Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Did Hitler Have a "Fully Christian Ethos"?


In the previous post, I typed the words:

"Yet I have shown how easily it is to come to just that conclusion without ever invoking the concept of God. It is only a matter of logic, given once we begin with certain (atheist and utopian) premises.

"And of course, this wasn't really a hypothetical. It was this same reasoning which licensed the persecution of religious believers in Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Cambodia, etc."


(My language was sloppy here; I would never say Hitler was a pure atheist, nor did I; his beliefs were too muddled for that. What I meant was that the rationale for persecuting religious believers was not itself religious or sectarian).

In response, Anonymous wrote:

"Hitler, who claimed again and again in speeches that 'I am a Christian,' who sent his soldiers into battle with their belt buckles emblazoned Gott Mit Uns, 'God With Us,' who in fact derived his borrowed justifications for extermination of the Jews from the New Testament itself, could not rightly be called an atheist, nor could his cause be said to have been championed under the banner of atheism.

"No, his was a fully Christian ethos that he adapted and integrated to become part of his cult of the Third Reich".



So, did Hitler have a "fully Christian ethos", as Anonymous claims? Let's see what the record, and historians, have to say.

First, it is absolutely the case that Hitler often paid public lip service to Christianity; but it is a credulous observer of politics who believes that public expressions always reveal private convictions. The truth is that while Hitler seemed to believe in "providence" and "destiny", he was in no sense a believing Christian. In fact, not only did he not abide by a "fully Christian ethos", he despised Christianity. I think it can be fairly said that the only correspondence between Hitler's program and New Testament Christianity was that Christ and his followers sometimes used vituperative language against Jews. That, and maybe the idea of some destiny to the cosmos (an idea not specifically Christian at all)...but as far as I can see, that is it.

The evidently popular idea that Hitler was actually a believing Christian, or that he had a "fully Christian ethos", or that Hitler's National Socialism was some sort of sincere but misguided attempt to implement a specifically Christian "heaven on earth", is not warranted by any substantial evidence, and in fact is contradicted by almost everything we know about the beliefs of the lead architects of National Socialism. Nor am I alone in the view that, for reasons of political pragmatism, Hitler's occasional public expressions did not represent his private views on this (I have to wonder why anyone would doubt that Hitler would lie in public for political purposes!).

Anonymous claims that scholars view "Hitler's Table Talk" (a collection of anecdotes recorded by private observes of Hitler speaking casually) as largely spurious. This is the opposite of the truth. But for argument's sake, let's ignore that book until the end.

Let's instead go first to Duke history professor Claudia Koonz, who notes that "during (1933-34) Hitler virtually never mentioned the three controversial themes that shaped his covert political agenda: crude antisemitism, contempt for Christianity, and preparation for a war of conquest". (From "The Nazi Conscience", p. 79).

Cambridge historian Richard J. Evans writes:

..."Hitler and most of his leading advocates were aware of the breadth and depth of Christian allegiance in the majority of the population, and did not want to antagonize it in the course of suppressing parties such as the (Catholic Centre Party). They were thus careful in the early months of 1933 to insist repeatedly on the adherence of the new government to the Christian faith."

(From "The Coming of the Third Reich", by Richard L. Evans, pp. 362-363).

University of Sheffield historian Ian Kershaw writes:

"Relations between the Catholic Church and the Nazi Party remained chequered throughout the period of the rise to power. The evident anti-Christian strain in Nazi doctrine, epitomized above all in Rosenberg's writings, evoked stringent condemnation from the Catholic hierarchy...Hitler's own concerted efforts to deny the slur that he headed an anti-religious movement were far from convincing to Catholic opinion-leaders...Despite the high expectations placed in the Concordat with the Papacy, ratified in summer 1933, it soon became obvious that the fears about the anti-Church thrust of Nazi ideology and policy were well-founded".

(From "Hitler", by Ian Kershaw, pp. 103-14).

Richard Overy, professor of history at the University of London, Fellow of the British Academy and winner of the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize for military history, adds:

"Hitler saw the relationship (with the Deutsche Christen church) in political terms. He was not a practicing Christian, but had somehow succeeded in masking his own religious skepticism from millions of German voters...His few private remarks on Christianity betray a profound contempt and indififference. Forty years afterwards he could still recall facing up to a clergyman-teacher at his school when told how unhappy he would be in the afterlife: 'I've heard of a scientist who doubts whether there is a next world'. Hitler believed that all religions were 'now decadent'...

"Hitler, like Stalin, took a very modern view of the incompatibility of religious and scientific explanation. 'The dogma of Christianity', he told Himmler in October 1941, 'gets worn away before the advances of science'...'Scientific truth', Hitler announced in an after-dinner conversation some months later, 'is the indispensable formulation'. There was nothing to offer anyone who looked for 'needs of a metaphysical nature' in the party. Truth lay in natural science, and for Hitler that meant the truth of racial biology - natural selection, racial struggle, 'identity of kind'.

"Hitler was politically prudent enough not to trumpet his scientific views publicly, not least because he had to maintain the distinction between his own movement and the godlessness of Soviet communism. Nor was he a thorough atheist. His public utterancees are peppered with references to 'God' and 'spirit'. For Hitler the eschatological truths that he found in his perception of the race represented the real 'eternal will that rules the univers'' in the infinite value of the race and the struggle to sustain it men find what they might call God, and inner sense of the unity and purposiveness of nature and history'...What Hitler could not accept was that Christianity could offer anything other than 'false ideas' to sustain its claim to moral certitude".

Once again, I am quite unable to understand why anyone would take at face value Hitler's public expressions of piety. It's not like William Shirer's now canonical "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" only came out yesterday. Under the chapter heading "The Persecution of the Christian Churches", for example, Shirer writes:

"The Nazi war on the Christian churches began more moderately. Though Hitler, nominally a Catholic, had inveighed against political Catholicism in Mein Kampf and attacked both of the Christian churches for their failure to recognize the racial problem, he had, as we have seen, warned in his book that 'a political party must never...lose sight of the fact that in all previous historical experience a purely political party has never succeeded in producing a religious reformation'...

"In his speech of March 23, 1933, to the Reichstag when the legislative body of Germany abandoned its functions to the dictator, Hitler paid tribute to the Christian faiths as 'essential elements for safequarding the soul of the German people', promised to respect their rights, declared that his government's 'ambition is a peaceful accord between Church and State' and added - with an eye to the votes of the Catholic Centre Party, which he received - that 'we hope to improve our friendly relations with the Holy See'.

"Scarcely four months later, on July 20, the Nazi government concluded a concordat with the Vatican in which it guaranteed the freedom of the Catholic religion and the right of the Church to 'regulate her own affairs'. The agreement..was hardly put to paper before it was broken by the Nazi government...

"On July 25, five days after ratification of the concordat, the German government promulgated a sterilization law, which particularly offended the Catholic Church. Five days later the first steps were taken to dissolve the Catholic Youth League. During the next years thousands of Catholic priests, nuns, and lay leaders were arrested, many of them on trumped-up charges of 'immorality' or of 'smuggling foreign currency'. Erich Klausener, leader of Catholic Action, was, as we have seen, murdered in the June 30, 1934, purge. Scores of Catholic publications were suppressed, and even the sanctity of the confessional was violated by Gestapo agents...On March 14, 1937, Pope Pius XI issued an encyclical, 'Mit Brennender Sorge' (With Burning Sorrow), charging the Nazi government with 'evasion' and 'violation' of the concordat and accusing it of sowing 'the tares of suspicion, discord, hatred, calumny, of secret and open fundamental hostility to Christ and his Church'". (pp. 324-325).

Well, yes. The Nazi government did possess a "fundamental hostility to Christ". How could it be more obvious?

(Nor was it only Catholics Hitler had contempt for. Shirer reports that about Protestants, Hitler once said to an aide: "You can do anything you want with them. They will submit....they are insignificant little people, submissive as dogs, and they sweat with embarrassment when you talk to them". [p. 329].)

Speaking of Article 24, Overy notes:

"Article 24 of the party programme accepted 'positive Christianity', but also called on the churches to do nothing to offend 'the sense of morality of the German race'. This injunction placed the moral outlook of the party above that of all religions. That moral outlook was rooted in 'the acknowledgement and ruthless exploitation of the iron laws of nature'. The primary law, and the 'source of all genuineness and truth', was the unconditional defence of the race and its blood".

Overy continues:

"From the mid-1930s the regime and the party were dominated much more by the prominent anti-Christians in their ranks - Himmler, Goebbels, Bormann, Heydrich...Religious youth movements were closed down or merged with the Hitler Youth, from which all religious instruction was excluded. In August 1937 Himmler banned all Confessing Church seminaries and instruction. Dissident Protestants were barred from universities. State-sponsored denomination schools were closed by 1939, together with private ecclesiastical school. Religious education by clergymen was eliminated. Religions were prevented from publicly collecting for charity. The new generation of Germans was taught to despise the characteristics of the Christian man as tainted with a degenerate, Jewish effeminacy and to seek within themselves the strength to assert and defend the race.

(...)

"Both Stalin and Hitler wanted a neutered religion, subservient to the state, while the slow programme of scientific revelation destroyed the foundation of religious myth".

(From "The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia", by R. Overy, pp. 280-286).

I submit that we need a lot more than a belt buckle slogan and a few calculated utterances in public speeches to establish that Hitler had a "fully Christian ethos", especially when there are so many evidences that he loathed Christianity.

So, about that ethos:

In his brilliant little book "From Darwin to Hitler", historian Richard Weikart echoes the historians quoted above:

"Hitler's morality was not based on traditional Judeo-Christian ethics nor Kant's categorical imperative, but was rather a complete repudiation of them. Instead, Hitler embraced an evolutionary ethic that made Darwinian fitness and health the only criteria for moral standards. The Darwinian struggle for existence, especially the struggle between different races, became the sole arbiter of morality...He scorned humaneness and Christian morality, which would promote weakness, thereby producing decline, degradation, and ultimately the demise of the human species...

"Hitler's view that morality is purely a human construction undermines any system of ethics claiming transcendence, such as Judeo-Christian ethics or Kantian ethics. Hitler clearly did not believe in the existence of immutable, universal moral standards.

"Hitler derided any morality inimical to the increased vitality of the 'Aryan' race, especially traditional Christian values of humility, pity, and sympathy...In Hitler's mind Darwinism provided the moral justification for infanticide, euthanasia, genocide, and other policies that had been (and thankfully still are) considered immoral by more conventional moral standards". (pp. 210-215).

In his autobiography "Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs", Hitler's architect Albert Speer writes:

"Hitler usually concluded this historical speculation by remarking: 'You see, it's been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn't we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?" (p. 115).

NOW...about the book Hitler's Table Talk. This book is a compendium of private, after-dinner monologues by Hitler, recorded by various scribes under the direction of Martin Bormann, Hitler's private secretary. Hitler's confidante and architect Albert Speer is but one of the many witnesses who have confirmed the authenticity of these notes. Indeed, it is beyond my ability to fathom how anyone, save one blinded by a particular, peculiar prejudice, could ever regard them as spurious. And what, pray tell, might that peculiar prejudice be? Why, exactly the one which has possessed Anonymous: the stupid, completely unhistorical belief that Adolf Hitler was a believing Christian, and National Socialism his way of implementing a "Christian ethos". (There are evidently quite a number of atheists so committed to the dogma that evil is the sole province of religion, that anything showing just how stupid this idea is they immediately regard, on that basis alone, as "spurious". I might also ask, since we're on the subject of prejudice-induced blindness, how different this type of "thinking" is from that displayed by a fundamentalist Christian, who "knows" that carbon dating is wrong because he already "knows" that God created the earth only 5000 years ago?).

I ask readers to judge for themselves, after reading all of the quotes above, whether it is more likely that someone completely invented the following quotes and falsely attributed them to Hitler, or maybe translated them all wrong (as one crank atheist activist has alleged).....or that these are just Hitler's comments:

"The Christian religion is an enemy to beauty" (p. 246)

"Since my fourteenth year I have felt liberated from the superstition that the priests used to teach. Apart from the Holy Joes, I can say that none of my comrades went on believing in the miracle of the Eucharist" (p. 246).

"It was Christianity that brought about the fall of Rome - not the Germans or the Huns" (p. 193).

"While we're on the subject, let's add that, even amongst those who claim to be good Catholics, very few really believe in this humbug. Only old women, who have given up everything because life has already withdrawn from them, go regularly to church" (p. 258).

"I shall never come personally to terms with the Christian lie" (p. 259).

"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" (p. 8).

"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 mobilization of the Jew of the masses of slaves with the object of undermining society" (p. 60).

"It's striking to observe that Christian ideas, despite all St. Pauls's efforts, had no success in Athens. The philosophy of the Greeks was so much superior to this poverty-stricken rubbish that the Athenians burst out laughing when they listened to him" (p. 63).

"What is ruining Christianity today is what once ruined the ancient world...as soon as the idea was introduced that all men were equal before God, that world was bound to collapse" (p. 254).

"Kerrl, with the noblest of intentions, wanted to attempt a synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. I don't believe the thing's possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself...Pure Christianity...leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind. It is merely wholehearted Bolshevism, under a tinsel of metaphysics" (p. 112).

"When understanding of the universe has become widespread, when the majority of men know that the stars are not sources of light but worlds, perhaps inhabited worlds like ours, then the Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity...Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity in this respect. And that's why one day its structure will collapse. Science has already impregnated humanity. Consequently, the more Christianity clings to its dogmas, the quicker it will decline" (p. 48).

"It's Christianity that's the liar" (p. 49).

"Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure" (p. 41).

To summarize my own views, and those of the historians quoted above:

Hitler did not have a "fully Christian ethos". Rather, he had a "fully ANTI-Christian ethos". He viewed Christianity as "weak" and "flabby", and for that reason, as an enemy to a National Socialism, the job of which was to preserve the volk through struggle. He had contempt for both Catholics and Protestants, and showed it repeatedly.

Moreover, he did not rationalize his persecution of religious believers with theist arguments, but with secular arguments, nor were his motivations in persecuting religious believers (or anyone else), themselves religious.

The broadest point is that whether we start out with atheist, theist, or somewhere-in-between premises, we can always wind up, seemingly logically, at the conclusion that we may do evil. Neither atheism nor theism in themselves can provide salvation.

6 comments:

ldstalk said...

Holy cow that was a one person dogpile.

It's amazing how poorly known this trail is:
Hitler --> Eugenics --> Darwin

The idea to clean up the gene pool so that the human race will more rapidly progress to it's next state is not from the Christian ethos.

Tal said...

I know, LDS. Strange. There's a bunch of people who think Hitler was some sincere, devout Christian, and it is just not true. Not only is it not true, it is *spectacularly* not true.

He didn't have a "fully Christian ethos". He had a "fully ANTI-Christian ethos"!

Anonymous said...

Some comments:

1. I did not only say "Hitler had a fully Christian ethos." I said, "His was a fully Christian ethos that he adapted and integrated to become part of his cult of the Third Reich". He modified a fully Christian ethos, twisted it to his own ends. Nice scalpel work there, though. Attack part of the argument that suits your views, not it in its entirety.

2. Hitler's quotes against Catholicism mean absolutely nothing for your argument -- would you call John Hagee "anti-christian" because of his attacks against Catholicism? Of course not.

3. A party with an atheist agenda does not promote something called "Positive Christianity," which your response entirely failed to address.

Let your readers judge for themselves if an atheist, promoting an atheist agenda, would use this language, since you are so fond of quotes. I have included only some of the vast amount, right up until 1945. Again I ask, what atheist talks like this?:

"The fact that the Vatican is concluding a treaty with the new Germany means the acknowledgement of the National Socialist state by the Catholic Church. This treaty shows the whole world clearly and unequivocally that the assertion that National Socialism [Nazism] is hostile to religion is a lie.

-Adolf Hitler, 22 July 1933

"We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out."

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Berlin on 24 Oct. 1933

"Imbued with the desire to secure for the German people the great religious, moral, and cultural values rooted in the two Christian Confessions, we have abolished the political organizations but strengthened the religious institutions."

-Adolf Hitler, speaking in the Reichstag on 30 Jan. 1934

"The National Socialist State professes its allegiance to positive Christianity. It will be its honest endeavour to protect both the great Christian Confessions in their rights, to secure them from interference with their doctrines (Lehren ), and in their duties to constitute a harmony with the views and the exigencies of the State of to-day."

-Adolf Hitler, on 26 June 1934, to Catholic bishops to assure them that he would take action against the new pagan propaganda

"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded 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 for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in 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.... 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 to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited."

-Adolf Hitler, in his speech in Munich on 12 April 1922

"People ask: is there someone fit to be our leader? Our task is not to search for that person. Either God will give him to us or he will not come. Our task is to shape the sword that he will need when he comes. Our task it to provide the leader with a nation which is ready for him when he comes! My fellow Germans, awaken! The new day is dawning!"

-Adolf Hitler, 04 May 1923

"In the Bible we find the text, 'That which is neither hot nor cold will I spew out of my mouth.' This utterance of the great Nazarene has kept its profound validity until the present day."

-Adolf Hitler, speech in Munich, 10 April 1923

"In the life of nations, what in the last resort decides questions is a kind of Judgment Court of God.... Always before God and the world the stronger has the right to carry through what He wills."

-Adolf Hitler, speech in Munich, 13 April 1923

"It matters not whether these weapons of ours are humane: if they gain us our freedom, they are justified before our conscience and before our God."

-Adolf Hitler, in Munich, 01 Aug. 1923

"It will at any rate be my supreme task to see to it that in the newly awakened NSDAP, the adherents of both Confessions can live peacefully together side by side in order that they may take their stand in the common fight against the power which is the mortal foe of any true Christianity."

-Adolf Hitler, in an article headed "A New Beginning," 26 Feb. 1925

"We are a people of different faiths, but we are one. Which faith conquers the other is not the question; rather, the question is whether Christianity stands or falls.... We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity... in fact our movement is Christian. We are filled with a desire for Catholics and Protestants to discover one another in the deep distress of our own people."

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Passau, 27 October 1928, Bundesarchiv Berlin-Zehlendorf

"We are determined, as leaders of the nation, to fulfill as a national government the task which has been given to us, swearing fidelity only to God, our conscience, and our Volk.... This the national government will regard its first and foremost duty to restore the unity of spirit and purpose of our Volk. It will preserve and defend the foundations upon which the power of our nation rests. It will take Christianity, as the basis of our collective morality, and the family as the nucleus of our Volk and state, under its firm protection....May God Almighty take our work into his grace, give true form to our will, bless our insight, and endow us with the trust of our Volk."

-Adolf Hitler, on 1 Feb. 1933, addressing the German nation as Chancellor for the first time, Volkischer Beobachter, 5 Aug. 1935

"Except the Lord built the house they labour in vain.... The truth of that text was proved if one looks at the house of which the foundations were laid in 1918 and which since then has been in building.... The world will not help, the people must help itself. Its own strength is the source of life. That strength the Almighty has given us to use; that in it and through it we may wage the battle of our life.... The others in the past years have not had the blessing of the Almighty-- of Him Who in the last resort, whatever man may do, holds in His hands the final decision. Lord God, let us never hesitate or play the coward, let us never forget the duty which we have taken upon us.... We are all proud that through God's powerful aid we have become once more true Germans."

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech in March 1933

"The Government, being resolved to undertake the political and moral purification of our public life, are creating and securing the conditions necessary for a really profound revival of religious life.... The National Government regard the two Christian Confessions as the weightiest factors for the maintenance of our nationality. They will respect the agreements concluded between them and the federal States. Their rights are not to be infringed.... It will be the Government's care to maintain honest co-operation between Church and State; the struggle against materialistic views and for a real national community is just as much in the interest of the German nation as in that of the welfare of our Christian faith. The Government of the Reich, who regard Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation, attach the greatest value to friendly relations with the Holy See and are endeavouring to develop them."

-Adolf Hitler, in his speech to the Reichstag on 23 March 1933

"The Catholic Church considered the Jews pestilent for fifteen hundred years, put them in ghettos, etc, because it recognized the Jews for what they were".... I recognize the representatives of this race as pestilent for the state and for the church and perhaps I am thereby doing Christianity a great service by pushing them out of schools and public functions."

-Adolf Hitler, 26 April 1933

"We want honestly to earn the resurrection of our people through our industry, our perseverance, our will. We ask not of the Almighty 'Lord, make us free'!-- we want to be active, to work, to agree together as brothers, to strive in rivalry with one another to bring about the hour when we can come before Him and when we may ask of Him: 'Lord, Thou seest that we have transformed ourselves, the German people is not longer the people of dishonour, of shame, of war within itself, of faintheartedness and little faith: no, Lord, the German people has become strong again in spirit, strong in will, strong in endurance, strong to bear all sacrifices.' 'Lord, we will not let Thee go: bless now our fight for our freedom; the fight we wage for our German people and Fatherland.'"

-Adolf Hitler, giving prayer in a speech on May Day 1933

"This is for us a ground for satisfaction, since we desire that the fight in the religious camps should come to an end... all political action in the parties will be forbidden to priests for all time, happy because we know what is wanted by millions who long to see in the priest only the comforter of their souls and not the representative of their political convictions."

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech to the men of the SA. at Dormund, 9 July 1933

"National Socialism has always affirmed that it is determined to take the Christian Churches under the protection of the State.... The decisive factor which can justify the existence alike of Church and State is the maintenance of men's spiritual and bodily health, for it that health were destroyed it would mean the end of the State and also the end of the Church.... It is my sincere hope that thereby for Germany, too, through free agreement there has been produced a final clarification of spheres in the functions of the State and of one Church."

-Adolf Hitler, on a wireless on 22 July, the evening before the Evangelical Church Election

"I believe that Providence would never have allowed us to see the victory of the Movement if it had the intention after all to destroy us at the end."

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech to old members of the Party at Munich on 8 Nov. 1933

"The German Church and the People are practically the same body. Therefore there could be no issue between Church and State. The Church, as such, has nothing to do with political affairs. On the other hand, the State has nothing to do with the faith or inner organization of the Church. The election of November 12th would be an expression of church constituency, but not as a Church."

-Adolf Hitler, answering C. F. Macfarland about Church & State (in his book, The New Church and the New Germany)

"While we destroyed the Centre Party, we have not only brought thousands of priests back into the Church, but to millions of respectable people we have restored their faith in their religion and in their priests. The union of the Evangelical Church in a single Church for the whole Reich, the Concordat with the Catholic Church, these are but milestones on the road which leads to the establishment of a useful relation and a useful co operation between the Reich and the two Confessions."

-Adolf Hitler, in his New Year Message on 1 Jan. 1934

"We have experienced a miracle, something unique, something the like of which there has hardly been in the history of the world. God first allowed our people to be victorious for four and a half years, then He abased us, laid upon us a period of shamelessness, but now after a struggle of fourteen years he has permitted us to bring that period to a close. It is a miracle which has been wrought upon the German people.... It shows us that the Almighty has not deserted our people, that He received it into favour at the moment when it rediscovered itself. And that our people shall never again lose itself, that must be our vow so long as we shall live and so long as the Lord gives us the strength to carry on the fight."

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech to the "Old Guard" of the Party at Munich on 19 March, 1934

"No, it is not we that have deserted Christianity, it is those who came before us who deserted Christianity. We have only carried through a clear division between politics which have to do with terrestrial things, and religion, which must concern itself with the celestial sphere. There has been no interference with the doctrine (Lehre ) of the Confessions or with their religious freedom (Bekenntnisfreiheit ), nor will there be any such interference. On the contrary the State protects religion, though always on the one condition that religion will not be used as a cover for political ends....

National Socialism neither opposes the Church nor is it anti-religious, but on the contrary it stands on the ground of a real Christianity.... For their interests cannot fail to coincide with ours alike in our fight against the symptoms of degeneracy in the world of to-day, in our fight against a Bolshevist culture, against atheistic movement, against criminality, and in our struggle for a consciousness of a community in our national life... These are not anti-Christian, these are Christian principles! And I believe that if we should fail to follow these principles then we should to be able to point to our successes, for the result of our political battle is surely not unblest by God."

-Adolf Hitler, in his speech at Koblenz, to the Germans of the Saar, 26 Aug. 1934

"What we are we have become not against, but with, the will of Providence. And so long as we are true and honourable and of good courage in fight, so long as we believe in our great work and do not capitulate, we shall continue to enjoy in the future the blessing of Providence."

-Adolf Hitler, at Rosenheim in Bavaria, 11 Aug. 1935

"Only so you can appeal to your God and pray Him to support and bless your courage, your work, your perseverance, your strength, your resolution, and with all these your claim on life."

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech at Frankfurt on 16 March 1936

"In this world him who does not abandon himself the Almighty will not desert. Him who helps himself will the Almighty always also help; He will show him the way by which he can gain his rights, his freedom, and therefore his future."

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech at Hamburg on 20 March 1936

"Providence has caused me to be Catholic, and I know therefore how to handle this Church."

-Adolf Hitler, reportedly to have said in Berlin in 1936 on the enmity of the Catholic Church to National Socialism

"I believe in Providence and I believe Providence to be just. Therefore I believe that Providence always rewards the strong, the industrious, and the upright."

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech to National Socialist women at the Nuremberg Parteitag of 1936 [11 Sept. 1936]

"I say that they can be solved; there is no problem that cannot be, but faith is necessary. Think of the faith I had to have eighteen years ago, a single man on a lonely path. Yet I have come to leadership of the German people....

Life is hard for many, but it is hardest if you are unhappy and have no faith. Have faith.

Nothing can make me change my own belief."

-Adolf Hitler, in Nuremberg, 12 Sept. 1936

"We National Socialists, too, have deep in our hearts our own faith. We cannot do otherwise. No man can mould the history of peoples or of the world unless he has upon his will and his capacities the blessing of Providence."

-Adolf Hitler, to Nazi leaders on 2 June 1937, as reported by a correspondent of the "Daily Telegraph"

"I will never allow anyone to divide this people once more into religious camps, each fighting the other....

You, my Brown Guard, will regard it as a matter of course that this German people should go only by the way which Providence ordained for it when it gave to Germans the common language. So we go forward with the profoundest faith in God into the future. Would that which we have achieved have been possible if Providence had not helped us?"

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech at Regensburg on 6 June 1937

"If we pursue this way, if we are decent, industrious, and honest, if we so loyally and truly fulfill our duty, then it is my conviction that in the future as in the past the Lord God will always help us. In the long run He never leaves decent folk in the lurch. Often He may test them, He may send trials upon them, but in the long run He always lets His sun shine upon them once more and at the end He gives them His blessing."

-Adolf Hitler, at the Harvest Thanksgiving Festival on the Buckeburg held on 3 Oct. 1937

"This Winter Help Work is also in the deepest sense a Christian work. When I see, as I so often do, poorly clad girls collecting with such infinite patience in order to care for those who are suffering from the cold while they themselves are shivering with cold, then I have the feeling that they are all apostles of a Christianity-- and in truth of a Christianity which can say with greater right than any other: This is the Christianity of an honest confession, for behind it stand not words but deeds."

-Adolf Hitler, speaking of the Winter Help Campaign on 5 Oct. 1937

"Remain strong in your faith, as you were in former years. In this faith, in its close-knit unity our people to-day goes straight forward on its way and no power on earth will avail to stop it."

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech at Coburg on 15 Oct. 1937

"In this hour I would ask of the Lord God only this: that, as in the past, so in the years to come He would give His blessing to our work and our action, to our judgement and our resolution, that He will safeguard us from all false pride and from all cowardly servility, that He may grant us to find the straight path which His Providence has ordained for the German people, and that He may ever give us the courage to do the right, never to falter, never to yield before any violence, before any danger.... I am convinced that men who are created by God should live in accordance with the will of the Almighty.... If Providence had not guided us I could often never have found these dizzy paths.... Thus it is that we National Socialists, too, have in the depths of our hearts our faith. We cannot do otherwise: no man can fashion world-history or the history of peoples unless upon his purpose and his powers there rests the blessings of this Providence."

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech at Wurzburg on 27 June 1937

"If positive Christianity means love of one's neighbour, i.e. the tending of the sick, the clothing of the poor, the feeding of the hungry, the giving of drink to those who are thirsty, then it is we who are the more positive Christians. For in these spheres the community of the people of National Socialist Germany has accomplished a prodigious work."

-Adolf Hitler, in his speech to the "Old Guard" at Munich on 24 Feb. 1939

"As Fuehrer of the German people and Chancellor of the Reich, I can thank God at this moment that he has so wonderfully blessed us in our hard struggle for what is our right, and beg Him that we and all other nations may find the right way, so that not only the German people but all Europe may once more be granted the blessing of peace."

-Adolf Hitler, before the Reichstag, 06 Oct. 1939

"[I] never lost my belief, in the midst of setbacks which were not spared me during my period of struggle. Providence has had the last word and brought me success."

-Adolf Hitler, speech of 23 Nov. 1939

"But he who dares to use the word "God" for such devilish activity blasphemes against Providence and, according to our belief, he cannot end except in destruction."

-Adolf Hitler, speaking about Jews and international "warmongers," on 04 May 1941, before the Reichstag

"May therefore God give us the strength to continue to do our duty and with this prayer we bow in homage before our dead heroes, before those whom they have left behind in bereavement, and before all the other victims of this war."

-Adolf Hitler, in prayer at the end of a radio address on 15 March 1942.

"God the Almighty has made our nation. By defending its existence we are defending His work....

Only He can relieve me of this duty Who called me to it. It was in the hand of Providence to snuff me out by the bomb that exploded only one and a half meters from me on July 20, and thus to terminate my life's work. That the Almighty protected me on that day I consider a renewed affirmation of the task entrusted to me....

Therefore, it is all the more necessary on this twelfth anniversary of the rise to power to strengthen the heart more than ever before and to steel ourselves in the holy determination to wield the sword, no-matter where and under what circumstances, until final victory crowns our efforts....

In the years to come I shall continue on this road, uncompromisingly safeguarding my people's interests, oblivious to all misery and danger, and filled with the holy conviction that God the Almighty will not abandon him who, during all his life, had no desire but to save his people from a fate it had never deserved, neither by virtue of its number nor by way of its importance....

In vowing ourselves to one another, we are entitled to stand before the Almighty and ask Him for His grace and His blessing. No people can do more than that everybody who can fight, fights, and that everybody who can work, works, and that they all sacrifice in common, filled with but one thought: to safeguard freedom and national honor and thus the future of life."

-Adolf Hitler, in a radio address, 30 Jan. 1945

Tal said...
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Tal said...
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Tal said...

Anonymous

Let's pause to go back and look at what I said that originally started this.

I wrote:

"Now, if it not an evil thing to punish or kill people just because of their beliefs, I don't know what is. Yet I have shown how easily it is to come to just that conclusion without ever invoking the concept of God. It is only a matter of logic, once we begin with certain (atheist and utopian) premises.

"And of course, this wasn't really a hypothetical. It was this same reasoning which licensed the persecution of religious believers in Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Cambodia, etc."

Perhaps my language is misleading here. If so, my fault.

All I meant to point out was that the persecution of religious believers can be justified *not only on (rival) sectarian grounds*, but on atheist and/or Utopian grounds, and that two examples were Nazi and communist persecution of religious believers. Perhaps the communist example is better, since the communists were more open about their view of organized religion as a rival than the Nazis were; but regardless, the original point still stands untouched by anything you have said.

But about the Nazis.

The Nazi persecution of religious believers, including Catholics and Protestants who refused to submit to Nazi authority claims, was NOT undertaken in the name of any particular religion, religious institution, or religious creed, but in the name of achieving a (non-denominational) Utopia. The only "God" in that Utopia would be Hitler himself.

Another way of looking at this is to ask what evidence there is that Hitler's realized Utopia would have included state-sponsored or even state-championed Catholicism, for instance. There is, in fact, none. After all, organized religion inherently posed a threat to the authority claims of the Nazis.

Far from being "fully Christian" at its heart, the ideology of National Socialism was a toxic blend of, among other things, folk superstition and prejudice (as opposed to the doctrine of a particular organized religion), garbled Nietzscheanism, and contemporary science, especially Darwinism.

To believe that Hitler adapted and integrated a "fully Christian ethos" would require either that we know virtually nothing about Hitler or Christianity, or else that by "adapted a fully Christian ethos" we mean "did NOT adapt a fully Christian ethos". It is an assertion far beyond what any evidence warrants.

Yet you still defend this claim, even though, as you have shown, all you have to support it is quotes from Hitler's PUBLIC speeches given to CHRISTIANS whose political support he desperately needed. This is nowhere near good enough.

For some reason, the possibility that HITLER, the master cynic, the remorseless liar and schemer, the man who obviously would say or do anything he needed to, to achieve his ends, might not have accurately represented the true nature of his "ethos" in these speeches, continues to be inconceivable to you. I don't get that.

Even stranger is that even beyond all the most basic reasons we have for believing that Hitler's public protestations of faith may have been cynical, there is a litany of quotes from his PRIVATE conversations which show those quotes to be just what I contend they (obviously) are: for the most part, calculated deceptions.

But even STRANGER is that you could continue to defend this claim in the face of a political career in which Hitler takes *every single opportunity he can find* without jeopardizing his power base (so, often slyly) to *stick it to the churches*. The churches just get in the way, Anonymous. Don't you get it? The traditional image of the suffering, victimized Christ as an ideal man ALSO just gets in the way of the vision of the Aryan supermen Hitler wants everyone to buy into. See? Christianity in the end his enemy; that he sucks up to it when he needs to is only the same as his sucking up to Russia when he needs to; it is a matter of political expediency, not a matter of principle. And as soon as he doesn't need to suck up anymore - well, he invades Russia. And no doubt, he would have, insofar as it was possible, eventually tried to abolish the church as well. In fact, he got pretty far down the road. (Odd, for someone with a "fully Christian ethos". Hmm.)

Where was I? Oh yes - throughout his career, Hitler sticks it to the churches when and where he can. Practically every historical treatment of Hitler documents just this. I actually pointed to a couple of these moves, which - tellingly - you did not even acknowledge. They show that, again, the only God in Hitler's world was Hitler himself.

So, you are like someone who announces that David Duke has a "fully non-racist ethos", and who produces quotes from some of Duke's public speeches where he announces that he's...."not a racist".

But you ignore his ACTIONS; you ignore his POLICY DECISIONS; you ignore his ASSOCIATES; you ignore his documented PRIVATE remarks; you ignore that the whole structure of the political movement he represents is totally at odds with non-racism. That just doesn't make sense.

To support your claim that Hitler "adapted and integrated" a "fully Christian ethos" into National Socialism (which, by the way, seems to imply that Hitler was, or had been, something like a devout Christian) all you have is a bunch of quotes from rah-rah speeches, which literally every historian of Nazi Germany views in exactly the same way I do, for all the reasons I do: as a way of arousing political support from an almost entirely Christian German population.

Anonymous - when there is an entire career showing that Hitler didn't give a rat's ass about Christianity except to exploit it for his own political gain, "Christianity-friendly" quotes from public stump speeches intended to arouse support from CHRISTIANS are just not enough to prove your case.