Monday, September 9, 2013

Hitler Was NOT An Atheist

“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.”

[Adolph Hitler, Speech, Reichstag, 1936]

Let us never forget that Adolph Hitler was no atheist. He believed in god, and an Aryan Jesus, and he thought god had appointed him to cleanse the European continent once and for all of the Jews. And yet, despite these facts being easily obtainable, theists still today have the nerve to try to pull a fat lie and say that Hitler was an atheist who was motivated by Darwinism to exterminate the Jews. They say that if you tell a lie enough times it starts to become the truth. That Hitler and Nazis were all atheists seems to have become a "truth" to many theists who have bought into this lie.

Let's start with a few facts about Hitler and the Nazis:

  • Nearly every German soldier during World War II wore a belt buckle that had inscribed on it, "GOTT MIT UNS" (God with us)
  • Every member of the German armed forces took an oath that started with: "I swear by God this sacred oath that to the Leader of the German empire and people, Adolf Hitler, supreme commander of the armed forces, I shall render unconditional obedience and that as a brave soldier I shall at all times be prepared to give my life for this oath."
  • Hitler's birthday (April 20th) was celebrated from the Catholic Church every year from 1939 to the very end of the Nazi regime in 1945
  • The first diplomatic accord by Hitler once he rose to power in 1933 was with the Vatican 
  • The Catholic Church opened its genealogical records to the Nazis so that they could trace a person's Jewish ancestry, aiding in the holocaust 
  • Antisemitism existed in Europe for hundreds of years before Darwin, and one of the primary influences on Hitler was the German Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, who wrote the treatise, On the Jews and Their Lies (1543), in which he argued among other things, that European Jews should be forbidden to practice their religion, that they should have their synagogues burned and razed, and that they should be forced into servitude 
  • Nearly half of the Nazis were members of the Catholic Church, as was Hitler 
  • The only Nazi ever to be formally excommunicated by the Catholic Church was Joseph Goebbels –  not for war crimes, but for marrying a divorced Protestant 

Although many of the Nazis elites were theists and believed in a "Creator," it can be said that they weren't exactly Christians in the traditional sense. They incorporated neo-pagan and occult elements into their belief system, and had myths that the Aryan peoples hadn't evolved from apes as other races had, but had instead descended from heaven wholly pure, and preserved in ice from the beginning of time in the arctic. (Heinrich Himmler even created a meteorology division with the task of proving this theory true.)
    Thus, it could be said that Hitler was not exactly enthusiastic about either the Catholic or Protestant churches in his later years, but while he saw them partially as an obstacle to his rise to power, he was certainly no atheist. Over and over again in his speeches and writings, Hitler payed homage to the god of Christianity and recognized his Christian upbringing. 

    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 by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. 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. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.
    -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

    And his recognition as a Christian did not end once he rose to power as some have said:

    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.
    —Adolph Hitler, Speech, Reichstag, 1936

    Many who claim Hitler was an atheist get their sources from the ill-translated book Hitler's Table Talk, in which Hitler's private conversations were recorded by members of his inner-circle. It's widely regarded as at least partially forged in parts of the translation. For a critical analysis, see this link here from nobeliefs. Interestingly, when Hitler rose to power he outlawed atheistic and freethinker groups:

    Berlin Churches Establish Bureau to Win Back Worshippers
    Wireless to the New York Times. 
    BERLIN, May 13. – In Freethinkers Hall, which before the Nazi
    resurgence was the national headquarters of the German Freethinkers
    League, the Berlin Protestant church authorities have opened a bureau
    for advice to the public in church matters. Its chief object is to
    win back former churchgoers and assist those who have not previously
    belonged to any religious congregation in obtaining church membership.
    The German Freethinkers League, which was swept away by the national
    revolution, was the largest of such organizations in Germany. It had
    about 500,000 members …”

    [New York Times, May 14, 1933, page 2, on Hitler's outlawing of
    atheistic and freethinking groups in Germany in the Spring of 1933,
    after the Enabling Act authorizing Hitler to rule by decree]

    The culture of antisemitism that had simmered over many centuries in Europe prior to Hitler that was made ready for him had been done so by both the Catholic and Protestant churches and their leaders and reformers. So to blame atheism or secularism for the Nazis or the holocaust is absurd. Dare any Christian to read the later writings of Martin Luther to find out what the attitudes were towards the Jews by many Christian leaders to see what I'm talking about. We cannot blame secularism or atheism for mass murder or genocide. Rather the problem is totalitarianism. When one person has absolute power, regardless if it exists for a secular despot or theocratic despot, you will almost always inevitably get murder and mayhem and violations of the most basic human dignity. That's why we have a balance of power in the US – our forefathers new that enshrining total power into one office would result in the very kind of predicament that they were declaring their independence from – autocratic despotism.

    For a nice list of Hitler quotes on religion and god see the rationalwiki page on him here.


    1. After having this very argument with quite a few Christians over the years, it seems that their core argument boils down to this: Hitler was not a Christian because he did things that no Christian would do. That is, his evil behavior proves he was not a Christian because Christians do not commit evil. Obviously, this claim is thoroughly absurd. And yet, I hear it again and again. They use it with Hitler, fallen clergy, and even routine criminals. The moment someone does something of which they do not approve, the person magically ceases to be a Christian.

      1. They forget that a lot of "Christians" have killed in the name of god, or killed in general. And if sinning terminates one's Christianity, then there are no true Christians.

        I like to challenge Christians with this hypothetical: If god wanted to pass judgement on the Jews by commanding Hitler to wipe them out, the same way he commanded the Jews to wipe out the Canaanites and Midianites, would the holocaust have been morally good? To stay true to their faith they have to say yes.

    2. Hitler and Einstein seem to be the most argued about figures in terms of their faith or lack there of. In terms of Hitler, the No True Scottsman fallacy gets used a lot, kind of like Jack said. I don't claim Hitler was a Christian, but neither do I accept claims of atheism. He was a politican, which means we can't know what he really was. They largely pander to their audience.

      1. While we don't know Hitler's personal thoughts on god, we have no evidence to my knowledge that he was an atheist. He seemed to have believed in a variation of the biblical god. Basically whenever Yahweh was in a bad mood towards the Jews, that was Hitler's god all the time.

        Einstein was clearly a pantheist/deist from his writings. He was not a theist.



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