By Alex Constantine
“The prophet seldom has any honor in his own country.” – Adolf Hitler
Point 24 of the Nazi Progamme circulating in Germany of the 1920s stated that the only religion that the party officially denounced was "Jewish":
We demand liberty for all religious denominations in the State, so far as they are not a danger to it and do not militate against the morality and moral sense of the German race. The Party, as such, stands for positive Christianity, but does not bind itself in the matter of creed to any particular confession. It combats the Jewish-materialist spirit within and without us, and is convinced that our nation can achieve permanent health from within only on the principle: the common interest before self-interest.
Many historians of WW II have downplayed the role of religion in Hitler's Germany, most notably Richard Overy, author of The Dictators, cited by Christian researchers everywhere to reprimand those who suggest that the Nazi leader used religion as a vehicle of mass persuasion. Despite prestige appointments and numerous awards for scholarship, Overy, as a historian of Hitler's Germany, is a complete incompetent if not deliberately dishonest. His contention that Hitler was hostile to capitalism, for instance, is blatantly false. Pay no heed to slippery conservative Christians who cite Overy and his equally dubious contention that Christianity was "in decline," and played no role in the rise of the Third Reich.
Overy’s sourcing alone is a red flag - he relies heavily on the writing of Hermann Rauschning (a friend of Hitler who "defected" and sat out the war in the United States); other questionable citations and deliberate misinterpretations of Nazi Party rhetoric are common.
One widely-repeated citation is made by Bruce Walker in an article posted on the Net, "The Nazis and Christianity," published by American Thinker, a Christian site. According to Walker, the "decline of Christianity in Germany led directly to the rise of Nazism. Professor Henri Lichtenberger in his 1937 book, The Third Reich, describes the religious life of the Weimar Republic as a place in which the large cities were 'spiritual cemeteries' with almost no believers at all, except for those who were members of the clergy."
Seems to be a legitimate history until one considers that Henri Lichtenberger, the French historian, was a fascist propagandist who idolized Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Wagner. He was a mercenary with a pen, drawn from ranks favoring a Franco-German intersect in the early '20s. He was PRO-NAZI. Lichtenberger's word on anything was determined by who paid him.
This is the caliber of "experts" that right-wing evangelical propagandists cite when making the claim that Nazi Germany was "secular." The bottom line is that, in private, Hitler found National Socialism and Christianity fundamentally incompatible because he believed that the latter - "an invention of the Jews" - had given rise to Bolshevism. Ironic, then, that before Hitler, Lenin became Christ ... in a true athiest state ... as reported by Vision, a quarterly academic print and online journal of news and analysis:
... As chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, Lenin soon became a dictator …. The use of traditional religion played a part in securing popular support. Following an attempt to assassinate Lenin in 1918, his public persona was infused with religious verbal and visual imagery. Sociologist Victoria Bonnell notes that now the leader
"Aspects of the political, social and religious fabric of the Russian Motherland provided many of the necessary conditions for Lenin’s cult. .… While Hitler and Stalin were deranged and profoundly evil, they were aided and abetted by masses of people who moved toward them as the leaders they desired. As we have noted before in this series, the symbiosis of leader and led cannot be ignored as we try to explain the bloodlust that characterizes the rule of many, if not all, false messiahs. Nor is exploitation of religious fervor ever far from the surface as leaders seek and maintain followers. Mussolini appealed to elements of traditional Catholic religion to create his fascist cult, and Hitler was well aware of religion’s power to induce loyalty to a cause. It was no different in the atheistic Soviet Union for most of the last century.
Hitler's religious beliefs and fanaticism (quotes from Mein Kampf)
As a boy, Hitler attended Catholic Church and was exposed to the anti-Semitism of the prevailing religious culture. In Mein Kampf and in his speeches, Hitler appeared to be a fanatical believer in God. In one speech, he declared:
The world will not help, the people must help itself. Its own strength is the source of life. That strength the Almighty has given us to use; that in it and through it we may wage the battle of our life.... The others in the past years have not had the blessing of the Almighty - of Him Who in the last resort, whatever man may do, holds in His hands the final decision. Lord God, let us never hesitate or play the coward, let us never forget the duty which we have taken upon us.... We are all proud that through God's powerful aid we have become once more true Germans.
On race war:
Hitler's Biblical beliefs show clearly where he based his notion for offensive action:
On liberty: “God does not make cowardly nations free.” (Mein Kampf)
In a speech delivered on April 23, 1922, Hitler stated:
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 only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them. … 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.
On himself: "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so." (Hitler speech, 1941)