Hitler Was a Christian – Huh?

It is often alleged by skeptics and atheists that Hitler was a Christian.  In fact, in my debate with Dan Barker in 2009, this allegation was brought forth.  Of course, it takes more than an allegation to prove something.  This was one of the central themes of this debate.  What does it take for someone to be a Christian?  Atheists want to stake Christianity simply upon those who would verbally claim to be a Christian.  The Bible teaches that such a claim is simply not sufficient.  Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).  One must actually do the will of Jesus’ Father to be known of Him.

The claim that Hitler was a Christian, however, may be challenged on historical grounds.  In 2010 I took a graduate level class on the Second World War.  During the course of this class I was exposed to some period materials by war correspondents.  I came across a very interesting article written by Sigrid Schultz who worked for the Chicago Tribune.  Reporting from within Nazi Germany, she wrote under the pen name of John Dickson in order to protect her identity.  Still, this was not enough.  The German authorities eventually traced her articles back to her, and deported her from the country.  Nevertheless, among the articles that were published in the Chicago Tribune was one titled: “Nazis Push War on Christianity Among Children: Hitler Youth Leaders Bare Secret Orders.”

The core of this article points out that Hitler Youth were being taught by the Nazi party to reject Christianity because it lacks strength.  Schultz reports: “throughout the whole country there is discernible a systematic drive against the Christian religion.”  The Hitler Youth were told to avoid wedding ceremonies in churches, to not have their children baptized, and that “Christianity undermines true heroic values.”  The article reports Nazi leaders to have said, “If in a quiet way one can help the children realize there is no real strength in Christianity it will be useful.”  It was thought that Christianity’s promotion of meekness was not compatible with the Nazi’s conception of strength. [1]

In the 1930s Germany was home to millions of Roman Catholics.  In fact, they comprised the bulk of Germany’s religious populous.  It would have been political suicide for Hitler and the Nazi party to not publicly placate this demographic group.  The fact that they did, simply proves that Hitler and the Nazis were master politicians, not that they were Christians.  This article from the Chicago Tribune proves that to be the case.  The Nazis were only interested in Christianity as much as it garnered them political power.  They had no real interest in pursuing the teachings of Jesus Christ any more than Joseph Stalin was interested in pursuing free-enterprise.

After the Second World War ended, those prosecuting the surviving Nazis for war crimes drew up a document that detailed what the Nazi master plan had been against Christianity.  This document also points out that part of their plan had been to persecute and eventually eliminate Christian churches.  The Nazis had, in fact, already dispossessed the German Evangelical Church and the Norwegian National Church of their properties.  They also desired to legally abolish all central institutions of church government.  In a section titled, “The Basic National Socialist Attitude Toward Christian Churches,” the document said, “National Socialism by its very nature was hostile to Christianity and the Christian churches.  The purpose of the National Socialist movement was to convert the German people into a homogenous racial group united in all its energies for prosecution of aggressive warfare.”  It went on to say, “Important leaders of the National Socialist party would have liked to meet this situation by a complete extirpation of Christianity and the substitution of a completely racial religion tailored to fit the needs of National Socialist policy.”  The report then says, “Considerations of expediency made it impossible, however, for the National Socialist government to adopt this radical anti-Christian policy officially.” [2] Those “considerations of expediency” was the fact of the German populace’s large Roman Catholic demographic.

While it is true that Adolph Hitler publicly professed himself to be a Roman Catholic, it should be apparent that his true documented intentions, and the intentions of the Nazi party, were to eliminate Christianity altogether, a goal that those who profess atheism fondly desire.  Hitler’s religious façade may give atheists and skeptics a veneer upon which to lob grenades at Christianity, but the truth is that Hitler’s and the Nazi Party’s objectives regarding religion are identical to the objectives of atheists and others who desire freedom from religion today.

[1] Dickson, John. “Nazis Push War On Christianity Among Children.” Chicago Daily Tribune. 18 May 1937. 11. In ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune. Print.

[2] Schorake, Carl E. Lt., USWR. “R & A No. 3114.4., The Persecution of the Christian Churches.” Memo to Major William Coogan. Office of Strategic Services: Research and Analysis Branch. 10 July 1945. 4-7.

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