It comes up time and time again in online forums and blog comments. Somebody, usually a christian, mentions that atheism caused WW2 and Communism. While I may do another post later on Communism and Stalin, this one is directed at that first point (Hitler and Nazi Germany).
Essentially what I hope to answer is: “Was Hitler, and by extension the Nazi party, an atheist; and were the actions of the Third Reich the natural result of “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea”?”
Before I get too far into this though, I want to make clear, this is not intended to be the end-all be-all on this discussion, it is merely intended to show enough to refute the claim that atheism was in any possible way, responsible for the actions of the Nazi party. You may have your own quotes or bits of information that you feel refute these claims here, and if so, great. We can look over your evidence, and see if it shows a conflicted view of history, or if it actually “debunks” the claims I am making.
I’d like to start off with a small handful of quotes from Adolf Hitler, on the subjects of religion, faith, god, etc…
- Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord. – Mein Kampf p.65
- This human world of ours would be inconceivable without the practical existence of a religious belief. The great masses of a nation are not composed of philosophers. For the masses of the people, especially faith is absolutely the only basis of a moral outlook on life. The various substitutes that have been offered have not shown any results that might warrant us in thinking that they might usefully replace the existing denominations. …There may be a few hundreds of thousands of superior men who can live wisely and intelligently without depending on the general standards that prevail in everyday life, but the millions of others cannot do so. – Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 10
- Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have 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. – Adolf Hitler, in 26 April 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordant of 1933
- “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.” – from John Toland [Pulitzer Prize winner], Adolf Hitler, p. 507
- “The anti-Semitism of the new [Christian Social] movement was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge.” – Mein Kampf, p. 119
Clearly these quotes (along with countless others) show Hitler at least publicly showed respect for religion, god, religious beliefs, etc…
Many have made the claim that Hitler said these types of things publicly in print and speeches in order to win over the masses of followers he would need ot control Germany and put his plans into action. And while this is certainly possible, something being possible is obviously not proof (t’s possible that I have a winning lottery ticket in my pocket right now, that does not mean I should go out and spend money on pointless crap with no thought about thinking about how I will pay the bills later).
Now obviously I have only focused on Hitler there, because as the leader of Nazi Germany, he was the most visible person associated with Nazi Germany; but there were many other high ranking officials who made their thoughts clear on the subject of religion; including Goebbels, Hess, Himler, and others.
- “Bolshevism denies religion as a principle, fundamentally and entirely. It recognizes religion only as an “opium for the people”. For the help and support of religious belief, however, National Socialism absolutely places in the foreground of its programme a belief in God and that transcendental idealism which has been destined by Nature to bring to expression the racial soul of a nation.” – Joseph Goebbels, “Communism with the Mask Off”
- “No matter what human beings do I shall some day stand before the judgement seat of the Eternal. I shall answer to Him, and I know he will judge me innocent.” – Rudolf Hess, in a statement to the Nuremberg Tribunal
- British historian Peter Longerich recently published a 1035-page study on Himmler quoting, inter alia, from documents in the German Federal Archives in Berlin (“Bundesarchiv Berlin”). Longerich quotes Himmler as saying in November 1944 that Islam is “a practical and sympathetic religion for soldiers.” “It promises that those who fall in battle will go to heaven.”
Now I would like to end my “evidence” with the “Hitler Oath” that German soldiers took:
I swear by God,
this holy oath,
to the Führer of the German Reich and people.
(Source: Hitler: Tyrant of Terror, shown on the History Channel)
Now this is in no way “proves” one way or the other the true beliefs of men who can not speak for themselves, but at the very least it calls into question, and probably “debunks” the idea of Hitler as an atheist, or the Nazi party as being based on atheist ideas…
Many other websites have covered this topic as well, here is a BRIEF summary of some of the ones I stumbled across while putting together this post, that you may find interesting.