Atheist Boogeymen - Part 1: Adolf Hitler

"Atheist" Hitler praying
"Atheist" Hitler praying | Source

In debates over religious faith and morality, examples of humanity's greatest monsters are routinely offered to demonstrate the supposed “evils” of atheism, apparently in the mistaken presumption that someone so nefarious couldn't POSSIBLY believe in God (a notion decidedly undermined by far too many examples from history). Perhaps the most notorious –and the most demonstrably innacurate – example is that of Adolf Hitler. Indeed, an examination of the historical record quickly makes it clear that he was anything BUT atheist!

For example, in Hitler's first public address to the nation, he singled out Christianity as “the foundation of our national morality,” and in a March, 1933 Reichstag speech, he warned of the supposed dangers of atheism:

“...The advantages of a personal and political nature that might arise from compromising with atheistic organizations would not outweigh the consequences which would become apparent in the destruction of general moral basic values. The national Government regards the two Christian confessions as the weightiest factors for the maintenance of our nationality..."

Throughout Hitler's career, his writings, speeches and public pronouncements are full of positive references to God, Jesus and Christianity. For the sake of brevity, I'll quote only the most evocative examples, including this from one of his earliest Munich speeches, in April 1922:

"...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 of adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. Today, 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..."

Later, in 1925, while in prison for attempting to overthrow the Bavarian government, he wrote his political manifesto, “Mein Kampf,” containing this theological gem:

"...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..."

A common rationalization by apologists is that Hitler, like so many politicians, merely pandered to public religious sensibilities in order to gain or maintain popular support. Yet Hitler's expressions of piety span the breadth of his political career -- from his early days as a radical and revolutionary in the 1920s to the summit of his political power as virtual dictator of Germany in the 1940s, when he had absolutely NO reason to fear public sentiment (and they had EVERY reason to fear him)!

For instance, Hitler ended his first official proclamation to the German nation as Chancellor, in February 1933, with an appeal to divine providence:

“...Now, people of Germany, give us four years and then pass judgment upon us. In accordance with Field Marshal von Hindenburg's command we shall begin now. May God Almighty give our work His blessing, strengthen our purpose, and endow us with wisdom and the trust of our people, for we are fighting not for ourselves but for Germany..."

In 1944, at the height of his power, his religious references were specific and unequivocal, such as this excerpt from a speech at the Platterhoff Hotel in July, 1944.

“...Perhaps I am not what they call a sanctimonious hypocrite or pious. I am not that. But deep in my heart, I am a religious man; that is, I believe that the man who, in accordance with the natural laws created by God, bravely fights and never capitulates in this world-that this man will not be abandoned by the Lawgiver. Instead, he will in the end receive the blessings of Providence...”

"Atheist" Hitler leaving church
"Atheist" Hitler leaving church | Source

Even in the last days of the Reich, in April, 1945, his Orders of the Day to the troops included pious references:

"...We pray to God that He may lead our soldiers on the path and bless them as hitherto..."

It is also frequently noted by apologists that Hitler often conflicted with both Protestant and Catholic churches in Germany, even officially suppressing them in some instances. But in this regard the churches were no different from any other institution in the Reich who could potentially challenge the power of the state. Hitler and the Nazis persecuted ANYONE who opposed them!

In fact, Adolf Hitler was born to Catholic parents, was confirmed and was never excommunicated. So, at the very least, he was a 'nominal' Catholic. In any case, he vigorously took at least one longstanding official Catholic doctrine to heart -- a visceral hatred of Jewish people. For centuries, the Catholic Church had persecuted Jews with slanders, forced conversions and insidious papal edicts, including a notorious 1555 command from Pope Paul IV that:

“...Jews should be recognizable everywhere: [to this end] men must wear a hat, women, indeed, some other evident sign, yellow in color, that must not be concealed or covered by any means, and must be tightly affixed...”

Without question, the facet of Hitler's despotism most neatly aligned with theological ideas is the antisemitism documented both in his own policies and those of historical Catholocism and Protestantism. On the other hand, there is no atheist dogma or doctrine that compels such hatred and bigotry, because there is no atheist dogma, doctrine or pope!

In the end, the question isn't whether Adolf Hitler was a 'devoted' Christian or, like most, just a 'casual' Christian. Nor is it whether individual believers or religious groups tried to oppose him. The issue here is whether he, himself, was an ATHEIST, and if so, whether his atrocities can be attributed to atheism. The weight of the evidence makes it clear that, even if he was only a nominal Christian, he was still religious. So if we're going to consider his crimes through the prism of theology, we must count him among the ranks of believers, NOT atheists.

Atheist Boogeymen - Part 2: Joseph Stalin

For more details on Hitler's supposed "atheism," visit these excellent sources:

Nazi photos showing Christian influence

Exposing Religion Blog

Hitler Was A Christian


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Comments 23 comments

jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 12 months ago from Tasmania

Well researched, well written. I think you have proved your point. Thank you.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 12 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Paladin

I guess this is going to 'put the cat among the pigeons' so to speak.

I know I've referred to Nazism as an outworking of Darwinism (the survival of the fittest) in that the Jews weren't the only ones exterminated, you dudn't have to be a Jew or even an undesirable, you just had to be what the state considered 'non or half human' like physically and mentally handicapped.

Since then I've studied more and you're right about Hitler's own beliefs, he was a practicing catholic but the church never condemned him as even to this day every German pays 2% of their income in 'church tax' which even back then was billions of Reichmarks every year and as the saying goes "don't bite the hand that feeds you!" (Hitler told the pope "one word of criticism and it all stops!")

Having said that, I think it's evolution as a theory that has to answer for their part (as well as the 'church') but not atheism.

This was a good hub, and I hope it generates lots of good, fruitful discussion in this area.

Lawrence

By the way it wss Himmeler who came up with the 'Final solution' I was going to say he was an atheist but apparently it was banned in the SS!!!


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 12 months ago from Michigan, USA Author

Thanks, Johnny and Lawrence, for visiting the hub, and for your kind words.

Lawrence, you make an interesting point about the Nazi regime not being too fond of those who suffered from disabilities. I wonder how they felt about Goebbels, who had a club foot and always walked with a limp!


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 12 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Interesting point. I think it was more the intellectial disabilities as someone like Goebbels could still be productive in society!

Lawrence


Kiss andTales profile image

Kiss andTales 12 months ago

Some good notations, but the greatest betrayal started before Hitler, that would not be hard to believe since the swastika is really a cross with tips changing directions.

The point Is satan a fallen spirit angel has killed more people starting with Adam and Eve throughout human existence.

Throughout more Generations total , why

Because of resiting the true sovereign of life.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 12 months ago from Michigan, USA Author

Thanks for visiting and commenting, Kiss. You may or not know this, but it's one of the greatest ironies of history that the Swastika is actual a sacred symbol of the Jain religion -- arguably the ONE bona fide "religion of peace" in the world.

The Jains take excessive care even in the way they walk, for fear of stepping on a bug and accidentally taking a life, and it's a brutal twist of history that their peaceful symbol was appropriated by one of the most hateful and murderous ideologies ever. As they say, truth can be stranger than fiction!


GEORGE ROBERT profile image

GEORGE ROBERT 12 months ago from Currently reside in NE Arkansas

Excellent work!


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 12 months ago from Michigan, USA Author

In order to tidy up the comments here, I have deleted a number of comments -- at the specific request of those who made them. They were in response to another comment that I deleted on my own (for reasons that no longer require elaboration).

Thanks again to everyone who replied in support of my research here (including George, whose comment will remain). It's nice to know one's work is appreciated! :-)


Radical Rog profile image

Radical Rog 12 months ago from Plymouth

Hitler was not only a Catholic, the Catholic Church agreed a concordat with Hitler in which, Hitler's thousand year Reich would act as the restoration of the Holy Roman Empire restoring Roman Catholic power throughout Europe. There is also the Messianic connection. Compare the proclaimed thousand year Reich to the prophesies thousand year reign of Christ in Revelation.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 12 months ago from Tasmania

My take on that is: we should be very cautious about anyone who promotes the idea they have the ultimate answer to our world's problems.

Anyone!!


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 12 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Jonny I totally agree with you on that!

Lawrence


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 12 months ago from Michigan, USA Author

Thanks for visiting and commenting, Rog! If I remember correctly, that concordant was the Nazi regime's very first agreement with a foreign power.

And I definitely second Jonny's comment!


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 12 months ago from Tasmania

I would also suggest that anyone who tries to promote their "Ultimate Solution" will most likely use another person, type of person, group or ethnicity to engender hatred......a coward's trick! That coward knows how to manipulate human nature; knows how easy it is to get us blindly blaming others for our woes.

The real answer to all of this, for each and every one of us, is to cease believing a fictitious character will get us out of trouble and instead turn the spot light onto our own inner secret thoughts, fears and self-deceptions.


CatherineGiordano profile image

CatherineGiordano 11 months ago from Orlando Florida

This essay is quite relevant today because Donald Trump, who professes his love for the Bible, is being described as a Hitler-like politician. I think that you have shown beyond a doubt that Hitler was a Christian. I can't say if he was a devout Christian, but then most Christians aren't. He thought he was doing "the Lord's work."


Kiss andTales profile image

Kiss andTales 11 months ago

I agree with Catherine here , about he thought he was doing God’s work.

Many religious people do , like and employer hires employees, they go work

But are they really doing the Job in the correct way, well the employer examins the work production, is it a value to the company , or does the production bring down the company. Hitler commited suicide, he was not by his actions a man of God killing life, for God is a God of the living

Lu 20:38 He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living, for they are all living to him.”

He gives life.

Any one taking life in the sense you can not undo it is not a Christian.

The word christian can be claimbed by humans , but proven not true by actions.

No different then saying you a dr , but we know that title can cover many subjects.

You could be a animal Dr. or a eye Dr.

or just a high degree of education that makes you hold the title.

Christian title has taken on many meanings

But does not mean it is validated by God the Father.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 11 months ago from Michigan, USA Author

Catherine and Kiss, thanks for visiting and commenting.

As for Donald Trump, I honestly don't know what to make of him. He's Sarah Palin Stupid with an extra, heaping helping of obnoxious arrogance and, for the life of me, I can't fathom what draws voters to people like that.

Perhaps it's just the natural result of the increasing ideological polarization of the American people, wherein the way to the top of the political heap is to be more and more outrageous. I don't know. I guess I'll leave those questions to others, as right now my focus is on theological matters.


jonnycomelately profile image

jonnycomelately 11 months ago from Tasmania

And yet there are people rubbishing a person who seems (at least to one foreigner living a-far) to be intelligent and not seeking sensational self-agrandisment! Such strange trends in your country.


lawrence01 profile image

lawrence01 11 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

Folks

The main trouble with Trump is even if he doesn't get the nomination he has the money to run his own campaign and 'blanket' everyone with his ads, if anyone can 'buy' the presidency it's him and that should worry everyone!


TimFellow profile image

TimFellow 11 months ago from The Universe

There is an inner quality in your writing, unrelated to content, that is absolutely beautiful. The voice present under the words.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 11 months ago from Michigan, USA Author

Thanks, Tim. I do my best!


TimFellow profile image

TimFellow 11 months ago from The Universe

Then that will have to suffice!


RJ Schwartz profile image

RJ Schwartz 3 months ago from Idaho Falls, Idaho

Very informative piece with so much supporting data - bravo!


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 3 months ago from Michigan, USA Author

Thanks, RJ! It's nice to know one's efforts are appreciated! :-)

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