on Hitler seems to have been minimal. There is only one reference to him in Mein Kampf, where Hitler simply states that he was a great reformer alongside Frederick the Great and Richard Wagner. 6 Rather than his antisemitism, what Hitler admired in Luther was his defiance of papal authority and the influence of Luther’s translation of the Bible in creating a unified, modern standard German.

‘But Luther had the merit of rising against the Pope and the organisation of the Church. It was the first of the great revolutions. And thanks to his translation of the Bible, Luther replaced our dialects by the great German language!’ 7

Thus Luther appears to have had little influence on Hitler, except as a great figure of general German history, and the Fuehrer’s admiration of him was based on Luther’s break with Roman Catholicism, rather than his antisemitism. Although the Jews suffered discrimination in Germany in the centuries after Luther, this was part of the general segregation and degradation of the Jews in Christian Europe at the time. With the impact of the Enlightenment in the 18th century, conditions for the Jews began to improve in Germany until German Jews were confident they enjoyed far more equality and respect than anywhere else in Europe. There is thus little direct continuity between Luther’s attitude to the Jews and that of Hitler and the Nazis.

19th Century Tolerance and Integration

However, despite the segregation of the Jewish population in ghettos and their status as second-class citizens, humiliated and degraded by a plethora of discriminatory laws in Germany as elsewhere in Christian Europe, by the 19th century the Haskalah – the Jewish Enlightenment – had had profound effects in liberating Jews and integrating them into German life. Between 1871 and 1878 36 Jews were elected to the Reichstag. 8 Many Jewish intellectuals felt that in Wilhelmine Germany the Jewish people at last enjoyed the freedom and dignity that had been denied them for centuries. The historian Heinrich Graetz, in his 1871 History of the Jews, stated that

‘Happier than any of my predecessors, I may conclude my history in the joyous feeling that in the civilized world the Jewish tribe has found at last not only justice and freedom but also recognition. It now finally has unlimited freedom to develop its talents, not due to [Gentile] mercy but as a right acquired through thousandfold suffering.’ 9 English observers in Berlin during the Franco-Prussian War remarked on the considerable integration between middle class German Jews and Christians, remarking that German Christians were actually far more tolerant than their English co-religionists. 10 Indeed, some German Jews believed that even the religious differences between Christians and Jews would eventually disappear. The radical Jewish theologian, Hermann Cohen, in his The Religion of Reason Out of Judaism expressed his belief that eventually Christianity and Judaism would merge. This connubium between the two faiths would be easier in Germany than anywhere else in Germany as it was the home of the great Enlightenment scholar, Immanuel Kant. 11 While Cohen’s views were extreme, and were hardly welcome to either religions, nevertheless ritual differences between German Jews and Christians were increasingly minimised. For example, Rabbi Wilhelm Klemperer’s small boys duly said as their bedtime prayer

‘I trust in God and His embrace

In His mercy and good grace’.

Protestant children in their turn prayed

‘I trust in God and His embrace

In Christ’s blood and His good grace’. 12

In the optimistic period of Jewish emancipation and integration with Christian Germans before the First World War, some Jews, like the Zionist Richard Lichtheim later recalled, never personally encountered any anti-Semitism. Nazism and its precursors were essentially a reaction against this tolerance and mutual respect.

Adolf Stoecker, the Christian Socialists and Hitler

A specifically Christian political anti-Semitism, based on religion, arose as a reaction to this progress with the establishment in 1879 of Adolf Stoecker’s Christian Socialist Party. Stocker was a prominent Berlin Protestant clergyman and the official German imperial court chaplain. Stoecker considered that Christians in Germany were on the defensive, and he appealed to Christian Germans who increasingly felt threatened or marginalized by the sudden expansion and efflorescence in academia, commerce and the professions of Jewish talent. However, the success of Stoecker’s party was short-lived. It collapsed amid a series of corruption and forgery scandals, and its alliance with the German Conservatism broke up. Stoecker himself was denounced by the Emperor as ‘a political pastor’ and demoted. 13

In Austria, Hitler was impressed by two politicians, the Pan-German George von Schoenerer Dr. Karl Lueger of the Christian Socialist Party. What impressed Hitler, however, was not their religious, but their political stance. While he declared them to tower ‘far above the average political “parliament” personalities, he was harshly critical of the religious basis of their anti-Semitism. 14 He admired the Christian Socialist Party for winning over large sections of the working and artisan classes, and for avoiding conflict with the Church, a tactic which allowed to gain considerable support from within the Church, but considered that it failed through relying on religion, rather than race, as the basis for its anti-Semitism.

‘The fact that this party failed in its dream of saving Austria was due to its methods, which were mistaken in two respects, and to the obscurity of its aims.

Instead of being founded on a racial basis, its anti-Semitism depended on the religious conception. The reason why this error crept in was the same as that which cause the second mistake.

Its founder thought that if the Christian Socialist Party was tos ave Austira, it ought not to take its stand not on the racial principle, since a general dissolution of the state would shortly follow in any case. The leaders of the Party considered that the situation in Vienna demanded all possible avoidance of tendencies towards disruption, and support of all points of view conducing to unity.

Vienna was at that time so strongly impregnated with Czech elements that nothing but extreme tolerance in regard to all racial problems could keep that Party from being anti-German from the start. If Austria was to be saved, that Party cold not be dispensed with. Thus they made special efforts towin the very large number of small Czech traders in Vienna by opposing the Manchester Liberal school of thought, and they hoped thereby to have discovered a war-cry for the fight against Judaism, based on religion, which would put all differences of race in the old Austria in the shade.

It is obvious that a fight on such a basis would worry the Jews to a very limited degree. If the worst came to the worst, a drop of Holy water would always get them out of their troubles and preserve their Judaism and the same time.

This doing things by halves destroyed the value of the anti-Semitic position of the Christian Socialist Party.

It was sham anti-Semitism and was almost worse than none at all, for people were lulled into security and though they had the enemy by the ears, whereas they were really led by the nose themselves.’ 15

Although Hitler was alarmed by the decline in church membership, considering that the moral effects of growing estrangement from faith to be ‘far from good’, he did had a cynically utilitarian attitude to religion. 16 He considered that the attacks on church dogma were ‘very like the struggle against the general principles of the stage, and just as the latter would end in complete State anarchy, the former would end in hopeless religious nihilism’. 17 While decrying the fall in standards of morality and behaviour caused by the decline in religious observance, caused, he declared, by the misuse of Christianity by the so-called Christian Party, and the shameless identification of the Roman Catholic faith with a political party, he nevertheless declared saw the value of religion only in its utility to the state as the guardian of behaviour and morals.

‘A politician, however, must estimate the value of a religion, not so much in connection with the faults inherent in it, but in relation to the advantages of a substitute which may be manifestly better. But until some such substitute appears, only fools and criminals will destroy what is there on the spot.’ 18

Hitler’s Hostility to Christianity

Hitler was never an atheist. He made frequent references to Providence, and considered that he was divinely guided. Nevertheless, his approach to religion was predominantly rationalistic. Despite his speeches to the churches, privately, Hitler was extremely hostile to Christianity. The German journalist Joachim C. Fest, in his biography of Hitler, traces this partly to the ‘Los von Rom’ – ‘Away from Rome’ movement in Austria when Hitler was a schoolboy. Austrian Germans felt increasingly alienated as the different, formerly subordinate nationalities in the Empire increasingly gained autonomy and influence. Hitler’s remarks about the influence of the Czechs was one aspect of this. He was bitterly critical in Mein Kampf of the way the promotion of Czech incumbents into German-speaking parishes was being used to transform Austria into a ‘Slav country’, and admired von Schoenerer for starting the Los von Rom movement and the ‘unhappy religious division in Germany’, while considering that the reasoning behind it was incorrect. 19 Elsewhere he states his intense hatred for the mixture of races in Vienna, and its ‘motley collection’ of Czechs, Poles, Hungarians, Ruthenians, Servbs, Croats, and Jews. 20 In the sequels to Mein Kampf written during and at the very end of the War, his Mein Zweites BuchMy Second Book – and Testament, he stated that if he won the War, he would have the Pope publicly hanged in St. Peter’s Square.

In his Table Talk, recorded by Martin Bormann, he makes a number of comments harshly critical of Christianity. His own religion beliefs appear to have been a kind of rationalistic pantheism, similar to that of Spinoza and some of the pronouncements of Richard Dawkins and Carl Saga. Dawkins, on stage promoting his book, Unweaving the Rainbow in Cheltenham in 1997, told a member of the audience during the question and answer session at the end of his own presentation, that ‘God’ was merely the term scientists used for the interconnectedness of scientific laws, a position almost identical with Hitler’s, and probably stemming from both Hitler and Dawkins reading the same rationalistic, sceptical literature.

‘Man has discovered in nature the wonderful notion of that all-mighty being whose law he worships.

Fundamentally in everyone there is the feeling for this all-mighty, which we call God (that is to say, the dominion of natural laws throughout the whole universe). The priests, who have always succeeded in exploiting this feeling, threaten punishments for the man who refuses to accept the creed they impose.’ 21

Despite his bitter hostility to Communism, he felt that the courageous deaths of atheist Soviet soldiers proved one did not need the comforts of religion.

‘It’s said that every man needs a refuge where he can find it consolation and help in unhappiness. I don’t believe it! If humanity follows that path, it’s solely a matter of tradition and habit. That’s a lesson by the way, that can be drawn from the Bolshevik front. The Russians have no fear of God, and that doesn’t prevent them from being able to face death.’ 22

He had a particular hatred of Christianity, stating

‘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… In the ancient world, the relations between men and gods were founded on an instinctive respect. It was a world enlightened by the idea of tolerance. Christianity was the first creed in the world to exterminate its adversaries in the name of love. Its key-note is intolerance.

Without Christianity, we should not have had Islam. The Roman Empire, under Germanic influence, would have developed in the direction of world-domination, and humanity would not have extinguished fifteen centuries of civilisation at a single stroke.

‘Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things.’ 23

‘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.

Christianity is a prototype of Bolshevism: the mobilisation by the Jew of the masses of slaves with the object of undermining society. Thus one understands that the healthy elements of the Roman world were proof against this doctrine.

Yet Rome today allows itself to reproach Bolshevism with having destroyed the Christian churches! As if Christianity hadn’t behaved in the same way towards the pagan temples. 24

He had a bitter hatred and suspicion of Christian clergy, suspecting them of treason against the state, hypocrisy and lies, while Christianity itself was the fairy tale of Jews and epileptics.

‘The great ambition of the parson clique is, and always has been, to undermine the power of the State. And for a long as we suffer these parsons in our midst, it serves us right! Every country gets the parson it deserves, at the moment I can do nothing about it, and so I continue to keep them happy. But one of these days I shall bring this conflict, as old as German history itself, to an abrupt and decisive conclusion. I’ll make these damned parsons feel the power of the State in a way they would never have dreamed possible! For the moment I am just keeping my eye on them; if I ever have the slightest suspicion that they are getting dangerous, I will shoot the lot of them. This filthy reptile raises its head wherever there is a sign of weakness in the state, and therefore it must be stamped on whenever it does so. We have no sort of use for a fairy story invented by the Jews. The fate of few filthy, lousy Jews and epileptics is not worth bothering about… the Catholic Church has but one desire, and that is to see us destroyed… Dripping hypocrisy with the swift and poisoned arrow behind it!’ 25

Hitler made very clear his contempt for Christian conscientious objectors, and stated his satisfaction at suppressing organised Christian pacifism with mass executions and shootings.

‘The only type of treason which one might possibly regard as springing from certain moral inhibitions is a refusal to join the armed forces on grounds of religious conviction. But we should not fail to point out to these elements which refuse to fight on religious ground that they obviously still want to eat the things others are fightin to get for them, that this was quite contrary to the spirit of a higher justice, and that we must therefore leave them to starve.

I regard it as an act of exceptional clemency that I did not, in fact, carry out this threat, but contented myself with shooting one hundred and thirty of these self-styled Bible Students.’ 26

Commenting on the perceived tendency of the Finns to mental illness, Hitler considered it was due to them reading the Bible, which he denounced as ‘Jewish mumbo-jumbo’, which should never have been translated into German. He declared himself ‘flabbergasted’ that German human beings should be brought into religious mania by such ‘Jewish filth and priestly twaddle’, so that they were little different from the dervishes of the Turks and Black Africans. The teachings of Confucius, Buddha and Mohammed offered a far-better base for the religiously minded. His solution for the problem was to promote the rationalism of science, particularly astronomy.

‘The essential conclusion to which these considerations leads me is that we must do everything humanly possible to protect for all time any further sections of the German people from the danger of mental deformity, regardless of whether it be religious mania or any other type of cerebral derangement. For this reason I have directed that every town of any importance shall have an observatory, for astronomy has been shown by experience to be one of the best means at man’s disposal for increasing his knowledge of the universe, and thus saving him from any tendency towards mental aberration.’ 27

Judaism and Christianity were both severely criticised by the Fuehrer for being the enemies of beauty, in art and music, and rejoiced that

‘since my fourteenth year I have felt liberated from the superstition that the priests used to teach. Apart from a few Holy Joes, I can say that none of my comrades went on believing in the miracle of the eucharist.

The only difference between then and now is that in those days I was convinced one must blow up the whole show with dynamite.’ 28

In reminiscing about his schooldays, and his contempt for the clergy who taught him, like Father Schwarz, he stated that ‘I had read a lot of works by free thinkers, and he knew it. When I bearded him with my ill-digested scientific knowledge, I drove him nearly out of his wits.’ 29

Although he stated that he did not want atheist education in schools, as in the USSR, several times the Nazis mooted replacing religious education in schools with the teaching of philosophy, or even typing. 30 He admired the Roman Emperor, Julian the Apostate, who led a pagan revival and vicious persecution of Christianity in ancient Rome.

‘When one thinks of the opinions held concerning Christianity by our best minds a hundred, two hundred years ago, one is ashamed to realise how little we have since evolved. I didn’t know that Julian the Apostate had passed judgement with such clear-sightedness on Christianity and Christians. You should read what he says on the subject.’ 31

Hitler also intended that after the war recruiting should be made much more difficult for the Church, and rejoiced that the Nazis closure of the monasteries had released men useful to the community and able to work into secular society. 32 Hitler was certainly not an atheist – he described atheism as ‘a return to the state of the animal’ – but believed very strongly that Christianity should be left to die a natural death, worn away by science and particularly evolutionary notions of abiogenesis.

‘The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death. A slow death has something comforting about it. The dogma of Christianity gets worn away before the advances of science. Religion will have to make more and more concessions. Gradually the myths crumble. All that’s left is to prove that in nature there is no frontier between the organic and the inorganic. When understand of the universe has become widespread, when the majority of men know that stars are not sources of light, but worlds, perhaps in habited worlds like ours, then the Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.’ 33 With his coarse, brutal conception of Natural Selection, Hitler saw Christianity and traditional Christianity’s promotion of celibacy and opposition to eugenics as fundamentally unnatural.

‘By means of the struggle, the elites are continually renewed.

The law of selection justifies this incessant struggle, by allowing the survival of the fittest.

Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure.’34

He did not want the belief in God to disappear with Christianity, as this would deprive humanity of the wonderful power of incarnating the divine within themselves, and stated that if the Nazis tried to abolish religion by force, people would beseech them for a new form of worship, which, as in his comments in Mein Kampf, was a situation he considered undesirable. 35

Nevertheless, he considered that Christianity was fundamentally incompatible with Nazism, and looked forward to its eventual extinction.

‘Our epoch will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity. It will last another hundred years, two hundred years perhaps. My regret will have been that I couldn’t, like whoever the prophet was, behold the Promised Land from afar.’36

As for the synthesis between Nazism and Christianity proposed by Kerrl, the Minister for Church Affairs, Hitler considered this to be impossible as Nazism and Christianity, the source of Bolshevism, were fundamentally incompatible. 37 His believed that when National Socialism had been in power for a sufficiently long time, it would be impossible to conceive of any different way of life, and Nazism and religion would no longer be able to exist together. 38 His solution to the problem of religion, however, was to let the religions wither away or devour each other, rather than outright persecution. 39

Other leading Nazis were equally hostile to Christianity, such as Alfred Rosenberg, whose Myth of the 20th Century was viciously antichristian and such poor literature that it was disowned by the Nazis themselves, and Heinrich Himmler, who was fascinated by Germanic Neo-Paganism and organised pagan and occult rites for the SS.

Against these very clear statements of hostility to Christianity by Hitler himself, it’s been argued that Hitler must have been a Christian because of the glowing statements about Christianity he made in his speeches, and the fact that in his Eagle’s Nest home at Berchtesgaden he had a large, ornate cross. Neither of these actually refutes Hitler’s essential antichristian views.

The Nazis were propagandists par excellence, and Hitler adjusted his rhetoric according to his audience. When speaking in a working class district with a large socialist presence, Hitler generally stressed the socialistic elements in Nazism, presenting the Party as protectors of the workers against exploitation and promising to overthrow capitalist exploiters, who were, of course, the Jews, rather than German businessmen. When addressing a lower middle class audience of small shopkeepers, civil servants and tradesmen, he presented the Nazis as supporters of the values of the Mittelstand, and promised to protect them against the dangers of Marxist organised labour on the one hand, and big business on the other. For potential voters in depressed rural constituencies, like Schleswig-Holstein, however, Hitler depicted the Nazi party as the true upholders of the honest German peasantry and their values. Thus, even while secretly planning Christianity’s demise, Hitler would naturally present himself as a devout Christian in order to placate religious opinion and gain support from German Christians who would otherwise vote against him. As for the cross at Berchtesgaden, despite his hatred of Christianity, Hitler did like some church art, stating that when he went into a church, it wasn’t to overturn idols, but to admire the art. This had started when he was schoolboy, and used to visit the Cathedral to admire the art there. 40 It thus wouldn’t be surprising that he would have a cross at Berchtesgaden, especially as there is a tradition in Germany of wayside crosses placed in the countryside and mountains. The Nazis were keen supporters of German folk art with a passion for the medieval. An example of this is the notorious picture of Hitler as a medieval knight, mounted on horseback, in armour, bearing the Swastika flag. It’s not remotely impossible that Hitler liked the cross as the representative of a German folk tradition without having any sympathy whatsoever for the religion it symbolised. Furthermore, Nazi propaganda used home movies taken of Hitler, Eva Braun, their dog, Blondi, and other high ranking Nazis who visited them, to present a picture of the Fuehrer as a wholesome German family man. Having a cross at their mountain retreat would undoubtedly be a suitable image to present to the German public of Hitler as a God-fearing German, despite Hitler’s own vicious hatred of Christianity.

Thus, although it’s possible to say much more about Hitler’s attitude to Christianity and his oppression of the churches in the Third Reich, it should be clear from this that he and the other senior Nazis were certainly no friends of Christianity. As for the collaboration of certain sections of the Christian churches, this odious situation can be explained through the human fear of persecution. The Roman Catholic Centre Party, for example, voted for the Enabling Act granting Hitler power because they were afraid that if they did not, an attack on their party and its members would follow. 41 While the Church is established by Christ and His saints, its members are human, and so vilely sections of the church can be corrupted to the point where they share the gaols of evil regimes like the Nazis, or delude themselves that co-operation with them is possible in order to ward off some greater evil, like atheist Communism, or even genuinely considered that they were doing God’s work by destroying the Jews.

Nevertheless, Hitler himself was firmly antichristian and looked forward to destroying Christianity as well as Judaism and Communism.

Notes

  1. David Chidester, Christianity – A Global History (Harmondsworth, Penguin Books 2001), pp. 546-548.
  2. Chidester, Christianity, p. 537.
  3. Chidester, Christianity, p. 538.
  4. ‘Hermann Goring’ in James Taylor and Warren Shaw, A Dictionary of the Third Reich (London, Grafton Books 1988), p. 150; Chidester, Christianity, p. 324.
  5. Chidester, Christianity, p. 533.
  6. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Ralph manheim trans. (London, Pimlico 1992), p. 194.
  7. Hitler’s Table Talk: Hitler’s Conversations recorded by Martin Bormann (Oxford, OUP 1953), p. 9.
  8. Amos Elon, The Pity of It All: A Portrait of Jews in Germany 1743-1933 (London, Allen Lane 2002), p. 206.
  9. Elon, Pity of it All, p. 205.
  10. Elon, Pity of it All, p. 209.
  11. Elon, Pity of it All, p. 208.
  12. Elon, Pity of it All, p. 227.
  13. Elon, Pity of it All, p. 221.
  14. Adolf Hitler, My Struggle (London, Paternoster Library 1935), p. 50.
  15. Hitler, My Struggle, pp. 57-8.
  16. Hitler, My Struggle, p. 114.
  17. Hitler, My Struggle, p. 115.
  18. Hitler, My Struggle, p. 115.
  19. Hitler, My Struggle, p. 55.
  20. Hitler, My Struggle, p. 59.
  21. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 6.
  22. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 6.
  23. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 7.
  24. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 76.
  25. Hitler, Table Talk, pp. 625-6.
  26. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 519.
  27. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 514.
  28. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 325.
  29. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 191.
  30. Hitler, Table Talk, pp. 6, 75.
  31. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 76.
  32. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 411.
  33. Hitler, Table Talk, pp. 60-1.
  34. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 51.
  35. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 61-2.
  36. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 343.
  37. Hitler, Table Talk, pp. 144-5.
  38. Hitler, Table Talk, pp.6.
  39. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 7.
  40. Hitler, Table Talk, p. 191.
  41. See the observations of the Catholic Centre Party’s Karl Bachem on this matter, in J. Noakes and G. Pridham, eds., Nazism 19919-1945 – 1: The Rise to Power – A Documentary Reader (Exeter, University of Exeter 1983), pp. 157-8.

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9 Responses to “Hitler and Christianity”

  1. Frank Walton Says:

    Wow, just beautiful!

  2. JOR Says:

    “The great ambition of the parson clique is, and always has been, to undermine the power of the State.”

    Those parson guys sound pretty cool.

  3. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks, Frank!:)

    Lol, JOR! Actually, to my mind one of the best statements of the tyranny of the state is in 1 Samuel 8:11-18, where Samuel describes what oppression and exactions they can expect from a king after the Israelites demand one:

    ‘And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.

    And he will appoint him captians over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

    And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, to be cooks, and to be bakers.

    And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and given them to his servants.

    And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

    And he will take your menservants,a nd your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

    He will take the tenth of your sheep; and ye shall be his servants.

    And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.’

    There have been Christian anarchists down the centuries, who’ve taken their opposition to the state from religious principles, rather than secular philosophy. The Czech theologian, Chelciky, in his 14th century The Net of Faith argued that the state was based on organised violence, and that therefore the Christian should reject it. The same idea also occurs in Tolstoy, who influenced the Doukhobors, a highly unorthodox religious group who emigrated from Russia to Canada in the late 19th century, aided by the Quakers, to escape Tsarist persecution.

  4. JOR Says:

    Even St. Augustine looks as if he’s almost, but not quite, cynically flirting with anarchism at some points, e.g. his statement that kingdoms, insofar as they violate justice, are nothing more than large-scale robberies, and robberies small-scale kingdoms. The historical-philosophical relationship between Christianity, ethics, and power is incredibly interesting.

  5. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for that, JOR. I didn’t know that Saint Augustine said that. I’ve got a feeling that when he makes a comparison between small-scale kingdoms and robbery, it was actually a very relevant political issue at the time. When the Roman Empire began scaling back the employment of members of the ancient Roman aristocracy in the civil service, there were complaints that without the gainful employment which was their due, good Roman aristos would have no choice but to go into brigandage to support themselves. I’ll see if I can dig out the quote. However, if that’s the case, and members of the Roman ruling class were going into robbery with violence if they couldn’t be employed by the state, then there really isn’t a lot of difference between a properly constituted state and robbery.

  6. JOR Says:

    You’re right about the implications, though I’m quite sure he wasn’t trying to make a point about secular politics at all (something other early Christians, e.g. Tertullian were much more explicit about).

  7. beastrabban Says:

    You’re probably right about St. Augustine, JOR, though I’ve noticed that over the past few decades there’s been a shift in the reading of St. Augustine’s City of God from a position that he was providing the blueprint for the ideal, Christian city on Earth, to a more spiritual interpretation that sees the city of God as a spiritual ideal, rather than practical political reality.

    For example, when I was studying medieval history at school it was accepted that the City of God was highly influential in the Middle Ages, particularly with Charlemagne, who apparently based his idea of a Christian, Frankish empire on it, because it was believed to outline such a theory of a concrete Christian state.

    Reading material on the City of God now, I’m struck by the way historians now argue that despite this reading in the Middle Ages, St. Augustine was not arguing that the heavenly city and the earthly Christian city were identical. I do wonder if this is partly a result of the ideology of multiculturalism. I can remember reading material produced by Christian organisations engaged in Christian-Muslim dialogue over here in Britain, which voiced Muslims’ natural rejection of the City of God and its philosophy.

  8. CJ (cj.23) Says:

    Yep, nicely written Beast. A wonderful look at the inconsistencies of Hitler’s personal beliefs, but I agree wholeheartedly that generally his tone is overwhelmingly anti-Christian. I wonder what he made of the romantic neo-paganism of some of his close advisors? I can’t help but think of Lanz Von Lieberfels and others – and think that would make an interesting follow up piece.

    cj x

  9. beastrabban Says:

    Thanks for the kind comments, CJ. As for Hitler’s personal views of the Neo-Paganism of Himmler and so on, from the comments in his Table-Talk it appears that he didn’t have a lot of time for them. He describes it as stupid, and taking Germany backwards. He does say that once he was favourably inclined towards them, but now believes that they were sent by ‘dark forces to divide Germany’.

    He also wasn’t a fan of astrology either, and there’s a passage where goes on about what a load of daft superstition astrology is, and that only the really stupid in Germany and foreigners believe it.

    He also states that the last thing he wants to happen to him is that he becomes a guru or buddha, the object of religious worship. This could all come as a real shock to some of the Neo-Nazi cults Nicholas Goodricke-Clarke discusses in his book, The Black Sun . There’s a number of very sinister Nazi religions out there which see Hitler quite literally as an Aryan messiah sent to save White civilisation from Judaism, Christianity, Bolshevism, anyone who isn’t a White European, and a general, decent human concern for the disabled. Seeing Hitler himself renounce any claim to be a god might make some of them think twice. Or at least, one hopes.

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