The holocaust, masterminded by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime, devoured 11 million lives, among them were 6 million Jews, and the other 5 million comprising of people with mental and physical disabilities, communists, resistance fighters, Slavic people, homosexuals, priests, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and anarchists etc.
The antagonists of Historic Christianity argue that Adolf Hitler was a Christian, thereby accusing Historic Christianity as the primary cause for the holocaust. The defenders of Historic Christianity counter-argue to deny Hitler’s Christianity; instead suggesting that he may have been an atheist and that his non-Christian worldview was the primary cause of the holocaust.
If Hitler was a Christian, would Hitler’s Christianity hurt Historic Christianity? In order to think through this theme, let us consider the case for Hitler’s Christianity, the case for Hitler’s non-Christianity, and the interpretation of Hitler’s apparent Christianity.
Hitler Was A Christian
Richard Dawkins argues that Hitler was not an atheist but a Catholic Christian. Dawkins quoted Hitler’s 1922 speech wherein he referred to Jesus as “my Lord and Savior.”1
Popular atheist author Michael A. Sherlock in his article, “The Atheist Atrocities Fallacy – Hitler, Stalin & Pol Pot” argues for Hitler’s Christianity, “…Hitler was a Christian. This undeniable fact couldn’t be made any clearer than by his own confessions…
To begin, here are just a few of Hitler’s Christian confessions:
“My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. 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…For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.” 
“The greatness of Christianity did not arise from attempts to make compromises with those philosophical opinions of the ancient world which had some resemblance to its own doctrine, but in the unrelenting and fanatical proclamation and defense of its own teaching.” 
“His [the Jew’s] life is of this world only and his mentality is as foreign to the true spirit of Christianity as is character was foreign to the great Founder of this new creed two thousand years ago. And the Founder of Christianity made no secret indeed of His estimation of the Jewish people. When He found it necessary He drove those enemies of the human race out of the Temple of God; because then, as always, they used religion as a means of advancing their commercial interests. But at that time Christ was nailed to the Cross for his attitude towards the Jews…” 
Over and above these solid testimonies, there are other equally strong pieces of evidence that indicate that Hitler was a Christian, like the fact that his soldiers all wore the slogan, ‘Gott Mit Uns’ (God with us) on their belts, that his birthday was “celebrated from the pulpits until his death,” as Hitchens so eloquently put it, and that the Nazis published their own slightly revised Christian bible. …”2
Hitler Was Not A Christian
As much as the atheist argues for Hitler’s Christianity, there is enough evidence to argue that Hitler was not a Christian.
Hitler and his Nazi regime were much influenced by the ideology of German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). Hitler was consumed by the idea of “Superman” (who has a great “will to power” and would reign over other humans) that was taken from Nietzsche’s work “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.”
Nietzsche’s sister, Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche was married to Bernhard Förster, a prominent leader of the German anti-Semitic movement. Elizabeth was a friend of Hitler. Elizabeth influenced the Nazi regime to an extent that Hitler was influenced by the Nietzschean ideology.
Hitler was so fascinated by the Nietzschean ideology that he had copies of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” given to all his soldiers between 1933 and 1945. Hitler often visited the Nietzsche museum in Weimar at the invite of Elizabeth and proudly posed for photographs of him staring at the bust of Nietzsche.
When Hitler began his career, Germany was mostly a Christian nation. So Hitler often referred to himself as a follower of Christ. However, Hitler either imprisoned or executed more than 6000 clergymen on the charge of treasonable activity.
Significantly, after establishing the “National Reich Church” that projected Hitler as superman / god, Hitler banned the Bible and the cross. Bibles were replaced with copies of Mein Kampf and the cross was replaced with swastika.
Hitler also printed his version of the Bible, wherein words such as Messiah and Hallelujah were altered. Ten Commandments were revised to 12 Commandments. Hitler demanded worship; the Lord’s Prayer was revised, “Adolf Hitler, you are our great Fuhrer. Thy name makes the enemy tremble. Thy Third Reich comes; thy will alone is law upon the earth. Let us hear daily thy voice, and order us by thy leadership, for we will obey to the end, even with our lives We praise thee; hail Hitler Fuhrer my Fuhrer, given me by God. Protect and preserve my life for long. You saved Germany in time of need; I thank you for my daily bread; be with me for a long time, do not leave me, Fuhrer my Fuhrer, my faith, my light – hail, my Fuhrer.”3 This was recited by the Hitler Youth.
Hitler systematically gained control over the Protestant churches in Germany to make them an instrument of the Nazi regime. In response, the “Confessing Church” movement gained momentum within the German Protestant Churches to resist Hitler’s attempt.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian, pastor and a founding member of the “Confessing Church.” Bonhoeffer and other leaders of the Confessing Church opposed the Nazi regime and sought to establish the true identity of the Church. Ultimately, Bonhoeffer was executed by hanging.
Think about this; had Hitler been a genuine Christian what was the necessity for a Christian rebellion against Hitler? Christians subscribing to Historic Christianity fervently opposed Hitler to an extent that they risked their own lives. They were either imprisoned or executed for their anti-Hitler rebellion.
Would Hitler’s Christianity Hurt Historic Christianity?
When our atheist friend argues that Hitler was a self proclaimed Christian, should the defenders of Historic Christianity negate that argument to begin a street fight with the atheist? Debunking Hitler’s Christianity need not be the one and the only option for us.
The other option is to ask a question, “If Hitler was a Christian, was he a genuine Christian?” The atheist primarily posits Hitler’s self proclamation as evidence to his Christianity. Self proclamation is inadequate to one’s identity as a Christian. A genuine Christian not only proclaims himself to be a Christian, but also obeys Christ through his deeds.
Genuine Christians do not kill as Hitler did. The very extermination of the 11 million people screams against Hitler’s so-called Christianity. Hitler’s execution of the leadership of the confessing church that included Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who actually sought to establish the true identity of the church, is most surely not a genuine Christian’s deed.
Friedrich Nietzsche was not a Christian; he constantly attacked the Christian ideals. A genuine Christian would not follow the Nietzschean ideology.
Significantly, a genuine Christian would not elevate himself into a position of “Superman” demanding worship of any form whatsoever. On the other hand, Hitler, so fascinated by Friedrich Nietzsche, and so desperate to be a superman, demanded that people revere him.
Therefore, however which way we may want to think, Hitler, even though he may have been a self-proclaimed Christian, was not a genuine Christian. So Hitler’s Christianity does not harm Historic Christianity, and any claim to Hitler’s Christianity can and should be ignored completely.
Websites cited were last accessed on September 8, 2016.
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