The Propagander ™ FAQ

Was Adolf Hitler a Christian?

Adolf Hitler was raised in the Catholic Church, and his worldview, as expressed in his writings and speeches, was heavily influenced by Christian teachings. While Hitler did make many statements critical of the church after 1938 and was not, in later life, what one would call a fan of the Church, this does nothing to alter the obvious fact that the Church had great influence on Hitler's early education. It most assuredly did. In fact, it formed the foundation of his early education, and it is apparent in his later speeches and his writings that this foundation formed the single greatest influence on his "thought," such as it was.

Adolf Hitler's mother was a devout Catholic who attended Mass faithfully. The influence of the Catholic Church on Hitler's worldview occurred during his early training in the Catholic school he attended as a child. Frau Helene Hafstaengl testified that her friend Adolf once told her that "as a small boy it was his most ardent wish to become a priest. He often borrowed the large kitchen apron of the maid, draped it about his shoulders in vestment fashion, climbed on a kitchen chair and delivered long and fervent sermons."

When Hitler was seven years old his family relocated to Lambach, a town rich in medieval history and architecture. The Hitlers' initial location at the intersection of Linzerstrasse and Kirchengasse overlooked the Lambach Abbey, a great Benedictine monastery founded in the eleventh century and adorned, curiously enough, by a half a dozen swastikas amidst the Byzantine frescoes. Hitler's Nazis would one day pervert the reputation of the swastika, a traditional symbol often associated with good luck in many cultures, but the swastika symbols present in the Hitler family church is not really significant, just interesting. The explanation for the presence of the swastikas in the Abbey lies in the delight in puns of a former abbot, Theodorich von Hagen. The German word for swastika is Hakenkreuz. Hagen -- Haken. It is as simple as that.

Hitler himself, in
Mein Kampf, Volume One, Chapter One, recalled:

In my free time I practiced singing in the choir of the monastery church at Lambach, and thus it happened that I was placed in a very favorable position to be emotionally impressed again and again by the magnificent splendor of ecclesiastical ceremonial. What could be more natural for me than to look upon the Abbot as representing the highest human ideal worth striving for, just as the position of the humble village priest had appeared to my father in his own boyhood days?

The Churches historical antipathy to Judaism was taught then, and often now, to children such as the young Hitler as a matter of course. This is undeniable, as is the fact that nothing influences an adult more than what he is taught as a child. Hitler's anti-Semitism began with the religious brand of it that Hitler was taught as a child, and developed into the racialist brand as an adult. Having already accepted the traditional religious antipathy against Judaism, it was not an enormous leap to further embrace the Racialist variety, especially when he realized the political advantage that Racialist anti-Semitism had over Religious anti-Semitism.

Here is how Hitler put it in Mein Kampf:

The anti-Semitism of the Christian-Socialists was based on religious instead of racial principles . . . . they believed that by adopting this attitude they had found a slogan against Jewry which, because of its religious implications, would unite all the different nationalities which made up the population of the old Austria.

It was obvious, however, that this kind of anti-Semitism did not upset the Jews very much, simply because it had a purely religious foundation. If the worst came to the worst a few drops of baptismal water would settle the matter, hereupon the Jew could still carry on his business safely and at the same time retain his Jewish nationality.

On such superficial grounds it was impossible to deal with the whole problem in an earnest and rational way. The consequence was that many people could not understand this kind of anti-Semitism and therefore refused to take part in it.

The attractive force of the idea was thus restricted exclusively to narrow-minded circles, because the leaders failed to go beyond the mere emotional appeal and did not ground their position on a truly rational basis. The intellectuals were opposed to such a policy on principle. It looked more and more as if the whole movement was a new attempt to proselytize the Jews, or, on the other hand, as if it were merely organized from the wish to compete with other contemporary movements. Thus the struggle lost all traces of having been organized for a spiritual and sublime mission. Indeed, it seemed to some people - and these were by no means worthless elements - to be immoral and reprehensible. The movement failed to awaken a belief that here there was a problem of vital importance for the whole of humanity and on the solution of which the destiny of the whole Gentile world depended.

Through this shilly-shally way of dealing with the problem the anti-Semitism of the Christian-Socialists turned out to be quite ineffective. It was anti-Semitic only in outward appearance. And this was worse than if it had made no pretences at all to anti-Semitism; for the pretence gave rise to a false sense of security among people who believed that the enemy had been taken by the ears; but, as a matter of fact, the people themselves were being led by the nose.

The Jew readily adjusted himself to this form of anti-Semitism and found its continuance more profitable to him than its abolition would be . . . .

The Pan-German Party was perfectly right in its fundamental ideas regarding the aim of the Movement, which was to bring about a German restoration, but it was unfortunate in its choice of means . . . . Its anti-Jewish policy, however, was grounded on a correct perception of the significance of the racial problem and not on religious principles. But it was mistaken in its assessment of facts and adopted the wrong tactics when it made war against one of the religious denominations . . . .

The Christian-Socialists grasped the significance of the social question; but they adopted the wrong principles in their struggle against Jewry, and they utterly failed to appreciate the value of the national idea as a source of political energy.

If the Christian-Socialist Party, together with its shrewd judgment in regard to the worth of the popular masses, had only judged rightly also on the importance of the racial problem - which was properly grasped by the Pan-German Movement - and if this party had been really nationalist; or if the Pan-German leaders, on the other hand, in addition to their correct judgment of the Jewish problem and of the national idea, had adopted the practical wisdom of the Christian-Socialist Party, and particularly their attitude towards Socialism - then a movement would have developed which, in my opinion, might at that time have successfully altered the course of German destiny.

This is Hitler's solution concerning how to effectively utilize anti-Semitism as a platform for a political party. While in no way rejecting Religious Anti-Semitism, he makes the point that "a correct perception of the significance of the racial problem" in the political sphere is of a superior quality if based on Racialism "and not on religious principles". His reason is simple; it will never be possible to totally eradicate the Jew if "a few drops of baptismal water" will give him an escape, while still allowing him to "carry on his business safely and at the same time retain his Jewish nationality". Without the complete elimination of the Jew, it is Hitler's opinion that it will never be possible to create a true Volkish state.

Just as he had his personal philosophy, he formulated his political anti-Semitism using religious anti-Semitism as a base, and bolstered it with the new Racialism. This is born out over and over in his speeches, which propagate both Religious and Racialist anti-Semitism in almost equal measure.

Franz von Papen, a Catholic in very good standing, was Hitler's vice-chancellor, though his influence on his Fuehrer was minimal. However, it was Papen who advised him on Church affairs and negotiated the all-important Concordant, which was sort of a treaty between Hitler's Nazi regime and the Catholic Church. Below is an excerpt from a speech wherein Hitler explains his conception of Church-Reich relations:

May 1, 1937 [Berlin]:

You, too, must be able to obey orders, or else you will never be worthy of giving orders! That is essential. We shall educate our People to do this and ignore the obstinacy or stupidity of individuals. Bend or break--one or the other! We cannot permit this authority, the authority of the German People, to be challenged from any other quarter. This also applies to all the churches. As long as they concern themselves with their religious problems, the State will not concern itself with them. If they try by whatever means, by letters, encyclicals and the like, to claim rights which are those of the State alone, we shall force them to return to the realm of spiritual and pastoral activities where they belong. Nor is it appropriate for them to criticize the morality of the state, when they have more than enough reason to worry about their own morals. The leadership of the German nation will take care of the morals of the German nation and its People; we can assure all the concerned individuals inside and outside Germany of that. [Full Text]

Throughout Hitler's rule the Catholic Church was never outlawed, as were the Witnesses and Jews, etc.. That some priests were incarcerated in concentration camps is testimony to the fact that Hitler took the basic thrust of the Concordat seriously. The only priests who were persecuted were the ones who stepped over the line and interfered in those things that were to be left "unto Caesar." Priests that stayed out of politics, and this included the persecution of the Jews, remained unmolested. The synagogues were burned, the Jehovah's Witnesses were outlawed, but many Catholic Churches and schools remained in business throughout the entire Third Reich period.

What Hitler "believed in" was perversions of the things he learned. Just as Hitler's racial views were a perversion of Darwin, and his views about art were a perversion of culture, his perversions continued into the religious sphere. What Hitler "believed in" was a perversion of Christianity. Here is another snippet from Mien Kampf:

What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and reproduction of our race and our people, the sustenance of our children and the purity of our blood, the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the creator of the universe. That this is possible may not be denied in a world where hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people voluntarily submit to celibacy, obligated and bound by nothing except the injunction of the Church. Should the same renunciation not be possible if this injunction is replaced by the admonition finally to put an end to the constant and continuous original sin of racial poisoning, and to give the Almighty Creator beings such as He Himself created?

Here is Hitler's idea of what being a Christian means:

April 12, 1922 [Munich]:

And today people are saying yet again that we were 'agitators.' "I would like here to appeal to a greater than I, Count Lerchenfeld. He said in the last session of the Landtag that his feeling 'as a man and a Christian' prevented him from being an anti-Semite. I SAY: MY FEELING AS A CHRISTIAN POINTS ME TO MY LORD AND SAVOUR AS A FIGHTER. IT POINTS ME TO THE MAN WHO ONCE IN LONELINESS, SURROUNDED ONLY BY A FEW FOLLOWERS, RECOGNIZED THESE JEWS FOR WHAT THEY WERE AND SUMMONED MEN TO THE FIGHT AGAINST THEM AND WHO, GOD'S TRUTH! WAS GREATEST NOT AS SUFFERER BUT AS 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 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. 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 as a man I have the duty to see to it that human society does not suffer the same catastrophic collapse as did the civilization of the ancient world some two thousand years ago--a civilization which was driven to its ruin through this same Jewish people. [Full Text]

It is absolutely undeniable that elements of the Catholic Church have, for the last 2,000 years, taught that the Jews are enemies of Christianity. Hitler learned these lessons in Church, but later rejected the notion that the Jews could convert and thus become Christians. He perverted the traditional Catholic antipathy to Judaism by melding it to the racial anti-Semitism rampant during his youth. But this joining of these two versions of anti-Semitism--the traditional Church variety and the then-new racialist variety--would not happen until Hitler became an adult. But it was Hitler's early lessons in Sunday school that formed the foundation.

Here is yet another example of Father Hitler preaching his new gospel:

February 15, 1933 [Stuttgart]:

And now Staatspräsident Bolz says that Christianity and the Catholic faith are threatened by us. And to that charge I can answer: In the first place it is Christians and not international atheists who now stand at the head of Germany. I do not merely talk of Christianity, no, I also profess that I will never ally myself with the parties which destroy Christianity. If many wish today to take threatened Christianity under their protection, where, I would ask, was Christianity for them in these fourteen years when they went arm in arm with atheism? No, never and at no time was greater internal damage done to Christianity than in these fourteen years when a party, theoretically Christian, sat with those who denied God in one and the same Government. I would ask whether the economic policy of this now superseded system was a Christian policy. Was the inflation an undertaking for which Christians could answer, or has the destruction of German life, of the German peasant as well as of the middles classes, been Christian? [Full Text]

Here, Hitler again interprets Biblical ideas, but while in the previous quote he was melding these precepts with racialist "thought," in this latter quote he is utilizing these ideas politically. Without that early Church training, do you suppose he would have had a background in such things from which to formulate his conceptions?

Here is one last snippet from a Hitler speech, again detailing his conceptions concerning the proper place of the Church in his Reich. This quote fully explains why some elements of the Church were ending up in concentration camps, while others were left unmolested. Again, keep in mind that the Church was never outlawed or put out of business during Hitler's rule. Only those elements that defied Hitler were persecuted.

January 30, 1939 [Reichstag]:

The National Socialist State has not closed a church, nor has it prevented the holding of a religious service, nor has it ever excised any influence upon the form of a religious service. It has not exercised any pressure upon the doctrine nor on the profession of faith of any of the Confessions. In the National Socialist State anyone is free to seek his blessedness after his own fashion. It is however true that if priests, instead of being servants of God, prefer to regard as their mission the abuse of our present Reich, it's institutions or it's leaders, then the National Socialist State will relentlessly force them to realize that no one will be suffered to destroy this State, and that priests so soon as they set themselves beyond the law will by the law be brought to account precisely in the same way as any other German citizen. But it must be at this point established that there are ten thousands and ten thousands of priests of all Christian Confessions who perform their ecclesiastical duties just as well as of probably better than the political agitators without ever coming into conflict with the laws of the State. To protect these the State regards as its task; the destruction of the enemies of the State it regards as its duty. [Full Text]

It is unfortunate that Hitler was never excommunicated by the Church as this could very well be interpreted as tacit approval of his persecution of the Jews. As it says in Galatians 1:8: "But even if we, or an angel from Heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be anathema!" The King James Version translates anathema as 'accursed,' and Anathema is, of course, grounds for automatic excommunication. Apparently, the Church did not feel that Hitler's criminal acts meant that he had "spread division and confusion among the Faithful."

Hitler suffered neither ferendae sententiae excommunication, meaning that his excommunication was officially decreed by Church authorities, or latae sententiae excommunication, meaning that his excommunication was automatically imposed at the moment the offensive act took place. It is exactly for these sorts of ommisions by the Church that give Catholicism a bad name. Only blind apologists deny the facts of the matter, and employ illogical arguments to refute it.

Hitler biographer John Toland:

[Hitler was still] a member in good standing of the Church of Rome despite detestation of its hierarchy, he carried within him its teaching that the Jew was the killer of God. The extermination, therefore, could be done without a twinge of conscience since he was merely acting as the avenging hand of God"so long as it was done impersonally, without cruelty.

A 1941 diary entry of Nazi General Gerhart Engel has Hitler stating: "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so."

Hitler sites scripture and Biblical teachings far more frequently than any other source. Two Church teachings in particular became the foundation stones for centuries of oppression of Jews by the Church:

Supercessionism (Replacement Theology):

The belief that God had rejected the Jews, unilaterally canceled his covenants with them, and now favored Christians as the new chosen people.

Translated Responsibility:

Holding all Jews, from the first century onwards, responsible for Jesus' execution circa 30 CE. This includes Jews who lived throughout the Roman Empire in the first century CE who never heard of Jesus, and Jews who were born as many as 19 centuries after Jesus' death.

These two tenets, among others, were established Church doctrine off and on for centuries, and one still, to this day, encounters these doctrines in various quarters. In his speeches and writings, Hitler preaches a perversion of Christianity, much of it based on such false doctrines as the two above. It is simply undeniable; it is there in black and white, straight from the Nazis mouth. This is, by definition, influence. That these teachings are usually considered false in the lights of the version of Christianity most today espouse, is obvious.

It is this gap--between a Christianity encompassing such false doctrines as the ones above, and the type practiced today by the majority of Christians--that causes those who consider themselves Christians to reject the idea that Hitler could have likewise have considered himself so. The fact is that Hitler propagated a perversion of Christianity, a cult-like version. This unfortunate reality should not be defensively construed as a blanket condemnation of Christianity as a whole. To claim that Hitler--or Jim Jones, or any other cultist--was not actually a Christian is understandable on a gut-level, but not strictly logical. There have always been good Christians and bad Christians. Either way, the bad Christians still remain Christians by definition, even though many of us would prefer that it were not so.

Hitler was raised Catholic, and he was taught a form of religious anti-Semitism which he never lost, but only adapted to his political uses by melding it with Racial anti-Semitism. This view is supported by much documentation, both from Hitler's writings and his speeches, the full weight of which is decisive in proving the point, and cannot logically be refuted. Here is a link to a well-researched compilation of such documentation: Adolf Hitler: With God on His Side

Conclusion: Hitler was in no way a practicing Christian, nor was he what one could reasonably consider to be 'religious' in any meaningful way. However, it is provable and obvious that his worldview began with a foundation in Christian teachings, and subsequently evolved from there.
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