5 common myths about Hitler you probably believe
Hitler refused to shake hands with Jesse Owens
The Myth: The story goes that Hitler saw the 1936 Olympic games as a chance to show off the superiority of the German race so when his Arians began to be beaten by African Americans he was less than pleased. So enraged was the fureh that he refused to congratulate Jesse Owens on his win and left the stadium so he wouldn’t have to shake the black athletes hand. The story also goes that the German crowd was so racist that his win was met with deafening silence which was only broken by racial slurs.
The Reality: It’s true that Hitler didn’t congratulate Jesse Owens but he also didn’t congratulate anyone that day. On the first day of competition he had only congratulated German athletes and this drew the ire of the Olympic committee so the decision was made that he wouldn’t congratulate anyone for the remainder of the event. Jesse Owens even remembers Hitler politely acknowledging him as he past where the German dictator was sitting. He also recalls that the ovations given to him by the German crowd were some of the biggest he received throughout his entire career.
Where did the Myth come from? The story was first printed in American news papers during the games but it’s unclear what there source was. The likelihood is that the newspapers just assumed that something like that would occur and hey who cares about fact checking when you’re bagging the Nazis. It’s also possible that they heard the story of Cornelius Johnson; an African American who was snubbed by Hitler on the first day of competition and decided the story would be more interesting if they used a more famous black person.
Jesse Owens himself denied the incident ever happened for the first couple of years after the games but later changed his story to say that he was snubbed. Turns out that after pearl harbor defending Hitler, even if it simply involved telling the truth was frowned upon by the American Public. This is likely why no one challenged the story at the time despite their literally being hundreds of witnesses which knew the whole thing was a load of BS.
Hitler’s anti-Semitism was caused by perceived injustices perpetrated against him by Jews in his youth
The Myth: Ask most people why Hitler killed so many Jews and you’re likely to get a variety of answers. The only thing that most answers have in common is that is that they are wrong. People wrongly believe that the holocaust occurred because Hitler resented the Jews he interacted with in his early life. One of the most common misconceptions is that Hitler believed that his mother was poisoned by his Jewish Doctor and that lead to a life of hating Jews. Another goes that Hitler resented Jews because his Jewish commanding officer in WW1 past him over for promotion. Some people even believe that Hitler’s father was Jewish and that the beatings Hitler suffered at his father’s hands are what turned him against the Jews.
The Reality: The truth is none of the above are true, so next time someone tries to pass those answers off as facts, I give you permission to punch them in the face. The doctor who treated Hitler’s mother was in fact Jewish but far from blaming him for his mother’s death, Hitler praised him for taking such good care of her. He went as far as calling him the “noble Jew” and even helped him immigrate to America from Austria in 1940.
Likewise Hitler did have a Jewish commanding officer but far from resenting him he actually looked up to him and respected him. When the holocaust began he was the one Jew Hitler went out of his way to save from the concentration camps.
As to the final theory, it is true that Hitler’s father beat him but there is no evidence that his father was Jewish (more on this later) so that can’t have been the cause of his Anti-Semitism. It’s entirely plausible that being beaten as a child lead him to be a cruel and sadistic dictator but there is no reason it would have caused him to be an anti-semetic cruel and sadistic dictator.
Where did the Myths come from? The above theories are a combination of poor historical research, assumptions and the need to explain the inexplicable. The idea that Hitler’s mother’s doctor poisoned her is an old theory which was never based on, you know...facts.
This however didn’t stop the daily telegraph in 2009 publishing a review of a book which it claimed argued that Hitler did blame the doctor for his mother’s death. The book in fact argued the exact opposite. It turns out the journalist (If you can call them that) didn’t even bother to read the book he was reviewing because he thought it was obvious what it was going to contend (face palm).
He like so many others just assumed that since there was a Jew in Hitler’s early life there must be a causal connection between that Jew and Hitler’s anti-Semitism. The same goes for Hitler’s view of his commanding officer. There is just no evidence that Hitler resented him. All the evidence suggests the opposite. The truth is Hitler hated Jews because he was a dick. There is just no rational or logical explanation.
Hitler was part Jewish
The Myth: The story goes that Hitler, the man who ordered the Holocaust was, somewhat Ironically, Jewish himself. According to the myth Hitler’s grandfather was a Jew, hence making him part Jewish. This however is only the most reasonable version. Others have Hitler’s mother secretly being a Jew or his father being a Rabbi. Both of these come from an epic game of Chinese whispers where people have taken the original misconception and turned it into a fantasy bearing absolutely no resemblance to the truth.
The reality: While we can’t say for absolute certain that Hitler wasn’t part Jewish, we can say that anyone who thinks that he definitely was is wrong. This is because we don’t know the identity of Hitler’s paternal grandfather so while we can’t rule out the possibility that the dictator was part Jewish we certainly can’t say that he was either.
Where did the myth come from? The rumours about Hitler’s potential Jewishness began before Hitler rose to power. Even then no one knew for sure who his grandfather was so rumours began to circulate within the Nazi Party that Hitler was in fact quarter Jewish. In 1933 The London daily mirror published a photo of a gravestone in Bucharest with the Hebrew inscription ‘Adolf Hitler’ and despite it later being proven that this Hitler was no relation to the actual Hitler the rumours continued to circulate. Hitler himself didn’t help quell the rumours when he passed a law which excluded himself and Jesus Christ from being counted as Jews. He obviously thought it was at least a possibility that his grandfather was Jewish.
The main rumours however come from a story told by Hitler’s former lawyer who claimed Hitler had him investigate his family origins after someone threatened to blackmail him with the revelation that his grandfather was in fact Jewish. His research apparently found that Hitler’s paternal grandfather was the son of a Jewish family in the town of Gratz for who Hitler’s grandmother was working.
This story has since been all but dismissed after numerous historical inaccuracies were noticed. For one there were no Jews in the town of Gratz during the period Hitler’s grandmother would have had to of become pregnant. What’s more there is no evidence to suggest that Hitler’s geandmother ever even lived in the town. His lawyer claimed that his source was one of Hitler’s distant relatives who had letters sent between Hitler’s mother and the Jewish family but neither the letters or the distant relative have ever been found leading historians to conclude the entire story is a load of BS.
Hitler was an atheist/catholic/insert whatever ideology you don’t like
The myth: If you have spent any time on forums or have been bored enough to read YouTube comments then you are already familiar with this one. Whenever someone wants to attack someone’s beliefs they generally try to argue that Hitler shared those beliefs and hence those beliefs are, if not wrong at least bad for society. Atheists love to point out Hitler was raised in a catholic family and while Catholics and other Christians point to the large number of quotes said by Hitler himself which attack religion and especially the Catholic Church.
The Reality: The only way to show you just how absurd each of these claims are its important that we have a look at the words of Hitler and his close associates. You can then decide for yourself whether those partaking in flame wars are justified or whether they are all deluded idiots who need to spend less time on the internet.
Evidence which suggests Hitler was Catholic
Evidence which suggests Hitler was an atheist
"Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without religious foundation is built on air” Adolf Hitler
"National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable" Hitler's secretary, Martin Bormann
"I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so." Adolf Hitler
"One is either a Christian or a German. You can't be both." Hermann Rauschning, a Hitler associate,
“My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter” Adolf Hitler
“It is through the peasantry that we shall really be able to destroy Christianity because there is in them a true religion rooted in nature and blood.'" Adolf Hitler
"I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews. I am doing the Lord's work." Adolf Hitler
“Stamp out Christianity root and branch." Adolf Hitler
“And the founder of Christianity made no secret indeed of his estimation of the Jewish people. When He found it necessary, He drove those enemies of the human race out of the Temple of God.” Adolf Hitler
“We have no sort of use for a fairy story invented by the Jews." Adolf Hitler
What becomes clear after you look at the evidence is that Hitler was not really Christian but he saw its uses. No doubt he realized that to take power he would need to win over Christian supporters and portray himself as a Christian warrior against the Jews. It however, would be downright ignorant to suggest that Hitler was actually a Christian or that his faith caused him to commit the atrocities that he did. So all you Richard Dawkins Groupies out there who uses this argument. Stop it, Stop it now.
Having said that I think it would be equally wrong to say Hitler was a strait up atheist. Hitler created his own Religion centered on himself. Indeed he even made the official religion of Germany Nazism instead of Christianity. Hitler was also known to be found of pagan myths and legends and it’s likely he saw himself as being part of some grand Arian centric mythology. In other words, if you’re looking to attack atheists by comparing then to ruthless dictators, choose Stalin, he’s a much safer bet.
Hitler was allied with Pope Pius XII before and during WW2
The Myth: The story goes that Hitler and the Pope were secretly allies and that the pope was hoping for a Nazi Victory believing the church would do well in a fascist Europe. One claim made against Pope Pius is that he, Like Hitler, was an anti-Semite who associated Jews with the Bolshevik revolution and saw allying with Hitler as a way of fighting the rising communist threat.
The two are said to have collaborated first via the signing of the Lateran treaty which the Pope signed with Mussolini and then secondly by the Reichskonkordat which he signed directly with Hitler.
The two are also said to have made a deal which increased funding to catholic schools and other institutions in exchange for pro democracy Catholics withdrawing from public life.
They condemn the Popes perceived silence and say he should have done more for the Jewish people during the holocaust.
The Reality: Those who argue that Hitler and Pope Pius XII were friends or allies not only make false assertions about the two’s relationship, they also ignore the vast amount of evidence which suggests that in fact Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church actually were one of the few institutions to stand up to Hitler and the Nazi party.
For one the idea the pope was secretly a Pro-Nazi fascist is absurd. The Pope continually spoke out against National Socialism through the 1930’s which annoyed Hitler immensely. His animosity was so great that he even considered having the Pope kidnapped. Under Hitler hundreds of priests and Bishops were killed and the churches ability to operate freely was severely hindered. It’s highly unlikely any catholic would have seen this as a favorable situation for the church.
Secondly the notion that Pius was anti-Semitic is absurd. Historians note that Pius actually had a keen interest in Jewish culture and there is no historical record of him making anti Semitic remarks. Under his leadership, the church in-fact managed to rescue thousands of Jews from the Gas chambers with many Jewish scholars noting that no one did more for the Jewish people than the Catholic Church during the war.
Thirdly the treaties signed by the Vatican with Hitler and Mussolini were a necessity to protect Catholics and the church in Germany and Italy. Vatican officials saw signing them as distasteful but necessary. They were signed before the beginning of the War and were not dissimilar to those signed by the UK and other allied countries.
Finally Pope Pius stayed silent during WW2 because he knew his words would only make things worse. Not only would Catholics be targeted if he did speak out but it would also likely increase Hitler’s aggression against the Jews. This was seen in the Netherlands when the pope did speak out against The Nazi party via a Papal letter, hundreds of Catholics were rounded up the next day and shipped off to concentration camps. By making themselves itself target of the Nazi regime the church would not have been able to help as many Jews as it did. What’s more any public statement made against Germany could be then used as propaganda to turn average Germans against the church and into Nazi supporters.
Where did the Myth come from?: Surprisingly this myth is actually rather modern with no real criticisms of the church surfacing until 20 years after WW2. In fact immediately after the War most Jewish leaders were full of praise for Pope Pius and the church with the Chief Rabbi of Rome even converting because he believed Pius’s actions could only have been inspired by God. The first time the idea arose was from a soviet play in the 1960’s called The Deputy which showed the church as being complicit with the Nazi regime and deafeningly silent about atrocities. The play was essentially a soviet piece of Soviet propaganda but many started using it as an actual historical source.
The Myth was more recently perpetuated by the Holocaust museum in Israel which used to have an exhibit on Pope Pius XII which accused him of not intervening to stop the deportation of Jews. The exhibit drew criticism from historians around the world, many of the Jewish, which eventually lead the exhibit to be changed to present both sides of the argument.
The most recent source of this myth is a book written by John Cornwall which claimed that Pius XII was anti-Semitic and complicit with the Nazi regime. The book drew criticism from every side with many historians claiming it was just inaccurate. The books evidence that the Pope was anti-Semitic, for example, comes from a letter he supposedly wrote which describes communist Jews in a derogatory way. The letter was actually written by one of his assistants and even then needs to be looked at in the context of the church and the Bolshevik Revolution. The criticisms of his book were so great that the author now admits that the Pope Pius was severely limited and has withdrawn much of what he wrote.