Monday, 20 September 2010

Hitler, the Nazis and Christianity. The Fallacy of Nazi Atheism.

Ratzinger compared me to a Nazi. Why? Because I choose not to believe in his God. Yet he is the product of the very same conservative German Christianity that allowed the Nazis to come to power. 
Then, the Catholic League demanded that I should apologise for Hitler. Why? The evidence shows that he was a Christian.

"I am now, as before a Catholic, and will always remain so"
(Adolph Hitler, to Gen. Gerhard Engel, 1941)

There is an erroneous, if popular, belief that the Nazis were fundamentally anti-Christian while devout Christians were anti-Nazi.

On one hand, this is a denial based on the argument that no true Christian could do or advocate such things. Therefore they were not true Christians and their crimes cannot be attributed to Christianity. This argument could be extended to all the crimes committed by Christians over the course of history. 
This is known as the ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy, because it relies on shifting the definition of "Christian" to match whatever conclusion a person prefers.
On the other it  is an Ad Hoc argument, as explains away endorsement of Christianity   Hitler and the Nazis as a political ploy which In private, the had no intention of promoting it in reality.

There is no credible evidence that the Nazis were anti-Christian. Indeed the evidence suggests otherwise. Private and public remarks made by the Nazis on Christianity were the same, indicating an intention to act as they claimed.

While many Christians today struggle with the idea that their religion had anything in common with Nazism, they need to accept that it was conditioned by the culture around it. There was much common ground to be found between Christianity and the Nazis.

"For how shall we fill people with blind faith in the correctness of a doctrine, if we ourselves spread uncertainty and doubt by constant changes in its outward structure? ...Here, too, we can learn by the example of the Catholic Church. Though its doctrinal edifice, and in part quite superfluously, comes into collision with exact science and research, it is none the less unwilling to sacrifice so much as one little syllable of its dogmas... it is only such dogmas which lend to the whole body the character of a faith."
(Adolf Hitler, "Mein Kampf" Vol. 2 Chapter 5)

Roman Catholic Priests giving the Hitler salute at a Catholic youth rally in the Berlin-Neukolln stadium in August 1933

Nazi condemnation of everything modern was the key to their popularity with German Christians. The Weimar Republic was regarded by German Christians as godless, materialistic and secular. They felt it had betrayed Germany's traditional values and religious beliefs. They believed that the social fabric of their community was unravelling and in attacking godlessness, homosexuality, abortion, communism, liberalism, prostitution, pornography, obscenity, etc, the Nazis promised to restore the old order. Atheist and Freethinking groups were outlawed in 1933.


Berlin Churches Establish Bureau to Win Back Worshippers
Wireless to the New York Times.

BERLIN, May 13. - "In Freethinkers Hall, which before the Nazi resurgence was the national headquarters of the German Freethinkers League, the Berlin Protestant church authorities have opened a bureau for advice to the public in church matters. Its chief object is to win back former churchgoers and assist those who have not previously belonged to any religious congregation in obtaining church membership.
The German Freethinkers League, which was swept away by the national revolution, was the largest of such organizations in Germany. It had about 500,000 members ..."

(New York Times, May 14, 1933, page 2, on Hitler's outlawing of atheistic and freethinking groups in Germany in the Spring of 1933, after the Enabling Act authorizing Hitler to rule by decree)

In Germany at the beginning of the 20th century Christianity was often profoundly anti-Semitic and nationalistic.
An important aspect of the Nazi state is that they did not invent anti-Semitism. Rather, the centuries of Christian anti-Semitism and extensive anti-Semitic theology in Germany’s Christian community produced the ground which the Nazis found so fertile for their own ideology. German Christianity even fostered a denial of the Jewishness of Jesus.  Nazi Christians didn’t abandon basic Christian doctrines such as the divinity of Jesus. They didn’t follow an idiosyncratic version of Christianity. Nor was it “infected” with hate and nationalism. Everything about Nazi Christianity already existed in German Christianity.
Like the Nazis, German religious leaders believed that Jewishness was more than just a religion, a position reinforced when they supplied the Nazis with baptismal and marriage records to help identify converted Jews for extermination.

Page from the anti-Semitic German children's book, "Der Giftpilz" (The Poisonous Mushroom) "When you see a cross, then think of the horrible murder by the Jews on Golgotha."

Although not true of everywhere in Germany, it should be recognised that Protestants were more attracted to Nazism than Catholics. But there was common ground between Nazism and German Catholics in anti-communism, anti-atheism, and anti-secularism.

The Christian church's ‘resistance’ to Nazism seldom extended beyond that which threatened it’s own activities.  They tolerated widespread violence against Jews, military rearmament, invasions of foreign nations, the banning labour unions, the imprisonment of political dissenters and the detention of people who had committed no crimes. The Nazi's euthanasia policy - the Aktion T4 program was the sole example of an action by the Nazi regime which provoked large-scale protests from the Christian Churches and the public.
Even before the Nazis came to power, the German eugenics movement had an extreme wing, led by Alfred Hoche and Karl Binding, who as early as 1920 had advocated killing those with lives judged to be "life unworthy of life" (lebensunwertes Leben). (Action T4)

They did so because they saw in Hitler someone who would restore traditional values and morality to Germany.

"Today Christians ... stand at the head of [this country]... I pledge that I never will tie myself to parties who want to destroy Christianity... We want to fill our culture again with the Christian spirit ... We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theatre, and in the press - in short, we want to burn out the *poison of immorality* which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of *liberal excess* during the past ... (few) years."
(The Speeches of Adolph Hitler, p. 871-872]

It was also important to the Nazis that education was founded on a strong Christian base. It was also a matter of utmost importance to the Catholic hierarchy, and agreed to by the Reich Concordat between the Nazis and the Vatican. Hitler went on in this chilling observation:

"Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith. From our point of view as representatives of the state, we need believing people. A dark cloud threatens from Poland. We have need of soldiers, believing solders. Believing solders are the most valuable ones. They give their all. Therefore we will maintain the confessional schools in order to train believing people through the schools, but this depends upon having truly believing teachers, not by chance Marxists who do not stand fully by their religious faith, as teachers." (Helmreich, p.241)

Traditional evaluation of Christian complicity in the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes - and to what degree Christians allowed themselves to be used for Nazi purposes, presupposes a distinction between Nazis and Christians which didn’t exist. Most Nazis were devout Christians and believed that Nazi philosophy was animated by Christian doctrine and as such they supported the Nazi agenda.
The actions of Hitler and the Nazis were as “Christian” as those during the Crusades or the Inquisition.

In a speech celebrating Germany's exit from the League of Nations, Hitler again maintained that the Third Reich was actively implementing a Christian agenda:

“Along with the fight for a purer morality we have taken upon ourselves the struggle against the decomposition of our religion. We have therefore taken up the struggle against the Godless movement, and not just with a few theoretical declarations; we have stamped it out.”

Several leading Nazis who preferred a neo-pagan theistic religion, a position never officially endorsed either by the Nazi Party or Adolf Hitler. Alfred Rosenberg favoured the creation of a new religion, but Hitler went so far as to threaten to take action against his book ‘Mythus’, which was banned by some lower-ranking party organizations. Himmler was obsessed with ancient Germans, which Hitler dismissed as ridiculous — and even Himmler insisted that Christian viewpoints be respected within the SS.
Pagan Nazis however, never pretended to be anything else — they never took a pro-Christian stance in public in order to win approval. When Nazis were pagan, they were unabashedly and enthusiastically so, without apology.

The churches of Germany on a Sunday morning were not filled by anti-Nazi Christians.

Hitler signing autograph for a Catholic nun

The Attempt to Refute Hitler’s Christianity

There were many Nazis who were anti-clerical rather than anti-Christian. And there were certainly non-Christian Nazis. Martin Bormann for example, was vehemently anti-Catholic. Yet it is Bormann who, in the main, those denying Hitler’s Christianity turn to for evidence that Hitler was ‘in fact’ an atheist.

It should be pointed out here that unlike primary sources such as “Mein Kampf”, his recorded speeches, proclamations, and letters personally written and signed by Hitler, this evidence is second hand.
It comes as quotes from ‘secondary sources’ such as the "Secret Conversations with Hitler", "Hitler - Memoirs of a Confidant", Albert Speer's “memoirs” and "Hitler's Table Talk” (also referred to as "Private Conversations"). And it is mostly from "Hitler's Table Talk” that opponents find ‘incontrovertible evidence’ that he could not have been a Christian. It is the only source where one can find Hitler, allegedly, denouncing religion to such a degree. The source usually comes from the English translation (from a French translation) edition by Norman Cameron and R. H. Stevens, with an introduction by H.R. Trevor-Roper

The veracity of any secondary sources should always be considered when weighing up any evidence. This is not to say that the evidence is in anyway corrupt because of it’s nature. Rather, that the nature of such evidence is open to corruption.
If, when balancing the evidence, primary and secondary sources conflict then weight must be given to the former.

As a secondary source notwithstanding, the evidence in the Cameron and Stevens edition of "Hitler's Table Talk” should be treated with caution.

There must always be question of reliability of multiple translations, in this case from German to French to English.
But, there are more serious questions that can be raised about this source. The English translation that was taken from Genoud’s French translation conflicts with the original German version.

The Historical Background to “Hitler’s Table Talk”.

It was Bormann's idea to record Hitler's thoughts. Hitler, who had previously refused to admit any mechanical recorder into his private room, reluctantly allowed Bormann to appoint two stenographers to record his thoughts during 1942–42.

They were: Heinrich Heim, a civil servant in the Reich Ministry of Justice, who recorded from 5th July 1941 to 20th March 1942 and, from 21st March 1942 until 31st July 1942, Dr. Henry Piker.
The record, whether taken by Heim or Picker, was passed to Bormann, who made two copies of his record. One was kept in the Fuhererbau in Munich and was burnt at the end of the war; the other was sent to the Berghof at Berchtesgaden and came ultimately into the hands of Genoud. It is this second copy of which the volume of Hitler's ‘Table Talk’ was translated.

In a facsimile written after the last of Hitler's recorded ‘Table Talk’s’, Bormann wrote a directive that stated:

"Please keep these notes most carefully, as they will be of very great value in the future. I have now got Heim to make comprehensive notes as a basis for these minutes. Any transcript which is not quite apposite will be re-checked by me."

Dr. Picker regarded his own recording as authentic and insisted that "no confidence can be placed in Bormann's editing of it." Indeed, he writes rather testily, of "Bormann's alterations, not authorised by me." (Trevor-Roper, p.viii)
Unfortunately, as far as is known, no unaltered version of either Dr. Picker's or Heim's recordings remain. All that there are the copies that were filtered by the anti-Catholic Bormann which may well reflect his bias.

Hitler’s Table Talk”.

In his introduction, Trevor-Roper, in arguing against Hitler's Christianity, provides a rather dubious reason for accepting “Hitler's Table Talk”:

"We must go direct to Hitler's personal utterances: not indeed to his letters and speeches-- these, though valuable, are too public, too formalised for such purposes-- but to his private conversations, his Table-Talk. Table-Talk, like notebooks, reveal the mind of a man far more completely, more intimately, than any formal utterance."

Bu, he fails to give a reason why this gives a more intimate look at a person. But more damaging to his reasoning is that they were not private. Hitler was aware that the scribes were there to give an account of him for future posterity. These were as public as any of Hitler's letters and pre-written speeches. It is unclear as to what sense these 'loose' conversations reveal more than letters and speeches?

Another reason to question the “Hitler’s Table Talk” is that the anti-Christian quotes do not appear in the German text. They are found only in the translation by Genoud, from which the English translation comes from. To ascribe this to error would be more than generous. They have to be considered as fabrications by Genoud.

Genoud was a Swiss banker who committed suicide in1996. He was a Nazi spy who laundered money for the Third Reich and a self-professed neo-Nazi even up to his death. He was a voracious purchaser and profiteer of Nazi archives, and an admitted financer of terrorists. It should be noted though, that he was not a supporter of the holocaust.

In a related incident, Genoud gave the World War II historian, David Irving, a copy of a complete typed manuscript. This was the alleged document of “Hitler's Last Testament” and supposedly a part of the “Hitler’s Table Talk”. Genoud later admitted to Irving that the entire typescript was his own concoction, saying: "But it is just what Hitler would have said, isn't it?"

If Genoud was prepared to pass off “Hitler's Last Testament” as genuine and more pertinently, as part of “Hitler’s Table Talk”, then this, along with the conflict between the German text of ‘talks’ and his translation, throws his work into serious doubt. It quite simply cannot be relied on. Any serious historian would be justified in considering the so called anti-Christian quotes in his translation to be fabrications.
There is more than hint of 'confirmation bias' in Christians accepting this evidence as proof of their assertions about Hitler.

What can be seen in the publications purporting to show that Hitler was anti-Christian is in fact criticisms of Church and various Christian dogmas.
He rails against the idea of a physical resurrection, favouring of a spiritual one, and takes a very cynical view of Catholicism. But he is voicing many of the same criticisms one might hear from a candid (and perhaps bigoted) Protestant. But, he makes it clear that he believes in God, Christ, the immortality of the soul, and divine providence. For instance, on 27 February 1942 Hitler is quoted as saying: "The most marvellous proof of the superiority of Man, which puts man ahead of the animals, is the fact that he understands that there must be a Creator,"

The reasoning of apologists, in regards to the “Hitler’s Table Talk”, seems to be that because Hitler spoke against organised religion, then he must therefore be anti-Christian.
A Christian is simply a person who believes in God and Jesus in some form or manner. To imply that criticism a particular denomination of Christianity is to be anti-Christian is a false implication that nullifies the argument.
If simply speaking against a Christian religion were enough to oust one from Christianity, then some of the most influential Christians would have to reside with Hitler.

"The papacy is truly the real power and tyranny of the Antichrist.... As beautiful as it was to keep a state of virginity, in the early days of Christianity, so abominable has it now become, when it is used as a means of eliciting Christ's help and grace.""
Martin Luther (Luther's Confession, March 1528)

We maintain that the government of the Church was converted into a species of foul and insufferable tyranny.". 
John Calvin (The Necessity of Reforming the Church, 1544)

If we used the logic of the apologists against Hitler, then we should remove Luther, Calvin, and many other prominent people from membership of Christianity.

What can be seen in “Hitler’s Table Talk”, and what people such as Ratzinger and Donahue consciously avoid is Hitler’s confirmation of his Christianity.
It cannot be used as evidence for his anti-Christianity.

When he expresses his views on the future he says:
“I envisage the future, therefore, as follows: First of all, to each man his private creed. Superstition shall not lose its rights. The Party is sheltered from the danger of competing with the religions.”

Nor can it be used to argue for an atheist Hitler:
“We don't want to educate anyone in atheism.” (p. 6)

Nor can the Table-Talk be used to argue for a pagan Hitler:
“It seems to me that nothing would be more foolish than to re-establish the worship of Wotan. Our old mythology had ceased to be viable when Christianity implanted itself.” (p. 61)

Hitler greets Müller the "Bishop of the Reich" and Abbot Schachleitner

Secondary Sources

As mentioned, all of this is evidence from a secondary source. But if that is acceptable to those who deny Hitler’s Christianity there are more:

“If anyone can lay claim to God's help, then it is Hitler, for without God's benevolent fatherly hand, without his blessing, the nation would not be where it stands today. It is an unbelievable miracle that God has bestowed on our people.”
Minister Rust, in a speech to a mass meeting of German Christians on June 29, 1933 (Helmreich, p. 138)

Even the Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich who visited Hitler at his mountain retreat in Obersalzburg confessed:
“Without a doubt the chancellor lives in faith in God. He recognizes Christianity as the foundation of Western culture”. {Helmreich, p.279}

And on Hitler's allegiance to his "true" Christian spirit:

“I do not remember even a single occasion when Hitler gave any instructions that ran counter to the true Christian spirit and to humanness.”
(Wagener, ”Hitler- Memoirs of a Confidant, p.147)

Christians may not like acknowledging that Nazi actions might have anything to do with Christianity, but Germany saw itself as a fundamentally Christian nation and millions of Christians in Germany enthusiastically endorsed Hitler and the Nazi Party in part because they saw both as embodiments of both German and Christian ideals.

"I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so"
[Adolph Hitler, to Gen. Gerhard Engel, 1941]

The evidence shows that Hitler was a Christian. But it would be ludicrous to demand that Christians should apologise for his and the Nazi's actions. Only those who commit crimes and those who aid and abet them to escape punishment should apologise. Smokescreen tactics such as such as those of Ratzinger and the Catholic League only highlight the problems within their Church.

The Christian churches of Germany were not empty on a Sunday. Neither were they filled with anti-Nazi Christians.
But, one things for sure. They were not filled with atheists. 

Was Catholic Hitler"Anti-Christian"? On the Trail of Bogus Quotes By Richard C. Carrier
Pope Benedict XVI: A Biography of Joseph Ratzinger, John L. Allen Jr.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

UK is a "Third World country" Says Persecuted German Cardinal

Cardinal Walter Kasper, 77, one of the Pope's senior advisers has pulled out of the papal visit to Britain, after reportedly saying the UK is a "Third World country" marked by "a new and aggressive atheism". He made the remarks in a German magazine interview.

The Vatican curiously said the cardinal had not intended "any kind of slight", and was referring to the UK's multicultural society.
So, he arrives at Heathrow, sees a lot of black people and thinks: “For fuck’s sake this looks like the third world’
According to the Vatican, what he was actually doing was associating ethnicity with economic development. Perhaps this sort of racism shouldn’t surprise us, whether it comes from a 77 year-old German or his apologists in Rome.

In my experience, “Third World” countries are recognisable, not so much by the ethnic make-up of the population but rather, by the power wielded in those countries by religion.

Perhaps Kasper might want to visit the favelas of Brazil, a country where there is a nominal devotion to his church of 74% of the population. There he will be spared the “aggressive atheism”. Thus allowing plenty of time to ponder the success of his Church in keeping the rich in power and vast majority of it’s followers locked in a hopeless life of grinding poverty with the promise of pie in the sky when they die.

Christ the Redeemer on the Corcovado mountain rises above a favela, or slum, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  Photograph: Douglas Engle/Australfoto
Whoever Christ is redeeming from his lofty perch above Rio de Janeiro, it’s certainly not those in the favelas.

He also was reported to have criticised British Airways, saying that when you wear a cross on the airline "you are discriminated against".
In what way, I wonder, does this manifest itself?
Do the stewards in ‘Business Class’ actually say things like:
“You’re getting fuck-all champagne, because you’re a Christian.”
He has to tell us more. Lest some amongst us think that he is going down the old road of validation through persecution, a staple of religion.

Alas, Kasper will not now be visiting the UK. We are told that he has gout.
Now there are many reasons why one can have gout. But, there are some things the good Cardinal can do to relieve the symptoms.
Cut out the rich food and fortified wines. And exercise his body a bit more than he does his brain.

The term ‘Third World’ was actually coined by French demographer, anthropologist and historian Alfred Sauvy in an article in the French magazine L’Obsevateur, in 1952, as a ‘Cold War’ reference to those countries that were not aligned to either the NATO/capitalist  ‘first world’ or the Warsaw Pact/communist ‘second world’.
Today the term is used colloquially to describe the poorest countries in the world.

See more of Douglas Engle's photographs here.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Blair: A Prophet without Honour in His Own Land

The journey of the 'Blessed Anthony of Blair', Patron Saint of Liars and the Lord of Delusions, has clearly been one that has left him without any capacity to reason at all. Moaning about Scotland in his latest epistle to the gullible he says:
"I always thought it extraordinary; I was born in Scotland, my parents were raised there, we had lived there, I had been to school there, yet somehow - and this is the problem with nationalist sentiment unleashed - they (notice the 'they'] contrived me to feel alien."

Now, in Scotland we wouldn’t dream of applying Norman Tebbit’s ‘cricket test’. We do though; have the ‘football test’.
Blair told us that he would support Scotland as long as they were playing anyone but England. And the oil-slick made this crystal clear when telling us all that, he would be supporting England when they played Scotland in the 1996 European Football Championship.

Whether or not he came to this decision after consulting his god is not known.
It might be that there was more political mileage in going with England. Labour tends to take their support in Scotland for granted.
Maybe he wanted to be English.
Either way, he made the choice. To blame the feelings of the Scots towards him on some rising tide of nationalism is yet another example of this man’s inability to take responsibility for anything. Remember he prayed to his god before committing the country to war with Iraq. So his imaginary friend will have to take some of the blame for that one.
A lot of Scots didn’t like you because they saw through you and recognised what you really stood for.
There has never been any great clamour in Scotland to claim this man as one of their own. And I’m pretty sure the English never wanted to make such a claim either. 

So, cut out the bollocks Tony and bugger off back to the country which you really love the most. The USA.  

It’s the Unionists That Have Been Running Scared

It’s hard to see how it is the SNP that are running scared. Apart from Wendy Alexander who, when she Labour leader for five minutes, challenged the nationalists to “bring it on” and got a right bollocking from London, all the Unionist parties have continually said that they don’t want this referendum.
Various reasons have been given over the years. The latest from Iain Grey is that, thanks to the Labour Government’s catastrophic mishandling of the UK economy, there are more important things to be getting on with. Previous to this it was some other problem caused by Labour. Never has the reason been given that the Unionist parties might actually be scared of losing that referendum.
And this is strange.
One would imagine that the combined might of the Unionists: Labour, the Tories, the Lib-Dems, the BNP, the Orange Order, the Daily Record, the Scotsman, the BBC, etc, etc, etc, might actually be enough to give Alex Salmond a run for his money.
So why not put their money where their North British mouths are.
After all, when it comes to the Scottish Elections, all the forces of the Union are wheeled out to defeat the SNP.
Ah, but it didn’t work last time.
Tory bedfellows, Lib-Dems have said fighting the election on the grounds of independence would be "welcome territory".
Methinks that they will have more to worry about – having to somehow climb out of the grave they dug for themselves when they joined the Tories in the coalition.
Had they voted for the referendum and then won, it’s hard to see how this could have done anything to help the nationalist’s position.
Losing the vote aside, what really worries the Unionists is that unless can deliver a crushing defeat to the Nationalists in a referendum then they can’s win. A narrow victory would show the country split and force the likes of Grey and Scott would to admit that that Union might not be all that they say it is.

And that’s why they’ve been running scared.