Religion in Nazi Germany

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For the significance of occultism and paganism in Nazism see the article Religious aspects of Nazism.

In 1933, prior to the annexation of Austria into Germany, the Christian population of Germany was 67% Protestant and 33% Catholic.[1] A census in May 1939, six years into the Nazi era[2] and incorporating the annexation of mostly Catholic Austria into Germany, indicates 54% considered themselves Protestant, (including non-denominational Christians) and 40% Catholic. 3.5% self-identified as "gottgläubig" (lit. "believers in god", often described as predominately creationist and deistic[3]), and 1.5% non-religious. Most of this latter 5% were committed Nazis, who left the churches in response and encouragement of the Nazi Party program to reduce the influence of the Christian churches in Germany.[4] Most members of the Nazi Party, however, were Christians. Composed mostly by members of the Lutheran Evangelical tradition, members of the apostate Nazi inspired Positive Christianity sect and some of the Catholic faith tradition respectively. By mid-1933 it was mandated by law no one could be employed in the Trade Unions or Civil Service without being a member of the Nazi Party.

The Nazi Fuehrer Adolf Hitler stated repeatedly that Nazism was founded on science, not faith.[5] There was some diversity of personal views among the Nazi leadership as to the future of religion in Germany. Anti-Church radicals included Hitler's Personal Secretary Martin Bormann and Minister for Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, the neo-pagan official Nazi Philosopher Alfred Rosenberg and security chief Heinrich Himmler. Some Nazis, such as Hans Kerrl, who served as Hitler's Minister for Church Affairs, believed Christianity could be Nazified into "Positive Christianity", by renouncing its Jewish origins, the Old Testament and Apostle's Creed, and holding Hitler as a new "Messiah". Hitler himself believed that in the long run, National Socialism and religion would not be able to co-exist, but was prepared temporarily to restrain some of his more radical instincts out of political considerations.

Nazism wanted to transform the subjective consciousness of the German people—their attitudes, values and mentalities—into a single-minded, obedient "national community". The Nazis believed they would therefore have to replace class, religious and regional allegiances.[6] Under the Gleichschaltung process, Hitler attempted to create a unified Protestant Reich Church from Germany's 28 existing Protestant churches. The plan failed, and was resisted by the Confessing Church. Persecution of the Catholic Church in Germany followed the Nazi takeover. Hitler moved quickly to eliminate political catholicism. Amid harassment of the Church, the Reich concordat treaty with the Vatican was signed in 1933, and promised to respect Church autonomy. Hitler routinely disregarded the Concordat, closing all Catholic institutions whose functions were not strictly religious. Clergy, nuns, and lay leaders were targeted, with thousands of arrests over the ensuing years. The Church accused the regime of "fundamental hostility to Christ and his Church". Smaller religious minorities such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and Bahá'í Faith were banned in Germany, while the eradication of Judaism by the genocide of its adherents was attempted. The Salvation Army, Christian Saints and Seventh Day Adventist Church all disappeared from Germany, while Astrologers, Healers and Fortune tellers were banned. The small pagan "German Faith Movement", which worshipped the sun and seasons, supported the Nazis.[7] It is generally believed by historians that Hitler and the Nazis intended to eradicate Christianity in Germany after winning victory in the war.[8][9]

Background[edit]

Christianity has ancient roots among Germanic peoples dating to the missionary work of Columbanus and St. Boniface in the 6th–8th centuries. The Reformation, initiated by Martin Luther in 1517, divided German Christians between a majority of Protestants and a minority of Roman Catholics. The south and west remained mainly Catholic, while north and east became mainly Protestant.[10] The Catholic Church enjoyed a degree of privilege in the Bavarian region, the Rhineland and Westphalia as well as parts in south-west Germany, while in the Protestant North, Catholics suffered some discrimination.[11][12]

Bismarck's Kulturkampf ("Battle for Culture") of 1871–78 had seen an attempt to assert a Protestant vision of German nationalism over Germany, and fused anticlericalism and suspicion of the Catholic population, whose loyalty was presumed to lie with Austria and France, rather than the new German Empire. The Centre Party had formed in 1870, initially to represent the religious interests of Catholics and Protestants, but was transformed by the Kulturkampf into the "political voice of Catholics".[13] Bismarck's Culture Struggle failed in its attempt to eliminate Catholic institutions in Germany, or their strong connections outside of Germany, particularly various international missions and Rome.[14]

Organized religion in Germany 1933-1945[edit]

Kirchenaustritte 1932-1944[15]
Year Catholic Protestant Total
1932 52,000 225,000 277,000
1933 34,000 57,000 91,000
1934 27,000 29,000 56,000
1935 34,000 53,000 87,000
1936 46,000 98,000 144,000
1937 104,000 338,000 442,000
1938 97,000 343,000 430,000
1939 95,000 395,000 480,000
1940 52,000 160,000 212,000
1941 52,000 195,000 247,000
1942 37,000 105,000 142,000
1943 12,000 35,000 49,000
1944 6,000 17,000 23,000






Circle frame.svg

Religion in Nazi Germany (1939)

  Protestantism (54%)
  Catholicism (40%)
  "Gottgläubig" (3.5%)
  Non-Religious (1.5%)
  Other faiths (1%)

Denominational trends during Nazi period[edit]

Christianity in Germany has, since the Protestant Reformation, been divided into Catholicism and Protestantism. As a specific outcome of the Reformation in Germany, the large Protestant denominations are organized into Landeskirchen (roughly: Federal Churches). The German word for denomination is Konfession. For the large churches in Germany (Catholic and evangelisch i.e., Protestant ) the German government collects the church tax, which is then given to the Churches. For this reason, membership in the Catholic or Protestant (evangelische) Church is officially registered.[16] It is apparent they were politically motivated. For this reason Historian Richard Steigmann-Gall argues that "nominal church membership is a very unreliable gauge of actual piety in this context"[17] and determining someone's actual religious convictions should be based on other criteria. It is important to keep this 'official aspect' in mind when turning to such questions as the religious beliefs of Adolf Hitler or Joseph Goebbels. Both men had ceased to attend Catholic mass or to go to Confession long before 1933, but neither had officially left the Church and neither of them refused to pay his church taxes.[16]

Historians have taken a look at the numbers of people who left their church in Germany during the 1933-45 period. The option to be taken off the church rolls (Kirchenaustritt) has existed in Germany since 1873, when Otto von Bismarck had introduced it as part of the Kulturkampf aimed against Catholicism.[18] For parity this was made possible for Protestants, too, and for the next 40 years it was mostly they who took advantage of it.[18] Statistics exist since 1884 for the Protestant churches and since 1917 for the Catholic Church.[18]

An analysis of this data for the time of the Nazis' rule is available in a paper by Sven Granzow et al., published in a collection edited by Götz Aly. Altogether more Protestants than Catholics left their church, however, overall Protestants and Catholics decided similarly.[19] The spike in the numbers from 1937-38 is the result of the annexation of Austria in 1938 and other territories. The number of Kirchenaustritte reached its "historical high"[20] in 1939 when it peaked at 480,000. Granzow et al. see the numbers not only in relation to the Nazi policy towards the churches,[21] (which changed drastically from 1935 onwards) but also as indicator of the trust in the Führer and the Nazi leadership. The decline in the number of people who left the church after 1942 is explained as resulting from a loss of confidence in the future of Nazi Germany. People tended to keep their ties to the church, because they feared an uncertain future.[20]

The historian Richard J Evans wrote that, by 1939, 95% of Germans still called themselves Protestant or Catholic, while 3.5% identified as "gottgläubig" (lit. "believers in god", a non-denominational nazified outlook on god beliefs, often described as predominately based on creationist and deistic views[3]) and 1.5% atheist. According to Evans, those members of the affiliation gottgläubig "were convinced Nazis who had left their Church at the behest of the Party, which had been trying since the mid 1930s to reduce the influence of Christianity in society".[22] Heinrich Himmler, who himself was fascinated with Germanic paganism[citation needed], was a strong promoter of the gottgläubig movement and didn't allow atheists into the SS, arguing that their "refusal to acknowledge higher powers" would be a "potential source of indiscipline".[23] The majority of the three million Nazi Party members continued to pay their church taxes and register as either Roman Catholic or Evangelical Protestant Christians.[24] According to the BBC, the Salvation Army, Christian Saints and Seventh Day Adventist Church all disappeared from Germany during the Nazi era.[7]

Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS or SD members withdrew from their Christian denominations, changing their religious affiliation to gottgläubig, while nearly 70% of the officers of the Schutzstaffel SS did the same.[25]

National Socialist attitudes towards Christianity[edit]

Hitler never portrayed himself and the Nazi movement to the German people as outspoken proponents of atheism, but rather as faithful Christians.[26][27] He publicly declared: "We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity ... in fact our movement is Christian."[28]

As a measure in the struggle for power against the influence of the churches (Kirchenkampf) the Nazis tried to establish a "third denomination" called positive Christianity, aiming to replace the established churches to reduce their influence. Historians have suspected this was an attempt to start a cult worshipping Hitler as the new Messiah. However, in a diary entry of 28 December 1939, Joseph Goebbels wrote that "the Fuhrer passionately rejects any thought of founding a religion. He has no intention of becoming a priest. His sole exclusive role is that of a politician."[29] In Hitler's political relations dealing with religion he readily adopted a strategy "that suited his immediate political purposes."[30]

Christianity remained the dominant religion in Germany through the Nazi period, and its influence over Germans displeased the Nazi hierarchy. Evans wrote that Hitler believed that in the long run National Socialism and religion would not be able to co-exist, and stressed repeatedly that Nazism was a secular ideology, founded on modern science: "Science, he declared, would easily destroy the last remaining vestiges of superstition". Germany could not tolerate the intervention of foreign influences such as the Pope and "Priests, he said, were 'black bugs', 'abortions in black cassocks'".[31]

During Hitler's dictatorship, more than 6,000 clergymen, on the charge of treasonable activity, were imprisoned or executed.[32] The same measures were taken in the occupied territories; in French Lorraine, the Nazis forbade religious youth movements, parish meetings, scout meetings, and church assets were taken. Church schools were closed, and teachers in religious institutes were dismissed. The episcopal seminary was closed, and the SA and SS desecrated churches, religious statutes and pictures. 300 clergy were expelled from the Lorraine region, monks and nuns were deported or forced to renounce their vows.[33]

The Nazi leadership made use of indigenous Germanic pagan imagery and ancient Roman symbolism in their propaganda. However, the use of pagan symbolism worried some Protestants.[34] Many Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler,[32] subscribed either to a mixture of pseudoscientific theories, particularly Social Darwinism,[35] or to mysticism and occultism, which was especially strong in the SS.[36][37] Central to both groupings was the belief in Germanic (white Nordic) racial superiority. The existence of a Ministry of Church Affairs, instituted in 1935 and headed by Hanns Kerrl, was hardly recognized by ideologists such as Alfred Rosenberg or by other political decision-makers.[38] A relative moderate, Kerrl accused dissident churchmen of failing to appreciate the Nazi doctrine of "Race, blood and soil" and gave the following explanation of the Nazi conception of "Positive Christianity", telling a group of submissive clergy in 1937:[39]

Dr Zoellner and [Catholic Bishop of Munster] Count Galen have tried to make clear to me that Christianity consists in faith in Christ as the son of God. That makes me laugh... No, Christianity is not dependent upon the Apostle's Creed... True Christianity is represented by the party, and the German people are now called by the party and especially the Fuehrer to a real Christianity... the Fuehrer is the herald of a new revelation".

Hans Kerrl, Nazi Minister for Church Affairs, 1937

During the war Alfred Rosenberg formulated a thirty-point program for the National Reich Church, which included:

  • The National Reich Church claims exclusive right and control over all Churches.
  • The National Church is determined to exterminate foreign Christian faiths imported into Germany in the ill-omened year 800.
  • The National Church demands immediate cessation of the publishing and dissemination of the Bible.
  • The National Church will clear away from its altars all Crucifixes, Bibles and pictures of Saints.
  • On the altars there must be nothing but Mein Kampf and to the left of the altar a sword.[40]

When exploring the Nazi party's public speeches and writings, Steigmann-Gall notes that they can provide insight into their "untempered" ideas.[41]

We are no theologians, no representatives of the teaching profession in this sense, put forth no theology. But we claim one thing for ourselves: that we place the great fundamental idea of Christianity in the center of our ideology [Ideenwelt]- the hero and sufferer Christ himself stands in the center."[42]

— Hans Schemm, Nazi Gauleiter

The Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, among the most aggressive anti-Church Nazis, wrote that there was "an insoluble opposition between the Christian and a heroic-German world view".[43]
Hanns Kerrl (center). A relative moderate, as Reichsminister of Church Affairs, he described Hitler as the "herald of a new revelation" and said that Nazi backed "Positive Christianity" was not dependent on the Apostle's Creed or belief in Christ as the son of God.[44]

Prior to the Reichstag vote for the Enabling Act under which Hitler gained the "temporary" dictatorial powers with which he went on to permanently dismantle the Weimar Republic, Hitler promised the Reichstag on 23 March 1933, that he would not interfere with the rights of the churches. However, with power secured in Germany, Hitler quickly broke this promise.[45][46] Various historians have written that the goal of the Nazi Kirchenkampf (Church Struggle) entailed not only ideological struggle, but ultimately the eradication of the Churches.[47][48][49][50][51][52][53][54][55][56] However, leading Nazis varied in the importance they attached to the Church Struggle.

William Shirer wrote that "under the leadership of Rosenberg, Bormann and Himmler, who were backed by Hitler, the Nazi regime intended to destroy Christianity in Germany, if it could, and substitute the old paganism of the early tribal Germanic gods and the new paganism of the Nazi extremists."[57] But according to Steigman-Gall, some Nazis, like Dietrich Eckart (d.1923) and Walter Buch, saw Nazism and Christianity as part of the same movement.[58] Aggressive anti-Church radicals like Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann saw the conflict with the Churches as a priority concern, and anti-church and anti-clerical sentiments were strong among grassroots party activists.[43]

Hitler himself possessed radical instincts in relation to the continuing conflict with the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Germany. Though he occasionally spoke of wanting to delay the Church struggle and was prepared to restrain his anti-clericalism out of political considerations, his "own inflammatory comments gave his immediate underlings all the license they needed to turn up the heat in the 'Church Struggle, confident that they were 'working towards the Fuhrer'".[43] According to the Goebbels Diaries, Hitler hated Christianity. In an 8 April 1941 entry, Goebbels wrote "He hates Christianity, because it has crippled all that is noble in humanity."[59]

In Bullock's assessment, though raised a Catholic, Hitler "believed neither in God nor in conscience", retained some regard for the organisational power of Catholicism, but had contempt for its central teachings, which he said, if taken to their conclusion, "would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure".[60][61] Bullock wrote:[60]

In Hitler's eyes, Christianity was a religion fit only for slaves; he detested its ethics in particular. Its teaching, he declared, was a rebellion against the natural law of selection by struggle and the survival of the fittest.

— Extract from Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, by Alan Bullock

Writing for Yad Vashem, the historian Michael Phayer wrote that by the latter 1930s, church officials knew that the long term aim of Hitler was the "total elimination of Catholicism and of the Christian religion", but that given the prominence of Christianity in Germany, this was necessarily a long term goal.[62] According to Bullock, Hitler intended to destroy the influence of the Christian churches in Germany after the war.[63] In his memoirs, Hitler's chief architect Albert Speer recalled that when drafting his plans for the "new Berlin", he consulted Protestant and Catholic authorities, but was "curtly informed" by Hitler's private secretary Martin Bormann that churches were not to receive building sites.[64] Kershaw wrote that, in Hitler's scheme for the Germanization of Eastern Europe, he made clear that there would be "no place in this utopia for the Christian Churches'.[65]

Geoffrey Blainey wrote that Hitler and his Fascist ally Mussolini were atheists, but that Hitler courted and benefited from fear among German Christians of militant Communist atheism.[66] (Other historians have characterised Hitler's mature religious position as a form of deism.) "The aggressive spread of atheism in the Soviet Union alarmed many German Christians", wrote Blainey, and with the National Socialists becoming the main opponent of Communism in Germany: "[Hitler] himself saw Christianity as a temporary ally, for in his opinion 'one is either a Christian or a German'. To be both was impossible. Nazism itself was a religion, a pagan religion, and Hitler was its high priest... Its high altar [was] Germany itself and the German people, their soil and forests and language and traditions".[66]

According to Kershaw, following the Nazi Takeover, Race policy and the 'Church Struggle' were among the most important ideological spheres: "In both areas, the party had no difficulty in mobilizing its activists, whose radicalism in turn forced the government into legislative action. In fact the party leadership often found itself compelled to respond to pressures from below, stirred up by the Gauleiter playing their own game, or emanating sometimes from radical activists at a local level".[67] As time went on, anti-clericalism and anti-church sentiment among grass roots party activists "simply couldn't be eradicated", wrote Kershaw and they could "draw on the verbal violence of party leaders towards the churches for their encouragement.[68] Unlike some other Fascist movements of the era, Nazi ideology was essentially hostile to Christianity and clashed with Christian beliefs in many respects.[69] Nazism saw the Christian ideals of meekness and conscience as obstacles to the violent instincts required to defeat other races.[69] From the mid-1930s anti-Christian elements within the Nazi party became more prominent, however they were restrained by Hitler because of the negative press their actions were receiving and by 1934 the Nazi party pretended a neutral position in regard to the Protestant Churches.[70]

Alfred Rosenberg, an "outspoken pagan", held among offices the title of "the Fuehrer's Delegate for the Entire Intellectual and Philosophical Education and Instruction for the National Socialist Party".[57] In his "Myth of the Twentieth Century" (1930), Rosenberg wrote that the main enemies of the Germans were the "Russian Tartars" and "Semites" - with "Semites" including Christians, especially the Catholic Church:[71] Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister for Propaganda, was among the most aggressive anti-Church Nazi radicals. Goebbels led the Nazi persecution of the German clergy and, as the war progressed, on the "Church Question", he wrote "after the war it has to be generally solved... There is, namely, an insoluble opposition between the Christian and a heroic-German world view".[43] Martin Bormann became Hitler's private secretary and de facto "deputy" fuhrer from 1941. He was a leading advocate of the Kirchenkampf, a project which Hitler for the most part wished to keep until after the war.[72] Bormann was a rigid guardian of National Socialist orthodoxy and saw Christianity and Nazism as "incompatible".[73] He said publicly in 1941 that "National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable".[57] In a confidential message to the Gauleiter on June 9, 1941, Martin Bormann, had declared that "National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable."[74] He also declared that the Churches' influence in the leadership of the people "must absolutely and finally be broken." Bormann believed Nazism was based on a "scientific" world-view, and was completely incompatible with Christianity.[74] Bormann stated:

Martin Bormann, Hitler's "deputy" from 1941, also saw Nazism and Christianity as "incompatible" and had a particular loathing for the Semitic origins of Christianity.[69]
Alfred Rosenberg, the official Nazi philosopher. A proponent of "Positive Christianity", he planned the "extermination of the foreign Christian faiths imported into Germany", and for the Bible and Christian cross to be replaced with Mein Kampf and the swastika.[44]

When we National Socialists speak of belief in God, we do not mean, like the naive Christians and their spiritual exploiters, a man-like being sitting around somewhere in the universe. The force governed by natural law by which all these countless planets move in the universe, we call omnipotence or God. The assertion that this universal force can trouble itself about the destiny of each individual being, every smallest earthly bacillus, can be influenced by so-called prayers or other surprising things, depends upon a requisite dose of naivety or else upon shameless professional self-interest.[75]

The Kirchenkampf Church Struggle[edit]

The signing of the Reichskonkordat on July 20, 1933 in Rome. (From left to right: German prelate Ludwig Kaas, German Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen, Secretary of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs Giuseppe Pizzardo, Cardinal Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli, Alfredo Ottaviani, and member of Reichsministerium des Inneren (Home Office) Rudolf Buttmann)
Further information: Kirchenkampf

As the Nazi Party began its takeover of power in Germany in 1933 the struggling, but still nominally functioning Weimar government, led by its President, Paul von Hindenburg, and represented by his appointed Vice-Chancellor, Franz von Papen, initiated talks with the Holy See concerning the establishment of a concordat. The talks lasted three and half months while Hitler consolidated his hold on power.[70] This attempt achieved the signing of the Reichskonkordat on July 20, 1933, which protected the freedom of the Catholic Church and restricted priests and bishops from political activity.[70]

Like the idea of the Reichskonkordat, the notion of a Protestant Reich Church, which would unify the Protestant Churches, also had been considered previously.[76] Hitler had discussed the matter as early as 1927 with Ludwig Müller, who was at that time the military chaplain of Königsberg.[76]

The Catholic Church was particularly suppressed in Poland: between 1939 and 1945, an estimated 3,000 members (18%) of the Polish clergy, were murdered; of these, 1,992 died in concentration camps.[77] In the annexed territory of Reichsgau Wartheland it was even more harsh: churches were systematically closed and most priests were either killed, imprisoned, or deported to the General Government. Eighty per cent of the Catholic clergy and five bishops of Warthegau were sent to concentration camps in 1939; 108 of them are regarded as blessed martyrs.[77] Religious persecution was not confined to Poland: in Dachau concentration camp alone, 2,600 Catholic priests from 24 different countries were killed.[77]

A number of historians maintain that the Nazis had a general covert plan, which some argue existed before the Nazis' rose to power,[78] to destroy Christianity within the Reich.[49][79][80][81][82][83][84] To what extent a plan to subordinate the churches and limit their role in the country's life existed before the Nazi rise to power, and exactly who among the Nazi leadership supported such a move remains contested."[78] However other historians maintain no such plan existed.[85][86][87][88] Summarizing a 1945 Office of Strategic Services report, New York Times columnist Joe Sharkey, stated that the Nazis had a plan to "subvert and destroy German Christianity," which was to be accomplished through control and subversion of the churches and to be completed after the war.[48][53] However the report stated this goal was limited to a "sector of the National Socialist party," namely Alfred Rosenberg and Baldur von Schirach.[89] Historian Roger Griffin maintains: "There is no doubt that in the long run Nazi leaders such as Hitler and Himmler intended to eradicate Christianity just as ruthlessly as any other rival ideology, even if in the short term they had to be content to make compromises with it."[49]

In his study The Holy Reich, the historian Richard Steigmann-Gall comes to the conclusion that Christianity, "in the final analysis, did not constitute a barrier to Nazism." Furthermore, he comments on the reason why Nazism is quite often seen as the opposite of Christianity:

"What we suppose Nazism must surely have been about usually tells us as much about contemporary societies as about the past purportedly under review. The insistence that Nazism was an anti-Christian movement has been one of the most enduring truisms of the past fifty years.... Exploring the possibility that many Nazis regarded themselves as Christian would have decisively undermined the myths of the Cold War and the regeneration of the German nation ... Nearly all Western societies retain a sense of Christian identity to this day.... That Nazism as the world-historical metaphor for human evil and wickedness should in some way have been related to Christianity can therefore be regarded by many only as unthinkable."[90]

Although there are high-profile cases of individual Lutherans and Catholics who died in prison or in concentration camps, the largest number of Christians who died would have been Jewish Christians or mischlinge who were sent to death camps for their race rather than their religion. Kahane (1999) state that the total number of Christians of Jewish descent in the Third Reich is estimated at around 200,000.[91] Among the Gentile Christians 11,300 Jehovah's Witnesses were placed in camps, and about 1,490 died, of whom 270 were executed as conscientious objectors.[92] Dachau had a special "priest block." Of the 2,720 priests (among them 2,579 Catholic) held in Dachau, 1,034 did not survive the camp. The majority of these priests were Polish (1,780), of whom 868 died in Dachau.

Protestantism[edit]

Martin Luther[edit]
Further information: Martin Luther and antisemitism

During the First and Second World War, German Protestant leaders used the writings of Luther to support the cause of German nationalism.[93] At the 450th anniversary of Luther's birth, which took place only a few months after the Nazi Party began its seizure of power in 1933, there were celebrations conducted on a large scale both by the Protestant Churches and the Nazi Party.[94] At a celebration at Königsberg, Erich Koch, at that time Gauleiter of East Prussia, made a speech which, among other things, compared Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther and claimed that the Nazis fought with Luther's spirit.[94] Such a speech might be dismissed as mere propaganda,[94] but, as Steigmann-Gall points out: "Contemporaries regarded Koch as a bona fide Christian who had attained his position [of the elected president of a provincial Church synod] through a genuine commitment to Protestantism and its institutions."[95] Even so, Steigmann-Gail states that the Nazis were not a Christian movement.[96]

The prominent Protestant theologian Karl Barth, of the Swiss Reformed, opposed this appropriation of Luther in the German Empire and Nazi Germany, when he stated in 1939 that the writings of Martin Luther were used by the Nazis to glorify the State and state absolutism:"The German people suffer under his error of the relation between law and bible, between secular and spiritual power",[97] in which Luther divided the temporal State from the inward focusing spiritual, thus limiting the ability of the individual or the church to question the actions of the State,[98] which was seen as a God ordained instrument.[99]

On February 1940, Barth accused German Lutherans specifically of separating Biblical teachings from its teachings of the State and thus legitimizing the Nazi state ideology.[100] He was not alone with his view. A few years earlier on October 5, 1933, Pastor Wilhelm Rehm from Reutlingen declared publicly that "Hitler would not have been possible without Martin Luther",[101] though many have also made this same statement about other influences in Hitler's rise to power. Anti-Communist historian Paul Johnson has said that "without Lenin, Hitler would not have been possible".[102]

Protestant groups[edit]
Main article: German Christians

Different German states possessed regional social variations as to class densities and religious denomination.[103] Richard Steigmann-Gall alleges a linkage between several Protestant churches and Nazism.[104] The "German Christians" (Deutsche Christen) were a movement within the Protestant Church of Germany with the aim of changing traditional Christian teachings to align with the ideology of National Socialism and its anti-Jewish policies.[105] The Deutsche Christen factions were united in the goal of establishing a national socialist Protestantism[106] and abolishing what they considered to be Jewish traditions in Christianity, and some but not all rejected the Old Testament and the teaching of the Apostle Paul. In November 1933, A Protestant mass rally of the Deutsche Christen, which brought together a record 20,000 people, passed three resolutions:

Ludwig Müller[edit]

The "German Christians" selected Ludwig Müller (1883–1945) as their candidate for Reich bishop in 1933.[108] In response to Hitler's campaigning,[109] two-thirds of those Protestants who voted elected Ludwig Müller, a neo-pagan candidate, to govern the Protestant Churches.[70] Müller was convinced that he had a divine responsibility to promote Hitler and his ideals,[110] and together with Hitler, he favoured a unified Reichskirche of Protestants and Catholics. This Reichskirche was to be a loose federation in the form of a council, but subordinated to the National Socialist State.[111]

The level of ties between Nazism and the Protestant churches has been a contentious issue for decades. One difficulty is that Protestantism includes a number of religious bodies many of whom had little relation to each other. Added to that, Protestantism tends to allow more variation among individual congregations than Catholicism or Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which makes statements about "official positions" of denominations problematic. The "German Christians" were a minority within the Protestant population,[112] numbering one third to one forth of the 40 million Protestants in Germany.[105] With Bishop Müller's efforts and Hitlers support "The German Evangelical Church" was formed and recognized by the state as a legal entity on July 14, 1933, with the aim of melting State, people and Church into one body.[113] Dissenters were silenced by expulsion or violence.[114]

The support of the "German Christian" movement within the churches was opposed by many adherents of traditional Christian teachings.[115] Other groups within the Protestant church included members of the Confessing Church, prominent members of the Bekennende Kirche (Confessing Church), included Martin Niemöller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer;[116] both rejected the Nazi efforts to meld volkisch principles with traditional Lutheran doctrine.[117] Martin Niemöller organized the Pastors' Emergency League which was supported by nearly 40 percent of the Evangelical pastors.[118][119] They were, however, (as of 1932) in the minority within the Protestant church bodies in Germany. But in 1933, a number of Deutsche Christen left the movement after a November speech by Reinhold Krause that urged, among other things, the rejection of the Old Testament as Jewish superstition.[120] So when Ludwig Müller could not deliver on conforming all Christians to National Socialism, and after some of the "German Christan" rallies and more radical ideas generated a backlash, Hitler's condescending attitudes toward Protestants increased and he lost all interest in Protestant church affairs.[109]

The resistance within the churches to Nazi ideology was the longest lasting and most bitter of any German institution.[121] The Nazis weakened the churches' resistance from within but the Nazis had not yet succeeded in taking full control of the churches, evidenced by the thousands of clergy sent to concentration camps.[122] Rev. Martin Niemöller was imprisoned in 1937, charged with "misuse of the pulpit to vilify the State and the Party and attack the authority of the Government."[123] After a failed assassination on Hitler's life in 1943 by members of the military and members of the German Resistance movement,[124] of which Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others in the Confessing Church movement belonged to, Hitler ordered the arrest of Protestant, mainly Lutheran clergy. However, even the "Confessing Church made frequent declarations of loyalty to Hitler".[125] But later many Protestants were solidly opposed to Nazism after the nature of the movement was better understood but a number also maintained until the end of the war that Nazism was compatible with the church.

The small Methodist population at times was deemed foreign; this stemmed from the fact that Methodism began in England, while it did not develop in Germany until the nineteenth century with Christoph Gottlob Müller and Louis Jacoby. Because of this history they felt the urge to be "more German than the Germans" to avoid suspicion. Methodist Bishop John L. Nelsen toured the U.S. on Hitler's behalf to protect his church, but in private letters indicated that he feared and hated Nazism, and so retired/fled to Switzerland. Methodist Bishop F. H. Otto Melle took a far more collaborationist position that included apparently sincere support for Nazism. He was also committed to an asylum near the war's end. To show his gratitude to the latter bishop, Hitler made a gift of 10,000 marks in 1939 to a Methodist congregation to purchase an organ. The money was never used.[126] Outside of Germany, Melle's views were overwhelmingly rejected by most Methodists. The leader of pro-Nazi segment of Baptists was Paul Schmidt. The idea of a "national church" was possible in the history of mainstream German Protestantism, but National Churches devoted primarily to the state were generally forbidden among the Anabaptists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Catholic Church. The forms or offshoots of Protestantism that advocated pacificism, anti-nationalism, or racial equality tended to oppose the Nazi state in the strongest terms. Prominent Protestant, or Protestant offshoot, groups known for their efforts against Nazism include the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Jehovah's Witnesses[edit]

In 1934, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society published a letter entitled "Declaration of Facts".[127] In this personal letter to then Reich Chancellor Hitler, J. F. Rutherford stated that "the Bible Researchers of Germany are fighting for the very same high ethical goals and ideals which also the national government of the German Reich proclaimed respecting the relationship of humans to God, namely: honesty of the created being towards its creator".[128][129] However while the Jehovah's Witnesses sought to reassure the Nazi government that their goals were purely religious and non-political and expressed hope that the government would allow them to continue their preaching, Hitler still restricted their work in Nazi Germany. After this J. F. Rutherford began denouncing Hitler in articles through his publications potentially making the plight of Jehovah's Witnesses in Nazi Germany worse.[130]

Jehovah's Witnesses or "Bible Researchers" (Bibelforschers) as they were known in Germany, comprised 25,000 members and were among those persecuted by the Nazi government. All incarcerated members were identified by a unique purple triangle. Some members of the religious group refused to serve in the German military or give allegiance to the Nazi government, for which 250 were executed.[131] An estimated 10,000 were arrested for various crimes, and 2,000 were sent to Nazi concentration camps, where approximately 1,200 were killed.[131] Jehovah's Witnesses were among the few who could leave the concentration camps simply by signing a document renouncing their religious beliefs.[132]

Catholicism[edit]

The attitude of the Nazi party to the Catholic Church ranged from tolerance, to near total renunciation and outright aggression.[133] Bullock wrote that Hitler had some regard for the organisational power of Catholicism, but utter contempt for its central teachings, which he said, if taken to their conclusion, "would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure".[60] Many Nazis were anti-clerical in both private and public life.[134] The Nazi party had decidedly pagan elements.[135] One position is that the Church and fascism could never have a lasting connection because both are a "holistic Weltanschauung" claiming the whole of the person.[133] Adolf Hitler himself has been described as a "spiritualist" by Laqueur; but by Bullock as a "rationalist" and "materialist" with no appreciation of the spiritual side of humanity;[136] and a simple "atheist" by Blainey.[137] His Fascist comrade Benito Mussolini was an atheist. Both were anticlerical, but understood that it would be rash to begin their Kulturkampfs against Catholicism prematurely. Such a clash, possibly inevitable in the future, was put off while they dealt with other enemies.[138]

Church hierarchy[edit]

The nature of the Nazi Party's relations with the Catholic Church was also complicated. As Hitler rose to power, many Catholic bishops, priests, religious and lay leaders vociferously opposed Nazism on the grounds of its incompatibility with Christian morals. In early 1931, the German bishops issued an edict excommunicating all leaders of the Nazi Party and banned Catholics from membership.[139] The ban was conditionally modified in 1933 when State law mandated all Trade Union workers and Civil Servants must be members of the Nazi Party. In July 1933 a Concord Reichskonkordat was signed with the Vatican which prevented political activity by the Church in Germany; however, the Vatican continued to speak out on issues of faith and morals opposing Nazi philosophy. In 1937 Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge condemning Nazi ideology, notably the Gleichschaltung policy directed against religious influence upon education, as well as Nazi racism and antisemitism. Pius XI's encyclical Humani Generis Unitas was never published due to his death before it could be issued, but the similar Summi Pontificatus was the first encyclical released by his successor (Pius XII), in October 1939. This encyclical strongly condemned both racism and totalitarianism, without the anti-Judaism present in Humani Generis Unitas. The massive Catholic opposition to the euthanasia programs led them to be quieted on 28 August 1941, (according to Spielvogel pp. 257–258). Catholics, on occasion, actively and openly protested Nazi antisemitism through several bishops and priests such as Bishop Clemens von Galen of Münster. In Nazi Germany, political dissenters were imprisoned, and some German priests were sent to the concentration camps for their opposition, including the pastor of Berlin's Catholic Cathedral Bernhard Lichtenberg and the seminarian Karl Leisner.[140]

Criticism arose that the Vatican headed by Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII had remained circumspect about the national-scale race hatred before 1937 (Mit brennender Sorge). In 1937, just before the publishing of the anti-Nazi encyclical, Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli in Lourdes, France condemned discrimination against Jews and the neopaganism of the Nazi régime. A statement by Pius XI on 8 September 1938 spoke of the "inadmissibility" of antisemitism, but Pius XII is criticised by people like John Cornwell for being unspecific.

In 1941 the Nazi authorities decreed the dissolution of all monasteries and abbeys in the German Reich, many of them effectively being occupied and secularized by the Allgemeine SS under Himmler. However, on July 30, 1941 the Aktion Klostersturm (Operation Monastery) was put to an end by a decree of Hitler, who feared the increasing protests by the Catholic part of German population might result in passive rebellions and thereby harm the Nazi war effort at the eastern front.[141]

Plan for the Roman Catholic Church[edit]

Historian Heinz Hürten (professor emeritus at the Catholic University of Eichstaett) noted that the Nazi party had plans for the Roman Catholic Church, according to which the Church was supposed to "eat from the hands of the government." The sequence of these plans, he states, follow this sequence: an abolition of the priestly celibacy and a nationalisation of all church property, the dissolution of monastic religious institutes, and an end to the influence of the Catholic Church upon education. Hutzen states that Hitler proposed to reduce vocations to the priesthood by forbidding seminaries from receiving applicants before their 25th birthdays, and thus had hoped that these men would marry beforehand, during the time (18 – 25 years) in which they were obliged to work in military or labour service. Also, along with this process, the Church's sacraments would be revised and changed to so-called "Lebensfeiern", the non-Christian celebrations of different periods of life.[142]

There existed some considerable differences among officials within the Nazi Party on the question of Christianity. Goebbels is purported to have feared the creation of a third front of Catholics against their regime in Germany itself. In his diary, Goebbels wrote about the "traitors of the Black International who again stabbed our glorious government in the back by their criticism", by which Hutzen states meant the indirectly or actively resisting Catholic clergymen (who wore black cassocks).[143]

Churches and the war effort[edit]

Hitler called a truce in the Church conflict with the outbreak of war, wanting to back away from policies likely to cause internal friction in Germany. He decreed at the outset of war that "no further action should be taken against the Evangelical and Catholic Churches for the duration of the war". According to John Conway, "The Nazis had to reckon with the fact that, despite all Rosenberg's efforts, only 5 per cent of the population registered themselves at the 1930 census as no longer connected with Christian Churches."[144] The support of millions of German Christians was needed in order for Hitler's plans to come to fruition. It was Hitler's belief that if religion is a help, "it can only be an advantage". Most of the 3 million Nazi Party members "still paid the Church taxes" and considered themselves Christians.[145] Regardless, a number of Nazi radicals in the hierarchy determined that the Church Struggle should be continued.[146] Following victory in Poland, the repression of the Churches was extended, despite their early protestations of loyalty to the cause.[147]

Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda issued threats and applied intense pressure on the Churches to voice support for the war, and the Gestapo banned Church meetings for a few weeks. In the first few months of the war, the German Churches complied.[148] No denunciations of the invasion of Poland, nor the Blitzkrieg were issued. On the contrary, Bishop Marahrens gave thanks to God that the Polish conflict was over, and "that He has granted our armies a quick victory." The Ministry for Church Affairs suggested Church bells across Germany ring for a week in celebration, and pastors and priests "flocked to volunteer as chaplains" for the German forces.[149] The Catholic bishops asked their followers to support the war effort: "We appeal to the faithful to join in ardent prayer that God's providence may lead this war to blessed success for Fatherland and people."[150] Likewise, the Evangelicals proclaimed: "We unite in this hour with our people in intercession for our Fuhrer and Reich, for all the armed forces, and for all who do their duty for the fatherland."[150]

Even in the face of evidence of Nazi atrocities against Catholic priests and lay people in Poland, which were broadcast on Vatican Radio, German Catholic religious leaders continued their support of the Nazi war effort. They urged their Catholic followers to "fulfill their duty to the Fuhrer".[150] Nazi war actions in 1940 and 1941 similarly prompted the Church to voice its support. The bishops declared that the Church "assents to the just war, especially one designed for the safeguarding to the state and the people" and wanted a "peace beneficial to Germany and Europe" and called the faithful to "fulfill their civil and military virtues." [149] But the Nazis strongly disapproved of the sentiments against war expressed by the Pope through his first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus and his 1939 Christmas message, and were angry at his support for Poland and the "provocative" use of Vatican Radio by Cardinal Hlond of Poland. Distribution of the encyclical was banned.[151]

Conway wrote that anti-church radical Reinhard Heydrich estimated in a report to Hitler of October 1939, that the majority of Church people were supporting the war effort - though a few "well known agitators among the pastors needed to be dealt with".[146] Heydrich determined that support from church leaders could not be expected because of the nature of their doctrines and internationalism, so he devised measures to restrict the operation of the Churches under cover of war time exigencies, such as reducing resources available to Church presses on the basis of rationing, and prohibiting pilgrimages and large church gatherings on the basis of transportation difficulties. Churches were closed for being "too far from bomb shelters". Bells were melted down. Presses were closed.[147]

With the expansion of the war in the East from 1941, there came also an expansion of the regime's attack on the churches. Monasteries and convents were targeted and expropriation of Church properties surged. The Nazi authorities claimed that the properties were needed for wartime necessities such as hospitals, or accommodation for refugees or children, but in fact used them for their own purposes. "Hostility to the state" was another common cause give for the confiscations, and the action of a single member of a monastery could result in seizure of the whole. The Jesuits were especially targeted.[152] The Papal Nuncio Cesare Orsenigo and Cardinal Bertram complained constantly to the authorities but were told to expect more requisitions owing to war-time needs.[153]

National Socialist anti-Semitism[edit]

Rather than focusing on religious differentiation, Hitler maintained it was important to promote "an antisemitism of reason", one that acknowledged the racial basis of Jewry.[154] Interviews with Nazis by other historians show that the Nazis thought that their views were rooted in biology, not historical prejudices. For example, "S. became a missionary for this biomedical vision... As for anti-Semitic attitudes and actions, he insisted that "the racial question... [and] resentment of the Jewish race... had nothing to do with medieval anti-Semitism..." That is, it was all a matter of scientific biology and of community."[155]

In his history of Christianity, Geoffrey Blainey wrote that "Christianity could not escape some indirect blame for the terrible Holocaust. The Jews and Christians had been rivals and sometimes enemies for a long period of history. Furthermore it was traditional for Christians to blame Jewish leaders for the crucifixion of Christ...", but, noted Blainey, "At the same time, Christians showed devotion and respect. They were conscious of their debt to the Jews. Jesus and all the disciples an all the authors of his Gospels were of the Jewish race. Christians viewed the Old Testament, the holy book of the synagogues as equally a holy book for them...".[156]

Laurence Rees noted that "emphasis on Christianity" was absent from the vision expressed by Hitler in Mein Kampf and his "bleak and violent vision" and visceral hatred of the Jews had been influenced by quite different sources: the notion of life as struggle he drew from Social Darwinism, the notion of the superiority of the "Aryan race" he drew from Arthur de Gobineau's The Inequality of the Human Races; and from Alfred Rosenberg he took the idea of a link between Judaism and Bolshevism.[157] Hitler espoused a ruthless policy of "negative eugenic selection", believing that world history consisted of a struggle for survival between races, in which the Jews plotted to undermine the Germans, and inferior groups like Slavs and defective individuals in the German gene pool, threatened the Aryan "master race". Richard J. Evans wrote that his views on these subjects have often been called "social Darwinist", but that there is little agreement among historians as to what the term may mean.[158] According to Evans, Hitler "used his own version of the language of social Darwinism as a central element in the discursive practice of extermination...", and the language of Social Darwinism, in its Nazi variant, helped to remove all restraint from the directors of the "terroristic and exterminatory" policies of the regime, by "persuading them that what they were doing was justified by history, science and nature".[159]

Other beliefs[edit]

In the Appendix of The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, Conway has included a document: "List of sects prohibited by the Gestapo up to December 1938." It mentions the "International Jehovah's Witness" under No.1, but also includes a so-called "Study group for Psychic Research" and even the "Bahai Sect."[160]

Astrologers, Healers and Fortune tellers were banned under the Nazis, while the small pagan "German Faith Movement", which worshipped the sun and seasons, supported the Nazis.[7]

Atheists[edit]

On October 13, 1933, Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess issued a decree stating: "No National Socialist may suffer any detriment on the ground that he does not profess any particular faith or confession or on the ground that he does not make any religious profession at all."[161] However, the regime strongly opposed "godless communism"[162][163] and most of Germany's freethinking (freigeist), atheist, and largely left-wing organizations were banned the same year.[164][165]

In a speech made during the negotiations for the Nazi-Vatican Concordant of 1933, Hitler argued against secular schools, stating: "Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith."[166] One of the groups closed down by the Nazi regime was the German Freethinkers League. Christians appealed to Hitler to end anti-religious and anti-Church propaganda promulgated by Free Thinkers,[167] and within Hitler's Nazi Party some atheists were quite vocal in their anti-Christian views, especially Martin Bormann.[168] Heinrich Himmler, who himself was fascinated with Germanic paganism,[citation needed] was a strong promoter of the gottgläubig movement and didn't allow atheists into the SS, arguing that their "refusal to acknowledge higher powers" would be a "potential source of indiscipline".[23]

Esoteric groups[edit]

In the 1930s there already existed an esoteric scene in Germany and Austria. The organisations of this spectrum were suppressed, but, unlike Freemasonry in Nazi Germany, not persecuted. The only secure case in which an occultist might have been sent to a concentration camp for his beliefs is that of Friedrich Bernhard Marby.

Also, some Nazi leaders had an interest in esotericism. Rudolf Hess had an interest in Anthroposophy. Heinrich Himmler showed a strong interest in esoteric matters.

The esoteric Thule Society lent support to the German Workers' Party, which was eventually transformed into the Nazi Party in 1920. Dietrich Eckart, a remote associate of the Thule society, actually coached Hitler on his public speaking skills, and while Hitler has not been shown to have been a member of Thule, he received support from the group. Hitler later on dedicated the second volume of Mein Kampf to Eckart. The racist-occult doctrines of Ariosophy contributed to the atmosphere of the völkisch movement in the Weimar Republic that eventually led to rise of Nazism.

Religious aspects of Nazism[edit]

Several elements of Nazism were quasi-religious in nature. The cult around Hitler as the Führer, the "huge congregations, banners, sacred flames, processions, a style of popular and radical preachings, prayers-and-responses, memorials and funeral marches" have been described by historian of Esotericism Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke as "essential props for the cult of race and nation, the mission of Aryan Germany and victory over her enemies."[169] These kinds of religious aspects of Nazism have led some scholars to consider Nazism, like communism, a kind of political religion.[170]

Hitler's plans, for example, to erect a magnificent new capital at Berlin (Welthauptstadt Germania), has been described as attempting to build a version of the New Jerusalem.[171] Since Fritz Stern's classical study The Politics of Cultural Despair, most historians have viewed the relation of Nazism and religion in this way. Some historians see the Nazi movement and Adolf Hitler as fundamentally hostile to Christianity, though not irreligious.[who?] In the first chapter of The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, historian John S. Conway elaborates that Christian Churches in Germany had lost their appeal in the time of the Weimar Republic, and that Hitler offered "what appeared to be a vital secular faith in place of the discredited creeds of Christianity."[172]

Hitler's chief architect, Albert Speer, wrote in his memoirs that Hitler himself had a negative view toward the mystical notions pushed by Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg. Speer quotes Hitler as having said of Himmler's attempt to mythologize the SS:[173]

What nonsense! Here we have at last reached an age that has left all mysticism behind it, and now [Himmler] wants to start that all over again. We might just as well have stayed with the church. At least it had tradition. To think that I may some day be turned into an SS saint! Can you imagine it? I would turn over in my grave...

— Adolf Hitler quoted in Albert Speer's Inside the Third Reich

Relation of religion to fascism[edit]

Scholar of fascism, Stanley Payne notes that fundamental to fascism was the foundation of a purely materialistic "civic religion" that would "displace preceding structures of belief and relegate supernatural religion to a secondary role, or to none at all", and that "though there were specific examples of religious or would-be 'Christian fascists,' fascism presupposed a post-Christian, post-religious, secular, and immanent frame of reference."[174] One theory is that religion and fascism could never have a lasting connection because both are a "holistic weltanschauung" claiming the whole of the person.[175] Along these lines, Yale political scientist, Juan Linz and others have noted that secularization had created a void which could be filled by another total ideology, making secular totalitarianism possible,[176][177] and Roger Griffin has characterized fascism as a type of anti-religious political religion.[178]

However, Robert Paxton finds that "Fascists often cursed ... materialist secularism" and adds that the circumstances of past fascism does not mean that future fascisms can not "build upon a religion in place of a nation, or as the expression of national identity. Even in Europe, religion-based fascisms were not unknown: the Falange Española, Belgian Rexism, the Finnish Lapua Movement, and the Romanian Legion of the Archangel Michael are all good examples".[179] Separately, Richard L. Rubenstein maintains that the religious dimensions of the Holocaust and Nazi fascism were decidedly unique.[180]

Messianic aspects of Nazism[edit]

There has been significant literature on the potential religious aspects of Nazism. Wilfried Daim suggests Hitler and the Nazi leadership planned to replace Christianity in Germany with a new religion in which Hitler would be considered a messiah. In his book on the connection between Lanz von Liebenfels and Hitler, Daim published a reprint of an alleged document of a session[clarification needed] on "the unconditional abolishment of all religious commitments (Religionsbekenntnisse) after the final victory (Endsieg) ... with a simultaneous proclamation of Adolf Hitler as the new messiah."[181] This session report came from a private collection.

Thuringian German Christian Prayer for Hitler[edit]

Schütze, Herr, mit starker Hand
unser Volk und Vaterland!
Laß' auf unsres Führers Pfade
leuchten Deine Huld und Gnade!
Weck' in unserem Herz aufs neue
deutscher Ahnen Kraft und Treue!
Und so laß' uns stark und rein
Deine deutschen Kinder sein![182]

This translates roughly as:

Protect, O Lord, with strength of hand,
Our people and our fatherland!
Allow upon our leader's course
To shine your mercy and your grace!
Awaken in our hearts anew
Our German bloodline, loyalty, and strength!
And so allow us, strong and pure,
To be your German youth!

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "The German Churches and the Nazi State". USHMM. Retrieved 10 July 2014.
  2. ^ Johnson, Eric (2000). Nazi terror: the Gestapo, Jews, and ordinary Germans" New York: Basic Books, p. 10.
  3. ^ a b Valdis O. Lumans; Himmler's Auxiliaries; 1993; p. 48
  4. ^ Richard J. Evans; The Third Reich at War; Penguin Press; New York 2009, p. 546
  5. ^ Richard J. Evans; The Third Reich at War; Penguin Press; New York 2009, p. 547
  6. ^ Ian Kershaw; The Nazi Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation; 4th Edn; Oxford University Press; New York; 2000"; pp. 173–74
  7. ^ a b c GCSE Bitesize: The Treatment of Religion; BBC; online 13 July 2014
  8. ^
  9. ^ Bendersky, Joseph W., A concise history of Nazi Germany, p. 147, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007: “Consequently, it was Hitler’s long range goal to eliminate the churches once he had consolidated control over his European empire.”
  10. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online - Germany : Religion; web 23 May 2013
  11. ^ United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, @ushmm.org See Churches in Nazi Germany
  12. ^ Lewy, Gunther, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, 1964, First Da Capo Press, pp. 342–45
  13. ^ Shelley Baranowski; Nazi Empire - German Colonialism and Imperialism from Bismarck to Hitler; Cambridge University Press; 2011; pp.18-19
  14. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica Online: Blessed Clemens August, Graf von Galen; web Apr 2013.
  15. ^ In full thousand, rounded down. Numbers for Protestantism and Catholicism are approximates. Source: Granzow et al. 2006: 40, 207
  16. ^ a b Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2003). The Holy Reich. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. XV.
  17. ^ Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2007). "Christianity and the Nazi Movement: A Response." Journal of Contemporary History 42 (2): 205.
  18. ^ a b c Granzow et al. 2006: 39
  19. ^ Granzow et al. 2006: 50
  20. ^ a b Granzow et al. 2006: 58
  21. ^ Granzow et al. 2006: 42-46
  22. ^ Richard J. Evans; The Third Reich at War; Penguin Press; New York 2009, p. 546
  23. ^ a b Michael Burleigh; The Third Reich: A New History; 2012; p. 196-197
  24. ^ The Nazi Persecution of the Churches, 1933-1945 By John S. Conway p. 232; Regent College Publishing
  25. ^ State University of New York George C. Browder Professor of History College of Freedonia (16 September 1996). Hitler's Enforcers : The Gestapo and the SS Security Service in the Nazi Revolution: The Gestapo and the SS Security Service in the Nazi Revolution. Oxford University Press. pp. 166–. ISBN 978-0-19-534451-6. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  26. ^ Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942
  27. ^ Hitler, Adolf (1999). Mein Kampf. Ralph Mannheim, ed., New York: Mariner Books, pp. 65, 119, 152, 161, 214, 375, 383, 403, 436, 562, 565, 622, 632-633.
  28. ^ Speech in Passau 27 October 1928 Bundesarchiv Berlin-Zehlendorf; from Richard Steigmann-Gall (2003). Holy Reich: Nazi conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 60-61
  29. ^ Fred Taylor Translation; The Goebbels Diaries 1939-41; Hamish Hamilton Ltd; London; 1982; ISBN 0-241-10893-4; p.76
  30. ^ Conway, John S. (1968). The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933–45. p. 3, ISBN 978-0-297-76315-4
  31. ^ Richard J. Evans; The Third Reich at War; Penguin Press; New York 2009, p. 547
  32. ^ a b Overy, Richard (2004). The Dictators: Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia. New York: W. W. Norton. p. 281. ISBN 978-0-393-02030-4. 
  33. ^ Halls, W.D. (1995). Politics, society and Christianity in Vichy France. Oxford: Berg. pp. 179–81. ISBN 1-85973-081-7. 
  34. ^ Ross, Albion (1935). "Paganism worries Reich Protestants; They Are Distrustful of Nazis, Fearing Trap in the New Church Dictatorship." The New York Times (Nov. 3): E5.
  35. ^ Levy, Richard S. (2005). Antisemitism : a historical encyclopedia of prejudice and persecution. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 665. ISBN 978-1-85109-439-4. 
  36. ^ Williamson, Gordon (2005). The SS: Hitler's Instrument Of Terror. St. Paul MN: Zenith. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-0760319338. 
  37. ^ Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas (1993). The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and Their Influence on Nazi Ideology. New York: New York University Press. pp. 177–191. ISBN 978-0814730607. 
  38. ^ Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2003). The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 177. ISBN 978-0521603522. 
  39. ^ William L. Shirer; The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; Secker & Warburg; London; 1960; pp.238-239
  40. ^ Shirer, William Lawrence (1990). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. New York: Simon and Schuster, p. 240.
  41. ^ Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945 pg 14 Cambridge University Press (April 21, 2003)
  42. ^ Fascism, Totalitarianism and Political Religion, Roger Griffin (Editor), Pg 98 Routledge; 1 edition (Jan 31 2006)
  43. ^ a b c d Ian Kershaw; Hitler a Biography; 2008 Edn; WW Norton & Company; London; p. 381-382
  44. ^ a b William L. Shirer; The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; Secker & Warburg; London; 1960; p238-9
  45. ^ Ian Kershaw; Hitler a Biography; 2008 Edn; W.W. Norton & Company; London; pp. 281-283
  46. ^ Alan Bullock; Hitler: A Study in Tyranny; HarperPerennial Edition 1991; pp 146-149
  47. ^ Frank J. Coppa Controversial Concordats, p. 124, CUA Press, 1999
  48. ^ a b Sharkey, Word for Word/The Case Against the Nazis; How Hitler's Forces Planned To Destroy German Christianity, New York Times, January 13, 2002
  49. ^ a b c Griffin, Roger (2006). "Fascism's relation to religion", in Cyprian Blamires World Fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 1. Santa Barbara CA: ABC-CLIO, p. 10
  50. ^ Mosse, George Lachmann, Nazi culture: intellectual, cultural and social life in the Third Reich, p. 240, Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2003: "Had the Nazis won the war their ecclesiastical policies would have gone beyond those of the German Christians, to the utter destruction of both the Protestant and the Catholic Church."
  51. ^ Dill, Marshall, Germany: a modern history , p. 365, University of Michigan Press, 1970: “It seems no exaggeration to insist that the greatest challenge the Nazis had to face was their effort to eradicate Christianity in Germany or at least to subjugate it to their general world outlook.”
  52. ^ Wheaton, Eliot Barculo The Nazi revolution, 1933-1935: prelude to calamity:with a background survey of the Weimar era, p. 290, 363, Doubleday 1968: The Nazis sought "to eradicate Christianity in Germany root and branch."
  53. ^ a b The Nazi Master Plan: The Persecution of the Christian Churches, Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion, Winter 2001, publishing evidence compiled by the O.S.S. for the Nuremberg war-crimes trials of 1945 and 1946
  54. ^ Bendersky, Joseph W., A concise history of Nazi Germany, p. 147, Rowman & Littlefield, 2007: “Consequently, it was Hitler’s long rang goal to eliminate the churches once he had consolidated control over his European empire.”
  55. ^ Shirer, William L., Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, p. p 240, Simon and Schuster, 1990: “And even fewer paused to reflect that under the leadership of Rosenberg, Bormann and Himmler, who were backed by Hitler, the Nazi regime intended eventually to destroy Christianity in Germany, if it could, and substitute the old paganism of the early tribal Germanic gods and the new paganism of the Nazi extremists.”
  56. ^ Fischel, Jack R., Historical Dictionary of the Holocaust , p. 123, Scarecrow Press, 2010: “The objective was to either destroy Christianity and restore the German gods of antiquity or to turn Jesus into an Aryan.”
  57. ^ a b c William L. Shirer; The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; Secker & Warburg; London; 1960; p240
  58. ^ Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2003). The Holy Reich. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 23.
  59. ^ Fred Taylor Translation; The Goebbels Diaries 1939-41; Hamish Hamilton Ltd; London; 1982; ISBN 0-241-10893-4; pp. 304-305
  60. ^ a b c Alan Bullock; Hitler: A Study in Tyranny; HarperPerennial Edition 1991; p2. 18
  61. ^ Alan Bullock; Hitler: A Study in Tyranny; HarperPerennial Edition 1991; p216
  62. ^ The Response of the German Catholic Church to National Socialism, by Michael Phayer published by Yad Vashem
  63. ^ Alan Bullock; Hitler: A Study in Tyranny; HarperPerennial Edition 1991; p219
  64. ^ Albert Speer. (1997). Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs. New York: Simon and Schuster, p. 177.
  65. ^ Ian Kershaw; Hitler a Biography; 2008 Edn; WW Norton & Company; London p.661
  66. ^ a b Geoffrey Blainey; A Short History of Christianity; Viking; 2011; pp.495-6
  67. ^ Ian Kershaw; Hitler a Biography; 2008 Edn; WW Norton & Company; London; p. 328
  68. ^ Ian Kershaw; Hitler a Biography; 2008 Edn; WW Norton & Company; London; p.382
  69. ^ a b c Encyclopedia Britannica Online: Fascism - Identification with Christianity; 2013. Web. 14 Apr. 2013
  70. ^ a b c d Gerhard L. Weinberg (18 May 2012). Hitler's Foreign Policy 1933-1939: The Road to World War II. Enigma Books. pp. 44–. ISBN 978-1-936274-84-0. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  71. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica: Alfred Rosenberg
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  113. ^ Reichsgesetzblatt des deutschen Reiches 1933, I,1, p.47
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Referred literature[edit]

  • John S. Conway 1968: The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-45, Weidenfeld and Nicolson
  • Sven Granzow, Bettina Müller-Sidibé, Andrea Simml 2006: Gottvertrauen und Führerglaube, in: Götz Aly (ed.): Volkes Stimme. Skepsis und Führervertrauen im Nationalsozialismus, Fischer TB (German), pp. 38–58
  • Aurel Kolnai The War Against the West, New York, 1938: Viking Press
  • Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2003). The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-82371-5. .

External links[edit]