Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hitler was a Christian

To be honest I'm tired of all the times I've had to discuss the claim that Hitler was an atheist when the evidence that he was in fact a Christian is overwhelming. There is argument to be made that Hitler was no fan of organised religion, but even this is put on uncertain ground as there is a strong case the quotes upon which that assertion is made were forged by Bormann, the anti-Catholic editor of the writings known as Hitler's Table Talk.

Anyway, here's a nice stash of photo's showing Hitler relating to Christ and his filthy wizards.


Thanks to Matt M for this link to a great list of Hitler quotes on his faith and Christianity.

And here's another good resource regarding Hitler's table talk and other extraneous sources. In fact NoBeliefs.com has an impressive section dedicated to Hitler's Christianity.

If you enjoyed this article please feel free to digg it down below.


sacred slut said...

Excellent link!

Matt M said...

A collection of quotes taken from his speeches, 'Mein Kampf' and various other sources which destroy the myth of Hitler as an atheist can be found here.

chooseDoubt said...

Thanks Sacred.

Matt M, thanks for the link. I'll update the post so that it's in the main body. I'm also adding a link regarding Hitler's Table Talk.

Rhology said...

So...if you say you're a Christian, that automatically makes you a Christian?

What if I, and I mean me, a real person, say I'm a Hindu? Does that make me a Hindu?

Rhology said...


I propose this as a synthesis of what you've presented here and the significant amount of conflicting facts out there:

Hitler was a madman who was heavily into a sort-of self-theistic mythological megalomania.
So maybe it's not a great idea to call him an atheist, I can see that maybe. It's worth a different discussion.
But just b/c Hitler appeared in churches doesn't make him a Christian. That's pretty silly. I myself have been known to frequent coffeehouses. That doesn't make me a French skeptic. It means I like what the coffeehouse provides - good coffee. Similarly, Hitler liked what going to church provided - psychological power over a religious populace.


Tommy said...

CD, I look at it this way.

Regardless of whether or not Hitler considered himself to be a Christian, atheist, or neo-Teutonic pagan, the majority of the German people were Christians and considered theirs to be a Christian nation and that the Jews were Christ killers and godless Bolsheviks.

German culture was steeped in anti-semitism that was absorbed by a young Hitler, who in turn was able to tap into that same anti-semitic wellspring to appeal to the German people in supporting him in his rise to power.

Matt M said...

Was Hitler a Christian? In the sense of believing in their God and the Bible it would appear so.

What's interesting is that his references to Christianity differ depending on whether it's a public or private statement. In public, he's quite supportive. In his private writings (and I'm including 'Mein Kampf') and sayings he adopts a much more aggressive tone - still notably theistic, but less tolerant of the churches. From what I can see - and this is far from an indepth analysis - he bought into the Christian mythos (though his interpretation is considerably different from most Christians today) but viewed the earthly churches as a rival for power.

The quotes, etc. in this post are useful for derailing any 'Hitler was an atheist' arguments, but I think it's pointless to get into "whose side where they on" discussions - isolated examples prove very little. If religion leads violence then what of all the good religious folk have done? If atheism leads to violence then why isn't Sweden considered the biggest threat to world peace?

Rhology said...

What's interesting is that his references to Christianity differ depending on whether it's a public or private statement.

Yes, that's precisely right. It's what one would expect from a guy who fits the description I've proposed.
I have to admit that I've been guilty in the past of attributing Hitler's 3rd Reich the title of "atheist regime". I will do my best to stop doing so from this day forward and to let others know that it is not a tenable thing to say.
Neither is it tenable to say that Hitler was a Christian, so hopefully we can put both matters to bed for all who read.

If religion leads violence then what of all the good religious folk have done?

Tell Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris.


Phinehas said...

I only had to read through the first two of those quotes to see what kind of "christian" Hitler was, and that's not a very true one.

Sure, one could say he was a Christian in name - perhaps he even tried to believe it, I don't know - but there's a disconnect between what he says he believed and what he was doing.

Anyone who says that his religion was the gateway and the vehicle he used for the mass killings is misguided. That approach simply smacks of grasping for another reason to hate on religion.

chooseDoubt said...

Yes, and there's no true Scotsman either.

Tommy said...

Phinehas, as I wrote, it does not matter whether Hitler was a Christian or not, what does matter is that he could not have carried out the Holocaust without the at least tacit consent of the German people. For many German Christians, Jews were Bolsheviks and Christ killers.

Where were the massive protests by German Christians against Hitler telling him in no uncertain terms, "This is wrong and we will not permit it."?

chooseDoubt said...

And what was the Vatican's role?! (I wanted to use an interrobang there but can't seem to reproduce it).

Hitler was a Christian by his own repeated and life long declarations. So, he was not your sort of Christian. So what? Phinehas is probably not Rhology's sort of Christian. The Pope is not a "true" Christian according to other sects and vice versa. It's just the no true Scotsman fallacy, again and again. Can the fallacy be extended to state "there is no true bible" thanks to the dependence upon wildly varying interpretation? Yes, I think that is fair.

All I wanted to make clear is this. Someone calling themselves a Christian and believing themselves to be a Christian does nothing to make them a moral person, one who will try not to cause others suffering - one who will help. Conversely, religious faith will cause people to concern themselves over victimless crimes; crimes that only exist in the dogma or faith fuelled bigotry of the self-proclaimed "righteous", as Hitler was. Crimes such as being gay, failing to fall for the same mythology as the local majority, or being Jewish, etc.

Does it matter that Hitler was a Christian? Yes. Does it matter that almost everybody involved in the genocide of the Jewish people was a Christian? Yes. Does that mean we can blame Christianity alone? No. But it does mean that Christianity, or any other faith, is not a moral insurance policy and in many cases is simply something used to defer responsibility to a higher power and thus allow people to make believe that their actions are condoned or required by a force above them. That is sufficient reason to oppose religion by itself and even to hate it if one must.

Phinehas said...

To CD,

Actually, Rhology and I know each other fairly well. We met in Japan a few years back and have kept in contact since then - I found this website through his blog and just started reading it a day or two ago. I think we believe pretty closely along the same lines, but I understand the point you're making there.

In your last comment you posit very strongly that Hitler was a Christian, as if it was proven fact - however, after having looked at both your links and the links provided by Rhology, it's pretty clear there's some uncertainty with that issue. Anyone who alters the Bible by eradicating passages where Jews are mentioned and adding commandments, and then infiltrates the church with plans to make it fit to Nazi ideals can call themselves whatever they want - a pig by any other name would still smell as foul. I don't think this is a "Scotsman" issue myself.

Moving on, I cannot disagree with you that religion has been used as a vehicle for terrible things in the past, but that doesn't essentially make religion wrong - it makes the people who brainwash their followers wrong. The same tactics were employed with the Communist regime and still continues on in North Korea today, except without any noticable ties to religion beyond undying devotion to the country's or party's leader. Sometimes people are blinded by what they believe to be the truth and let that guide them all over the place, whether it be under the guise of religion, other times completely void of it. Pointing a finger at religion as the cause is misguided.

As a short counterexample we can look and Rev. Martin Luther King who believed in a cause and led his followers toward Civil rights. I find it easier to believe he was a Christian, not only because he said he was, but because the evidence was there (something lacking in Hitler's case - and I mean evidence of actually believing and acting upon the scriptures, not statements or pictures of him standing in front of a church). Most of his followers were also Christians, and together they were "brainwashed" into making significant strides in the Civil Rights movement.

What differences are there between this and something like, say, the Jonestown Massacre? The heart of the people behind it, I would say.

In short, it's not just religious people who can be stupid. Anybody people can be stupid when they fall into the pattern of believing something to be greater than God Himself. If anything, I see the Bible as an anchor to keep these aspects of religion at bay.

Anyway, this may be a jumble - it's late here for me (I'm still in Japan). I would be interested, though, to hear your take on the other links provided about Hitler's "christianity".


chooseDoubt said...

Hi Phinehas,

It is Hitler that claimed continuously throughout his life to be a Christian. His claim is every bit as meaningful as that of anybody else. Let’s be honest – it is hardly unusual for self-proclaimed Christians to occupy wildly differing theological grounds and as for altering and editing the bible what exactly was it that the First Council of Nicea did and enabled Church representatives to do? The simple answer is to establish canons of doctrinal orthodoxy. The result of this, although it was by no means the first or last time this occurred, was editorial alteration, omission, addition and deletion of the texts that form what you now call the bible. If Hitler attempted the same he can hardly be accused of being an innovator in that respect. Like it or not he was a Christian pig – just not a true Christian to you.

It doesn’t matter for this argument what other faith or ideology is guilty of the same mistakes that have occurred throughout Christian history. Christianity is still exposed as offering no security against the creep of violent insanity into the actions of human beings. I don’t need to argue that other ideologies are not also guilty of this. I am certain that they are. That doesn’t change the fact that Christianity has failed to restrict Christians from actions and ideal that we are likely able to agree were vicious in nature with regards to our fellow humans. No amount of counter examples changes failures into successes. Christianity is no guarantee against vile deeds.

Furthermore, Christianity directly encourages the judgement of others personal actions as being immoral despite such private actions causing no harm to another living thing. There is a cost to this. The blocking of the HPV vaccine for example will result in tends of thousands of unnecessary, excruciatingly painful deaths of women from cervical cancer. Why? Is there a single good reason for this? No. There is simply the Christian “moral” imperative to try to scare people away from enjoy sexual relationships on their own terms. For that victimless crime, a crime only by the morality of those whose lives will be utterly unaffected by such actions, tens of thousands of women must die. Tens of thousands of families must lose mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. That is the product of putting dogma before concern for the individual’s well being.

Africa, 4 million dead in one year from HIV. Babies too young to talk, let alone sin, have died and continue to die because the “moral” code of some believer makes condom use yet another victimless crime. Discrimination against homosexuals, the entire history of the slave trade, the enforced inequality of women, crusades, stem cell research, attempting to derail education, brainwashing innocent children into lives of intellectual poverty and narrow-mindedness – these are a very few of the credits that we can attribute to no single cause more consistently and thoroughly than we can the cause of the dogmatic generation of victimless crimes. It would be a monstrous act of spin and manipulation of fact to attempt to distance your dogma from these sorry affairs. No counter examples make any difference to this.

First, you are in no position to judge any other Christian by your very own dogma. Yet Christian history is a continuous trail of such judgements. These judgements, these beliefs, have a cost – a massive cost in human suffering. You can use nice loose terms such as “heart” but what is in the heart of someone doing everything they can to fuel a social and legal discrimination against two other men from finding love with each other? Is it kindness? What is in the heart of a creationist distorting fact, quote mining Darwin, refusing to educate themselves adequately, denying evidence and misleading the public to try to enforce a policy of ignorance in schools? Is it honesty? Come to think of it, what exactly is in the heart of someone actively working to undermine the spread of education and of free or cheap condoms on a continent ravaged by a terrible disease that claims millions of lives per year that can be saved? Is it dignity? And what is in the heart of someone who with no evidence at all rails against our species’ hard won knowledge to proclaim that without reason they KNOW the absolute truth of life and the universe and proclaim that they KNOW how men, women and children MUST conduct their private lives? Is that humility?

So what was in Hitler’s heart? It hardly seems important but at least a proportion of it was his self-proclaimed Christianity. Whatever it was it is as Christian as any of the other abominations against peaceful co-existence and mutual liberty that I have listed above. Not only has Christianity protected us from none of that, it has fuelled it and given remorseless confidence to pour ignorance and hatred upon each other that only the absolute rejection of personal morality can provide. That is the problem with your faith. Your pig most surely stinks.

Mark my words. The vast majority of your fellow Christians would have been just as cruel and murderous as the Christians that made up the Nazi regime. There is a very good chance that they will yet show that in very much the same way. As far as I am concerned, they already have.



Tommy said...

Phinehas, one of the most influential and important figures in the Civil Rights movement was Bayard Rustin, a homosexual, a Marxist, and an atheist. So the Civil Rights movement was not a Christian movement lock stock and barrel.

What I brought up earlier and which you did not address, is if Christianity was so important in the abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights movement, where was the organized Christian resistance to Hitler? Or put it this way, for some 1,500 years or so, what Christian states in Europe openly embraced and accepted their Jewish populations? I doubt you will find any.

Phinehas said...

@ Tommy: Sorry about missing your post the first time through, I got caught up in responding to CD and I had forgotten.

You may or may not take my response as worth anything, since I haven't done thorough research on it nor have any links to provide, but I'll soldier on anyway. What little I know of the Nazi Regime is that it didn't suddenly show up in Germany one day, but rather it took months and years to establish the type of society ripe for dealing with the Jews. As a slow-acting poison, it may have seemed to Christians at the time that there was no need to act. By the time notices went up that the Jews were to be shipped off, questioning the regime was not a particularly desirable thing to do. Should someone have done something? Absolutely. Why nothing was done, however, is as good a question for the Christians as it is for the atheists. I believe people from every walk of life were blinded/scared by opposing something that they either wanted to believe in or were scared to death of saying anything against it. As for the second question, I'm not sure of the answer, and apologize. It's even later than my last post and I want to go to bed.

@ CD

I appreciate how you took my "pig" analogy and reused it :) I read it over once or twice to make sure I had worded that sentence right (in my sense it was referring to the muderous nature of Hitler and the "any other name" was "christian" in this case). Just clarifying, though I'm sure you understood what I was saying.

A few short reactions:

"First, you are in no position to judge any other Christian by your very own Dogma" - You're quite right, it's up to Christ to judge. I have no say in who a true believer is and cannot decide who is going to live with God forever and who will live separate from Him. Thank God I don't have that responsibility. However, this is not a case of "judge not, lest ye be judged", but rather a "test and see" what is right type of situation. Hitler's actions clearly don't stand up to the canon of scripture. But if it makes you feel any better, you can continue to call Hitler a Christian just because he fancied calling himself one.

Yes, I have heard of the council of Nicae and believe it to have been a necessary part of pruning the scriptures. As you probably know, at the time there were many blatantly false documents parading around and causing confusion. Among the many differences between that council and Hitler is that they never added to the scripture, and that it was a group of people who were scholars and leaders of the church. Hitler was one man bent on destroying the Jews. It is not the same thing at all.

Finally, I agree with your statement that Christianity is no guarantee against vile deeds. Perhaps that was all you've been trying to say all along and we've just been beating around the bush. The things you go on to mention (HIV, etc.) are heartwrenching problems no doubt, and I guess it may be easy to blame them all on "Christianity". This is merely too big a bite for me to chew with all the things you throw in there. In essence, many of these things, if not all of them, are decisions done and made by individuals - fallible, fallen, broken, often-wrong individuals. I couldn't agree more that people all over the world, Christians and atheists alike, have made decisions that hurt other people. Innocent people. I hate to see injustice carried out in the name of Christianity or any other name just as much as you. It doesn't prove anything false to me, but it does reinforce very strongly that people can be dumb and make bad, selfish decisions.

Homosexuality and Evolution, two things on which you briefly discuss are other baskets that I can't open right now (because of time, sry). There's plenty of evidence on both sides of the evolutionary debate however, as well as errors in thinking on both sides. And as for homosexuality, yes, I believe it's a sin, and I believe it's a sin that has been mishandled in recent years by many Christians as well. What more can I say about that right now? It's an important matter, for sure, so I don't mean to discount it.

I do mark your words, because once again, I can agree with them. We're not perfect. Sin is a slovenly bedfellow that many people have a hard time ridding themselves of. I'm sure a vast majority of your fellow atheists would have enjoyed killing the Jews as well. So where do we go from there? The answers vary, of course. As Christians we try and find forgiveness and a transformation in Christ so that hopefully more good is done than evil is let to abound. I'm not sure what an atheist does, so I won't venture to guess. But I do know that a Hitler would parade as a warrior of light and mass murder a people.

All right, I'm off to bed. Looking forward to any replies/reading more posts. I am still curious to hear how you feel about the links rhology left for you a few comments above.

'til then,