Hitler’s Racism and Christianity

Hitler was a Christian, by his own confession. What does it imply about Christianity? Uhh… Nothing… Hitler was a German. What does this imply about Germans? Nazis used philosophy of Nietzsche (an atheist). What does this imply about Nietzsche and atheism? Hitler also wore a very peculiar mustache, forever associated with him. Why is there no connection between Hitler’s mustache and racism, but (oh!) there is deep connection between Christianity and Nazism? Can someone explain the logic involved?

Knowledge Guild

‘Eternal Nature inexorably revenges the transgressions of her laws. Therefore, I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator: By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work.’

“Die ewige Natur rächt unerbittlich die Übertretung ihrer Gebote. So glaube ich heute im Sinne des allmächtigen Schöpfers zu handeln: In dem ich mich des Juden erwehre, kämpfe ich für das Werk des Herrn.”

Hitler. A. 1925. Mein Kampf Munich, Germany: Franz Eher Nachfolger (1939) Chapter 2

‘The least beautiful that can exist in human life is and remains the yoke of slavery. Or does this Schwabing to decadence perhaps perceive the present-day fate of the German nation as ‘aesthetic’? There is certainly no need to discuss this with the Jews, the modern inventors of this culture perfume. Their entire existence is a protest incarnate against the aesthetics of the Lord’s image.’

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16 thoughts on “Hitler’s Racism and Christianity

  1. Well, check the agreements between the Nazi’s and the catholic church- or Franco and the Catholic church, or Mussolini and the catholic church, or Pinochet and the catholic church…

    • I did briefly check this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichskonkordat
      and this http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/mussolini_roman_catholic.htm. All I see is an attempt to protect the church from these regimes. I don’t see any open endorsement of the Holocaust by the Catholic church and, in many cases, I see opposition to Hitler and Mussolini by the Catholic church. A mere fact that the Church signed agreements with Hitler does not mean anything.

      By this logic, anyone who came in contact with the Nazis can be accused as participant in their deeds. IBM corporation provided punch-card technology to Nazis facilitating the Holocaust in much more practical way than Vatican. Damn computers! Adolf Dassler, the founder of Adidas produced boots for Wehrmacht. Shame on Adidas! Volkswagen car company was founded by Nazis. Damn German cars!

      Why don’t people make those silly statements? Everyone who did business in Nazi Germany had to “cooperate” with Nazis in one way or another. And Catholic church had a lot of “business” there.

      • Well, you didn’t do very good research. The church acted as the eyes and ears of various fascist regimes. Franco’s right hand man was a high ranking catholic official.

        • Still, how actions of individuals incriminate Christianity? Where is the proof that these actions are direct consequence of their Christian belief and not of something else? Plenty of people cooperated with Nazis – not all of them were Christians.

          If you have event 2 (cooperation with Nazis) in the absence of event 1 (Christianity), it seems fairly clear that event 1 cannot be the cause of event 2.

          • They’re not a consequence of Christian belief per-se. But you’re confusing two different things. Christianity functions as more than ‘belief’. From its inception it’s been a political system as well.

          • Then I’m not the only one confused. The original post seems to refer to Hitler’s belief system, not to the political system of the Catholic church. Is Russian Orthodox church a different political system than the Roman Catholic church?

            Also, when atheists oppose religion, do they oppose the belief system or the political system?

          • That’s only one side of the story. Authoritarian systems have love/hate relationships. Just look at the Church vs. the unification of Italy (Garibaldi). We get from Hitler to Franco because they’re two of the big three (fascists) of the period in Europe, the third being Mussolini.
            All three had to find ways to work with/against the Catholic church and they did. Hitler in particular did it quite successfully. Hitler’s birthday celebrations were initiated by Bishops. He had a relationship with Orsenigo and Pius XII.
            You can’t take one side of the story, ignore the other and come to a black and white conclusion.

          • “You can’t take one side of the story, ignore the other and come to a black and white conclusion.”

            I’m not so sure the wikipedia only gives only one side of the story. You can ignore the single Catholic link I gave if you like.

            It seems you are the one only giving one side of the argument. I think evenryone can agree in Hindsight that everyone, every other government, and every institutions should have and could have done more to end Hitler’s reign sooner. Lots of people were fooled by Hitler. Lots of people Catholics and Christians alike were immorally complacent and even at times complicit in allowing him to achieve his horrendous ends. But the Catholic Church and Christianity in general was not especially worse than other institutions.

            The Catholic Church did not control armies that it could have used to combat Hitler. They did issue one of the first condemnations of any institution:
            but alas has to deal with good and bad governments alike.

            The blog has nothing to do with Franco or Mussolini, or the second Spanish republic, anarchists, Mao, Pol Pot, or Stalin.

  2. Hitler’s case is interesting and his belief system is relevant because he emulated the Catholic/Christian political structure. He developed iconography, he used the classical proselytizing/propaganda methods of Christianity (monotheistic religions). He also copied their divide and rule ideology, claims of exceptionalism, apart from signing agreements with the Vatican itself. So I guess to be more precise, his belief in a deity isn’t relevant, but his belief in the structure of the belief system that Christianity uses operationally is extremely important.
    As for the atheist opposition of religion I think it depends who you ask, I oppose it on logical and political grounds.

    • Good points. However, iconography and propaganda with essentially similar mechanisms were successfully used by communists to screw up half of Europe and Asia for good 70 years. No Christianity or religion were involved.

      Discussions about religion are very difficult. Not only because they carry a lot of emotional baggage, but also because religion is so complex that I have very hard time understanding what elements define religion. There is theism (belief in a deity), there are rituals and practices, dogmatism, iconography and symbolism, mythology, propaganda. The ideology itself cannot be reduced to a single belief. Some beliefs I find benign (a simple belief in a deity, theism, does not seem to cause any more harm than a simple disbelief in deities, atheism). Some beliefs seem to be more dangerous, in particular, beliefs that tend to divide people into faithful/infidels, righteous/sinners, claims of exceptionalism. Religion is intertwined with every aspect of human life – from politics to art. I do not see how it can be simply removed from human culture.

      It also seems to me that science, so successful in study of nature, is almost helpless in studies of social processes or seems to be in its infancy. Whereas, religion, although irrational seems to be a fairly mature institution which operates without us even understanding all the mechanisms. Perhaps, a few centuries will pass before humans will have any working scientific models for social processes.

      • Aaaaaaaaaah… you’ve touched an excellent point! The communists did exactly the same thing as the fascists. What’s North Korea’s concept of a Supreme Leader based on? Check their iconography. They perfectly emulate the system that was started by monotheistic religion. A system of indoctrination and manipulation that works like no other.
        The crux of this is that these systems are based on deception and fooling the followers and that’s not a great basis for any ideology.

        • Interesting discussion. I don’t have to check communist iconography because I lived in the Soviet Union for the first 23 years of my life.

          The definition of “deception” is not as straightforward as we may think. We can scientifically establish only natural facts. Social statements are subjective and cannot be experimentally checked very easily. We can only estimate whether certain beliefs, behaviors and practices have “good” consequences or lead to “evil” and then accept the “good” beliefs and practices and avoid “bad” beliefs and practices. Again, we must agree on what is considered “good” and “evil”.

          Consider two statements “well-being of the society takes priority over individual well-being” and “individual well-being takes priority over the well-being of society”. In case of conflict of interest between an individual and a group, we must use one or the other to guide our actions. We must accept one as “true” and reject the other as “false”. But these are not statements of fact. They are statements of belief.

          Now, how do you make most of society accept the “good” belief system and reject the “bad” belief system without propaganda and indoctrination? Don’t we come back to square 1 and return to the necessity of a system that operates similar to religion? Isn’t it the purpose of religion to make a majority of the group accept common values? E.g., the Bible clearly prioritizes procreation – it prohibits sex during periods when women are unlikely to conceive, it condemns sexual practices that don’t lead to procreation, etc. I think, it’s a useful belief system from evolutionary standpoint – increasing the number of the offspring increases the probability of group survival. Apparently, we are at the point when further increasing population of humans is detrimental to the environment and quality of life, but it’s a different discussion. So, if “increasing population is good” was true in Israel 3000 years ago, it may be considered false in today’s China. So, which statement shall we accept as “true” and which shall we call “deception”? Christianity also praises obedience as a virtue. Again, it could have been a “good” belief in times of war or to undertake large-scale projects. Mindless obedience and submission of self-interest to “common good” may be simply necessary in times of war. So, there may be situations when the statement that “religion as a system of indoctrination and manipulation is bad” can, itself, be considered false.

          And I did not even touch the role of religion in helping people to overcome psychological issues such as fear of the unknown, grief from the loss of loved ones, fear of death, etc. I think, for these issues, a little bit of self-suggestion and “self-deception”, if you will, through techniques called “prayer” or “meditation” might be beneficial. How do you convince yourself, for instance, that your life is not empty and worthless and deal with the notion that all things around us (including ourselves) decay and die at the end?

          • I agree with the first half.
            How about teaching/creating a system where people are forced to weigh real responsibilities with a cornerstone definition of ethics being “a set of concepts and principles that guide us in determining what behaviours help or harm sentient creatures”? This divorces humanity from arbitrary dogma. If at some point war is good for the group, and in the interest of individuals who are members of said group, then an argument must be made to prove that.
            I can see a variety of situations in which I might feel compelled to fight. I just think these things should be argued out rather than proposed as ‘truths’- which is what religion and authoritarian politics do.

          • The system you suggest sounds good in theory, but, probably, will not work in practice. Isn’t it self-refuting to argue whether individual interests need to be suppressed and subjected to “common good”? Most likely, such discussion will end in the rule of the majority. Democracy does not mean the lack of violence or suppression of individual opinions. In a democratic society, if you oppose the “democratic” government, you will be suppressed in a most violent manner. The reason democracy works (if we can say so) is exactly because a vast majority of society in democratic nations have been indoctrinated into belief that democracy is good which can be considered an “arbitrary dogma” itself. U.S. tries to impose this dogma religiously on the rest of the world, does it not?

  3. Are we to assume Hitler would never mislead anyone in order to gain political advantage?

    If you want to find out what Hitler really thought about Christianity you should read his more private conversations with closer confidants like table talk. You will find a very different view of Christianity.

    Certainly he will claim to be a good Christian in public when he is trying to gain favor for his views in a country where the vast majority of people are Christian.

    People who want to paint Hitler as a good Christian will constantly use what he told the overwhelmingly German public. People who want to know what Hitler really thought will look at what he told people close to him in more private settings.

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