- Nazi Germany
- A Christian country
- Church anti-Semitism
- Racist & hate literature
- Protestant & Catholic Churches
- Distorting the facts
- Further reading
- Nazism in former Yugoslavia
- Catholic Ustashe: Nazis
- Islamic Hanjar: Nazis
- Death toll
- Clergy creates race ideology
- Whitewash & unpunished
- The Vatican and Fascism
Christianity in Germany bears a greater responsibility before God than the National Socialists, the SS and the Gestapo.Link
-- Pastor Martin Niemöller, in a lecture in Zurich on March 1946
Germany's Nazi Holocaust killed around 11 million people in total: of which 6 million were Jews and an estimated 1.5 to 1.75 million were Roma (Gypsies). Other victims included large numbers of people with disabilities, political dissidents, including nationalists from occupied territories, and a significant number of homosexuals were imprisoned and many died:
...the Nazi's also exterminated many accused homosexuals. In fact, in Nazi Germany, gays were denounced as "antisocial parasites" and as "enemies of the state". More than 100,000 men were arrested under a broadly interpreted law against homosexuality. Approximately 50,000 men served prison terms as convicted homosexuals, while an unknown number were institutionalized in mental hospitals. Many men accused of being gay were castrated under court order or coercion. Analyses of fragmentary records suggest that between 5,000 and 15,000 homosexual men were imprisoned in concentration camps, where many died from starvation, disease, exhaustion, beatings, and murder.Link
During this period in Yugoslavia, under the ruthless Ustashe regime - Croatia's Catholic Nazi government, Croatians were taught that they had Gothic ancestry (a Germanic people). They killed what's variously estimated to lie between 600,000 and over a million people, mainly Orthodox Serbs, but also many Jews and Romany. Yugoslavia literally means South Slavic nation. The nazis, including the Croatian Ustashe who imagined themselves as Goths, saw Slavic people as subhumans. The German nazis killed millions of Russians whilst their counterparts in Croatia murdered many Serbs, for being Slavs.
Nazism's racial fictions were generally endorsed by Christian clergy. In some cases these racist teachings were even invented by them and based on books written by them.
The clergy will contend that the Holocaust happened because the Germans and the Nazis were "not real Christians." But renowned theologians in Germany believed that Nazism and its pogroms and programs were the will of God.From: The Protestant reaction to the Nazi Holocaust, by Dr. Michael Hakeem of the FFRF
Nazism arose in the bosom of a pervasively Christian society. More than this, the Holocaust was a product of certain Christian doctrines. If the American clergy don't know that there is an intimate relationship between the Holocaust and the Christian faith, some Nazi officials and military leaders did. A German general replied, when asked at the Nuremberg Trials, how such a thing could happen:From: Holocaust: Its foundation in Christian anti-Semitism, FFRF The Messianic Faith: Christians in the Nazi Era [Warning: graphic pictures at the bottom of linked page] at The Christian Heritage, are those that are captioned as follows (else try here for some of the images):"I am of the opinion when for years, for decades the doctrine is preached that Jews are not even human, such an outcome is inevitable."He, of course, underestimated the duration of such preachment, which, as will be seen, started with Jesus. Julian Streicher, chief Nazi ideologist of anti-Semitism and founder of Der Sturmer, the most notoriously vile anti-Semitic publication, recommended"the extermination of the people whose father is the Devil,"recalling Jesus' attribution of such parentage to Jews.
In response to two bishops who questioned the Nazi race policy, Hitler said that he was only putting into effect what Christianity had preached for 2,000 years.
Hitler is wrong. Christianity does not preach that all Jews should be exterminated here on earth. What Christianity did was to invent religious anti-Semitism which sometimes spills over into massive slaughter of Jews. That is the bedrock Hitler could exploit with impunity.
It [anti-Semitism] was so deeply embedded in the German psyche that it was possible to hear anti-Jewish diatribes from Christian pulpits, the court preacher in Berlin in the Weimar period was a rabid anti-Semite, there existed pre-Nazi anti-Semitic political parties, and a League was formed to promote hatred of Jews.
..."The Holocaust . . . posed a direct challenge to Christians throughout the world. They were confronted with the consequences of the anti-Semitism that had been supported by Christian churches for centuries, and which made the Holocaust possible."It all began with Jesus. Bishop John Shelby Spong indicts him:
-- Victoria Barnett, historian"Jesus is . . . depicted, especially in the Book of John, as being guilty of what we today would surely call antisemitism. Indeed, the hatred of the Jews that has been the dark underside of Christianity for two thousand years is fed by the pejorative attitudes found in the Christian Scriptures and even in the supposed words of Jesus. It has led to pogroms, ghettos, segregated housing and clubs, defaced synagogues, Krystallnacht, and Dachau."
November 15, 1933: More than a thousand deaconesses, Lutheran nuns, meet under the swastika. The Bishop of Berlin in his speech:"Permit me to compare our sisters with the SA!"([The SA, Schutz Abteilung, was] a paramilitary Nazi troop).
"...the SA of Jesus Christ and the SS of the Church" September 1933: German Protestant deacons meet in Hamburg to celebrate the centennial of their association. A Protestant pastor addresses his comrades in a speech entitled Deaconry as attack:A scan of a letter (dated December 2, 1933) with translation stating:"All this is Protestant deaconry: Service and fight. We greet you all as the SA of Jesus Christ and the SS of the Church, you brave ... [fighters] of need, misery, despair and dereliction."After the war the swastika was removed from most of the photographs of the meeting. Only a few survived unaltered, such as this one.
This letter refers to a concentration camp which at the time was run by Lutheran deacons in Bad Segeberg, near Hamburg. The deacons charged the district president for their expenses.
- Photos showing Christian Nazis and the deep involvement of clergy in Nazism
Besides siegheiling Protestant and Catholic clergy, this page also has photos of the crosses marking the graves of Nazi Germany's Christian soldiers. These are captioned with:
One must not forget that Germany represented the most Christianized country in the world in the 1930s and 40s. Nazi Christian soldiers died as Protestants and Catholics and their grave markers testified to their religion.
- Nazi Artifacts - mementoes, badges, paintings and more
This page carries a large photo of the Nazi uniforms' belt buckles which were marked with "Gott mit uns":
Soldiers of the vermacht wore belt buckles inscribed with the following: "Gott mit uns" (God is with us). [From: "The Religion of Hitler"]It refers to the One God of Christianity, not the many Norse deities. The Nazis weren't pagans, they were Christians.
The same page has a painting of the Virgin Mother Mary and her blonde-haired son Jesus, made by the Catholic Hitler.
- Pictures of the Vatican and Nazism in Germany and Croatia
...pre-Nazi Germany was permeated with Christianity. It is no exaggeration to say it was one of the most Christian nations in the world, if judged by the usual indexes. Just a couple of decades before Hitler started his ascent to power, 90 to 95 per cent of Germans were members of Christian churches; the Protestant church press was flourishing, publishing some 600 independent church papers with a circulation of 17,000,000; theology students numbered 5,500; and the presence of some internationally famous theologians kept interest in religious concerns prominent. Nazism arose in the bosom of a pervasively Christian society.From: Holocaust: Its Foundation In Christian AntiSemitism
See more: Christian Nazis, in their own words
Germans under Nazi Germany held anti-Semitic views because the Churches had preached the same for centuries.
The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 set up the Inquisition along with enforcement of Jews wearing a yellow spot on their clothes and a horned cap (pileum cornutum) to mark them as the murderers of Christ and to remind them of their descent from the devil. During the Black Death plague which ravaged Europe in the 14th century, the Catholic clergy aimed its blame at the Jews claiming they worked for the Devil and had poisoned the wells and springs.Link
Protestant reformer Martin Luther had echoed the same in his Of the Jews and their Lies, by referring to the Jews as a serpent's (i.e. devil's) brood. It is therefore not surprising that the German Churches, from whose flocks the Nazis had come, should have continued to stress these ideas during the Nazi period:
Under the continuing influence of the Lutheran Court Preacher Adolf Stocker, they [pastors supportive of Nazism] believed that the future of German Lutheranism lay in obliterating the Jewish background of Christianity, and creating a national religion based on the traditions of German Christianity. They repeatedly stressed Luther's anti-Semitic statements.Link
German Christianity comprised Germany's shared Christian traditions, which incorporated the country's history of both Catholicism and Protestantism. Both the glorified histories of the Holy (Catholic) Emperors of Germany as well as Luther's reforms would be given equal place here, preventing the return of the devastating Kulturkampf "culture war" between the two denominations of the past centuries.
By extricating Christianity from its Judaic roots, the Churches were making the religion non-Semitic. It is little different from how Jesus is portrayed even today with blonde hair and light eyes in America. Not just amongst the KKK, but amongst mainstream Churches, including the Baptist and especially Southern Baptist Churches. It was not Nazism that caused American Churches to do so, as this was an evolution that happened in Europe's Christian Churches in early times. (Similarly today, with just as little foundation in fact, African, Native American and Asian Churches portray Jesus as a brown or black man, corresponding to how they want a 1st century Semitic man to have looked.)See more: Christ as the first and the greatest anti-Semite
[Roman Catholic] Julius Streicher... published, edited, and wrote for the German newspaper Der Stürmer and served as a prominent Nazi prior to and during World War II. When asked if there were any other anti-Semitic publications, other than Der Stürmer, published in Germany, Streicher replied:LinkAnti-Semitic publications have existed in Germany for centuries. A book I had, written by Dr. Martin Luther, was, for instance, confiscated. Dr. Martin Luther would very probably sit in my place in the defendants' dock today, if this book had been taken into consideration by the Prosecution. In this book The Jews and Their Lies, Dr. Martin Luther writes that the Jews are a serpent's brood and one should burn down their synagogues and destroy them...
-- Julius Streicher
Bishop Martin Sasse of Thuringia, a leading Protestant churchman, published a compendium of Martin Luther's anti-Semitic vitriol shortly after Kristallnacht (the first openly public attacks against the Jews by the Nazis). He applauded the burning of the synagogues and the coincidence of the day:From: Christianity in Europe during WWII: The Protestant Churches in Germany"On November 10, 1938, on Luther's birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany... of the greatest antisemite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews." [Goldhagen p.111]He also edited a brochure for his ministers at the end of November 1938 titled, "Martin Luther and the Jews: do Away with Them!" He quoted extensively from Luther's book "On the Jews and their lies." [Wollenberg, p.73]
The Jew was created by God to act the traitor everywhere.Link
--Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit monthly publication, cited in John Cornwell's "Hitler's Pope"
See also: Catholic clergy invents and promotes race ideology in Yugoslavia
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. The way has been shown to us by the Führer.Frank Buchman was an American Lutheran evangelist who supported Hitler and favored a fascist-dictatorship-theocracy
-- Dean Eckert, sermon at Tegel, North Berlin, 10 February 1935I thank Heaven for a man like Adolf Hitler, who built a front line of defense against the anti-Christ of Communism
-- Frank Buchman... Human problems aren't economic. They're moral and they can't be solved by immoral measures. They could be solved within a God-controlled democracy, or perhaps I should say a theocracy, and they could be solved through a God-controlled Fascist dictatorship.
-- Frank BuchmanWe have learned from Martin Luther that the church cannot get in the way of state power when it does what it is called to do. Not even when [the state] becomes hard and ruthless.... When the state carries out its office against those who destroy the foundations of state order, above all against those who destroy honor with vituperative and cruel words that scorn faith and vilify death for the Fatherland, then [the state] is ruling in God's name!
-- Otto Dibelius, General Superintendent of the Kurmark and one of the most conservative members of the Confessing Church.At a time when the heads of the major nations in the world faced the new Germany with reserve and considerable suspicion, the Catholic Church, the greatest moral power on earth, through the Concordat, expressed its confidence in the new German [Nazi] government.
-- Cardinal Faulhaber
[T]he person of Hitler has become the symbol of the faith of the German nation in its existence and future.Link, which has more along with the references.
-- Stimmen der Zeit, a Jesuit monthly publication, [Lewy]
On May 14, 1933, Ludwig Muller, a prominent member in the ranks of the German Christian Movement became the principle Bishop of the Evangelical German Reich Church.Link
Under the continuing influence of the Lutheran Court Preacher Adolf Stocker, they believed that the future of German Lutheranism lay in obliterating the Jewish background of Christianity, and creating a national religion based on the traditions of German Christianity. They repeatedly stressed Luther's anti-Semitic statements.
One of the "moral" pastors of the nation, Bishop Otto Dibelius, declared in a letter after April 1933, that he has been "always an antisemite." Dibelius had expressed that he wanted the Jews to die out peaceably, bloodlessly (what a guy!) Wolfgang Gerlach, a German Evangelical pastor and historian of the Christian churches during the Nazi period, observed Bishop Dibelius' anti-Semitic sentiments as "well nigh representative of German Christendom in the beginning of 1933. [Goldhagen, pp.108-9].
Going by what the Christian clergy teach about the virtues that the faith inspires, Nazism, Hitler's wars, and the Holocaust should not have been possible. Not only did they occur, but with insignificant and wavering exceptions, neither theologians, clergy, nor ordinary Christians as individuals, nor churches as corporate bodies, objected. In fact they overwhelmingly supported them. Look at three of the most distinguished German Protestant theologians--Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus, and Emanual Hirsch. These men were highly respected, extremely erudite, uncommonly productive, and internationally known professors, each at a different, first-class university.From: The Protestant Reaction To The Nazi Holocaust, FFRF
Professor Robert P. Erickson did an unusually comprehensive investigation of the three theologians' writings, utterances, and activities as they pertain to Nazism and the Jewish Question. He reports his findings in a book, Theologians Under Hitler. If anyone should know whether submission or opposition is demanded of the followers of the living Christ when confronted with a regime as totally reprehensible as that of the Nazis, surely it would be these theologians.
What conclusions did Erickson reach as to the stance of the three men who would be expected to exemplify the ultimate in the embodiment of those noble values that millions of Sunday school children are taught attach to Christian folk? They are grim:
"They each supported Hitler openly, enthusiastically, and with little restraint." In fact, they deemed it the Christian thing to do. They "saw themselves and were seen by others as genuine Christians acting upon genuine Christian impulses." Furthermore, all three tended "to see God's hand in the elevation of Hitler to power." Hirsch was a member of the Nazi party and of the SS. The Nazi state, he said, should be accepted and supported by Christians as a tool of God's grace. To Althaus, Hitler's coming to power was "a gift and miracle of God." He taught that "we Christians know ourselves bound by God's will to the promotion of National Socialism."
Kittel and a group of twelve leading theologians and pastors issued a proclamation that Nazism is "a call of God," and they thanked God for Adolf Hitler. Kittel was a party member and he himself proudly claimed that he was a good Nazi. He explains that he did not join it as a result of pressure or for pragmatic reasons but because he concluded that the Nazi phenomenon was "a völkisch renewal movement on a Christian, moral foundation." He accorded Christianity a place of honor in Nazi Germany precisely because of its position on the Jewish Question. He said he was speaking for other theologians too when he maintained that agreement with state and Führer was obedience to the law of God.These theologians were drenched in anti-Semitism.
Professor Friedrich Heer [historian], in his magnificently researched God's First Love, … gives a lengthy and vivid account of the political leanings (anti-democratic, anti-liberal, anti-Semitic, anti-enlightenment) of Catholicism and the Church's leaders. It is this that led them swiftly into the Nazi fold and, once in, kept them from opposing even the extermination of the Jews. Supporting his conclusions with copious excerpts from Catholic publications, Heer shows the extraordinary support the Church gave the Nazi regime as well as its wars, which most historians regard as flagrantly aggressive and monumentally unjust. He observes:From: Catholic Reaction To The Nazi Holocaust, FFRF"Catholic theologians rightly discovered many affinities between Nazi ideology and Catholicism. . . . Many church papers . . . became virtually propaganda organs of National Socialism." Heer finds that "the [Catholic] press worked smoothly in the service of the war propaganda machine."...
As has been said, only a few German Catholics, high or low, spoke out against the Nazi treatment of the Jews, and large numbers of them participated in the work of rounding up, transporting, working to death, running the concentration camps, waging the wars, and executing innocents. Millions of Catholic soldiers, vigorously prodded by their bishops and priests, proudly fought in Hitler's unjust and rapacious wars. In fact, evidence has been uncovered that some churches checked their birth records at the request of the government in order to sort out Jews for it.
Otto Melle, bishop of Germany's Methodist Episcopal Church, collaborated closely with Hitler and Nazism. The Nazi government sent him to travel around the US, trying to boost Germany's image. He lectured about the benefits of the Nazi eugenics laws, and did other PR for Nazi Germany.
The NY Times, referring to his lectures during his New York tour, headlined: "The Lord Blesses Every Step That Hitler Takes". Newspapers also described Melle as having "unreserved admiration for Hitler", not only for having brought down unemployment in Germany, but also for having, as Melle put it,
"purified public life to a great extent. Plays and movies are pure now, and a parent may take his child to the theater without fear. On the newsstands pornographic magazines have disappeared. Anyone who buys or sells salacious material is in danger of being sent to a concentration camp."
This included Jews converted to Christianity. The fact that Christian Jews were never really accepted, but were betrayed is not a unique invention of Nazism.
The founder of the Lutheran Church and father of the Reformation, Martin Luther himself:
"If I had to baptise a Jew, I would take him to the bridge of the Elbe, hang a stone around his neck and push him over with the words 'I baptise thee in the name of Abraham'."It had also been Catholic practise to persecute converted Jews:
-- Martin Luther, [Peter F. Weiner, Hitler's Spiritual Ancestor]
During the Spanish Inquisition, the Catholic Church directed its actions against the baptized Jews, the marranos. They forbade them to hold any office in the Church or the state; many suffered torture or death.Link
After the Nazi party took over, they began to exclude Jews from jobs and schools and later to exclude baptized racial Jews from the Land churches and to force them to live completely by themselves. Notably, the churches deeply involved themselves in furnishing data about racial origins from the very beginning of the Nazi era. Even Bishop Wurm saw no harm in this, and in 1934 informed his clergy:From: Christianity in Europe during WWII: The Protestant Churches in Germany"The use of the 'hereditary passports' (Ahnenpasse) can also be recommended from the standpoint of the church." [Helmreich, p. 328]
On September 1, 1941, a national law made it compulsory for all Jews to display the Star of David when they appeared in public. The ordinance presented a problem to the churches because they did not know that many of the Christians in their congregations had Jewish origins.How did the Protestant churches respond to this oppression of their fellow Christians? On December 17, 1941, Protestant Evangelical Church leaders of Mecklenburg, Thuringia, Saxony, Nassau-Hesse, Mecklenburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Anhalt, and Lubeck collectively issued an official proclamation:From the crucifixion of Christ to the present day, the Jews have fought Christianity or misused and falsified it in order to reach their own selfish goals. By Christian baptism nothing is altered in regard to a Jew's racial separateness, his national being, and his biological nature. A German Evangelical church has to care for and further the religious life of German fellow countrymen; racial Jewish Christians have no place or rights in it. [Helmreich, p. 329]
After the Vatican signed the Concordat with Hitler, the Catholic Churches were now officially in league with Nazism and its eventual extermination policies. Like the Protestant Churches, Catholic Churches not only informed officials about who was a Jew, but handed over baptised Jews - that is, Jews converted to Christianity:
On April 25, thousands of Catholic priests across Germany became part of an anti-Semitic attestation bureaucracy, supplying details of blood purity through marriage and baptism registries in accordance with the Nazi Nuremberg laws which distinguished Jews from non-Jews. Catholic clerical compliance in the process would continue throughout the period of the Nazi regime. [Cornwell, pp.154] Any claimed saving of all-too-few Jewish lives by a few brave Catholics must stand against the millions who died in the death camps as an indirect result of the official workings of the Catholic body.From: Christianity in Europe during WWII: The Reich Concordat between Hitler and the Vatican
After Kristallnacht (where Nazis broke Jewish store windows and had synagogues burned) there issued not a single word of condemnation from the Vatican, the German Church hierarchy, or from Pacelli. Yet in an encyclical on anti-Semitism, titled Humani generis unitas (The Unity of the Human Race) by Pope Pius XI, a section claims that the Jews were responsible for their own fate. God had chosen them to make way for Christ's redemption but they denied him and killed him. And now, "Blinded by their dream of worldly gain and material success," they had deserved the "worldly and spiritual ruin" that they had brought down upon themselves. [Cornwell, p. 191]
In 1933, a few Protestant Pastors, namely Martin Niemöller, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth and others formed the "Pastors Emergency League" which later became known as "The Confessing Church" to oppose the state controlled Nazi Church.Link. It also shows how the famous Pastors of the Confessing Church - Niemöller, Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth - harboured anti-Semitic views as well.
It bears some importance to understand that Germany did not recognize the Confessing Church as an official Church. Not only the Nazis, but all other Protestant Churches condemned the Confessing Church. They thought of it as a minority opposition that held little power. The vast majority of German churches supported Hitler and his policies against the Jews. Moreover, they [the German churches] advocated composing an "Aryan Paragraph" in church synods that would prevent non-aryans from joining the Church, which of course included Jews.In spite of the myth that has developed that the Confessing Church opposed Hitler for anti-Semitic reasons, the main reason for the opposition actually aimed to protect the power of Pastors to determine who should preach and who they can preach to. The Barmen Declaration of Faith (by Karl Barth, et al) became the principle statement of The Confessing Church. Not a single sentence in it opposes anti-Semitism. According to Professor John S. Conway:"The Confessing Church did not seek to espouse the cause of the Jews as a whole, nor to criticize the secular legislation directed against the German Jews and the Nazi racial philosophy."
They did not want government interference with Church self-regulation.Richard Steigmann-Gall's research found that,
...However, just what did they oppose about the Jewish question?
It turns out that the Pastors of the Confessing Church held concerns only for Jews who converted to Christianity. Of course they viewed Jews who convert to Christianity as Christian, not Jewish. This Christian centered view gave them the reason for their objection to the "Aryan Paragraph." For Jews who did not convert, they held strong anti-Semitic feelings. Remember that these pastors lived as well read Lutherans; any reading of Martin Luther will reveal strong anti-Semetic feelings toward Jews who did not convert."many confessional Lutherans who would later join the Confessing Church received the Nazi movement warmly."Otto Dibelius, General Superintendent of the Kurmark, and one of the most conservative in the Confessing Church, certified the Nazi movement as Christian ... After the Nazi Seizure of Power, Dibelius continued to view Nazism this way, even to the point of excusing Nazi brutality [Steigmann-Gall].
Among Catholics too, there was a small movement of Christians who resisted the Nazi government. They had to do so without any support from their Church at all. Ironically, when Nazism fell out of favour with the end of WWII, the Church immediately jumped on this tiny band of resisting Christians and held them up as examples of how the Church had opposed the Nazi regime. However, this deception of the Catholic Church leadership has been exposed repeatedly.
See for example the book: Gehorsame Kirche - ungehorsame Christen im Nationalsozialismus by Alexander Groß
"Obedient Church – disobedient Christians under Nazism".
It describes exactly the predicament of those Christians wholly abandonned by their Church, whose actions have now been appropriated as some sort of Church-wide resistance. The author's father was amongst those who resisted the State. It shows what is willingly kept hidden and suppressed today: their resistance did not take place with support or even approval of the Catholic Church or its representatives.
Today, the Vatican and Protestant Churches are very vocal in their protests of euthanasia, which is legal in countries like the Netherlands where the general practise is to apply it to people who have chosen this option because they suffer from chronic pain.
Yet, in the not-so-distant past, the Churches had been involved in euthanising people with disabilities for their Nazi government.
A translated excerpt of the summary book review, presented in online German bookstores, of Persilscheine und falsche Pässe. Wie die Kirchen den Nazis halfen. by Ernst Klee ("Persilscheine [has to do with papers of proof or identity] and forged travel documents. How the churches helped the Nazis."):
Recently, representatives from the two great German churches [refers to the two main Christian denominations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Catholic Church] arranged themselves for a common action against church-critical television broadcasts. The cause: 'particularly unpleasant' documentary transmissions by journalist Ernst Klee, that were and are broadcast by the Hessischen Rundfunk. Klee exposes the failure of the churches without any glossing-over of the Churches' impropriety in connection to Nazism: involvement in activities of euthanasia and anti-Semitism, up to the organised escape-assistance for Nazis to Latin America after the war's end. The churches were presented with this past that they hadn't yet overcome, which leads to the decades-long laboriously and arduously smoothed picture of history - of the churches' resolved official resistance - being destroyed...In more manageable English, the final sentence states: The official story of the Churches' resistance to the evils of Nazism - a version of history which had taken them several decades to smoothe out - has been destroyed by the work of the journalist Ernst Klee.
The manuscript for this book was the basis of the tv-film of the same name.
A German Father in Rome enabled Adolf Eichmann's 1950 escape to Argentina. This volume documents many other cases in which the German Churches after 1945 helped the Nazi-criminals. The author comes to the conclusion that the Church leaders who helped, had the same visions of the enemy as the National Socialists [Nazis], that they "shared the human-view about the sick, disabled, homosexuals, 'Gypsies' (Romany), Poles, Russians, Jews. They were companions in spirit. That allowed the nearness to [closeness, close relationship with] the perpetrators and the distance [remoteness] from the victims."From: Translation of a book description of Persilscheine und falsche Pässe. Wie die Kirchen den Nazis halfen.
The churches also indirectly helped the Nazi government in murdering people with disabilities, by handing over their wards to the government, knowing full well what awaited the victims.
From the Martin Luther page at KirchenOpfer:
Die den evangelischen Behinderteneinrichtungen in Neuendettelsau/Bayern anvertrauten Menschen wurden in den Jahren 1940/41 schließlich mit Berufung auf die Staatslehre Luthers (Gehorsam gegenüber der Obrigkeit) den staatlichen Behörden ausgeliefert. Dass sie umgebracht werden, war den Verantwortlichen bekannt.Translation: The people entrusted to the care of the Evangelical institutions for the disabled in Neuendettelsau/Bayern were eventually handed over to the State authorities in the years 1940/1941, by referring to the state teachings of Luther (obedience towards the authorities). That they [the disabled people] were killed was known to those responsible [for handing them over].
Recent evidence has surfaced that shows that both Germany's Roman Catholic Church and Germany's Protestant Church used forced laborers during the Third Reich. Religious affairs organizations have attempted to get the Churches to pay into a compensation fund for Nazi victims. According to Christa Nickels, religious affairs spokeswoman for junior coalition government partners the Greens, said the Church should immediately pay into the fund;Link"The correct thing to do is for the Church to pay into the fund. It's not about when, where and how many forced laborers were used, but whether the two main churches were involved in the system."[Reuters news, 20 July 2000]
In another attempted point, Christians show that Hitler imprisoned priests and nuns, some of them dying in concentration camps; therefore he must have had anti-Christian feelings, so the reasoning goes. But the Nazis imprisoned people of many faiths, including a few Nazis who stood in Hitler's way. But the Nazis condemned these people for their political views against the government, not for their religious beliefs.Link
"Amongst the accusations which are directed against Germany in the so called democracies is the charge that the National Socialist State is hostile to religion.Link
The National Socialist State has not closed a church, nor has it prevented the holding of a religious service, nor has it ever exercised any influence upon the form of a religious service. It has not exercised any pressure upon the doctrine nor on the profession of faith of any of the Confessions. In the National Socialist State anyone is free to seek his blessedness after his own fashion....
There are ten thousands and ten thousands of priests of all the Christian Confessions who perform their ecclesiastical duties just as well as or probably better than the political agitators without ever coming into conflict with the laws of the State....
But on one point it is well that there should be no uncertainty: the German priest as servant of God we shall protect, the priest as political enemy of the German State we shall destroy."
-- -Adolf Hitler, a speech in the Reichstag on 30 Jan. 1939 [Baynes]
With "religion", Hitler is referring only to Christianity - the two Confessions of Catholicism and Protestantism. Other religions were not recognised nor approved of in Nazi Germany. With "anyone is free to seek his blessedness after his own fashion", Hitler is again referring to one of these two main denominations of Christianity within Germany.
It was repeatedly stressed, from the very beginning when Hitler and his NSDAP came to power, that their party would not tolerate clergy in politics. Once in power, the Churches were supported and patronised by the Nazi government, but priests were not allowed to politically aggravate against the German state. Of the non-Jewish, non-Gypsy German persons killed by the state during the war period, most would have been Christian of beliefs. However, it was not their religion for which the German state persecuted them, but for their political opposition.An excerpt from the Nuremberg trials, where Nazi war criminals were tried for their crimes, explains why some clergymen were sent to the concentration camps:
The questions are posed to [Nazi] Hermann Wilhelm Goering, by Dr. Stahmer under Direct Examination:Link, contains further transliterations of the Nuremberg trials.
Q. Now, in the course of years, a large number of clergymen, both from Germany and especially from the occupied territories - you yourself mentioned Poland and Czechoslovakia - were taken to concentration camps. Do you know anything about that?
A. I knew that in Germany, to begin with, a number of clergymen were taken to concentration camps. The case of Niemoeller was common knowledge. I do not wish to go into it in detail, because it is well known. A number of other clergymen were sent to concentration camps, but not until the later years, when the fight became more critical, because they made political speeches in the pulpit and criticised measures of the State or the Party; and, if this criticism was too severe, the police intervened.
I told Himmler on one occasion that I did not think it was clever to arrest clergymen, that as long as they talked only in church they should say what they wanted; but that if they made political speeches outside the Church then he could proceed against them, just as he would in connection with any other people who made speeches hostile to the State. Several clergymen who went very far in their criticism were not arrested. As far as the arrest of clergymen from occupied territories is concerned, I heard about it; and I said earlier that this did not occur so much on the religious level, just because they were clergymen, but that it occurred because they were at the same time nationalist - from their point of view - and consequently often involved in actions hostile to the occupying forces.-- The Trial of German Major War Criminals – Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany, 12th March to 22nd March, 1946, Eighty-First Day: Thursday, 14th March, 1946 (Part 2 of 8)
The Nazi government supported the Churches and donated more money than other countries' governments:
The Churches are the greatest landed proprietors after the State... Further, the Church in the National Socialist State is in many ways favoured in regard to taxation, and for gifts, legacies, &c., it enjoys immunity from taxation.Link
I would allow myself only one question: what contributions during the same period have France, England, or the United States made through the State from the public funds?
-- -Adolf Hitler, a speech in the Reichstag on 30 Jan. 1939 [Baynes]
Hitler’s January 30, 1939 speech to the Reichstag... Hitler goes on to document how muchLink"public monies derived from taxation through the organs of the State have been placed at the disposal of both churches [Protestant and Catholic]."Hitler gave nearly 1.8 billion Reichsmarks between 1933-1938 directly to the Christian churches. In 1938 alone, he bragged that the Nazis gave half a billion Reichsmarks from the national government and an additional 92 million Reichsmarks from the Nazi-controlled German states and parish associations.
Very few Christians helped the Jews, especially in comparison to the large number of Christians who helped in exterminating them. The policy being to annihilate Jews, the state would curtail insubordination instead of leaving alone any who helped them. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that anyone, including Christians, who aided Jews would also be executed by the government. This does not mean that Nazism persecuted Christianity.
Yet there is another aspect to the Christians who aided Jews that is often downplayed: many of them were Jewish Christians.
Book reviewer Doris Bergen, in her review of the apologetic book Women against Hitler: Christian Resistance in the Third Reich by Theodore N. Thomas:
Certain Confessing women, he [the author, Thomas] observes, were defined as "non-Aryans" under Nazi law or took action on behalf of Jews and "non-Aryan Christians". ... he claims (p.41) that "women as well as men sat in German prisons for their faith during the Church Struggle". However, the people he goes on to discuss were not arrested for activities connected to the Confessing Church.See also: Nazism and its stance on atheism and pagans
In general the "martyrs" he describes are overwhelmingly people defined by the Nazis as "non-Aryans" - whom Thomas calls "Jewish-Christians". Friedrich Weissler, Anneliese and Hans Kauffmann, Inge Jacobsen and Hildegard Jacoby, five of the six martyrs of the Confessing Church named (p.43-5), were all officially 'non-Aryan". Can they simply be counted among those who gave their lives for the Confessing Church? Without evidence to the contrary, it seems more accurate to describe them as victims of the Nazi assaults on Jews, Judaism and so-called Jewish blood.
- Christians in the Nazi Era - some images are graphic. (The less graphic ones are also put up here)
- The Christianity of Hitler and his Nazis and the involvement of priests with Nazism and Nazi Artifacts
- In Pictures: The Vatican and Nazism in Germany and Croatia
Church involvement in the Holocaust
- Christianity in Europe during WWII includes sections on:
- The Catholic Church during WWII, including the Reich Concordat between Hitler and the Vatican
- The Protestant Churches in Germany
- The Confessing Church
- Remaining secrets, has further revelations
- Hitler's Pope by John Cornwell. The abridged version of this book published in Vanity Fair is available online.
- Dr Michael Hakeem's articles on the Holocaust, especially
Part 4: Catholic Reaction To The Nazi Holocaust; and
Part 5: The Protestant Reaction To The Nazi Holocaust
- Religion And The Holocaust, Freethought Today.
- See the section Vatican and Fascism in the 20th century.
- Germany's Christian Nazis and Hitler's Christianity
- Kirche und Faschismus, by Church historian Karlheinz Deschner
"Church and Fascism"
- Mit Gott und dem Führer - Die Politik der Päpste zur Zeit des Nationalsozialismus by Karlheinz Deschner
"With God and the Fuehrer [Hitler] - Papal politics in the times of National Socialism [Nazism]"
- Persilscheine und falsche Pässe. Wie die Kirchen den Nazis halfen. by Ernst Klee
"Persilscheine [has to do with papers of proof or identity] and forged passports. How the churches helped the Nazis"
English translation of its German review summary.
- Gott mit uns, Ernst Klee, Willi Dreßen
"God with us"
The title of this book is what could be found engraved on the belt buckles of Nazi wehrmacht uniforms.
- Die SA Jesu Christi. Die Kirchen im Banne Hitlers., Ernst Klee (1993)
"The SA Jesu Christi. The Churches under Hitler’s spell"
- Kreuz und Hakenkreuz, Kurt Meier
"Cross and hooked-cross"
The title refers to the Christian Cross symbol and the Nazi 'hakenkreuz' symbol.
- Sagen Sie, Herr Pfarrer, wie kommen Sie zur SS?, Hans F Lenz (1983)
"Tell us, Priest, how did you get in the SS?" (Its meaning is more like: "How is it you're in the SS?")
- Kirchenmann und Nationalsozialist, Anja Rinnen
"Man of church and Nazi"