Hitler and Catholicism 21

Ever since the Second World War, the Catholic Church has desperately tried to separate itself from the history of the Third Reich, and repudiate Adolf Hitler as one of its sons.

Before the war, in the early years of Hitler’s chancellorship, the Church in Germany did oppose him. But from 1939 onward, it collaborated with him; a fact which it has gone to great pains to try and disprove, without success.

We suspect it is embarrassed rather than appalled by what Hitler wrought without its interference,  condemnation, or even the mildest official objection when the Final Solution, the genocide of the Jews, was implemented. We say this in consideration of the Catholic Church’s own totalitarian, anti-Semitic, and blood-soaked history.

Hitler was born into a Catholic family and was brought up as a Catholic by a pious mother. He was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church as an infant in April 1889. He was confirmed in 1904. He was a communicant and an altar boy. For a time in his adolescence he thought of becoming a priest.

In adulthood, his ardour for the Church cooled. He did not go to confession or attend mass. But he continued throughout his life to think of himself as a Christian, and as Dictator of the Third Reich he maintained the most cordial and co-operative relationship with the Vatican and the German primates.

The Church will not confess to this. Its revisionism, how it now presents its attitude to Hitler, is illustrated by this quotation from a letter dated November 21, 2002, written by David E. Utsler, the Information Specialist of an organization called Catholics United for the Faith, in Steubenville, Ohio:

It is true Hitler was born to Catholic parents. His father was reported to be lukewarm in his faith, but his mother was very devout. Adolf Hitler was confirmed in 1904, but did not often attend Mass. The question is not whether Hitler was a Catholic, but whether he practiced the Catholic faith and if his lifestyle accurately represented Catholicism. Clearly, the answer to that question is “no.”

Hitler was not a faithful son of the Church, docile to her teaching, but rather looked at the Church in a way that served his own ends. For example, in his Mein Kampf, he makes reference to the Catholic Church, because he perceived the Church to be a blueprint for the totalitarian state he wished to create. It is absurd to construe Hitler’s political delusions as an indictment against the Church. …

The real question is whether Hitler persevered in the faith of his baptism or turned from it. The historical record clearly shows that Hitler, in both word and deed, repudiated the faith of his baptism, so Hitler’s “Catholicism” is a non-issue.

How they would like it to be a “non-issue”! But while Hitler could certainly be described as a “lapsed Catholic”, and although the Church likes to claim now that his deeds demonstrate a repudiation of Catholicism, there is no record of his ever making a statement of renunciation.

What were Hitler’s religious beliefs?

The following information and quotations come from an essay by Chris Thiefe, an American atheist of German descent:

As Hitler approached boyhood he attended a monastery school. (On his way to school young Adolf daily observed a stone arch which was carved with the monastery’s coat of arms bearing a swastika.) …

In MeinKampf he wrote about his love for the church and the clergy. “I had excellent opportunity to intoxicate myself with the solemn splendor of the brilliant church festivals. As was only natural, the abbot seemed to me, as the village priest had once seemed to my father, the highest and most desirable ideal.”…

He was never excommunicated nor condemned by his church. …

In a document dated 22 July 1933, he wrote: “The fact that the Vatican is concluding a treaty with the new Germany [concerning German tax revenues sent to the Vatican] 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 is hostile to religion is a lie.”

The Church preached Nazi ideals in their sermons and “in turn Hitler placed Catholic teachings in public education”.

This photo depicts Hitler with Archbishop Cesare Orsenigo, the papal nuncio in Berlin. It was taken On April 20, 1939, when Orsenigo celebrated Hitler’s birthday. The celebrations were initiated by Pacelli (Pope Pius XII) and became a tradition.

In the 1920s, Hitler’s German Workers’ Party adopted a 25 point program. Point 24 stated:

“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…”

The Church alleges that Hitler was an atheist, or a pagan, or  was interested in mystical cults and occultism.

But he was positively intolerant of atheism:

“’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.

And, Thiefe writes, “the following words from Hitler show his disdain for atheism, and pagan cults, and reveal the strength of his Christian feelings”:

“’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 surmisings 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.

Of course Nazism itself was a mystic cult – as that statement convincingly confirms. And the cult was not Christian. But the Christian God was never dethroned in Hitler’s mind.

Testimony to this comes from his architect friend, Albert Speer, who wrote in his book Inside the Third Reich:

“Around 1937, when Hitler heard that at the instigation of the party and the SS vast numbers of his followers had left the church because it was obstinately opposing his plans, he nevertheless ordered his chief associates, above all Goering and Goebbels, to remain members of the church. He too would remain a member of the Catholic Church, he said, although he had no real attachment to it. And in fact he remained in the church until his suicide.

The Catholic Church continues to do its utmost to exonerate Pope Pius XII, pleading that he saved some Jewish lives. But the hard truth remains that the Church stood by as Hitler did his worst.

Jillian Becker    September 17, 2010

  • restyl

    “We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement”.
    But in original German we read “Gottlosenbewegung”. The meaning is not ‘atheistic movement’ but communist freethought movement and not atheism in general. Gottlosenbewegung has a political meaning.
    http://www.wissen.de/lexikon/gottlosenbewegung

    • Jillian Becker

      This is interesting, restyl, and we thank you for it. However, the question arises as to why they chose to use “Gottlosenbewegung” rather than “kommunistische Freidenkerbewegung”. Doesn’t it suggest that they are censorious of atheism as such?

      • Freeflight

        The “Gottlosenbewegung” is a synonym for that movement making the language less political and more about the religious struggle. In the English speaking world the “communist free-thought movement” is also known as the “League of Militant Atheists”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_of_Militant_Atheists

        So the basic point still stands: Hitler declared to fight evil atheists, you can’t get any more “atheist” then being part of the soviet militant atheist league.

        Imho he had to play on those kind of things, it’s one of the big dividing issues between National Socialism and Communism, the way they deal with religion.

        All of the Western world, the allies included, perceived the Soviets as that dangerous “godless communist horde”. While the Wehrmacht marched into battle with “God with us” belt buckles.

        For that same reason “Operation Unthinkable” got actually thought up: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Unthinkable

        • Thank you very much indeed, Freeflight, for this fascinating information. I knew none of it.

          Grist to our mill.

  • Mrs Westrop

    I agree. It also strikes me that irrational ideologies can see distinct advantages in supporting eachother – Nazism and Catholocism here, or in modern Britain, the Left and the Greens. We have a new Labour party leader, Ed Milliband, who is Keen on Green and would, if elected Prime Minister, take the UK further left than it ever has been in the past. These are scary combinations and will, with a little help from the new proposal for proportional represnetation, allow the nutters to endager our prosperity and freedom.

  • Ralph

    Jillian

    Best post I've seen on this subject.

    • Jr73340

      Following the end of World War II, the World Jewish Congress donated a great deal of money to the Vatican in gratitude for saving so many Jews during the war. In 1945 prominent Rabbi Herzog of Jerusalem thanked the Pope Pius “for his life saving efforts on behalf of the Jews during the occupation of Italy by Hitler. He continued, “The people of Israel will never forget what his Holiness and his delegates did …for our brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history”

      After hearing the Pope’s Christmas address in 1941, the Times wrote, “The voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas…in calling for a “real new order” based on liberty and love, the Pope put himself squarely against Hitler.”

      Einstein said, “Only the Catholic church protested against the Hitlerian onslaught”

      Pope Pius XI, in 1937, wrote an entire encyclical, outlining the dangers and horrors of Nazi ideology.  The accepted political view at the time was the the church was too anti-Nazi.

      In 1943, when Hitler entered Rome, he made plans to kidnap the Pope and kill any cardinal. bishop or priest who got in his way, primarily because Hitler considered the Catholic Church one of his most dangerous ideological opponents.

      • Jillian Becker

        Please supply all your sources, exact references that can be looked up.

          • Jillian Becker

            We are acquainted with these sources.

            What do you expect the Catholic Church to say? They collaborated with Hitler. Are they likely to admit it? But there are good histories of the Third Reich that tell the truth – if you have the will to find them and are open-minded enough to read them.

            • Thank you and I wish you the same. I trust scholarly historians such as those in the 205 references from the Wikipedia link.

            • Jillian Becker

              What is absolutely necessary to remember is that the Holocaust could only have happened because Christianity had sustained the gospel writers’ demonizing of the Jews through two millennia. For that the Catholic Church is chiefly to blame.

            • likeasaint

              You’ve just gone off the deep end. Hitler’s actions had nothing to do with 2,000 years Catholic teaching that claims all are responsible for the death of Christ. Many Jewish converts will tell you that Catholicism is more Jewish than Judaism. Jews are our fathers in faith and our brothers in Christ. Catholic liturgy, culture, and theology has its founding in Judaism. They are the first children of God, whom God chose to reveal himself to the world.

              What I’ve stated is very old thinking. Blaming Catholicism for the Holocaust is a new fad that will die (among people educated in history) as quickly as it was conceived.

            • Jillian Becker

              Comfort yourself as much as you choose with such assertions. The history of the Jews says otherwise.

              And as for your idea that Catholicism is “more Jewish than Judaism”, I challenge you to read my own essays on the origins of Christianity. They will shock you, and you will probably hate and deny everything I say in them, but they will contribute to your education. If you dare to read them, you will find a list of them here:

              http://theatheistconservative….

              And would you answer one question please? Do you really think of yourself as “like a saint”?

            • likeasaint

              Jillian, I’ll try to take a look and for now we can agree to disagree that scholarly historians say what they say.

              For the name, it’s more of an active goal than a present state. Saint means holy or sacred which most times I am not. But I still try and practice, otherwise I would have gone with “Saint”.

            • KBM

              You need to read Martin Luther’s publication, I believe it was entitled, “On the Jews and Their Lies.” Yes I know this was after he broke with the Catholic church, but his teachings on this subject matter reflected Catholic teaching at that time and since the founding of the Church. You can thank Paul or some early forger for instigating all of the hatred.

            • Jillian Becker

              Thank you for this contribution to the interchange, KBM.

              Of course Luther was a great hater too. His writings, and especially the work you draw attention to, has been justly called a blueprint for Nazism.

      • George

        During the reign of Hitler, the Pope actually supported and alligned himself with Hitler and his brownshirt henchmen.    The Catholci church was not in oppositionto Hitler  and anyone who claims otherwise is either ignorant of the truth of what  really happened, embracing revisionist propaganda or is simply lying to cover up what the truth certainly is .     Hitler stated himself in many of his speeches and also multiple times in his book Mein  Kamph that he was a Catholic and would always remain one. Hitler appointed chaplains in the battlefields and the German soldiers under his regieme wore inscriptions on their belt buckes that read — Gott Mitt Uns  ( meaning — God With Us ).    Hitler was NOT an atheist  or pagan but a staunch Catholic and racist bigot. He was not anti-religious.  He was anti-semitic.   I wrote a letter to the editor to this truth  and was attacked by a Catholic in a rebuttal letter who was himself ignorant to this fact.  I hear conservative radio talk show hosts spreading this myth constantly and this widely spreasd lie of Hitler being an atheist  is also spread all over the internet ( unfortunately atheists won’t speak up and counter their propaganda like they do to one another in atheist  group meetings, websites and news-letters ).    Both Pol Pot and Mao tse Tung were Buddhists ( not atheists ) and Fidel  Castro was a staunch religious zealot  of Liberation Theology.  However , considering that the news media in America is ownwd , operated and guided by theologians ( overwhelmingly– Christians ) it’s almost impossible for secular freethinkers  to get a foothold in presenting facts and secular presentations whatsoever.  I read a book that printed an interview of some  Jewish survivors of Hitler’s death camps , and they indicated that many Jews asked themselves how could a loving God, savior, protector, and merciful deity have allowed such an attrocity to have occurred in the first place and especially in a nation that was ostensibly Christian.    They (Jews) according to their own story decided to put God on trial and they  had a mock trial and they did just that .   When their verdict arrived , they found God GUILTY !!!!    They found God guilty for being a supreme being and being all powerful and  yet allowed innocent men, women , children and babies  by the millions to be slaughtered without any intervention by the so-called and supposed merciful savior.    The bias and censorship continues and people as a whole continue to be so gullible as usual.  The time is far past due that we put these vicious lies against atheists to rest and more and more atheists need to speak up in the mainstream media as well as society in general  and get the    $#%@  out of the closet.   

        • Kerry

          I disagree with your
          statement about Mao being a Buddhist. His mother was, but he never showed any
          interest. Once he was victorious over
          the Nationalists lead by Chiang Kai-shek, the new China under the Communists instituted
          an extreme hard line stance against all established religions. Catholic and
          Protestant missionaries operated within China for many decades at this point. Buddhism,
          even the traditional Han Chinese brand was swiftly neutered and transformed
          into an organ of the state, much like Stalin had done with the Russian Orthodox
          church in the Soviet Union. Now, where do you suppose Mao learned such a
          tactic? Many of the temples remained
          intact and monks were used for propaganda and control. If there was a religion
          at that time in China, it was Maoism. We see the same kind of worship in North
          Korea of The Dear Leader.

  • Frank

    Here is a link to an article showing lots of quotes by Hitler regarding religion.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/09/list_of_hitler_quotes_in_honor.php

    It is understandable why Christians keep trying to say that Hitler was an atheist. Whether he was a Christian or not is irrelevant. By the same token it is also irrelevant whether or not Stalin was an atheist. The evil perpetrated by these men was not done because of their religious or atheist beliefs. But the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and 9/11 were perpetrated because of religious convictions.

    “Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you'd have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.” ~ Steven Weinberg

    • Joe B

      Frank, you should look at Paul Berman's book, Terror and Liberalism — his thesis is that the common factor in religious or secular state terrorism is totalitarianism — he does a good job in illustrating this point. Liberalism (in the classical sense, not progressivism) is the enemy of terror/totalitarianism.