The reason for this post is to respond to the idea that the NAZIs were in any way Christian or were supported by the Church or that Hitler was friends with the church. OR, for that matter, were anything but socialists. This post should be connected with my updated post, “NAZI OCCULTISM.” As well as a post discussing Luther’s anti-Semitism and the distinction between [conservative] Confessing Lutheran’s in Germany at the time and the more socially liberal socialist [state-run] Lutherans: Defending “Lutheranism” from Martin Luther’s Fall from Grace
Between these three posts one should be equipped to respond to this lack of knowledge in regards to history.
“Every powerful movement has had its philosophy which has gripped the mind, fired the imagination and captured the devotion of its adherents. One has only to think of the Fascist and the Communist manifestos of this century, of Hitler’s Mein Kampf on the one hand and Marx’s Das Kapital and The Thoughts of Chairman Mao on the other.”
~ John Stott
Here, for instance, are some verses from a Hitler Youth anthem:
We are the happy Hitler Youth;
We have no need of Christian virtue;
For Adolf Hitler is our intercessor
And our redeemer.
No priest, no evil one
Can keep us
From feeling like Hitler’s children.
Not Christ do we follow, but Horst Wessel!
Away with incense and holy water pots.
Singing we follow Hitler’s banners;
Only then are we worthy of our ancestors.
I am no Christian and no Catholic.
I go with the SA through thick and thin.
The Church can be stolen from me for all I care.
The swastika makes me happy here on earth.
Him will I follow in marching step;
Baldur Von Schirach, take me along.
~ Hitler Youth Song
(The two books in bold I own)
- Gene Edward Veith, Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judeo-Christian Worldview (Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1993), 67;
- See Ernst Christian Helmreich, The German Churches Under Hitler: Background, Struggle, and Epilogue (Detroit, MI: Wayne State Univ. Press, 1979), 267.
- Horst Wessel was the composer of the party anthem. Baldur von Schirach was the Reich Youth Leader. See Hermann Glaser, The Cultural Roots of National Socialism (Austin, TX: Univ. Texas Press, 1978), 43, 56n.
In Mein Kampf, he presented a social Darwinist view of life, life as a struggle, and presented national socialism as an antidote to both Judaism and communism. His party attempted to develope a new form of religion with elements of de-Judaised Christianity infused with German and Nordic pagan myths, but this was resisted by the Christians. ~ Professor Thies
- “I freed Germany from the stupid and degrading fallacies of conscience and morality…. We will train young people before whom the world will tremble. I want young people capable of violence — imperious, relentless and cruel.” ~ Hitler
On a plaque hung on the wall at Auschwitz; found in, Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God (Nashville, TN: W Publising Group, 1994), 23.
- “The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law [natural selection] did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all…. If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.” ~ Hitler
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translator/annotator, James Murphy (New York: Hurst and Blackett, 1942), pp. 161-162.
- “Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition…. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth… then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity…. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.” ~ Mussolini
Mussolini, Diuturna (1924) pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist (Ignatius Press; 1999), by Peter Kreeft, p. 18.
The Above Video Description:
Nuremberg Day 28 Church Suppression
Colonel Leonard Wheeler, Assistant American Trial Counsel, on Jan. 7, 1946, submitted the case regarding the Oppression of the Christian Churches and other Religious Groups in Germany and the Occupied Countries. He stated that the Nazi conspirators found the Christian churches to be an “obstacle to their complete domination of the German people and contrary to their master race dogma”.
The Indictment charged that “the Nazi conspirators, by promoting beliefs and practices incompatible with Christian teaching, sought to subvert the influence of the churches over the people and in particular the youth of Germany”.
For further information, see www.roberthjackson.org
- The Persecution of the Christian Churches
- The Nazi conspirators sought to subvert the influnce of the churches over the people of Germany
- Thesis XV of that Nazi publication states: “The Ethic of the German Religion condemns all belief in inherited sin, as well as the Jewish-Christian teaching of a fallen world
- In private, Hitler scorned traditional Christianity, considering it a religion fit only for slaves; he admired the power of Rome but maintained a severe hostility towards its teaching
- Historian John S. Conway states that Hitler held a “fundamental antagonism” towards the Christian churches
- According to a US Office of Strategic Services report, Hitler had a general plan, even before his rise to power, to destroy the influence of Christian churches within the Reich.
- The report titled “The Nazi Master Plan” stated that the destruction of the church was a goal of the movement right from the start, but that it was inexpedient to express this extreme position publicly.
- His intention, according to Bullock, was to wait until the war was over to destroy the influence of Christianity. He articulated his view on the relationship between religion and national identity as “We do not want any other god than Germany itself. It is essential to have fanatical faith and hope and love in and for Germany”
- THE NAZI MASTER PLAN ~ ANNEX 4: THE PERSECUTION OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES
- Scholarly opinion on Hitler’s religious views
Here as well is a quote from a much lauded biography of Hitler and his time in power. Note that he wanted to ultimately destroy the Christian churches with a materialist faith (Any of the large quotes below come from books I own and have read in full or in-part):
- Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1952/1962), 388-390.
Hitler had been brought up as a Catholic and was impressed by the organization and power of the Church. Its hierarchical structure, its skill in dealing with human nature and the unalterable character of its Creed, were all features from which he claimed to have learned. For the Protestant clergy he felt only contempt: ‘They are insignificant little people, submissive as dogs, and they sweat with embarrassment when you talk to them.
They have neither a religion they can take seriously nor a great position to defend like Rome.’ It was `the great position’ of the Church that he respected, the fact that it had lasted for so many centuries; towards its teaching he showed the sharpest hostility. In Hitler’s eyes Christianity was a religion fit only for slaves; he detested its ethics in particular. Its teaching, he declared, was a rebellion against the natural law of selection by struggle and the survival of the fittest. “Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure.” From political considerations he restrained his anti-clericalism, seeing clearly the dangers of strengthening the Church by persecution. For this reason he was more circumspect than some of his followers, like Rosenberg and Bormann, in attacking the Church publicly. But, once the war was over, he promised himself, he would root out and destroy the influence of the Christian Churches. “The evil that is gnawing our vitals,” he remarked in February 1942, “is our priests, of both creeds. I can’t at present give them the answer they’ve been asking for but… it’s all written down in my big book. The time will come when I’ll settle my account with them…. They’ll hear from me all right. I shan’t let myself be hampered with judicial samples.”
Earnest efforts to establish self-conscious pagan rites roused Hitler’s scorn: “Nothing would be more foolish”, he declared, “than to reestablish the worship of Wotan. Our old mythology had ceased to be viable when Christianity implanted itself…. I especially wouldn’t want our movement to acquire a religious character and institute a form of worship. It would be appalling for me, if I were to end up in the skin of a Buddha.”
Nor is there any evidence to substantiate the once popular belief that he resorted to astrology. His secretary says categorically that he had nothing but contempt for such practices, although faith in the stars was certainly common among some of his followers like Himmler.
The truth is that, in matters of religion at least, Hitler was a rationalist and a materialist. “The dogma of Christianity,” he declared in one of his wartime conversations, gets worn away before the advances of science…. Gradually the myths crumble. All that is left is to prove that in nature there is no frontier between the organic and the inorganic. 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…. The man who lives in communion with nature necessarily finds himself in opposition to the Churches, and that’s why they’re heading for ruin for science is bound to win.
It was in keeping with this nineteenth-century faith in science replacing the superstitions of religion that Hitler’s plans for the rebuilding of Linz included a great observatory and planetarium as its centrepiece.
Thousands of excursionists will make a pilgrimage there every Sunday. They’ll have access to the greatness of our universe. The pediment will bear this motto: “The heavens proclaim the glory of the everlasting.” It will be our way of giving men a religious spirit, of teaching them humility – but without the priests. For Ptolemy the earth was the centre of the world. That changed with Copernicus. Today we know that our solar system is merely a solar system amongst many others. What could we do better than allow the greatest possible number of people like us to become aware of these marvels?… Put a small telescope in a village and you destroy a world of superstitions.
Here as well is a respected biography on Hitler by Ian Kershaw. He notes that Hitler was trying to get his followers to “lay off” the Church till after the war was won — the main point being that there was nor room for Christianity in this future Utopia:
- Ian Kershaw, Hitler: A Biography (New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2008), 382, 661, 785, 969.
In February 1937 Hitler made it plain to his inner circle that he did not want a “Church struggle” at this juncture. The time was not ripe for it. He expected “the great world struggle in a few years’ time”. If Germany lost one more war, it would mean the end. The implication was clear: calm should be restored for the time being in relations with the Churches. Instead, the conflict with the Christian Churches intensified. The anticlericalism and anti-Church sentiments of the grass-roots party activists simply could not be eradicated. The activists could draw on the verbal violence of party leaders towards the Churches for their encouragement. Goebbels’s orchestrated attacks on the clergy through the staged “immorality trials” of Franciscans in 1937 — following usually trumped-up or grossly exaggerated allegations of sexual impropriety in the religious orders — provided further ammunition. And, in turn, however much Hitler on some occasions claimed to want a respite in the conflict, his own inflammatory comments gave his immediate underlings all the license they needed to turn up the heat in the “Church struggle”, confident that they were “working towards the Führer.”
Hitler’s impatience with the Churches prompted frequent outbursts of hostility. In early 1937, he was declaring that “Christianity was ripe for destruction”, and that the Churches must yield to the “primacy of the state”, railing against any compromise with “the most horrible institution imaginable”. In April, Goebbels reported with satisfaction that the Führer was becoming more radical in the “Church Question”, and had approved the start of the “immorality trials” against clergy. Goebbels noted Hitler’s verbal attacks on the clergy and his satisfaction with the propaganda campaign on several subsequent occasions over the following few weeks. But Hitler was happy to leave the Propaganda Minister and others to make the running. If Goebbels’s diary entries are a guide, Hitler’s interest and direct involvement in the ‘Church struggle’ declined during the second half of the year. Other matters were by now occupying his attention.
Hitler put forward once more his vision of the East as Germany’s “future India”, which would become within three or four generations “absolutely German”. There would, he made clear, be no place in this utopia for the Christian Churches. For the time being, he ordered slow progression in the “Church Question”. “But it is clear,” noted Goebbels, himself among the most aggressive anti-Church radicals, “that after the war it has to be generally solved… There is, namely, an insoluble opposition between the Christian and a Germanic-heroic world-view.”
…and in line with his undiluted social-Darwinistic beliefs, to take his people down in flames with him if it proved incapable of producing the victory he had demanded.
…in its maelstrom of destruction Hitler’s rule had also conclusively demonstrated the utter bankruptcy of the hyper-nationalistic and racist world-power ambitions (and the social and political structures that upheld them) that had prevailed in Germany over the previous half a century and twice taken Europe and the wider world into calamitous war.
I also wanted to add this comparison of ideals/ethos that drove some of the worst socialists of the day. Here Andy Bannister notes Stalin’s admission that “socialism proper” is at war with Christianity:
Stalin once stated: “You know, they are fooling us, there is no God … all this talk about God is sheer nonsense.” But Stalin was not content with mere words; he also acted on them. In 1925, he actively encouraged the founding of the League of Militant Atheists, which for over twenty years acted out its slogan, “The Struggle Against Religion is a Struggle for Socialism.” It began with popular campaigns in the media against religion, aiming to persuade citizens that religion was irrational and toxic. But soon things became considerably more violent:
- Churches were closed or destroyed, often by dynamiting; priests were imprisoned, exiled or executed. On the eve of the Second World War there were only 6,376 clergy remaining in the Russian Orthodox Church, compared with the pre-revolutionary figure of 66,140. One dreadful day, 17 February 1938, saw the execution of 55 priests. In 1917 there were 39,530 churches in Russia; by 1940, only 950 remained functional.
Andy Banister, The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist: Or, The Dreadful Consequences of Bad Arguments (Oxford, England: Monarch Books, 2015), 23.
“We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system under all conditions.” ~ Hitler
John Toland, Adolph Hitler: The Definitive Biography (New York, NY: Anchor Books, 1976), 223-225.
Did Hitler, like Stalin, kill the religious? At least 3-million Polish Catholics were holocaust victims. Note especially the systematic massacre of the clergy and religious orders:
Repression of the Church was at its most severe in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany, where churches were systematically closed and most priests were either killed, imprisoned, or deported. From across Poland, thousands of priests died in prisons and concentration camps; thousands of churches and monasteries were confiscated, closed or destroyed; and priceless works of religious art and sacred objects were lost forever. Church leaders were targeted as part of an overall effort to destroy Polish culture. At least 1811 Polish clergy died in Nazi Concentration Camps. An estimated 3000 clergy were killed in all. Hitler’s plans for the Germanization of the East saw no place for the Christian Churches.
[In the Diocese of Chełmno] It is stated that a large number of priests have been shot, but neither the number nor the details are as yet known, as the occupation authorities maintain an obstinate silence on the subject… The Churches have almost all been closed and confiscated by the Gestapo… all the crosses and sacred emblems by the roadside have been destroyed… 95% of the priests have been imprisoned, expelled, or humiliated before the eyes of the faithful… and the most eminent Catholics executed.
Hitlerism aims at the systematic and total destruction of the Catholic Church in the rich and fertile territories of Poland which have been incorporated into the Reich… It is known for certain that 35 priests have been shot, but the real number of victims… undoubtedly amounts to more than a hundred… In many districts the life of the Church has been completely crushed, the clergy have been almost all expelled; the Catholic churches and cemeteries are in the hands of the invaders… Catholic worship hardly exists any more… Monasteries and convents have been methodically suppressed… [Church properties] all have been pillaged by the invaders.
It would seem that Hitler’s socialism had the same outcome in every way as Stalin’s.
- J.S. Conway, The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-45 (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1968), 255-259.
From the beginning of 1941 such new and stringent measures were taken against the churches by the Nazi authorities that more damage, it was said, was done ‘physically and morally by the land raids of the Gestapo than by the air raids of the RAF’.
The number of expropriated church properties rose rapidly. In a secret circular addressed to the Gauleiters on 20 March, Bormann wrote:
Many valuable church properties have had to be sequestred lately, especially in Austria; according to reports from the Gauleiters to the Führer, these sequestrations were frequently caused by offences against ordinances relating to the war economy (e.g. hoarding of food-stuffs of various kinds, textiles, leather goods, etc.). In other cases they were caused by offences against the law relating to malicious attacks against the State [Heimtϋckegesetz], and in others because of prohibited possession of firearms. Obviously, no compensation is to be paid to the Churches for sequestrations made because of the above-mentioned reasons. . . .
The reasons given for the seizures were the need for auxiliary hospitals or resettlement centres for refugees and evacuated children, or, alternatively, acts of hostility to the State perpetrated by members of the religious orders, particularly the Jesuits. If an individual member of a monastic community was adjudged guilty of an offence, it was seized upon as a pretext for the closure of the whole institution. In actual fact, the Churches’ properties were expropriated solely for the Nazis’ own ends, each of the Nazi leaders making a bid for what he considered their most appropriate use. Dr Ley in June 1940 argued in favour of using monasteries as homes for the Aged or for the Kraft durch Freude. In April 1941 Bormann suggested that Church orphanages should be taken over for the housing of evacuees, a move to which Hitler agreed. In a circular issued from Hitler’s headquarters in May 1941, Bormann decreed that
the Nazi State and movement cannot permit children to be brought up in denominational kindergartens according to Church principles, or along the lines of denominational divisions. Today this question can be finally cleaned up by withdrawing permission from the organizers of Church-sponsored institutions for children. In justification, the special role of the Party in this area should be stressed.
The requisite orders were accordingly issued, and by 31 July all Church kindergartens had been seized by the Gestapo and transferred to the sponsorship of the Nazi Welfare organization.
The requisitioning of monastic properties had first been adumbrated by Himmler, in December 1939, when, in his capacity as Reich Commissar for the Strengthening of the German People’s Community (Reichskommissar far die Festigung deutschen Volkstums), he had ordered the Volksdeutsche Mittelstelle in Berlin to take over `suitable accommodation which could be used for the housing of returning Volksdeutsche’. When, eleven months later, Cardinal Bertram protested that the decree had been used to requisition entire monasteries and convents and to evacuate their inhabitants, his protest was ignored. In January 1941 Himmler ordered the complete evacuation of all such Church properties without compensation. War-time necessity, the Cardinal was informed, was a sufficient justification for the measure, and the question of compensation, could be settled after the end of the war. In December 1940 the Gauleiter of Alsace ordered all Church organizations to be dissolved and their property confiscated. In Innsbruck, Gauleiter Hofer coerced the Premonstratensian Order into ‘selling’ their monastery at Wilten to the provincial government of Tyrol. In Silesia no less than 60 monasteries and church institutions were seized. In Luxembourg, 400 priests were expelled on Hitler’s personal orders; all the institutions run by members of Catholic Orders were confiscated and their inhabitants were transported across the border into the diocese of Trier; all hospitals in the territory were declared secular institutions. In Lorraine, the Warthegau, Lower Austria and South Germany where the measures were particularly severe, the Church authorities estimated that by the beginning of May no less than 13o monasteries and Church institutions had been confiscated.
This was only the beginning. A letter from the Party headquarters for Mainfranken on 24 April 1941 informed the local Party organizers that :
By order of the Gauleiter, I request from you an immediate report on the situation of all monasteries and convents in your area. A short description of each building should include its size, its place in the countryside, and its activities or participation in agricultural work. Very important is an account of the transportation facilties, since the rural setting of many monasteries makes them very suitable for the needs of the Kraft .lurch Freude (Hotels, Rest houses, holiday and sports resorts). Furthermore your report should include the view of the County Party leader on the future use of these buildings. Since the matter is being treated as very urgent on the national level, I am asking for an immediate reply by return of post, in an express and registered letter.
The German bishops and the Roman Curia itself immediately launched a protest. For some time past the Papal Nuncio had almost monthly complained either verbally, by letter, or with a Verbal Note to State Secretary Weizsäcker about similar sequestrations, some of them involving considerable properties. In May 1941 he again protested against the abruptness with which the confiscations had been carried out without prior warning either to himself or to the Church authorities. Weizsäcker’s reply was a curt statement to the effect that the war-time need for housing was so great that further requisitions could be expected. Rome could draw only one conclusion. In a letter to the German Embassy dated January 1942, the Curia protested that because of
the increasing difficulties put in the way of the religious Orders and Congregations in the spiritual, cultural and social field, and above all the suppression of abbeys, monasteries, convents, and religious houses in such great numbers, one is led to infer a deliberate intention of rendering impossible the very existence of the Orders and Congregations in Germany.
In June 1941 Cardinal Bertram again bitterly complained that, ‘at a time when the whole German people were united in a decisive struggle for the future of our country’, the rights of Catholics were disregarded and overridden throughout the land. In the regions of Trier, Kassel, Saxony, Thuringia, Cologne, Aachen, and Silesia, he stated, church kindergartens had been expropriated, such Catholic insignia as crucifixes and religious paintings had been removed, and teachers and nuns had been expelled. Catholic parents, he averred, were alarmed by these events, which contravened the provisions of the Concordat and served to strengthen the impression ‘that a systematic campaign for the destruction of all that was Christian was now in process’.
Despite the Nazis’ oft-repeated desire not to exacerbate tension between Church and State, restrictions on Church work continued to multiply. On I June 1941, the Church press was totally suppressed for the duration of the war in contrast to the press of the German Faith Movement and the anti-clerical pamphlets of the Ludendorff Publishing House, which continued to be published though on a reduced scale. In April, new regulations for the pastoral care of patients in hospitals were promulgated, whereby priests were prohibited from entering the hospitals unless specifically requested by patients and with the approval of the medical authorities, and Church welfare agencies were replaced by the National Socialist Welfare organization and the Winter Aid Programme. In the same month religious education in Saxony was abolished altogether; the Ministry of Education in Berlin prohibited the use of prayers at school assemblies; and the gradual removal of crucifixes and religious paintings from every school was ordered by the Bavarian Ministry of Education.
On Bormann’s instructions, every pastor who resigned his office and, preferably withdrew from the Church, was to be offered a government job; and Hitler himself ordered that any Jesuits serving in the Army were to be declared unfit for service and released. Anti-clerical propaganda was stepped up in an attempt to alienate the sympathy of the laity from their clerical leaders, and anti-church literature denigrating the sacraments was handed out free of charge. On 12 June the Gauleiter of Baden, Robert Wagner, announced to an enthusiastic audience of Party followers in the Festival Hall in Karlsruhe that
when our foreign foes lie at our feet, then we will tackle the foes at home; there are still some running around the country in purple and ermine.