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Hitler and religion

I’ve covered this topic before, but it’s a fun topic—so I’m going to do it again (rather like the History Channel, you can never have too much Hitler content). I think my analysis on this issue is correct, but the topic is so controversial that I don’t expect it ever to become the standard view—for the left, it’s imperative to demonstrate Hitler was a Christian; for the Christians, it’s imperative to demonstrate Hitler was an atheist (and/or a neo-pagan); and for the neo-Nazis, it’s imperative to demonstrate Hitler was a neo-pagan. The passions just run too high for anyone to give up their favourite position.

You can find many pronouncements by Hitler—official and unofficial, well-sourced or sketchy—about religion; and, further, you can evaluate the actual actions his government undertook as regards religion (although leaders, as is obvious, do not usually ram their personal religious views down the collective throat of the population—even if they are authoritarian, consent does matter).

However, the simplest way to deal with Hitler’s religious beliefs is to consider that aspect to his life that everyone agrees was most important to him: namely, Wagner. There is complete agreement that Wagner was central to Hitler’s life—no controversy there. Indeed, Hitler even said that to him Wagner was a religion—so, really, when it comes to “Hitler’s religion” we only have to ask, “What did Wagner believe?”.

Wagner’s religion is Christianised paganism with Buddhistic influences—so there we have it, that is what Hitler believed. Wagner works with Indo-Aryan myths, such as the Holy Grail, and works with them in a Christian idiom—a few Buddhistic themes are added in. So as far as I’m concerned that’s it for Hitler’s religious beliefs—everybody knows he was a fanatic for Wagner, spent extensive time at Bayreuth, spent time with the Wagner family. Wagner was intrinsic to his identity from his earliest years—he watched Wagner live, he listened to Wagner on the gramophone, he extolled Wagner to his friends and political allies.

So Hitler was a Pagan-Christian—whereas we could say Catholics are Romano-Christians and modern Americans Judeo-Christians. The pagan content was primary—the racial content, you might say; and yet it was delivered in a Christian idiom (with a Buddhistic tinge). That feels about right to me—it explains why Hitler was neither a fervent Catholic, per his upbringing, nor was he a neo-pagan (he liked to rein Himmler back from his neo-pagan enthusiasms).

As a psephological fact, Hitler’s greatest appeal was in Germany’s Protestant regions—hence he was cast as a Luther figure, right down to the anti-Jewish attitude; and, indeed, the move to Protestantism does contain a “pagan moment”, in the Hegelian sense, in that it reclaims the nation as the vehicle for religion as opposed to the supra-national Romano-Catholic empire.

Hence I do not think if Hitler had won the war it would have been “the end of Christianity in Europe”—if Hitler won the war, Wagner would have been extolled and celebrated everywhere. To understand Wagner, you must understand the Christian story—Wagner just doesn’t make sense without it. Hence I cannot imagine Hitler would have extirpated Christianity; every child would have had to have some Christian education to understand Wagner.

Indeed, I think Christianity would be in a stronger position today if Hitler had won the war—certainly the Allies, though in alliance with Stalin, used Christian rhetoric against Hitler; and yet, in essence, the post-war dispensation was secular and socialistic—and in many European countries Christianity is now de facto illegal and churches are quietly burned down (it is a deliberate move by the left—and it’s global).

Under Hitlerism, there could be no doubt that Christianity would have remained important—although it may have been attenuated in a more pagan direction; and yet I cannot imagine that it would become as it is today in many countries where, for example, the LGBT flag is flown outside churches, even though it contradicts all established Christian values (the swastika, by the way, appeared in churches long before Hitler arrived—if you think to fly a swastika flag outside a church negates Christian values).

You might jump up and show me a picture of a Catholic priest who died in a concentration camp—or a Jehovah’s Witness. However, I think you have to be cautious—the Churches are not homogenous blobs, and to have one representative die in a camp does not necessarily represent policy (from the Church in question, or Hitler). Hence I once met a Catholic priest who was a paid up and active member of the Communist Party—that might seem irrational, contradictory, and impossible but that’s what man is like (and, as it happened, his superiors allowed it—even his overt activism for Cuba, a country that persecutes Catholics).

The point is that people from the different Christian denominations can have divergent political views, even the priests can have divergent political views—just as the Polish Home Army persecuted Jews, led Jewish partisans into situations where they were killed; and yet the Polish Home Army was anti-Hitler (and Stalin, for that matter)—and yet they were anti-Jewish too, to an extent; and that’s because WWII, especially in “the blood lands”, wasn’t simply about the Jewish issue and can’t easily be carved into “goodies” and “baddies”—and if you look at the politics of the Ukraine, the current controversy around Stepan Bandera, you soon see this is so.

Further, although Catholic priests and dissident Protestants who died under Hitler are often shown to us to support the narrative “atheist neo-pagan Hitler”, what is not shown are the neo-pagans who were persecuted and killed under Hitler—and that’s because it wasn’t “atheist pagan” Hitler against Christianity, nor Christian Hitler against the working classes; no, it was Hitler, a leader, who made decisions to enforce his rule—against political Catholics, Protestants, and neo-pagans who challenged him (along with secular liberals and Communists).

The persecution wasn’t necessarily a religious policy and often related to that individual’s political stand—for every dissident you can find another person from the same faith who was loyal to Hitler (many more than the dissidents, in fact—as is always the case).

Political movements and religions often come to seem homogeneous to us in retrospect—are presented that way for political reasons. Yet all political parties are coalitions, composed from recognisable factions—as are all man’s organisations, including Churches.

To put it the other way round: Stalin’s primary victims were Communists—a follower of Trotsky may well claim that makes Stalin “anti-Marxist” but the truth is that “Marxism” and “Christianity” are broad concepts with factions that war with each other and about which, since here we speak of values, there cannot be any objective agreement; especially as regards who is the “true Christian” or the “true Communist”.

In short, you can show me a Catholic priest who died in a concentration camp but that does not support “Hitler was anti-Christian” or even “Catholics resisted Hitler”—what you see is one man’s conscience in operation, just as with the astrologers and neo-pagans Hitler locked up.

So far as I’m concerned Hitler’s religion was Christianised paganism with Buddhistic influences, not channeled through any formal Church but expressed in Wagner’s music—and, indeed, since religion means in essence to harmonise oneself with a higher power it could be said that Bayreuth was Hitler’s church, and it was there he communed with those harmonies that linked him to a higher power.


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