Ever since the liberation of Germany by the Allied powers in World War II and the discovery of the horrific crimes committed by the Nazi regime, Adolf Hitler and his followers have become synonyms for evil in the annals of human history. As such, it is not surprising that some religious apologists have attempted to discredit atheism by linking it to the atrocities of the Nazi regime and claiming that Hitler and his followers were atheists. Here is one Christian claiming this; here is another. The ever-dependable fountain of hatred Ann Coulter has said so as well:
Interestingly, this was the approach of all the great mass murderers of the last century — all of whom were atheists: Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot.
Even before today, there was more than sufficient evidence to lay this falsehood firmly to rest. Regardless of what Hitler really believed, he was emphatically not an atheist: he said so himself numerous times, and in fact firmly declared his opposition to atheism. Here is a quote uttered by Hitler in April 1933:
Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without religious foundation is built on air; consequently all character training and religion must be derived from faith…
And from a speech given in October of that year:
We were convinced that the people need and require 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.
However, an article released today by the United Press, Hitler bested God by 2 commandments, should be the final nail in the coffin of this spurious claim. This brief article concerns the discovery of an extant copy of “Germans with God”, a version of the Bible written by the Third Reich and distributed to German churches in 1941. The Nazi version contains two additional commandments to add to the standard ten, neither of which should be very surprising: “Honor your Fuhrer and master” and “Keep the blood pure and your honor holy”. Here is its rendition of the original decalogue:
- Honor God and believe in him wholeheartedly,
- Seek out the peace of God,
- Avoid all hypocrisy,
- Holy is your health and life,
- Holy is your well-being and honor,
- Holy is your truth and fidelity,
- Honor your father and mother — your children are your aid and your example,
- Maintain and multiply the heritage of your forefathers,
- Be ready to help and forgive,
- Joyously serve the people with work and sacrifice.
Christian apologists fond of Nazi comparisons might want to take a closer look at that first one: “Honor God and believe in him wholeheartedly“. Again, this is a Bible that the Nazi regime, and this almost certainly means Hitler himself, wrote, edited and approved of.
Of course, religious apologetics have never been about the facts, and some Christians will doubtless continue to claim that Adolf Hitler, despite announcing his opposition to atheism on multiple occasions, despite declaring his intention to “stamp out” atheism, and despite presiding over the distribution of Bibles urging their readers to believe in God “wholeheartedly”, was an atheist. But of course, there are always people who will believe things on the basis of no evidence whatsoever and that all the available evidence contradicts.