Monday, July 10, 2006
The short answer is no, he was not exactly either.
Adolf Hitler was a politician, not a theologian. He never spoke or wrote publicly about religion at length. But he did believe in a god and in an eternal soul. For example, here are three interesting quotes:
Mein Kampf Volume 1, Chapter 8: “What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and reproduction of our race and our people, the sustenance of our children and the purity of our blood, the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the creator of the universe."
Mein Kampf Volume 1, Chapter 11: “Peoples which bastardize themselves, or let themselves be bastardized, sin against the will of eternal Providence”
My Political Testament: “By their [Bormann, Goebbels, etc.] work and loyal companionship they will remain as close to me after my death as I hope my spirit will continue to dwell among them and accompany them always.”
I think it is fair to say that Hitler was a theist, however not in the traditional Western sense of the word. I don’t believe he had any respect for the Bible, except for some of the anti-Semitic portions of the New Testament. He showed respect for Christianity in general only when and if it was politically correct to do so. I don’t believe, and correct me if I am wrong, that there is any credible record of him ever praying as an adult, even in the Berlin bunker shortly before his death.
I think that it would be most correct to say that Hitler’s religion was naturalistic pantheism and Darwinism.
Hitler seemed to have believed in a sort of impersonal god of nature who wanted all life to achieve the greatest perfection possible through struggle, conflict, extermination of the weak and success of the strong. This, combined with German nationalism and anti-Semitism, was the essence of Nazism. Apparently, his god was the Darwinian force of nature. Hitler, while not exactly an atheist, was a post-Christian European.
Mein Kampf volume 1 Chapter 10: “Let me explain: Man must not fall into the error of thinking that he was ever meant to become lord and master of Nature. A lopsided education has helped to encourage that illusion. Man must realize that a fundamental law of necessity reigns throughout the whole realm of Nature and that his existence is subject to the law of eternal struggle and strife. He will then feel that there cannot be a separate law for mankind in a world in which planets and suns follow their orbits, where moons and planets trace their destined paths, where the strong are always the masters of the weak and where those subject to such laws must obey them or be destroyed. Man must also submit to the eternal principles of this supreme wisdom. He may try to understand them but he can never free himself from their sway.”
What we must learn from Hitler is the danger which lies both in Christianity, which was surely the source of Hitler’s anti-Semitism, and Darwinism, which was the source of his contempt for human life and his belief in the positive value of mass murder.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 12:18 PM