Richard Steigmann-Gall is Associate Professor of History at Kent State University, and was the Director of the Jewish Studies Program from 2004 to 2010. He received his BA in 1989 and MA in 1992 from the University of Michigan, and his PhD in 1999 from the University of Toronto. In 2003, he published The Holy Reich through Cambridge University Press, which explored Nazi conceptions of Christianity and argued that the Nazi Party was not anti-Christian as popularly understood, nor was it in any sense a paganist movement.
Exploring the concept of positive Christianity, Steigmann-Gall writes that many in the Nazi Party leadership believed themselves and their movement to be inherently Christian. He argues that while use of the term "positive Christianity" in the Nazi Party Program of 1920 is commonly regarded by historians as a "tactical measure", he instead believes that it was "more than a political ploy" and adhered to an "inner logic" - though he agrees that anti-Christians later fought to "expunge Christian influence from Nazism" and the movement became "increasingly hostile to the churches".
The Holy Reich has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. It has been reviewed widely, culminating in a symposium on the book published by the Journal of Contemporary History in 2007. In a 2003 review of the book, historian John S. Conway wrote that Steigmann-Gall made an "almost convincing case" and was " right to point out that there never was a consensus among the leading Nazis about the relationship between the Party and Christianity" but that "The differences between this interpretation and those put forward earlier are really only ones of degree and timing. Steigmann-Gall agrees that from 1937 onwards, Nazi policy toward the churches became much more hostile... [he] argues persuasively that the Nazi Party's 1924 program and Hitler's policy-making speeches of the early years were not just politically motivated or deceptive in intent... Steigmann-Gall considers these speeches to be a sincere appreciation of Christianity... Yet he is not ready to admit that this Nazi Christianity was eviscerated of all the most essential orthodox dogmas. What remained was the vaguest impression combined with anti-Jewish prejudice. Only a few radicals on the extreme wing of liberal Protestantism would recognize such a mish-mash as true Christianity.
Notes and references
- Kent University official website
- Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2003). "Rethinking Nazism and Religion: How Anti-Christian were the 'Pagans'?" Central European History 36 (1): 75-105.
- a movement within Nazi Germany which blended ideas of racial purity and Nazi ideology with elements of Christianity
- Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2003). The Holy Reich: Nazi conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 3.
- Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2003). The Holy Reich. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 13-50, p. 252.
- Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2007). "Christianity and the Nazi Movement: A Response." 42 (2): 185–211.
- Steigmann-Gall, Richard (2007). "The Holy Reich: reviews and interviews." <www.dept.kent.edu>. Retrieved 11-29-2011.
- John S. Conway. Review of Steigmann-Gall, Richard, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945. H-German, H-Net Reviews. June, 2003.
- "Hitler's Blood Oath" (2009). Nostradamus Effect. History. 30 September 2009. Clip 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
- Kent State University (2011). "Faculty News." Department of History Newsletter (Spring): 12. "A particularly valuable lesson was learned when he agreed to appear in a History Channel documentary about Hitler. A pleasant March weekend in sunny Burbank, California left him feeling like a star, but left him somewhat puzzled that the production team apparently had yet to come up with a title for the program. Two weeks before its premier last September, he finally got word: "The Nostradamus Effect: Hitler's Blood Oath"! Not anticipating becoming a talking head for one of the more sensationalistic theories about Hitler currently in circulation, he learned a valuable lesson about the limits of controlling your message."
- Faculty Page at Kent University
- Introduction to The Holy Reich - courtesy Cambridge University Press
- Christianity and the Nazi Movement: A response to critics - by Richard Steigmann-Gall
- Richard Steigmann-Gall Interview - by Stephen Crittenden, The Religion Report
- Review of The Holy Reich - by John S. Conway, author of The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-45
- Review of The Holy Reich "Nazism and Christianity: Partners and Rivals?" - by Doris Bergen, author of Twisted Cross
- Review of The Holy Reich - by Ernst Piper, Journal of Contemporary History
- Review of The Holy Reich - by Christopher Shea, Boston Globe
- Review of The Holy Reich - PDF - by Martyn Housden, Reviews in History