I've shown in the first and second articles of this series - concluding with the present article - that Hitler was neopagan and anti-Christian and that the new pagan religions that developed in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s gave Nazism part of its ideological foundations.
It is only to be expected, then, that the Hitler regime tried to tear German society away from Christianity and return it to pagan beliefs. While Hitler made public proclamations that he would protect Christianity in order to be acceptable to the German people who were in their majority Christian, his recorded private statements and his actions tell a very different story.
Many absurd, unbelievable claims about Hitler's presumed Christianity have been made and, in this day and age when anything about Christianity, even the most preposterous assertion, as long as it's bad of course, is accepted as undisputable fact, Michael Coren has produced an excellent book, relatively short and easy to read, which I recommend to everybody who is interested in the truth. It is Heresy: Ten Lies They Spread About Christianity (Amazon USA) (Amazon UK) . In it he says:
In January 1942, the New York Times, certainly not now and not really even then a particular friend of Christianity, published a thirty-point program listing the central dogmas of the National Reich Church, a body established by the Nazis to replace Christianity and to eliminate Christian ideas from the next generation of young Germans. It's significant that the Times published this, because if such an internationally important newspaper was aware of Nazism's hatred of Christianity, we can be sure it was a known and accepted fact elsewhere.This is the final statement of the program of dogmas:
On the day of the foundation of the National Reich Church the Christian cross shall be removed from all churches, cathedrals, and chapels inside the frontiers of the Reich and its colonies and will be replaced by the symbol of invincible Germany - the swastika.And this is from another source that, like the NYT, can be accused of anything but conservative, pro-Christian bias, Wikipedia:
In power, the Hitler regime conducted a protracted Struggle with the Churches. Hitler moved to eliminate political Catholicism, while agreeing a Reich concordat with the Holy See which promised autonomy for the Catholic Church in Germany. Hitler then routinely violated the treaty, moved to close all Catholic organisations that weren't strictly religious, and permitted a persecution of the Catholic Church... He angered the churches by appointing the neo-pagan Alfred Rosenberg as official Nazi ideologist, and generally permitted or encouraged anti-church radicals such as Himmler, Goebbels and Bormann to conduct their persecutions of the churches.Hitler was a Social Darwinist, and as such he believed that the universe is governed by the struggle between weak and strong, ideas that ran counter to Christianity, then prevailing in Germany.
The Nazis promoted paganism before and especially after coming to power in 1933.
Soon after coming to power they replaced Christian holidays and festivals with pagan ones such as "The Day of the Summer Solstice" and "The Day of the Winter Solstice". Wedding ceremonies were celebrated according to neo-pagan rites:
"After the bridal couple's exchange of rings, the votive warden pronounces the blessing: Mother Earth, which lovingly bears us all, and Father Sky, who blesses us with his light and his weather, and all the beneficent powers of the air, may they rule over you until your destiny is fulfilled." [Once again, we see the evidence of the pagan: the Co-Rulership of the god and goddess are recognized, and once again, the creature is worshipped rather than the Creator.]Crucifixes were gradually removed from hospitals and schools. Just as it's happening in our days.
Schools were massively targeted as part of a strategy to deChristianize the young. In 1935, Christian prayers in schools were stopped, and from 1941 onwards all lessons concerning Christianity were banned for all students over 14. Schoolchildren were taught what the Nazis called the "glorious pre-Christian German history".
The Nazi Teachers Association actively discouraged its members from taking religious education, and many teachers of religious studies (who were all required to be licensed by the state) inculcated neo-paganism into their pupils. Later on, teachers were explicitly and totally forbidden to attend voluntary religion classes organized by the Catholic Church.
The Nazis even used former Christian religious facilities, seized by the government, as schools where students were trained in male supremacist ideology, through the works of homosexual theorists like Otto Weininger.
Rites and ceremonies from Germany's pagan past were held all over the country. All Nazi meetings and rallies, under the shadow of flaming torches and where slogans full of hate and violence were shouted, were following pagan ceremonies undistinguishable from those held thousands of years before at pagan temples and altars.
The Nazis also used art to re-awaken paganism, using ancient Greek concepts and symbols and imitating Greek statues, showing strong men and women of the Aryan race. Hitler admired the Spartan model and dreamed of a superior race created by eugenics.
Laurence Rees, the contemporary British historian who wrote, directed and produced many BBC series and documentaries on the Second World War and in particular on Nazism, in his book (also on DVD) The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler (Amazon USA) (Amazon UK) described the thrust of Hitler's semi-autobiographical work Mein Kampf (Amazon USA) (Amazon UK) as "bleak nihilism" revealing a cold universe with no moral structure other than the fight between different people for supremacy:
What's missing from Mein Kampf, and this is a fact that has not received the acknowledgement it should—is any emphasis on Christianity.And this despite the fact that Germany, Rees noted, had been Christian for a thousand years. So, he concluded:
The most coherent reading of Mein Kampf is that whilst Hitler was prepared to believe in an initial creator God, he did not accept the conventional Christian vision of heaven and hell, nor the survival of an individual "soul"... we are animals and just like animals we face the choice of destroying or being destroyed.Hitler believed much more in, and was much more influenced by, Charles Darwin than Jesus Christ.
It's not entirely surprising that today, like in Hitler's day, we witness a return to paganism in conjunction to a return to strong nationalist sentiments. We should be wary of nationalism, which is not bad per se at all, in fact can be a positive force, but taken to extremes can become very irrational and dangerous, as indeed Hitler's example illustrates.
The danger of a return to values and ideas espoused by the Nazis is real, but doesn’t come so much from the direction of the usual suspects, “Islamophobic”, neo-Nazi groups, as from a much more mainstream, Leftist direction. The threat has two sources: one is the rise of Islam in the West – aided and abetted by the Left - with its well-known ideological and historical links to Nazism and anti-Semitism. The second source is less well-known. Recent historical, in-depth and ground-breaking research, thanks to the opening of national archives - previously closed to the public - after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, has thrown an entirely new light on what nurtured Nazi ideology. We already knew that Hitler and Nazism were neo-pagan and anti-Christian (despite what the Left says), but books like Karla Poewe's New Religions and the Nazis (Amazon USA) (Amazon UK), Gene Edward Veith's Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judaeo-Christian Worldview (Amazon USA) (Amazon UK) and others go much further than that.
Regarding Poewe's work, which took 10 years of painstaking historical research, I can only agree with this review:
Inevitably claims that deny that Nazism was rooted in Christianity draw fire. As a scholar in modern and early modern Europe at the University of Victoria, I affirm this book as extremely well researched. The onus is on those who would disprove its assertions to do more thorough research--a daunting challenge indeed. The Nazis were as hostile to Christianity as to Judaism. The preparation for the ascendency of National Socialism provided by the advocates of new religions like Jacob Wilhelm Hauer is a sobering reality that needs to be understood more widely today.It's an eerie feeling to recognise that Nazis, as I showed in the previous two article of this series, shared our days’ most cherished and growing ideas, from the normalisation of homosexuality to the decadence of the family, from the rise and destigmatisation of illegitimacy to the pantheism and anti-human feelings of environmentalism.
Photo by Marion Doss (Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0).