So What If Hitler Was A Christian? (Would Hitler’s Christianity Hurt Historic Christianity?)

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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 Christianity History

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.” [3]

“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.” [4]

“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…” [5]

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. [6]…”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.

Endnotes:

Websites cited were last accessed on September 8, 2016.

1https://whydoyoubelieve.org/2016/09/01/hitlers-religion-christian-apologetics-faces-the-hitler-question/

2https://michaelsherlockauthor.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/the-atheist-atrocities-fallacy-hitler-stalin-pol-pot-in-memory-of-christopher-hitchens/

3http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/churchhistory/godandhitler/

Original Blog Source: http://bit.ly/2q8wBYJ


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30 replies
  1. Ed Vaessen says:

    This the no true Scotsman fallacy.

    We should not be surprised that this comes from Rajkumar Richard, who wrote pieces like ‘The Unholy Benefits of Atheism’ and ‘Church of Satan Exposes The Evil In Atheism’.

    Reply
    • Matthew Etzell says:

      That depends on how one defines “Scotsman”. Since we are focusing on claims about religion/philosophy/ideology, let us examine a hypothetical “capitalist”. Suppose someone calls himself a capitalist, but also publicly and repeatedly advocates abolishing all private property. Is that person a capitalist? Even if that person was once a capitalist, it is clear that he is no longer a capitalist because he now opposes an essential tenet of capitalism. Likewise, even if Hitler started out as a Christian, he had ceased to be one in any meaningful sense by the time he rose to power because he was in unrepentant violation of the essential tenets of Christianity.

      Reply
  2. Kyle says:

    This argument is only around because a common Christian argument is “atheists are bad because Hitler was an atheist and he was bad”. Above all else, let’s not forget that. Among other reasons atheists contend this is a horrible argument is that it would not matter even if he was. No where does Hitler give even the slightest notion that his actions are BECAUSE of his supposed atheism. If he went around saying he was killing Jews because there was no god, that would be a different story. This flies in the face of the quotes presented by Rajkumar Richard himself here “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter…”- Hitler. In the words of Hitler himself he is a Christian. Not to be deterred though, we invoke, as Ed also pointed out, the No True Scotsman fallacy. Who is the ultimate source on someone’s supposed Christianity or not? Can I chime in? As an atheist would you accept my argument that Hitler was not a true atheist?

    This is a pathetic argument pathetically attempting to turn around a pathetic argument against atheists.

    Reply
    • Matthew Etzell says:

      Merely claiming to belong to a group is insufficient to confer membership in that group if one lacks the essential characteristics of that group’s members. For example, someone who claims to be a Scotsman isn’t actually a Scotsman if neither he nor his ancestors have ever lived in Scotland, even if he occasionally wears a kilt and/or eats haggis. He might superficially imitate what he thinks a Scotsman is like, but he lacks the essential qualities that define a Scotsman.

      A Christian is one who follows (present tense) Christ’s teachings. If one is in unrepentant violation of Christ’s teachings, then one is not a Christian, regardless of what one claims about oneself. Jesus Himself makes this clear throughout the Gospels. Likewise, the apostles make this clear in their teachings. Merely imitating the outward trappings of Christianity is insufficient to make one a genuine Christian.

      You are, however, correct in asserting that describing Hitler as an “atheist” is overbroad. Just as there are a variety of theistic beliefs, so too are there a variety of atheistic beliefs. Hitler was a follower of Nietzscheanism specifically, not a generic atheism.

      Reply
      • Kyle says:

        Your example only holds true so long as more formal definitions are available and accepted. However, this dodges the main point of the fallacy. The original presentation involved a police officer claiming no Scotsman could commit the crime at hand. Later this was augmented to no “true” Scotsman, after it was found a Scotsman had in fact committed the crime. This has no bearing on the criminal’s belief at all, whether he thought he was a Scot or not. It’s in the same vein as moving the goalposts. You have already proven you are susceptible to it. Above you write, “A Christian is one who follows (present tense) Christ’s teachings.” In a later response you write, “One need not perfectly follow Christ’s teachings to be a Christian. However, if one is truly a Christian, then one will faithfully endeavor to perfectly follow Christ’s teachings, and repent when one falls short.” this does not exclude Hitler. He could have been endeavoring to follow Christ’s teachings to the best of his abilities and being truly repentant when he failed. In two separate occasions you have different definitions of what you think a Christian is. Further, I would be so bold as to assume you are unable to speak for everyone in the world identifying as Christian. Some of them might even have definitions that you don’t fit into. Claiming they are wrong is just as meaningful as if they were to claim you were wrong.

        Reply
  3. TGM says:

    The whole Hitler-as-atheist/christian argument is utterly absurd, regardless of where one stands on the faith spectrum. It’s not clear if he ever personally killed anyone. What is funny, however, is that when defenders of the faith blame “Adolf-the-atheist” for the holocaust, they conspicuously fail to mention the 60-70 million Germans and 7-8 million Nazis who were either complicit or, in fact, did all of the actual killing. What was their religious affiliation, I wonder? They weren’t atheists. And I bet they weren’t Jews, either. No… 99% of mid-century Germany was Christian.

    But it gets worse still. Because atheism is not an ideology, you can’t ascribe behaviors to it. No, the ideology at work was the virulent form of nationalism called fascism. And you can believe just about anything and still become a fascist. All you need to join that club is a vigorous xenophobia, like suspicion of muslims, or LGBTQ folks, or liberals, or Mexicans. Good thing there’s none of that in ‘Murica.

    Reply
  4. Kalmaro says:

    People keep throwing the word ‘Christian’ around but what is the definition of a Christian exactly? If it is someone who follows Jesus’ teachings then it could technically be argued that he was not a Christian since he does not seem to follow the teachings if Christ in the Bible. Not sure why people get onto such a debate over him though, you don’t need religion to be evil anyway.

    Even if he was a Christian his actions do not speak for Christianity.

    Reply
    • ANTHONY says:

      As has been pointed out, this argument is only used by atheists to counter the charge that atheism was responsible for millions of deaths.

      As has also been pointed out, this is the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

      What I would like to know is, if one’s self-identification as a Christian is not sufficient to judge whether one is a Christian or not, then what is? You suggest that it’s “following the teachings of Christ in the Bible”. Has anyone managed to do that? I thought a central point of Christianity is that we are all sinners? This suggests there may be no true Christians after all. The whole argument over whether Hitler was or wasn’t a Christian or an atheist seems a dead end for both sides.

      Reply
      • Kalmaro says:

        Just saying you are a Christian dies not make you a Christian, no more that, say saying you’re a Scotsman makes you a Scotsman. If you want the definition of a Christian you just have to read the Bible. It largely consist of believing Jesus Christ is the son of God, confessing sins and getting baptized.

        So no, this isn’t the Scotsman fallacy, it’s a legitimate point. If Christianity comes from the Bible and the Bible says that there is more to becoming a Christian than just saying words then sometime just identifying as a Christian means nothing. You can only go by what they have done.

        I can not claim to have studied everything about Hitler’s life to know all of the details but I am fairly certain he was a Christian I’m title only, if he was even that much.

        That said, it’s really not worth arguing about whether he was a Christian or not since his actions are separate from the Bible in the first place. Few people use Hitler as an example of the Bible being a problem these days anyway.

        Reply
        • Ed Vaessen says:

          Kalmaro says:
          “Just saying you are a Christian dies not make you a Christian, no more that, say saying you’re a Scotsman makes you a Scotsman. If you want the definition of a Christian you just have to read the Bible. It largely consist of believing Jesus Christ is the son of God, confessing sins and getting baptized. ”

          And therefor Christianity is an evil religion. It states that when you do not believe in Christ, there is morally something wrong with you. Christianity criminalizes those who, when confronted with the same ‘evidence’, hold to another opinion. A real Christian is a fanatic. This also applies to the real Muslim, who believes that you are a bad person if you do not believe in Allah.
          Both Christianity and Islam are evil religions.

          Reply
          • esbee says:

            Show me all the Christians going around today chopping heads off those who do not agree with their religion. Look at it this way about the Christian religion… Even though most of us do not know how plumbing works, if have a leaky toilet, we call a plumber to fix it. His truck says he is a plumber, his tools say he is a plumber, he does thigns with the tools then says it is fixed, we pay and he leaves and as soon as we turn on the water, there is the leak again and the bathroom floods. Do you throw out all your plumbing and swear to never use an indoor toilet again and tell others to never use toilets again. Of course not. we recognize that one certain plumber does not know how to plumb, and we may tell others not to use him and we go find a plumber who can fix the leak. Hitler was certainly no Christian, no matter if he tattooed it across his forehead and said it 1 million times per day, his actions speak much louder than his words. He has 12 million victims who will call him satan, evil, murderer, psychopath, anything but Christian.

        • ANTHONY says:

          Kalmaro: it sounds very like you’re unsure how to define what a Christian is; despite, presumably, being one yourself. This is troubling to any attempt​ to claim that Hitler wasn’t one. You seem to imply that bad behaviour disqualifies Hitler, but Christianity teaches that we are all sinners, so it is not obvious why Hitler should be ruled out.

          In any case, as has been pointed out, the argument is normally only used to counter the “atheists murdered millions” nonsense.

          Reply
          • Kalmaro says:

            I never implied that bad behavior disqualifies Hitler, I said that unless he at least believe, repented of sins and was baptized he was not a Christian. I then went on to say that I don’t know all about his history so I can not say if he even was baptized. My point was that there was more to becoming a christian than just announcing that one believes in Jesus.

            Then I pointed out that the entire argument was pointless anyway since his actions have no bearing on the Christian faith. All this stuff, like you said, only comes up when someone says Christianity is evil and then starts throwing out things like the crusades and whatnot and then both sides start fighting over it.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “I said that unless he at least believe, repented of sins and was baptized he was not a Christian”

            But as you admit, you have no idea whether or not he did those things or not, so can’t rule out that he was a Christian.

            “All this stuff, like you said, only comes up when someone says Christianity is evil”

            You don’t have to being up the crusades to get Christians to start railing on ‘evil atheists’. The very existence of people who don’t share their faith is an insult to many believers. The blog writers here constantly attack atheists, and it’s not as a retaliatory gesture.

      • Matthew Etzell says:

        One need not perfectly follow Christ’s teachings to be a Christian. However, if one is truly a Christian, then one will faithfully endeavor to perfectly follow Christ’s teachings, and repent when one falls short. We must earnestly strive for perfection, despite knowing that we are unable to actually achieve perfection through our own merits, and we must trust in Jesus’s perfection to make up for our imperfection. We must accept Jesus as both Savior and Lord. Unfortunately, many supposed Christians forget/ignore the “and Lord” part, or only give lip service to it.

        “Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:15-20)

        Reply
        • Sherrie says:

          The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” -Jeremiah 17:9&10 “As weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear”. -Matthew 13:40-43 Definition of Christianity: A Lifestyle and a relationship.

          Reply
  5. ANTHONY says:

    Kalmaro: you are slippery. You said “You can only go by what they have done”, which seems to imply that a person’s deeds, good or bad, have some bearing on whether or not they can be regarded as a Christian. Stop wriggling!

    And no, I most certainly did not say that this only comes up when people say Christianity is evil because of the crusades. Please do the Christian thing and be honest! Read what I wrote again if it helps!

    Reply
    • Kalmaro says:

      You are misunderstanding what I said.
      I said that in order to be a Christian you have to at least believe, repent, and be baptized. This is why I said that you can only go buy what they have done. Becoming a Christian requires *doing* something so if he was a Christian he would have done those things.

      No where did I say anything else about good or bad deeds. Just that you have to at least do those three things to be a Christian as the Bible sees it. Whether or not Hitler did this, I do not no and really, I don’t lose any sleep over it.

      Also, I read what you said just fine. You said :
      “In any case, as has been pointed out, the argument is normally only used to counter the “atheists murdered millions” nonsense.”

      I was actually agreeing with you. These arguments usually get mentioned when Christianity gets called evil and then both sides get in a debate over it. I just mentioned the crusades as an argument some bring up. I apologize if I was not clear on that.

      Reply
      • ANTHONY says:

        We’ll just drop the issue of the context in which the argument is brought up. It seems we’re more or less in agreement. I just think this article (and you) has the context absolutely backwards. I doubt any atheist seriously believes Hitler had genuine Christian beliefs. Nor has he got anything much to do with atheism.

        Reply
        • Kalmaro says:

          I feel like any argument about Hitler religious beliefs is interesting but not really helpful to anyone. I honestly don’t know of anyone personally who thinks he is a Christian, it’s just a claim I see online that pops up every so often.

          I’m not sure what context you are saying I have backwards, unless you mean I think atheist think he’s Christian or not. I don’t think they do, not as a whole anyway.

          Reply
          • ANTHONY says:

            What I mean is this (and I have said it a few times): the issue of Hitler’s alleged Christianity is usually raised by atheists only as a *counter-argument* to the tired old Christian argument that atheism (in the form of Hitler, Stalin, and so on) has killed millions. I have never, ever seen it used as an example of Christian wrongdoing, in the same way as the crusades.

    • Ed Vaessen says:

      ANTHONY says:
      “Kalmaro: you are slippery. You said “You can only go by what they have done”, which seems to imply that a person’s deeds, good or bad, have some bearing on whether or not they can be regarded as a Christian. Stop wriggling!”

      It took you so long to find out that Kalmaro is unfit for any honest discussion?

      Reply
      • Kalmaro says:

        Congrats Ed, you’ve managed to insult two people in one comment.
        Anthony and I have already been over that comment, you may want to read the entire conversation before jumping in. It got broken due to odd restrictions on the website but next time just read further down.

        Reply
        • Ed Vaessen says:

          Kalmaro says:
          ‘Congrats Ed, you’ve managed to insult two people in one comment.”

          My pleasure, you piece of shit.

          Reply
  6. Kalmaro says:

    Depends on who you talk to. I’ve never met a person saying it in person but I have online. Please don’t think I’m saying that I believe atheists as a whole believe that. It’s just another one of the bad arguments that gets tossed around and I brought it up. If u had know. It would cause so much confusion I wouldn’t have mentioned it.

    Reply
    • Ed Vaessen says:

      If anyone can tell me the difference between an christian fanatic like Kalmaro and an internet troll, I would be much obliged.

      Reply
  7. Kalmaro says:

    @ ANDY RYAN
    I absolutely admit that I have no clue whether Hitler was a Christian or not, I highly doubt it though. That said, I’ve made the point a few times on this page that it really does not bother me since few people ever bring it up and even fewer people believe that he was actually Christ’s teachings

    Reply

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