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Go to: UPDATED: Ratzinger is an enemy of humanity

een1981's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by een1981

Sorry, but this speech contains a one-sided apologetic version of Hitler and Nazism's attitude to Christianity with selective use of evidence. I'm posting a smattering of evidence to show it's far more complex than that.

As historians of the Third Reich know, there is a mountain of primary sources showing the persecution of the churches that begged to differ from Nazi policies. Try, for example -

The ridiculous Nazi Protestant Reichskirche may have believed "Gott Mit Uns" but it also rejected the Old Testament, and dismissed pastors who wouldn't preach the Nazi-sanitised racist version of Christianity. Some sang hymns to Hitler, who was presented as Germany's redeemer and messiah. This is akin to atheists actually worshipping Kim Il-Sung, which happened in North Korea as Marxism transformed into Juche. Of course that makes them something other than atheists, in the same way that accepting these Nazified perversions of Christianity that put social Darwinism (the racist theory that had nothing to do with Darwinism) "über alles" made people something other than Christians.

Those who resisted this wildly twisted version of Christianity, the Confessing Churches, declared independence with the Barmen declaration in 1935 and became part of the German resistance. Leaders like Bonhoeffer and Niemöller were executed or sent to concentration camps.

Benedict’s predecessor, Pius XII, is not guiltless, as the Catholic writer John Cornwell devastatingly showed, in his book Hitler’s Pope.

Cornwell's biography of Pius XII is not "devastating" as it has been heavily criticised as a source. He has said himself "While I believe with many commentators that the pope might have done more to help the plight of the Jews, I now feel, 10 years after the publication of my book, that his scope for action was severely limited and I am prepared to state this"

Some Catholics did stand up to the Nazis. One of Pius XII's first acts was to publish an attack on racism; Pius XI's 1937 encyclical, addressed to the "German Reich", was an attack on racism, the "blasphemy" of the Nazi state, and expressed concern over the direction of the state since the 1933 Reichskonkordat. This was read in every Catholic church in Germany on the same day, and resulted in large numbers of arrests and a state-censored media blackout. Catholics were executed for distributing the Bishop of Munster's sermons. Catholics were murdered, sometimes en masse, in occupied countries.

Dawkins has slightly toned down his language about the everyday Germans here, but elsewhere, he accused "rank and file Christians" of the "attempted extermination of the Jews". No, the concentration camps were run by the SS, and the death squads (Einsatzgruppen) were SS. The SS were steeped in Nazi ideology that believed the Aryans to once have been rulers of the world (hence the archaeological expeditions). They were at least, as historians like Michael Burleigh have said, anticlerical. Their leader, Himmler, was in the Thule society (think a Nazi Atlantis).

As for Hitler, I don't believe he was an "atheist" either, but notice every reference but two on the list Dawkins posted is for public consumption (Mein Kampf/speeches/radio broadcasts). One is from Rauschning, who published a discredited book with fabricated conversations with Hitler and is rejected as a source by historians like Ian Kershaw. Like American presidential candidates today, it's political suicide NOT to pretend you share the belief of the majority of the electorate, if you actually don't. So of course Hitler endorsed "positive Christianity". He just redefined it into something acceptable to his "scientific" racist beliefs. As some sources (like Traudl Junge and some leaders' diaries) show, Hitler's public pronouncements on matters and his private views are different.

History is not black and white and shouldn't be reduced to convenient polemics.

Sun, 19 Sep 2010 15:53:50 UTC | #521297

Go to: Pope's Holyroodhouse Speech Transcript

een1981's Avatar Jump to comment 181 by een1981

If anyone is interested in reading more, there is a good chapter on Nazism's attacks on the churches in Michael Burleigh's history of the Third Reich, worth reading in its entirety to get an idea of how complex the situation was:

"Nazi assaults on the clergy and Christianity were so crude - up to and including smearing excrement on altars and church doors..."

It's also worth noting that some of the lists of Hitler quotes on Christianity contain excerpts from Hermann Rauschning's 'Hitler Speaks', which for various reasons is generally rejected as fantasy by historians, including Ian Kershaw.

Sat, 18 Sep 2010 12:57:14 UTC | #520565

Go to: Pope's Holyroodhouse Speech Transcript

een1981's Avatar Jump to comment 180 by een1981

Peter Watkinson, you said:

"Possibly the writer of comment 176, een1981, should suggest to the Catholic authorities that the pope should also warn the peoples of the world of the dangers of Catholic extremism."

I'm not a Catholic apologist. My comments in this thread are not about "defending Catholicism", so a document from 1965 isn't relevant. I'm here to try to give a more accurate picture of what actually happened in the Nazi era than the version of events that people like Dawkins believe. It's easy to bring up a list of quotes from Hitler's speeches where he claims to have God on his side, and feel like that's the end of the argument. History isn't like that, and it's too easy a solution - as shown by the willingness to accept it hook, line and sinker by people who already dislike Catholicism/Christianity. There are other sources of Hitler's opinions that depict him as hostile, and these are in keeping with the wealth of evidence on the Nazis' deny-yourselves-or-face-the-consequences attitudes towards the churches, as I've been trying to explain. I'm interested in this for the history, because it's a sad fact of life that history does get rewritten by people for ideological purposes today as much as in the past. See, for example, Margaret Macmillan's 'The Uses and Abuses of History'.

Sat, 18 Sep 2010 11:24:33 UTC | #520521

Go to: Hitler and Religion: Ratzinger is wrong

een1981's Avatar Jump to comment 77 by een1981

mmurray, many clergy did take grave risks, and paid for it.

See 'The Persecution of the Christian Churches':

Sat, 18 Sep 2010 04:24:50 UTC | #520377

Go to: Pope's Holyroodhouse Speech Transcript

een1981's Avatar Jump to comment 174 by een1981

I had forgotten 'The Persecution of the Christian Churches', a gigantic document compiled at the Nuremberg Trials which was quite clear on Nazism's hostility and atrocities towards traditional Christianity, Protestant and Catholic:

"their doctrinal commitments could not be reconciled with the principle of racism, with a foreign policy of unlimited agressive warfare, or with a domestic policy involving the complete subservience of Church to State. Since these were fundamental elements of the National Socialist program, conflict was inevitable." (pp.5-6)

This is basically what the Barmen declaration said, what Pope Pius XI said in his 1937 encyclical, and essentially what the relatively mute Pius XII said in a couple of messages, if I recall correctly, though they haven't been translated into English.

Perhaps Mr. Dawkins would care to read it.

Sat, 18 Sep 2010 04:12:16 UTC | #520375

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