HITLER. THE PERFECT CHRISTIAN?
Over half a century ago Hitler perpetrated the greatest act of genocide in human history. For over half a century a mountain of misinformation has been generated in an effort, it is claimed, to elucidate the motive behind Hitler's act. Some would have it that he was a madman; others a racist. A (purportedly) atheist website argues, in essence, that evil has been undertaken by atheists as well as theists on behalf of their "beliefs" and that Hitler's genocide should be analysed outside his religious beliefs. This last argument is bogus.
Every one who has ever fought a war has either believed in some god, or a higher ideal (Nirvana maybe?) or even nothing at all (rare) - but that does not automatically make the religion or philosophy the motivating factor necessary in conducting war. The pursuit of war as an act fulfilling a religious duty arose in Judaism*[footnote"a"], and it is this that has become the heritage of Christianity.
Whether people outside these faiths called on their god/gods in support when fighting wars does not mean that the war itself was conducted in pursuing a religious ideal that had been demanded by the religion. Ancient Greek states worshipped the same pantheon, yet still warred with one-another. Additionally, when people of one religion conquered people of another, for instance in the conquest of the Persian empire by Alexander, it did not result in an attempt to alter the religion of the peoples conquered, or the demolitions of their temples and replacement of their pantheon. Indeed, central to pre-Zoroastrian*[footnote"b"]/Judaic/Christian and Islamic religions was their syncretism which meant that they acknowledged "god" known by whatever name by another people to be one and the same god they themselves worshipped. God, like a colour, is known by different names/words in different languages, but it always remains the same colour.
And, even after the adoption of Christianity by European states, when 2 different european states, both Christian, take up arms against one-another, although they call to the same god for support, that does not make even that war a religious war. Conversely, although professing atheism, Stalin's mass-murders have to be seen in the context of the political structures set up by his predecessors: Russian Orthodox Christians. Stalin was a butcher because he was; the crimes he committed as a "communist" were not much greater and no different from the crimes committed by his Orthodox Christian predecessors. However, this never made these crimes either "Christian" or "atheist". Saddam Hussein, another example of evil had over 300 thousand people executed, however, though he was of Muslim background, his crimes weren't perpetrated on behalf of that religion. Yet it is cases like Stalin's and Saddam Hussein's which are employed to deflect criticism of religion forming the basis of Hitler's genocide.
Hitler exterminated, or attempted to, an entire people of a religious faith because of his religion: Christianity.
During the reign of Constantine in the Fourth century AD the Roman Empire adopted Christianity. Constantine himself converted to Christianity only on his deathbed in 337. But it was during the reign of emperor Theodosius (reigned 378-395) that the dismemberment of classical pre-Christian civilization commenced. In 385 Theodosius closed down the oracle at Delphi. The Serapeum in Egypt was closed down, and in 388 a Christian community burned down a Jewish Synagogue. It is this date, 388 AD, which is important: for although it was initially ordered by Theodosius that the Synagogue be rebuilt (consistent with Roman Imperial policy of not giving privilege to one religion over another) the Bishop of Milan, Ambrose, opposed its rebuilding. Religious tolerance was over. Since then, an entire, though fantastic, mythology has been woven to explain "Christian Intolerance" as a manifestation that it is claimed erupted ex nihilo , in which it is now claimed is unsupported by the "holy" literature (which, as it is claimed, is written by god who is perfect and therefore good and who cannot have ordered anything evil).
For both Christians and Jews this mythology tends to mean that they both deny the source of the problem: the Bible. The crucial elements of this policy are in the Old Testament, which, contrary to the fantasy of some Christians, was what their religious figure, Jesus, came to fulfil, rather than supersede:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. Matthew 5.17
The denial of the Bible being the source of intolerance has led to some extraordinary hypotheses being posited to explain Hitler's genocide. It has been easier to blame a German character flaw, or the character of Hitler, as the causal agent, rather than admit that this act of evil was perpetrated in executing the commands of the Bible. The old testament however is a call for religious intolerance; a call to maintain racial purity; a call to maintain both religious and racial purity by genocide. According to the Bible we humans are created in the image of God:
"So God created man in his own image... male and female he created them." Genesis. 1.27;
but one "race" of human is itself a "holy race". This holy race is ordered to maintain its racial purity and exterminate those not of the race in the lands inhabited:
"When YHWH your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess... and has delivered them [the peoples of those lands] over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them.... Break down their alters, smash their sacred stones... For you are the people holy to YHWH your God. YHWH your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession." Deuteronomy 7.1-6
Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth has chosen you to be his treasured possession. Deuteronomy 14.2
If, in a town people are proven to have worshipped other gods, "...you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. Destroy them completely, both its people and its livestock." Deuteronomy 13.12-15
...if you turn away [from gods directives] and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, then you may be sure that YHWH your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Joshua 23.12-13
According to the old testament it is a crime to dilute the holy race by intermarriage or worshipping the god(s) of others, punishable by god.
The people of Israel , including the priests.... have not kept themselves separate from the neighbouring people... They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. Ezra 9.1-2 (and, in Ezra 10.18-44 a list is compiled of all the families who committed the sin of diluting the holy race so that they may be shamed for their "crime" for posterity.)
HItler made it explicitly clear that his racial beliefs were based on the idea that man was created in the image of god, and it was this divine image he maintained that was being desecrated contrary to the edicts of the Bible:
"...there is only one holiest human right... the holiest obligation... to see to it that the blood is preserved pure... by raising marriage from the level of a continuous defilement of the race, and give it the consecration of an institution which is called upon to produce images of the Lord and not monstrosities halfway between man and ape..." pp. 365-366 Mein Kampf
"...the admonition to put an end to the constant and continuous original sin of
Hitler even acknowledged that the basis of his own intolerance was Judaic:
"Christianity ... was absolutely forced to undertake the destruction
What Hitler wrote in this passage is that although Jewish in origin, Christian intolerance is a cause that the Germans must now take up, and that intolerance is a holy duty. What he is referring to is: Ezra 9.1-2; Ezra 10; and the means by which this can be accomplished is slaughter: eg Deuteronomy 20.14-18.
However, it remains to be explained why the Christian Germans came to see themselves as replacing the Jews as the "holy race". The answer can be found in Ecclesiasticus, from the Apocrypha. Ecclesiasticus purports to explain how one people might one day replace another as god's chosen "holy race":
10:8. "A kingdom is translated from one people to another, because of injustices, and wrongs, and injuries, and deceits."
This meant for Christians that they and not the Jews were now the holy people. Hitler's was not a new idea. With Christians believing that they had replaced the Jews as the "holy race" the Old Testament edicts demanding complete intolerance of those who worship other gods could now be enforced against Jews. Persecution of Jews has been a manifestation of Christianity throughout its existence and is based on the belief that Christians were now god's chosen people. Hitler was not an aberration of European Christian sentiment, but a shameful European Christian continuation of past European Christian intolerance. Accordinly Hitler wrote in the Mein Kampf:
"...I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." Mein Kampf p.60
Additional arguments that claim Hitler's genocide to have been irreligious posit an antipathy between Hitler and the Catholic Church. Antipathy of the Germany state and Catholicism predated Hitler. It was a reaction by the Germany state to the Vatican's 1870 announcement of Papal infallibility. However this did not ever mean that Hitler was antithetic to Christianity, even if he may not have been too fond of Catholicism. Indeed in the Mein Kampf Hitler makes it plain that he felt that he, as a secularist Christian leader, could probably best fulfil the edicts of Christianity as he considered himself outside denominational differences which he felt stymied a common Christian ideal. He was a Christian before he was a Protestant or Catholic Christian. Hitler's criticisms are actually against the Church ruling the state - his position was that a secular Christian ruler should take up the responsibility.
"...religious life for many had an unpleasant aftertaste, this could be attributed to the abuse of Christianity on the part of a so-called 'Christian' party and the shameless way in which they attempted to identify the Catholic faith with a political party. This false association was a calamity ... The consequence, however, had to be borne by the whole nation since the outcome of the resultant slackening of religious life occurred when everyone ws beginning to waver and vacillate anyway, and the traditional foundations of ethics and morality were threatening to collapse." Mein Kampf p. 244
Hitler's intention was thus to restore religion, morality and ethics that have gone missing(!) His intention was the restoration of what he thought was Christianity's greatest attribute:
"The greatness of Christianity did not lie on attempted negotiations for compromise... but in its inexorable fanaticism in preaching and fighting its own doctrine." Mein Kampf p.318
Thus, according to Hitler, it was the religious duty of all German Christians to preserve the purity of their race, regardless of denomination:
"[each] man... has the sacred duty, each in his own denomination, of making people stop just talking superficially
Not only was Hitler intent on restoring Christian "virtues", he intended on completing the Crusades of the Catholic church, namely those undertaken on behalf of Rome by the Teutonic knights which were ceased 600 years earlier:
"We take up where we broke off six hundred years ago..." Mein Kampf p.598
Hitler's war was a CRUSADE. The claims made that Hitler's actions were "atheistic" are a pure fantasy!
"Secular" western European civilization (of which the United States is a part) propound an idea of "human rights" which are often (if not universally) attributed to their "Judeo-Christian" civilization. This is not so and has never been so. The rights and ethical beliefs of modern European civilization are not part of any Christian tradition. Hitler instead embodied Christian ideals; he says so himslef and the Bible corroborates his claim. To grasp where these ideals of modern European civilization originate, the interested reader should read Plato and Aristotle (Plato's Phaedo[Phaedo@Amazon] and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics).