Totalitarian systems are militantly Christophobic. The comments to some of my articles on the dangers of materialism or the ignorance of atheism try to prove that religion is as dangerous to goodness as atheism repeat the false "fact" that "Hitler was a Catholic." This is utterly untrue. Moreover, all Nazism was viciously Christophobic as well as Judeophobic.
My American Thinker article of November 2007 covers some of the evidence found in old books about the hate all Nazis felt toward Christianity. My book, Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity, covers many more documentary sources that reveal Nazi persecution of Christianity and Christianity's lonely war against Nazism. Many writers at the time noted that Christianity was the only force resisting the Nazis in Europe.
Indeed, there were many books about the Nazi persecution of Christianity and hatred of religion published before the Second World War began with titles like The Nazi Persecution of the Catholic Church in the Third Reich and The Nazi Persecution of Christianity and The War against God and Nazism versus Religion.
Hundreds of authors writing before and during the Second World War saw Nazism and Christianity as mortal enemies. These authors were Christians – both Catholics and Protestants – and Jews and agnostics. They were on the right and on the left. They were Frenchmen and Germans and Poles and Americans and Britons. The convenient rewriting of history that invents out of whole cloth the notion that Christianity and Nazism were in any way linked runs utterly contrary to the historical record of the time.
But were any leading Nazis Christians in any sense of the word? Emphatically, no. Consider first Hitler himself. John Gunther noted as early as 1935 that "Hitler was born and brought up as a Roman Catholic. But he lost his faith early and attends no religious services of any kind[.] ... On being formed his government almost immediately began a fierce religious war against Catholics, Protestants, and Jews alike."
Hitler before the Nazis came to power described himself to Martin Niemoller as "pagan to the core." Hitler stated, "Antiquity was better than modern times because it did not know Christianity and syphilis." In 1937, Goslin wrote in his book on church and state that "Hitler himself has openly stated the necessity of making war on Christianity in his autobiography called Mein Kampf." The next year, Hitler said: "[O]ur whole deformity and atrophy of spirit and soul would never have come into being except for this oriental mummery, this abominable leveling mania, this cursed universality of Christianity."
Virtually every other Nazi leader – Hess, Goering, Himmler, Goebbels, Rosenberg, von Shirach, Streicher, and Bormann – expressed a profound disdain and hatred for Christianity. This was translated into action within the Third Reich in many ways and at many levels. All Catholic schools in the Catholic parts of Germany were closed. Thousands of Protestant and Catholic clergymen were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
Parents were notified that their children could not be given biblical names or the names of Christian martyrs. The calendar was paganized under the Nazis, removing Christianity from it entirely. Boys were more or less compelled to join the Hitler Youth, which was violently opposed to Christianity and which disrupted church services and desecrated religious symbols. Its members sang songs with these lyrics: "Let Christ rot – and the Hitler Youth march." The National Socialist Student Union in 1935 declared: "We discard not only the hundreds of various Christianities, but Christianity itself[.] ... Even the Christians who have the honorable will to serve the folk – and there are such – must be fought."
The brave opposition of Christians to Nazism, and especially Nazi persecution of Jews, was widely applauded by Jewish leaders at the time. In 1934, Rabbi Stephen Wise wrote: "Hitlerism challenges civilization insofar as it is in truth the substitution of a new paganism, the paganism over which Christianity once triumphed, for Christianity itself[.] ... I thank God that in America and England above all and in other lands as well, the voices of Christians have been heard in protest against the unutterable wrongs of Hitlerism against the Jewish people."
In 1938, Rabbi Morris Lazaron wrote: "Never in history has organized Protestantism throughout the world bestirred itself so in defense of the Jew and to protect the Jew. More Catholic leaders than ever before have lifted their voices in condemnation of the racial fixation that dictators have used to bait the Jew[.] ... No more glorious page is being written in Christian history than that which Christianity is writing in Germany today. Christianity may yet be the rock on which the German dictatorship will destroy itself."
Albert Einstein, during the war, wrote: "Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing the truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration for it because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual and moral freedom."
I could go on, for dozens of pages and hundreds of quotes, but the historical record is quite clear: Nazis hated and feared Christianity as much as any totalitarian regimes in modern history. Soviets, by the way, hated and feared Jews and Judaism about as much as the Nazis did. These two great religions have proven indigestible to all great evils.