Read more at FriendlyAtheist.com
Follow Molly: @Molly_Nelson/ www.mollyanelson.com
Some of the things he said privately suggest that he saw Christianity as a tool for keeping the people of Germany in line, but that it wasn’t sufficiently dictatorial for his purposes! “”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?”
It’s reasonably clear that his intent, after a German victory in the war, was to eradicate the established religions and replace it with a State religion with him at its head. Making explicit in Europe what had already occurred in Russia under Stalin: you’re not an atheist if you want to be worshipped as a god!
An interesting quote, given that there was at least one instance where he caved in to the church. They officially stopped their T4 euthanize program due to public pressure instigated mostly by the Catholic Church. It continued in greater secrecy, but on a far smaller scale. There were priests and bishops who read letters in church that were then widely publicized. This was in 1941, before there was a massive influx of prisoners from Soviet Russia, so most of the victims were non-Jewish Germans, which didn’t go over well. The Nazis didn’t want to risk a confrontation with the church and the public during the war. There were calls by some to have some influential bishops killed, but they knew that this would provoke outrage. It’s probably the only example of a successful public protest during their reign.
That doesn’t mean that the church was generally against the war or even the Holocaust. One bishop who was very instrumental in that opposition was very much in favor of the war against the Soviets, precisely because Stalin’s oppression against the Christians there. Which as you note, was shortsighted given that the CC’s arrangements with the Nazis would have been temporary.
There are many fake quotes floating around on the web which imply that Hitler hated christianity. Most of them can be traced back to a book called “Hitler’s Table Talk.” It was a collection of sayings by Hitler, originally compiled by Martin Bormann. After the war it was translated from German into French by François Genoud, a Swiss Nazi sympathizer and bankroller. Many historians consider Genoud’s translation sloppy, inaccurate and even fraudulent. It contains large numbers of anti-christian quotes that are nowhere to be found in the original German text, and many pro-christian quotes have been omitted. The French translation was translated into English by the British historian Hugh Trever-Roper, and this translation introduced further inaccuracies.
The are mountains of evidence that Hitler was profoundly religious, identified himself as a christian, and saw religion as an integral part of his racial agenda.
It’s true though that he wasn’t really a fan of the existing organized religions as they were basically competition. The Reichskonkordat was a way for both of them to keep the other side in check, but the Nazis still dismantled some Catholic institutions (like monasteries) in their takeover of all social functions.
They vaguely planned to eventually get rid of the existing church organizations, merge Christian and Nazi ideology and thus have a Nazi-controlled Christian church. There were differences of opinion between various Nazi leaders about that. Some of them were definitely anti-Christian, but they lost out. This was set into motion with the persecution of dissenters, the eradication of organized opposition in the churches and taking control of the churches as much as they could. But they couldn’t get rid of those structures entirely during the war as that would have caused far too much friction in society.
Are we still playing hot potato with Hitler?
Good point. The question is not whether Hitler was a true scotsma… I mean catholic, but rather whether people supported him because he projected an image of being catholic.
Does it really matter if Hitler was a Christian or not? When you start playing that game, you always get people logically stating that Stalin and Mao were atheists.
Could’ve done without the trope that gay=trans…
Sign up for free newsletters and special offers
Follow Patheos on