would overcome healthy and youthful ones by their wealth and their numbers”
would overcome healthy and youthful ones by their wealth and their numbers”
—Prussian General and Social Darwinist Friedrich von Bernhardi[fn]Samuel J. Holmes, The Trend of the Race: A Study of Present Tendencies in the Biological Development of Civilized Mankind (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co. Inc., 1921), p. 205
The Topics Covered in This Essay Are As Follows:
Hitler the Christian?
Hitler the Anti-Christian!
Hitler the Christian?
Some people seem to neglect the fact that a person can “claim” to be whatever they please while this claim may have nothing at all to do with reality. Let us consider some instances, quoted by Richard Dawkins, when Hitler professed his belief in God and Jesus as a Catholic-Christian.
“as late as 1941 he told his adjutant, General Gerhard Engel, ‘I shall remain a Catholic forever.'”[fn] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006), p. 274
Quoting from Mein Kampf,
“Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”[fn] Ibid., p. 275
Hitler could have constantly claimed that he was a Christian. He could have claimed to be serving not just any god but the God of the Bible. He could have attended church every day of his life. He could have claimed to be doing what he was doing in the name of Jesus Christ. He could have even prophesied, exorcised and performed miracles. All of this and more would not prove in the least bit that he was a Christian. He could claim it from the roof tops, he could even do the song and dance of religious routines but in the end we know him by his fruits. Jesus and the apostles/disciples never even came close to doing anything that Hitler did, thus he was not following orthodox, plain, clear, biblical, Christian teachings.
Imagine for a moment if Hitler was a Christian, this would mean that the world’s most infamous anti-Semite worshiped a Jewish man as Messiah, Lord, God and Savior. Is it any wonder that Richard Dawkins wrote, “Hitler, oddly, was always adamant that Jesus himself was not a Jew.”[fn] Ibid., p. 276
[/fn] Indeed, whenever “Christians” have demonstrated anti-Semitism it has been with denials of plain facts and plain reading of the Bible that are about as outlandish and unorthodox as Hitler’s denial that Jesus was Jewish.
Consider the following:
“People often describe the Holocaust as the climax of 2,000 years of Christian mistreatment of Jews. Some invoke the Shoah [Hebrew for catastrophe referring to the Holocaust] as the ultimate reason for Jews not to believe in Jesus. Jewish believer Moishe Rosen challenges that view: ‘The phrase ‘2,000 years of history leading up to the Holocaust’ is more than a reference to past prejudice and persecution. It is an indictment against Christianity that misinterprets Christ’s message and intent. Anyone who gives credence to such an accusation bestows upon Hitler the power to change theology.'”[fn] Compiled by Eliyah Gould, Rich Robinson and Ruth Rosen, The Y’shua Challenge – Answers for Those Who Say Jews Can’t Believe in Jesus (San Francisco, CA: Purple Pomegranate Productions), p. 21, citing Moishe Rosen, “Am Yisrael Chai,” Issue, 9:4 (1993), p.2
Even if Hitler was a Christian, Nazism was certainly not Christian, not based on Christianity. Hitler’s anti-Semitism was not based on religion but on racism and nationalism. Known as Adolf Hitler’s First Antisemitic Writing is a letter penned by Hitler on September 16, 1919. Clearly, religion was nowhere in his mind but nationalism, racism and charges of avarice:
“…antisemitism is too easily characterized as a mere emotional phenomenon. And yet this is incorrect. Antisemitism as a political movement may not and cannot be defined by emotional impulses…
Jewry is absolutely a race and not a religious association…He does not thereby become a German…[but] lives amongst us a non- German, alien race…striving after money and power…lust for gold and domination. In his effects and consequences he is like a racial tuberculosis of the nations…
an antisemitism based on purely emotional grounds will find its ultimate expression in the form of the pogrom. An antisemitism based on reason, however, must lead to systematic legal combatting [sic] and elimination of the privileges of the Jews, that which distinguishes the Jews from the other aliens who live among us (an Aliens Law)…
Thus, a great portion of our people recognizes that a changed state-form cannot in itself change our situation. For that it will take a rebirth of the moral and spiritual powers of the nation.”
Indeed, Hitler opposed anti-Semitism “based on religious ideas rather than racial knowledge.”[fn] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. I Chapt. 3
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Did they appear to consider Hitler a Christian and Nazism a Christian movement?
Richard Dawkins further argued thusly:
“Hitler didn’t carry out his atrocities single-handed. The terrible deeds themselves were carried out by soldiers and their officers, most of whom were surely Christians.”[fn] Dawkins, p. 276
Read “surely” as “I’m just guessing.” While this may not be an altogether fallacious guess it ought to be asked: what would it mean if most were Christians? What Christianity? The one based on un-Christian anti-Semitic theology? The co-option of Christianity as expressed in the National Reich Church (which I discuss in part 9)? Such issues are well detailed in Stan Meyer’s article, Hitler’s Theologians: The Genesis of Genocide. Moreover, what would this say about Christians or Christianity? May we not likewise argue: “Stalin and other Communist leaders didn’t carry out their atrocities single-handed. The terrible deeds themselves were carried out by soldiers and their officers, most of whom were surely atheists.”
Note carefully the statements with regards to Hitler’s army found in Claire Hulme and Dr. Michael Salter’s The Nazi’s Persecution of Religion as a War Crime: The OSS’S Response Within the Nuremberg Trials Process:
“a large document dated November 19, 1945 contains the statement of the five German Generals, Walther von Brauchitsch; Erich von Manstein; Franz Halder; Walter Warlimont; and Siegfried Westphal. This statement claims that the majority of the Army’s officer corps rejected and opposed many of the Nazi’s domestic policies as ‘unworthy of the German nation,’ including all forms of religious persecution. [from footnote: “It also claims that the Army’s own leadership in military affairs was challenged and ultimately subverted by the growth and actions of both the SA and Himmler’s SS”] The Nazi’s leadership undertook such persecution with neither the advice nor the consent of the Army, who – in common with many Church leaders – represented one of the many semiautonomous institutions of German society that the Nazi regime had to subvert in order to fulfil [sic] its own political and genocidal programs [from footnote: “This document formed part of a series of statements Donovan obtained from senior military officers, including…the interrogation of Georg R. Thomas, a retired general with the German Infantry, conducted on November 9, 1945. This interrogation provides details of Thomas’s and Hjamar Schacht’s opposition to Nazi policies of religious persecution after 1937, particularly those of Goering, and their subsequent arrest and detention in Flossenburg and then Dachau concentration camps” they reference General William J. Donovan who was the head of OSS: America’s first central intelligence agency]
Also, note that, as one example, Sergeant Anton Schmid, who had been drafted into the German army after the Anschluss of 1938, disobeyed orders, saved hundreds of Jews from the Vilnius ghetto and was executed by the Nazis for his acts. “Many Germans have long clung to the notion that Nazi atrocities were not the work of the army but of Hitler’s elite SS and fanatical death squads.” “His death, Mr. [defense minister Rudolf ] Scharping said today, should be an example to a modern German army committed to freedom and truth – ‘an army in a democracy and for that democracy.'” Fritz Stern, an American historian of Germany stated, “The model for the modern German army must be the likes of Sergeant Schmid.” He is referred to as a model both for his actions and because Germany renamed a base after him.
Moreover, “when war came the members of its [the Confessing Church’s] clergy of military age and not in prison were assigned to positions of greatest danger, while the older leaders were sent to concentration camps.”[fn] Roland H. Bainton, The Horizon History of Christianity (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., 1964), p. 390
The German Evangelical Church wrote a memo to Hitler in June 4, 1936 in which they stated,
“When, within the compass of the National Socialist view of life, an anti-Semitism is forced on the Christian that binds him to hatred of the Jew, the Christian injunction to love one’s neighbor still stands, for him, opposed to it.”[fn] Arthur C. Cochrane, The Church’s Confession under Hitler (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1962), see pp. 268-279
This generalization also does not take into consideration that many Christians, such as Victor Kugler and Corrie ten Boom’s family, risked their lives and the lives of their families in order to save Jews from Nazism. Some of these Christian heroes died in concentration camps. Thus, The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs – The State of Israel, published a statement entitled “The ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ amongst which they list “Christian clergymen, who felt compelled to resist Nazism on religious grounds and to help Jews survive the Nazi Holocaust as a religious obligation” and “Some Germans in uniform and German civilians.”
Joe Keysor notes:
“…in March of 1937 a papal encyclical (Mil Brennender Sorge) was read in Catholic churches throughout Germany. It objected to the Nazi cult of race, and called for resistance to perversions of Christian doctrine and morality. The primary loyalty of German Catholics to Rome was reaffirmed-and what was Hitler’s response? Did he say ‘The Holy Father has spoken’ or ‘The Pope has the power of the keys from Peter and as a Catholic I call on all Germans to submit to the claims of Rome’? Professor John Conway’s useful book The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-1945 relates Hitler’s response-it was not that of a devout Catholic.17 Copies of the encyclical were seized whenever possible, and those caught distributing it were to be arrested. Publication by German church newspapers was forbidden. The Nazi Minister of Church Affairs accused the Roman Church of ‘treachery,’ and Hitler refused to pay a courtesy call on the Vatican when he visited Rome in 1938….
This encyclical referred directly to the persecution of the Catholic Church in Germany and to violations to the Concordat…
Pope Pius did make an effort to help the Jews. Martin Gilbert relates that: Pope Pius XII had personally ordered the Vatican clergy to open the sanctuaries of Vatican City to all ‘non-Aryans’ in need of refuge. By the morning of October 16th, [this was after Mussolini’s fall and the occupation of Italy by the Germans] a total of 477 Jews had been given shelter in the Vatican and its enclaves, while another 4,238 had been given sanctuary in the many monasteries and convents in Rome….
There were two commonly cited instances in which Hitler specifically claimed to be a Christian. One of these was from 1922, the other from 1941. Since we can sure that any other such references would not have been missed by those grasping at every straw that might link Hitler to Christianity, it appears that for nearly twenty years Hitler never claimed to be a Christian (again, assuming that the second statement, which was reported second hand as far as I know, is even genuine)….
Hitler also wrote of gods and goddesses proving, if all of his religious utterances are taken at face value, that he was a polytheist. ‘The gods’ are referred to in Mein Kampf-‘the manifestations of decay showed only that the gods had willed Austria’s destruction’ [vol. I chapt. 3]-and there are references to goddesses as well: to the Goddess of Suffering [vol. I chapt. 2] and the Goddess of Destiny [vol. I chapt.S]. There is even a ‘goddess of eternal justice and inexorable retribution’ which Hitler believed ’caused Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the most mortal enemy of Austrian- Germanism, to fall by the bullets which he himself had helped to mold’ [vol I chapt.1].
There is also a Goddess of Peace and a God of War. More significantly, there are numerous references to Fate. For those unfamiliar with religion and philosophy, ‘Fate’ is a non-Christian term referring not to the personal God of the Bible but to an impersonal force of unknown character. This should not have to be explained.[fn] Joey Keysor, Hitler, the Holocaust and the Bible (Athanatos Publishing Group: pre-release review ed., 2009), pp. 87, 120, 178, 91, 95
Some argue that the Nazis army wore belt buckles that read Gott mit uns–God with us and that this Gott was the Gott of the Bible and thus, Nazism was a Christian movement or a movement based on Christianity. However, the German army inherited the buckle from the royal house of Prussia thus:
“it was not Hitler who gave the Wehrmacht that motto, but Otto von Bismarck, whose imperial standard contained the slogan in 1870; [there are] similar Gott mit uns buckles from World War I…Moreover, the Wehrmacht were not Nazis-the 950,000-strong Nazi army personally sworn to Hitler was the Waffen-SS, and their motto was not Gott mit uns but Meine Ehre heißt Treue [My Honor Is Called Loyalty].”[fn] Vox Day, The Irrational Atheist (Dallas, TX: BenBella Books, Inc., 2008), p. 202
I will deal with the specific question of Was Hitler a Christian or an Atheist? in part 13.
Hitler the Anti-Christian!
Now that we have considered some examples of Hitler’s claims of being a theist/Catholic/Christian let us view the other side of the coin.
“When understanding of the universe has become widespread…Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.”[fn] Hitler’s Secret Conversations 1941-1944 (Farrar, Straus and Young, Inc. 1953), published in Britain as Hitler’s Table Talk 1941-1944 (Oxford University Press), pp. 49-52
Richard Dawkins provides the following quotes from a 1941 Table Talk by Hitler:
“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 immunised [sic] against the disease.”[fn] Dawkins, p. 276
Richard Dawkins then states, “Hitler’s Table Talk contains more quotations like those.”
At this point in Richard Dawkins’ book he experiences a rare, sadly a very rare, moment of clarity when for a brief moment he is able to view the evidence from both sides (of Hitler’s mouth) and come to a solidly lucid conclusion about Hitler (although his overall conclusion is faulty, as we shall see). While this conclusion is in no ways unique to Richard Dawkins, as it would be obvious to any researcher, it is a bitter sweet occasion. This is because it truly is a very brief and unique accomplishment that occurs perhaps no more than this one single time and only within the very narrow confines of his convenient discussion of Hitler. Were he able to muster this level of emotional self control and rational conclusion more often The God Delusion would certainly be a more interesting, more scholarly, more useful book for both sides of the atheism theism discussion.
The lucidity is in concluding that, as I will state it, Hitler’s personality is about as complex a concoction as Nazism itself which, the aforementioned, Claire Hulme and Dr. Michael Salter referred to as the “chaotic irrationality of the Third Reich.”[fn] Claire Hulme and Dr. Michael Salter, The Nazi’s Persecution of Religion as a War Crime: The OSS’S Response Within the Nuremberg Trials Process
[/fn] Hitler believed in animal rights but slaughtered human beings by the millions. He detested smoking but cremated millions of his victims. Both his personality and his beliefs were a cacophonous chaotic concoction.
Richard Dawkins writes the following,
“Or is the resolution of the contradictions simply that he was an opportunistic liar whose words cannot be trusted, in either direction?”[fn] Dawkins, p. 276
Indeed, Hitler appears to be schizophrenic, politically opportunistic or both. He said whatever was convenient to his final solution at any given time.
We may liken this tactic to Saddam Hussein’s. Hussein had always been known as a secular Arab and yet upon being driven into hiding by America’s invasion suddenly began to spout the vernacular of Islamic fascism with its promises of heaven with 72 virgins for fighting infidels. Incidentally, Hussein had direct ties to Hitler’s Nazism (The History Channel aired a program on this topic entitled “Saddam Hussein and the Third Reich”).
Joe Keysor notes,
“Trying to determine when Hitler was lying and when he was telling the truth was difficult for many people at that time, and Hitler was extraordinarily successful at deceiving people. With the advantage of hindsight and historical knowledge, however, we can compare Hitler’s statements with his actions. As we do this, a pattern emerges. In the statement of his main goals, Hitler was truthful and did exactly what he said he would do: tear up the Versailles Treaty, rearm Germany, expand to the east, destroy the Weimar democracy, eliminate Jewish influence.
On other occasions, Hitler was a devious and treacherous liar who said one thing and did the exact opposite. He routinely lied and told people whatever would help him to reach his ends. To understand Hitler, it is necessary to compare Hitler’s words with his actions and see not merely what he said, but also what he did. People with even an elementary knowledge of this subject don’t need any examples, but since so many have tried to discuss Hitler’s views as if all of his religious statements can be taken at face value, a few examples might be useful….
Is it necessary to point out the significance of this for the larger topic we are discussing? This shows in miniature Hitler’s consistent modus operandi. Disarm your opponents by telling them what they want to hear, then, when the time is right, strike. Many decent people who try to talk about Hitler and his dealing with the churches do not understand the cunning and deceit of the man. They do not understand it even when the historical record is right before them-and how much harder was it to understand before the facts were known?”[fn] Joey Keysor, Hitler, the Holocaust and the Bible (Athanatos Publishing Group: pre-release review ed., 2009), pp. 86-87, 97
Much more on this in part 9.