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Friday, December 28, 2012

Was Hitler an Atheist?

One of the many claims of Christians is that Adolph Hitler was an atheist. They make this statement for many reasons, primarily to distance themselves from this infamous mass murderer. After all, if Hitler was an atheist, then that explains his actions, since we all know atheists are immoral. (See my article on whether atheists actually are immoral for more on this topic) However, if Hitler was a Christian, then they are in the embarrassing position of trying to explain why a Christian would kill so many people. Actually, since Christians have been killing people for close to 2000 years, it is hard to understand why they think it is unusual.

Hitler was raised as a Catholic and remained one for his entire life. He made Christian school prayer mandatory for the 1930's German schoolchildren who grew up to be his dreaded SS.  The Catholic Church never ex-communicated Hitler for any of his actions. In fact, they sent him birthday greetings every year during the war.  It has been noted that Hitler had minor disagreements with the Catholic church in Germany (but not with the church in Rome, with which he signed a Concordat in 1933, and which ordered the German church to fall in line), and they have attempted to twist these minor disagreements into a widespread misconception that he was an atheist. Hitlers issue with the Church was that he believed he should be above it, not with its message. If the Catholic Church considered Hitler a good Christian, and he considered himself a Christian, it is amusing to hear others try and explain that he really was not one. The Catholic Church did ex-communicate Martin Luther for his writings and actions, so they would take that response when they considered it appropriate. If you really believe that Hitler was not a Christian, please answer this. What did Hitler do that the god of the OT did not also do?

As an aside, the Catholic Church HAS ex-communicated Communists.

The Decree against Communism is a 1949 Catholic Church document (by Pope Pius XII) which excommunicates all Catholics collaborating in communist organizations. The document resulted in one of the largest formal excommunications in the history of the Catholic Church (it could include more than several million Catholics).
The Vatican, having been silent during the war on communist excesses, displayed a harder line on communism after 1945. The ruling followed suit to an earlier 1937 encyclical entitled Divini Redemptoris which was strongly critical of communism and its Christian variants.
The Holy Office issued several decrees, falling broadly into two categories:
  • Defence of Church rights regarding the ordination of bishops and Church activities, and,
  • Condemnations of participation in Communist parties and organizations.
On July 15, 1948, L’Osservatore Romano published a decree about communism, which excommunicated those who propagate "the materialistic and anti-Christian teachings of communism", which was widely interpreted as an excommunication of the Communist Party of Italy, which however, was not mentioned in the decree.[1] The Sanctum Officium continued to issue condemnations:
  • Membership in communist parties, July 1, 1949 [2]:
  • Excommunication of Bishop Dechet, February 18, 1950,[3]
  • Membership in communist youth organizations, September 28, 1950,[4]
  • Usurpation of Church functions by the State, June 29, 1950,[5]
  • Illegitimate state ordered ordinations of bishops, April 9, 1951,[6]
  • Publications favouring totalitarian Communism, June 28 and July 22, 1955,[7]
The decree was confirmed in 1962 by Pope John XXIII when it was announced that Fidel Castro would be excommunicated for embracing Communism and persecuting members of the Catholic Church.

Hitler, Franco and Mussolini were given VETO power over whom the pope could appoint as a bishop in Germany, Spain and Italy. In turn they surtaxed the Catholics and gave the money to the Vatican. Hitler wrote a speech in which he talks about this alliance, this is an excerpt: “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, writing to the Nazi Party.

...Adolph Hitler said "As for the Jews, I am just carrying on with the same policy which the Catholic Church has adopted for 1500 years.....when it regarded the Jews as dangerous and pushed them into ghettos, etc., because it knew what the Jews were like..." Because of the Council of Trent, laws were set forth to establish who was a heretic and history shows us that the Vatican legally slaughtered "heretics" to cleanse the Land of Christians and Jews. As the Second Vatican Council commenced in 1963, Pope John XXIII declared, "I do accept entirely all that has been decided and declared at the Council of Trent" this includes the 100 or so anathema's against Bible Christians.

...The truth is that the teachings of the Council of Trent, made the Inquisition & Holocaust possible and these teachings are still being used to kill Bible Christians all over the world even today. Adolph Hitler was never excommunicated as a Catholic for his crimes against the Jews. Instead, the Vatican considered him to be a hero. Hitler, Mussolini and Franco were backed by the Vatican and this is what a Catholic newspaper in Spain said about Hitler the day he died:- "Adolph Hitler, son of the Catholic Church, died while defending Christianity. [Roman Catholicism] It is therefore understandable that words cannot be found to lament over his death, when so many were found to exalt his life. Over his moral remains stands his victorious moral figure, with the palm of the martyr; God gives Hitler the laurels of victory."

As for atheism, Hitler specifically opposed it in a 1933 speech in Berlin: "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." 

There are many reasons to say that Hitler was a Christian. There are the numerous expressions of his belief, both written and oral, both public and private.

“National Socialism is not a cult-movement-- a movement for worship; it is exclusively a ‘volkic’ political doctrine based upon racial principles.  In its purpose there is no mystic cult, only the care and leadership of a people defined by a common blood-relationship... We will not allow mystically- minded occult folk with a passion for exploring the secrets of the world beyond to steal into our Movement.  Such folk are not National Socialists, but something else-- in any case something which has nothing to do with us.  At the head of our programme there stand no secret surmising but clear-cut perception and straightforward profession of belief.  But since we set as the central point of this perception and of this profession of belief the maintenance and hence the security for the future of a being formed by God, we thus serve the maintenance of a divine work and fulfill a divine will-- not in the secret twilight of a new house of worship, but openly before the face of the Lord…  Our worship is exclusively the cultivation of the natural, and for that reason, because natural, therefore God-willed.  Our humility is the unconditional submission before the divine laws of existence so far as they are known to us men.”  -Adolf Hitler, in Nuremberg on 6 Sept.1938.

    “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

    "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 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 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 my self 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."  –Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed.  The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

    "Christianity could not content itself with building up its own altar; it was absolutely forced to undertake the destruction of the heathen altars.  Only from this fanatical intolerance could its apodictic faith take form; this intolerance is, in fact, its absolute presupposition." -Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf
    "The personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew."  -Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf
    "With satanic joy in his face, the black-haired Jewish youth lurks in wait for the unsuspecting girl whom he defiles with his blood, thus stealing her from her people." -Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf
    “The best characterization is provided by the product of this religious education, the Jew himself.  His life is only of this world, and his spirit is inwardly as alien to true Christianity as his nature two thousand years previous was to the great founder of the new doctrine.  Of course, the latter made no secret of his attitude toward the Jewish people, and when necessary he even took the whip to drive from the temple of the Lord this adversary of all humanity, who then as always saw in religion nothing but an instrument for his business existence.  In return, Christ was nailed to the cross, while our present- day party Christians debase themselves to begging for Jewish votes at elections and later try to arrange political swindles with atheistic Jewish parties-- and this against their own nation.”–Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)
    "…the fall of man in paradise has always been followed by his expulsion."  -Adolf Hitler, 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.”  –Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)
    “The anti-Semitism of the new movement was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge.”  –Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf
“Only in the steady and constant application of force lies the very first prerequisite for success.  This persistence, however, can always and only arise from a definite spiritual conviction. Any violence which does not spring from a firm, spiritual base, will be wavering and uncertain.”  –Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf .

Hitler not only believed in Jesus (which alone made him a Christian) but his work against the Jews came straight from Christian theological reasoning just as had many Christian saints of the past. His Christian expressions of “Lord God,” “Living Christ,” and “Lord and Savior” indicates his acknowledgement of Jesus as God and his acceptance of a resurrected Christ (for what else can “Living” and “Savior” mean except from a resurrected state?). Hitler also believed in the supernatural concept of life after death. In Mein Kampf he wrote, “a religion in the Aryan sense cannot be imagined which lacks the conviction of survival after death in some form.”

Hitler clearly had creationist ideas:
Hitler argued for a critical review of the Bible, to discover what sections met an “Aryan” spirit. In these same notes, he took a “biogenetic” history as the main biblical emphasis, arguing that original sin was solely racial degeneration – sin against the blood. He also argued in favour of the notion of a creator, a deity whose work was nature and natural laws, conflating God and nature to the extent that they became one and the same thing. This again came back to race, and meant that he argued in Mein Kampf that one could not avoid the “commands” of “eternal nature” or the “Almighty Creator”: “in that I defend myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

Another indication of Hitler’s beliefs about religion comes from his private library of numerous books. Although most of Hitler’s books came as gifts from writers and publishers, those where he penciled and underlined sections reveal, not only the books that he read, but also those that he commented on and had an interest in. Timothy W. Ryback, who examined Hitler’s books, found more than 130 books devoted to spirituality and religion including the teachings of Jesus Christ. Some of the titles included, Sunday Meditations; On Prayer; A Primer for Religious Questions, Large and Small; Large Truths About Mankind, the World and God; a German translation of E. Stanley Jones’s 1931 best seller, The Christ of the Mount; and a 500-page work on the life and teachings of Jesus, published in 1935 under the title The Son: The Evangelical Sources and Pronouncements of Jesus of Nazareth in Their Original Form and With the Jewish Influences. Ryback also found a leather-bound tome — with WORTE CHRISTI, or “Words of Christ,” embossed in gold on the cover — According to Ryback, it “was well worn, the silky, supple leather peeling upward in gentle curls along the edges. Human hands had obviously spent a lot of time with this book…. I scanned the book for marginalia that might suggest a close study of the text. A white-silk bookmark, preserved in its original perfection between pages 22 and 23 (only the portion exposed to the air had deteriorated), lay across a description of the Last Supper as related by Saint John. A series of pages that followed contained only a single aphorism each: ‘Believe in God’ (page 31), ‘Have no fear, just believe’ (page 52), ‘If you believe, anything is possible’ (page 53), and so on, all the way to page 95, which offers the solemn wisdom ‘Many are called but few are chosen.’” [Ryback]

Even if it is true that Hitler was against Christianity, the German people were mostly Christians themselves. The fact that they would willingly follow someone who was anti-Christian does not say much about their faith. However, this does not mean that they disbelieved Christian virtues. The Germans believed that they were the embodiment of Christianity. They were the master race and as such, they were above all the other lesser races who needed these Christian directions.

As Christians are so fond of saying about bible verses, you have to understand the context. Hitler was not against Christianity, he simply felt that it needed to be subservient to him. He was a megalomaniac, you need to keep that in mind. He also felt that as his master race dominated the world, that it would sweep out the beliefs of the lesser races including their misunderstanding of Jesus.

But just for the sake of argument, lets pretend that Hitler really did pretend his Christianity; that his sole aim went to politically winning over German Christians so that he could gain their confidence. How in the world does that improve your argument in protecting Christianity from Hitler? If that proved the case, then who should get the blame, Hitler or the gullible Christian German citizens who believed him? And what does that say for the integrity of Christianity if the most Christianized country in the world could not distinguish a member of their own belief system? Think about it. If the most pious Christians and clergymen could not tell if Hitler practiced false or "real" Christianity, then how in the world could anyone tell? I submit that the only way to tell comes from the very words from those who make the claim. Indeed, this constitutes the very flaw of any religion because there never has existed a testable way to determine the truthfulness of a belief in the supernatural. And if you cannot tell by the words of your fellow Christians, then anyone with minimal acting talent can deceive anyone, including monks, bishops, or popes. In fact, monks, bishops and popes themselves, could fall prey to falsehood. I submit to you that a false Christian and a real Christian makes absolutely no difference. Why? Because if I have it right (and I think I do) then Christianity never represented reality, thus an honest believing Christian and a dishonest believing Christian fall on equal turf: they both have it wrong, and they both practice falsehoods!

The only evidence we have, or could ever have, about people who call themselves Christian comes from the very confession of those making the claim. And since Hitler makes his claim to Christianity abundantly and clearly, we can only rely on his claim, regardless of whether he actually believed in Christ or not. False Christianity has as just much validity as any claim to Christianity, even if you could prove dishonesty.

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