Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Adolf Hitler in Religious Surroundings: Is There Really Evidence That the Führer Was a Christian?

On Christmas Eve, No Pasarán posted an article giving evidence that Adolf Hitler wanted to replace Christianity with the "religion" of National Socialism.

A couple of readers have taken issue with this (as you can see among the comments section), and, between them, they offer more than a dozen photos of der Führer or other Nazi leaders in religious settings (a couple are listed twice or show the same event from different angles) in order to show, apparently, that Christianity was an integral element in the Nazis' seizure of power and in their scheme of power proper.

I think that anytime a blogger (or anyone else) makes a mistake, he or she should not be fearful but should own up to it.

Having said that, I am not going to admit to any mistakes before examining the evidence.

Truth is, I kind of suspect the two or three readers of being militant atheists, but I don't know this, I have no way of knowing this, and anyway I am open to examining their evidence and assume that they are objective observers, perhaps (but not necessarily) mistaken observers, entirely open to dialogue one way as well as the other.

So let us take an in-depth, dispassionate look at the evidence they bring.

Let us dissect the 14 photos and the half-dozen quotes they have, and be unafraid to make the appropriate conclusions thereto.

One photo can be disposed of straight away: One of the pictures allegedly demonstrating that Hitler was a Christian or pro-Christian shows the Führer in the company of an admiring nun. But take a closer look: Unless I am very much mistaken, what is actually happening is that a political celebrity is doing nothing more than — briefly — interrupting his outdoor lunch, or a snack, or drinks, to sign an autograph for a fan. A fan who happens to be a nun (let us assume that she is one, even though that there is the — admittedly, remote — possibility that she may simply be a traditionally-dressed peasant). Indeed, even the person who uploaded the photo doesn't see fit to mention the nun, calling the image simply HitlerWithFan.jpg. Is it unfair to say that it is likely that the fan, or the nun, stopped by the table — possibly invited thereto by the Nazi propaganda service — and spent maybe 20 seconds there while Hitler signed his name on a head shot (one provided the nun by his services a few moments earlier?) while his personal photographer snapped a picture?

Taking issue with the statement that a photo and a video of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem "seem to show the only time Adolf Hitler has met any religious leader of note", Writeby and John link to several pictures.

Let us see what they show:

One of them shows a formal meeting with various dignitaries, one of whom is some kind of bishop or cardinal. (The other people seem to be various types of ambassadors.)

Two other photos show "Hitler shaking hands with a bishop (a cardinal in this one)". It's actually two photos, taken from a different angle, of the same bishop (or the same cardinal) at the same event at almost the same moment.

In any case, these photos indeed seem to pretty much destroy the following phrase of mine, which Writeby quotes:
no pictures seem to exist with any Catholic priest or Protestant preacher, German or foreign. 
Do these photos not disprove that? (Und nein, the "seem to" phrase will not help you out of this one, Herr Svane…)

But wait a minute!

Look at the lack of a capital letter at the beginning of the phrase "quoted" (it is not "No pictures" with a capital N): It turns out that Writeby — deliberately — decided not to quote the entire sentence!

Check out the beginning thereof:
Of course, another reason a Nazi leader might meet with a religious leader might be for reasons of diplomacy with an ally [I might have added "with an ally, domestic or foreign"] …
What is the main purpose of these meetings of Hitler's with these religious people?

Is it for respect for the religious sphere and Adolf's concern for, say, his personal spiritual path? Or is it for diplomatic reasons — internal and external? And/or for show?

We do not know, do we? We cannot say… Actually, I'm pretty willing to bet that it has more to do with diplomatic reasons and/or for propaganda purposes…

Now take a look at the other pictures of religious men in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s that John and Writeby link to.

In every single one, with or without the presence of the Führer, the religious men are giving the Heil Hitler salute or, to be more precise, they are joining the neighboring crowd to give the Heil Hitler salute.

Alright, so what I should have written was that
"no pictures seem to exist with any Catholic priest or Protestant preacher, German or foreign" unless it were for reasons of diplomacy (foreign or domestic) [which in fact, I had already written] or — unless the latter agreed, willingly or otherwise, to forfeit their independence, to follow the brain-washed crowds, and to submit to the Nazi state.
My mistake.

In the meantime, let us note that in the 12 years of the Third Reich, or over 4,380 days, our Christian detractors have managed to find photos from only a couple of events of Hitler meeting some religious authority (none of whom seem to be specially "of note") along with a couple of photos (some of which may predate Hitler assuming power) of brain-washed priests giving the Hitler salute.

This brings us to the Göring church wedding "with his best man (Hitler)".

Is this not damning evidence?!

I wish it were, but unfortunately for John, we cannot tell, because people have gotten married in churches for centuries whether feeling religious or not. And in this case, the question is, Was the church wedding done for the sake of belonging to, and respect for, the Christian religion? Or was it done for the usual totalitarian reasons — for propaganda and spectacle? A full description of the events in April 1935 provide a clue:
During the early 1930s Göring was often in the company of Emmy Sonnemann (1893–1973), an actress from Hamburg. They were married on 10 April 1935 in Berlin; the wedding was celebrated on a huge scale. A large reception was held the night before at the Berlin Opera House. Fighter aircraft flew overhead on the night of the reception and the day of the ceremony.
"Finding [this information took] literally seconds on" Wikipedia via "google [name] search", John. If you don't mind me saying so: "The internet is really cool that way, you should try it some time."

This brings us in turn to the prominent presence of a majestic church in several photographs. But as John himself notes, they are (here too) "propaganda shots". If they are propaganda, what purpose does the majestic building have? Is the Church of Our Lady "a potent symbol" to denote the Christian religion? Or is it "a potent symbol" to symbolize the majesty of the Nazi movement, of the Aryan race, of the anointed leader, of the Christian religion submitting to, and standing behind, the Führer? In addition, at least one (1928) is, and possibly both are, from before the Nazis took power in 1933.

This brings us to a major problem regarding all the photos that John and Writeby — photo after photo turns out to be taken during the 1920s and early 1930s, when the Nazis were not in power, i.e., during campaigns for the hearts of the German people.

Why should early news reports from the Nazi movement disprove later ones, such as the 1937 reports showing that the Nazi neo-pagans wanted to replace the words of Christian hymns with paeans to the glory of the Aryan race?!

When are the pictures of Hitler exiting a church taken? When Hitler is the chancellor of Germany? When he has become the dictator of the German Reich? Is he the Führer? With full powers?

No, again unless I am mistaken, Dolfi seems to be young, a civilian, wearing a hat, and he seems to be in Bavaria. He seems, indeed, to be what he still was in the 1920s, a politician trying to gain power — through (as we later will find out) whatever means necessary…

Do we know for sure that they are "pictures of him walking out of church after worship"? Was he really in there to worship and, if so, did he do so in his soul or did he just go through the "motions"? Have we never heard of people going to church without feeling particularly religious? (It was in Tess of the d'Urbervilles, if my memory doesn't fail me, that the main reason for young people going to church turned out to be not to commune with the higher power, but to "check out" and meet young people of the opposite sex…)

For certain politicians, young or old, the reason comes to being seen by, being checked out by, and meeting the populace. Have we never heard of politicians, past or present, engaging in activities they didn't particularly care for because it was necessary with regards to the electorate or to a certain segment of the population?

Specifically, have we never heard of politicians, past or present, claiming to be Christian when it was obvious they weren't so or when the extent of their commitment was doubtful?

This brings us to the photo of "Hitler in prayer".

Not only don't we know if the Führer is really turning to his religious side, we don't even know if he is praying — or to what.

We don't know if this shot is taken after the Nazis came to power or while they was still vying for the soul of Germany. (It might not be for propaganda purposes, might it?)

Is Adolf even in a church? If so, it is one whose purpose has been radically transformed by a (great) number of swastika flags hanging from its walls…

If the photo is from the latter part of his career, Hitler may be showing respects towards a dead Nazi, or towards dead Germans in a battle that just ended.

But in any case, what he is doing is not necessarily Christian, as Romans, vandals, Vikings, and samurai, among many others (not least Goths and Teutons as well as a number of neo-pagans), have behaved the same way in the same type of formal events, and have done so long before they ever heard of Christianity.

Some may say I am splitting hairs.

I would say that, given what we know about the Nazi state — given what we now know about the fact that neo-pagans had started replacing the words of Christmas carols with paeans to the glory of the Aryan race — isn't it rather posting these (rare) photos which amounts to splitting hairs?!

Speaking facetiously of his hyperlinks to the religious images, John quips
Finding these too [sic] literally seconds on google image search. The internet is really cool that way, you should try it some time. 
Guess what, John. Taking a good, hard look at some of the evidence before one's eyes takes a little longer and demands more use of one's brain cells.

That's something you might want to try some time…

Caption: Why no Christian symbols at events like this? —>
In order to prove something, it is not sufficient to point out evidence in your favor, you must also explain away (if possible) things that do not prove your point — for instance, the absence of Christian symbols at Nazi gatherings in Nuremberg as well as in most of the NSDAP's gatherings as well as in the ensuing propaganda records such as Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will

For an answer as to who is splitting hairs, let us go to the quotes that Writeby provides.

Might it be that the very words that he quotes — i.e., the words of Hitler, Göring, et al — turn out to prove the exact opposite of what he and John are claiming? (I.e., that Christianity is an integral part of the Nazi creed…)

Could it be that the very words that Writeby quotes confirms what we are saying on No Pasarán?

Writeby and John seem to think that I wrote, or that I think, that Nazi leaders were atheistic and/or — overtly — anti-Christian. Ergo, any photos with religious leaders and any quotations about God and/or Jesus prove that I am wrong.

As it happens, you cannot note what seems like a damning quote of Hitler's — that "The National Government … regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality" — without noting the date he made the "Proclamation to the German Nation".

February 1, 1933 is the day after he finally was appointed chancellor — against the better judgment of President Hindenburg and with less than 40% of the vote. Is it any wonder he would make a uniting statement like that?

(Muhamed Morsi —not that he should be compared to Adolf, the Egyptian is just being used as an illustration — also sounded good in his first weeks in office, waiting until months later to show his true side.)

Writeby goes on to give us two quotes from Hitler, which are even older, from the 1920s, both when he was a struggling politician, again when he was a politician vying for the hearts of the German people.

Might it be revealing that in one quote, Hitler does not call Jesus "the Son of God" but, non-commitally, "the founder of Christianity"? And in the other, while he mentions the "Lord and Savior", does he not speak more of himself — while comparing himself to Jesus?!

The tenor of both the Mein Kampf quote and the 1922 Munich quote is hardly one of respect and love for Jesus Christ or as someone attempting to be a (fellow) humble follower of the "true" religion. It is one of hatred for a group or a policy (the Jews). Adolph [sic] Hitler is in no way trying to give an interpretation of the Bible, or of a Bible story, for his readers or listeners; he is claiming that evidence from the Bible, for which he seems to have little interest per se, supports the policies of he himself and of his party.

Is Hitler saying anything to the effect that "in order to be good Christians, you, we, must do such and such"? No, Hitler is saying "Christians, if they (if you) are good and sensible, ought to (you ought to) join the Nazi party and follow us"!

In fact, quotations from other German leaders do not support Writeby and John's contention at all. What the Nazis are saying is "Christianity is good — insofar as its members bow to, and support, Adolf (literally, our Lord Adolf Hitler) and his Nazi policies" (see the photos of the brain-washed priests doing the Hitler salute).

"Hermann Goering" [sic]:
"God gave the savior to the German people. We have faith, deep and unshakeable faith, that he [Hitler] was sent to us by God to save Germany." 
Robert Lay:
"We believe on this earth in Adolf Hitler alone! We believe in National Socialism as the creed which is the sole source of grace! We believe that Almighty God has sent us Adolf Hitler so that he may rid Germany of the hypocrites and Pharisees."
What is it that you don't understand, Writeby, in that this disproves your point altogether?

What is it that you don't understand, John, when Christianity is turned on its head and reinterpreted, in a self-serving manner, so that, say, humility and the need to own up to your mistakes (sins) are done away with, while the messiah becomes whoever is the leader of your political party and of your nation?!

Update: Worshipping Little Else But the Aryan Race, Hitler Abhorred the Christian Faith and Wanted to Replace Christmas with the Pagans' Yule

Related: • Jonah Goldberg: Just for the record, Hitler detested Christianity

• Ray Comfort, whose “Hitler, God and the Bible” points out Hitler devised a master strategy to crush all Christian churches, explains that it would be either ignorant or disingenuous to call Hitler a Christian:
In a special Christian Broadcasting Network program, Comfort cites the head of Hitler Youth, Boldur von Schirach, who said, “Destruction of Christianity was explicitly recognized as a purpose of the National Socialist Movement.”

 … The CBN program explains how Hitler put on a religious, even Christian, façade, until he became powerful.

 … But later one of his inner circle acknowledged: “I’m absolutely clear in my own mind, and I think I can speak for the Fuhrer as well, that both the Catholic and Protestant churches will vanish from the life of our people.”