Uncommon Sense

April 23, 2021

You Learn Something New . . . about Nazis . . . Every Day

Filed under: Culture,History,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:45 am
Tags: , ,

I have been reading an interesting book “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933–45” by Milton Mayer which I have commented on before. Most recently (I am a little over half way through), I learned something that contradicted claims I have made. In the past I responded to the claim that the Nazi movement was atheistic by denying that claim outright. I countered with the facts that Hitler was a Catholic and never renounced his religion and the SS belt buckle emblazoned with “Gott Mit Uns,” that is “God is with us” or, as we like to say, God is on our side, und so weiter.

Well, according to the actual Nazis interviewed in this book (in the 1950s), I was “somewhat wrong.” In the early days the Nazi leadership did not pick fights with the churches in Germany. Not that they would have gotten much of a fight; Germany’s churches were state churches supported by taxes and so were more than a little lax in their duties to parishioners.

But after a while, maybe 1940 onward, the Nazi regime started shifting to a stance of not a state-sponsored religion but a religion of the state, the Nazi’s own religion designed to take the place of the pre-existing religions, which would have been eventually banned out of existence. (Their plans extended to “after the war.”)

Of course, the Nazi leadership ran into a little hiccup, actually two: the Red Army in the east and the “Allied Forces” in the west and their plans never came to fruition.

Now, I must clarify, that the Nazis weren’t even thinking of creating an “atheistic” religion. Religion is too powerful as a tool to throw away its most powerful bits. They were designing a new religion in which the God was a thinly disguised stand-in for the German state or the German people. So, not atheistic except in the sense that your god is kinda-sorta being rejected. (Remember that Christians were considered atheists because they refused to recognize the other gods in the Roman panoply.)

So, I stand corrected . . . somewhat. :o)

4 Comments »

  1. Sidenote: Churches are still supported by the church tax in Germany (and several other countries in Europe). About three quarters of the income for Catholic, protestant churches and Jewish synagogues comes from a withholding tax levied against the income of members of the church/synagogue. If you are listed as a member of the religious organization, you’re in a government database used by the tax office. It’s a sort of tax on your taxes. If your income tax was $10,000, an additional 8%, or $800 would be added to your total tax bill for a total of $10,800, $800 of which would go to your church.

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    Comment by grouchyfarmer — April 23, 2021 @ 10:39 pm | Reply

    • The coimments from the Nazis interviewed indicated that they thought the clergy were lazy and satisfied living off of the dole, as it were. This is also a way that the secular government controls the churches. Get out of line and the money spigot gets turned off. This is why I am so surprised that so many want a state religion in the US. It would mean state control of religion, as in when is the last time you heard the Church of England acting up?

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — April 24, 2021 @ 7:57 am | Reply

      • I don’t understand that either. The most vocal proponents of a “Christian America” belong to a multitude of different christian sects, most of which have extreme differences in theology from one to another. They want a “Christian America”, but *which* Christianity? The Catholics can’t stand the Lutherans, the Lutherans don’t like most of the other Protestant sects. Protestants are far from united, theologically speaking, with dozens, even hundreds of splinter groups continually squabbling with one another.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by grouchyfarmer — April 24, 2021 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

        • Yep. When I hear an evangelical type promoting Chrsitian America nonsense, I exclaim “What, you want Catholicism to be the official religion?! I’m shocked!” After them stammer some response I point out that Catholicism is the most prominent religion in the US by numbers. When they mumble a bit more I add “But wait, the “Nones” have exceeded the Catholics in numbers so I guess we should just stick with what we have.” He he he he …

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — April 25, 2021 @ 11:56 am | Reply


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