I’ve previously covered Adolf Hitler in a retrospective that can be read here, and I’ve covered clerical fascism which can be read here, but in this article I’m going to present facts that show that the Christian movements in Germany actively supported the Nazi party’s (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterparte – National Socialist German Workers’ Party) uprising.
This isn’t going to be about proving that Hitler wasn’t an atheist, as I’ve covered it in the article A retrospective: Adolf Hitler, and it’s not going to be about whether anyone else in the Nazi party was a believer, as that’s also been covered with Johan Heinrich Ludwig Müller, who was Reichsbischof, which meant the chief Bishop of the Nazi party, in this article, Clerical Fascism.
This is where I will discuss Christianity’s active involvement in the Nazi party, and how, especially in the Catholic Church the involvement went all the way to the top, and even the Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli) never condemned their actions, and met Hitler on several occasions, and signed the Reichskonkordat, which was treaty between the Nazi party, and the Vatican when he was the Cardinal Secretary of State, before he became the Pope.
Christian apologists use desperate measures to try and make society believe that the Catholic Church wasn’t in bed with the emerging Nazi party, in the 1930s, previous to the events of World War II, but it’s been covered by many historians, and especially in the book ‘Hitler‘s Pope‘ by John Cornwell.
Scholars have researched, and studied Nazi records, and it’s been clarified that the non-religious played next to no part other than victims of the Axis forces. At the time of the rise of the Nazi party, the majority of Germany was of some branch of Christian faith, and most of them were strong supporters of Hitler and his values. The support from Christianity and its churches continued even after Germany started World War II, and the true nature of the cruel dictatorship came to light.
The only way that fascism could rise to power, was through support, but why did it gain support in Germany, Italy and other European countries that were predominantly Christian? In Germany 2/3rds were Protestant Christian and the rest Catholic leaving a tiny percentage adhering to paganism.
“We demand the freedom of all religious confessions in the state, insofar as they do not jeopardize the state’s existence or conflict with the manners and moral sentiments of the Germanic race. The Party as such upholds the point of view of a positive Christianity without tying itself confessionally to any one confession. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit at home and abroad and is convinced that a permanent recovery of our people can only be achieved from within on the basis of the common good before individual good.” – Excerpt from the Nazi Party Platform of 1920
Johan Heinrich Ludwig Müller, was a Prussian member of the Nazi party, and was a prominent member of the ‘German Christian‘ movement, which was a sect of the German Evangelical Church (Deutsche Evangelische Kirche), where he became Reichsbischof (Reich Bishop). The ‘German Christian‘ were associates with Positive Christianity (Positives Christentum) which was a combination of Nazi ideology and Christianity with an obsession with ‘Christ Killers‘, who were Jews. They encouraged Christian anti–Semitism which became responsible for the Holocaust, and wish to ‘de–Judaize‘ the Bible and refused to accept that Jesus was a Jew and believed that he was the first true Aryan.
In Europe from the start of the 20th century, the Jews were seen as being materialistic, and supporters of modernism, which angered both Catholics and Protestants and enforced anti-semitism, and the Germanic nations began to consider the Jews as a curse. Many agreed with Müller that Jesus was the first true Aryan soldier who was put on earth to cleanse it of Jews, and that the Aryans are the only real humans that are descendants of Adam and Eve. Hitler himself said in several speeches that he was continuing God’s work in his fight against the Jews.
The term Untermensch became a common way for the German population to describe the Jews, which means ‘Subhuman‘. The anti-semitism in Germany was so strong that they considered the Jews to be children of Satan, and like vermin, they needed to be exterminated. Even as Jews were taken from their homes and taken to Nazi death camps, the support from the common German remained strong. Germanic Aryanism was described as the Volkisch movement, and Joseph Goebbels, who was Hitler’s close friend, and the minister of Propaganda, publicly stated that if the Nazi party had adopted this ideology sooner, then they’d have gained power after Germany’s defeat in World War I.
“What does Christianity mean today? National Socialism is a religion. All we lack is a religious genius capable of uprooting outmoded religious practices and putting new ones in their place. We lack traditions and ritual. One day soon National Socialism will be the religion of all Germans. My Party is my church, and I believe I serve the Lord best if I do his will, and liberate my oppressed people from the fetters of slavery. That is my gospel.
The Nazi party gained much support from the German nationals because they were scared of democracy which brought secularism, and with Communism also spreading around Europe, fascism was Germany’s defence against its influence. Many of the high ranking Nazis were born into Catholic households, were baptised and attended churches regularly. Adolf Hitler went to school at a Monastery, and found the power the priests had to be intoxicating, and according to some scholars he even considered priesthood before his interest in politics began.
In 1933 he gave a speech to the Reichstag where he said that ‘Christianity was the “foundation” for German values‘, which received a standing ovation. Obviously the Nazi party used propaganda, and perhaps some of Hitler’s speeches were designed to touch the hearts of the listeners, but it cannot be denied that the 60,000,000 inhabitants of Germany, as a majority supported Hitler and the Nazi party. Germany became a socialist, nationalist state, and the people who lived there couldn’t have been prouder of that fact. To be fair, if any dissent towards the Nazi party came to light, the Nazi secret police, the Gestapo were quick to respond, and often the consequences weren’t favourable, and this led to fear being one of the reasons the church stayed in line, but even despite this, many top theologians continued to openly support the ideology of the Nazi party.
“Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . We need believing people.
The youth of Germany as a whole supported the Nazi regime, and the majority of university lecturers, and theologians promoted Nazi ideology to the students. The German population wished for Germany to rise to a strong nation again, after their decline after the Great War (World War I), and by allowing Hitler to rise to power, in the mind’s of the voters, this would become a reality.
Franz von Papen, who became chancellor of Germany in 1932, was born into an aristocratic Roman Catholic family, and he remained devout his entire life. Due to little support from the Reichstag, Papen had no option but to resign, and helped convince the German president, Paul von Hindenburg, to appoint Hitler as the new German chancellor in 1933.
Even after the war ended, many religious leaders refused to take accountability for their support of the Nazi brutality, and openly encouraging the Nazi uprising, and some never, ever showed remorse or acknowledged their guilt. It’s true that as the war effort continued, and more atrocities and brutality occurred, the churches’ support declined, but the damage had already been done by then.
Religious leaders, politicians and the general public as a majority supported Hitler’s rise to power, and accepted his totalitarian dictatorship, and the brutality of the Nazi party, the Schutzstaffel (SS), and the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo). Whether a large number of them regretted their allegiance is probable, but not forgivable. Christianity allowed, and supported the rise of the Nazi party, and are complicit in the butchering of Jews. Apologists insist that Germany, and the Nazi party were predominantly atheist, and this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Religious groups looked to the regime to rid Germany of non-theism, and the traditionalists despised leftist, liberal and secularist ideologies.
In 1933 there was a vote by the Protestants, and two thirds of them were in favour of the churches combining into one ‘German Christian‘ sect, and Müller was chosen to lead them, and history states that the racial Nazi ideology that we are all aware of was implemented into the Christian faith of Germany. Christianity clearly had no concerns with racism, and Christianity forced non-Aryans out of representing the churches and attending them, but let’s blame Nazi Germany on atheism, as it’s often used as a scapegoat for religious apologists (ἀπολογία), but in this instance there is no defence!