Sunday, May 15, 2011

Religious views

Hitler was raised by Roman Catholic parents, but after he left home, he never attended Mass or received the sacraments. Hitler favoured aspects of Protestantism if they were more suitable to his own objectives. At the same time, he adopted some elements of the Catholic Church's hierarchical organization, liturgy and phraseology in his politics. After he had moved to Germany, where the Catholic and the Protestant church are largely financed through a church tax collected by the state, Hitler never "actually left his church or refused to pay church taxes. In a nominal sense therefore," the historian Richard Steigmann-Gall states, Hitler "can be classified as Catholic." Yet, as Steigmann-Gall has also pointed out in the debate about religion in Nazi Germany: "Nominal church membership is a very unreliable gauge of actual piety in this context."
In public, Hitler often praised Christian heritage, German Christian culture, and professed a belief in an Aryan Jesus Christ, a Jesus who fought against the Jews. In his speeches and publications Hitler spoke of his interpretation of Christianity as a central motivation for his antisemitism, stating that "As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice."His private statements, as reported by his intimates, show Hitler as critical of traditional Christianity, considering it a religion fit only for slaves; he admired the power of Rome but had severe hostility towards its teaching. Here Hitler's attack on Catholicism "resonated Streicher's contention that the Catholic establishment was allying itself with the Jews." In light of these private statements, for John S. Conway and many other historians it is beyond doubt that Hitler held a "fundamental antagonism" towards the Christian churches. The various accounts of Hitler's private statements vary strongly in their reliability; most importantly, Hermann Rauschning's Hitler speaks is considered by most historians to be an invention.
In the political relations with the churches in Germany however, Hitler readily adopted a strategy "that suited his immediate political purposes". Hitler had a general plan, even before the rise of the Nazis to power, to destroy Christianity within the Reich. The leader of the Hitler Youth stated "the destruction of Christianity was explicitly recognized as a purpose of the National Socialist movement" from the start, but "considerations of expedience made it impossible" publicly to express this extreme position. His intention was to wait until the war was over to destroy the influence of Christianity.
Hitler for a time advocated for Germans a form of the Christian faith he called "Positive Christianity", a belief system purged of what he objected to in orthodox Christianity, and featuring added racist elements. By 1940 however, it was public knowledge that Hitler had abandoned advocating for Germans even the syncretist idea of a positive Christianity. Hitler maintained that the "terrorism in religion is, to put it briefly, of a Jewish dogma, which Christianity has universalized and whose effect is to sow trouble and confusion in men's minds."
Hitler once stated, "We do not want any other god than Germany itself. It is essential to have fanatical faith and hope and love in and for Germany."

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