Thursday, 1 April 2010

'Hitler was a Roman Catholic' - Guest Post

I thought it appropriate to publish Edward's guest post this morning as it extends the discussion regarding religion. May I thank all of you who contributed to the last post. Several readers have emailed me and mentioned the high quality of the comments, while others wished to express their sympathy with wisnaeme.

“Hitler was a Roman Catholic”

One often hears this bandied about in Protestant circles but nobody ever says “Stalin was Russian Orthodox” although he actually was a seminarian. Hitler seems to have cast off all religious belief whilst still at Linz grammar school where, he claimed, he first felt a sense of his special destiny.

To understand his formation it is necessary to understand something of the political attitudes amongst the German-speaking people in the racial pressure cooker of the old Austrian Empire. Whilst these were complex, they fell roughly into three groups -

The Clerical Party

traditional Roman Catholics, loyal to the Emperor and to their role in the multi-racial Habsburg state where the Imperial anthem was available in fourteen official languages.

The Social Democrats

ranging from Marxists to people more like today's Social Democrats, not unwilling to co-operate with fellow socialists from other racial groups.

The German Nationals and Pan Germans

This is the grouping to which Hitler adhered from an early age. They wanted the German-speaking territories to secede and join the German Reich, ruled from Berlin. Much of their ideology was distinctly anti-Roman Catholic. Some were New Age style pagans advocating a “pure” German religion. Others started a “Los von Rom” (free from Rome) movement, encouraging their members to become Lutheran, so that they would get on better with the Prussians.

Hitler was greatly influenced by a group led by a man called Schoenerer who called himself “Fuehrer” and introduced “Heil” as the German greeting to do away with the usual polite Austrian greeting “Gruess Gott” (God greet you) precisely because it was Christian. He also wanted to dispense with the commonly used expression “Servus” (at your service) because it was Latin – and, in any case, Germans shouldn't be anybody's servants!

Whilst they intended to do away with all forms of Christianity, the Nazis were marginally more keen on Luther who had objected to the German people being the “milch cow of Rome” in the 16th century scandals of indulgences and collections of “Peter's Pence”

Their chief ideologue, Alfred Rosenberg, made things very plain in “The Myth of the 20th Century”

“The idea of honour – national honour – is for us the beginning and the end of our entire thinking and doing. It does not admit of any equal-valued centre of force alongside it, no matter of what kind, neither Christian love nor Free-Masonic humanity, nor the Roman philosophy”.

As a supra-national organisation the Roman Church entered into a Concordat with the Nazis which, like all their other treaties, they promptly dishonoured as fast as the ink dried. With no outside base the Lutheran Church, grounded in the Reformation settlement of “cujus regio, eius religio” (the religion of the ruler is the religion of the state), was even less institutionally able to withstand the storm. The blood of many martyrs, lay and clerical, of both confessions bears witness to great individual faithfulness.

Translations of original documents in my possession show a very determined campaign to destroy Church influence, particularly among young people in the name of “inclusivity” and “non discrimination” between members of the German racial community. These have rather a topical ring amongst today's determined official attempts to banish religion to a purely private sphere and dictate the school curriculum, even in Church schools.

“We cannot recognise that the Church has a right to ensure that the individual should be educated in all respects in the way in which it holds to be right. We must leave it to the National Socialist state to educate the child in the way it regards as right”.

( Church Affairs Minister Kerrl, Speech at Fulda 27 November 1937)

The propaganda war was vicious indeed and the most scurrilous and vile cartoons and lampoons were directed against the Roman Church, particularly against Cardinal Pacelli, later PiusXII.

A German friend, who read Protestant Theology with a view to the Ministry, tells me he is now convinced that Roman Catholics on average were more steadfast in their witness than average Lutherans but he adds “I'm still not sure about the Vatican”.

Edward Spalton


Anonymous said...
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Mr Eugenides said...

What 惠蘋 said.

William said...

"One often hears this bandied about in Protestant circles"

That's true. We make a point of bringing it up every Sunday. Our minister has even suggested getting T-shirts made.

What a joke.

subrosa said...

I notice the words 'cleansing' and movie in the Chinese writing Mr E so think it may not be quite appropriate. :)

Dean MacKinnon-Thomson said...

I personally hugely admire the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Not regarding its autocratic centre; but for what it represented- a state which overcame [for a time] the ruthlessness of nationalisms and nation-state doctrines.

I find that the Habsburg state demonstrated the human potential in drawing together, as much as the dangers of inflexability concerning change.

Edward Spalton said...

I wrote this article for the strongly Protestant British Church Newspaper and they printed it this week. Some of my fellow eurosceptics of evangelical Protestant persuasion hold these views. I also wrote a very similar article in response to a book review in the ultra traditional Roman Catholic periodical Christian Order and it was printed too.

Considerable research shows that there were Nazi blueprints for "Europaeische Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft" (European Economic Community), launched in Summer 1940 by Reichsminister Walther Funk. Book of the same name published 1942 in Berlin. Funk was also minister for post war planning.The first president of the EEC Commission, Dr Hallstein had been a member of six Nazi rganisations, according to strong but not "beyond all reasonable doubt" evidence.

The heir to the Habsburg empire, Dr Otto von Habsburg was a leading light in "Pan Europa", as was Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVIth.
Different threads feed into the EU project and this was part of an effort to disentangle them.

Considering what followed, the Habsburg empire was not too bad. Yet it was the highly civilised, bone-headed, supra-national ministers of the Austro Hungarian Empire who launched the First World War. Their attitudes strike me as nearer to the EU Commission of today than anything else.

subrosa said...

Thank you for your contribution Edward. Much appreciated.

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