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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Hitler's Neopaganism and Anti-Christianity

Prisoners of a Nazi concentration camp

The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity... Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things...

The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death... When understanding of the universe has become widespread... Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity... Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity... And that's why someday its structure will collapse... The only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little...

Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery...

I realize that man, in his imperfection, can commit innumerable errors - but to devote myself deliberately to errors, that is something I cannot do. I shall never come personally to terms with the Christian lie. Our epoch in the next 200 years will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.
Who said this? It sounds very much like Richard Dawkins, with its reference to evolution and science ("When understanding of the universe has become widespread") as antithetical forces to Christianity, not to mention its prediction of the latter's death.

The literary style isn't quite his, though. Sounds more baroque and archaic.

In fact it was said between 1941 and 1944, by a certain Adolf Hitler, and is found in Hitler's Table Talk 1941-1944: His Private Conversations (Amazon USA) (Amazon UK) .

One of the myriad unfounded accusations levelled at Christianity these days is the claim that Hitler was a Christian. The reality is that he was not a Christian at all, but very close to paganism.

Paganism is a generic umbrella term that encompasses various and different beliefs of pre-Christian European peoples, from classical Roman and Greek to Norse and Germanic.

Although Europe's paganism was replaced by Christianity, it did not die. In the 16th and 17th centuries some European thinkers began to rediscover paganism.

To its rebirth contributed in particular the philosophers of the Enlightenment, the movement of thought whose political result was the French Revolution. The French revolutionaries inspired by the Jakobin ideology made use of signs of pagan mythology.

The Jacobins, leaders of "The Terror", the bloodiest period of the French Revolution, were influenced by neopaganism and hated Christianity. Before Nazism, they first embodied the connections between neopagan ideas and violence.

They propagated a widespread rejection of Christianity, and establiahed a new "religion of reason", based on pagan symbols rather than Christianity.

Neopaganism also played a big role in 20th-century violent ideologies like Nazism and fascism. The American historian Gene Edward Veith, in his book Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judaeo-Christian Worldview (Amazon USA) (Amazon UK) , defined fascism thus:
Fascism is the modern world's nostalgia for paganism. It is a sophisticated culture's revolt against God.
From an early age Adolf Hitler had a lifelong passion for pagan legends, which explains his obsession with Richard Wagner's music, with its "only grandiose themes" of "gods and heroes". Wagner's operas are said to have had a profound, almost religious effect on the Fuhrer.

Not only Hitler, but also many of his associates were fascinated by the history and mythology of the German Volk, which helped shape the political activities of these men.

The legends of German mythology, substantially the same as the Norse ones, are completely pagan and pessimistic in nature. The Earth and Heaven were destined to be utterly destroyed by the Frost Giants, in a final great battle between Good and Evil, in which Evil was predestined to win and the whole of creation to be destroyed. The only ray of light in all this darkness was the idea that dying a heroic death would make everything else pale into insignificance. This notion of heroism and fighting to the death against all odds was very congruous with the fanatic loyalty wanted by Hitler and Himmler.

Wagner held anti-Semitic views, and took great pride in being a member of the "German race" and in his German ancestry. He wrote that he considered himself "the most German of the Germans".

Head of the SS Heinrich Himmler, who studied books on Germanic lore, mysticism, and secret societies, came to regard Hitler as a god, another sign of non-Christian, pagan religiosity.

The secret initiation ceremonies of the SS were dominated by references to the ancient Germanic sagas. The Nazi Party was called by Hermann Esser "an association of visionaries, worshippers of Wotan", a Germanic god.

Presenting a similarity to today's environmentalism with its pantheistic streak were Himmler's proclamations of the sacred status of the German lands and peoples as a faith. He used ancient German and Nordic mythology as a source of the SS symbols, oaths and rituals. The rooms of their secret meetings were decorated with runes, prehistoric signs supposed to give the power of prophecy to anyone who could read them. The very symbol of the Schutzstaffel, twin twisted lightning bolts to indicate SS, is a runic symbol.

Initially Himmler wanted German women to adopt the same moral code of the heroines of ancient German legends, although he later changed his view to encourage them to have as many children as possible, whether they were married or not. He and Hitler had considered abolishing the "criminal institution of the Christian Church known as marriage", but realised that Germans were not yet ready for such a radical idea. How happy these supreme Nazi leaders would be if they could see what is happening now in our society.

As a ceremony for illegitimate children Himmler created a "secular christening", called an "SS name-giving", in which the child was wrapped in a blanket covered with embroidered swastikas and runes and set before an altar, with the parents laying their hands on him and solemnly speaking his name. For their birthdays these children received by the SS a gift of candles, manufactured at no charge by the prisoners at Dachau.

Himmler's mystical zeal exasperated even Hitler sometimes, although only temporarily and he never tried to rein it in. Hitler wrote:
What nonsense! Here we have at last reached an age that has left all mysticism behind it, and now he wants to start that all over again. We might as well have stayed with the church. At least it had tradition. To think that I may some day be turned into an SS saint! Can you imagine it? I would turn over in my grave ...
And about Himmler's archeological excavations:
Why do we call the whole world's attention to the fact that we have no past? It isn't enough that the Romans were erecting great buildings when our forefathers were still living in mud huts; now Himmler is starting to dig up these villages of mud huts ... All we prove by that is that we were still throwing stone hatchets and crouching around open fires when Greece and Rome had already reached the highest stage of culture. We really should do our best to keep quiet about this past. Instead Himmler is making a great fuss about it all. The present-day Romans must be having a laugh at these revelations.

This is the first article of a series of 3. To be continued tomorrow.

Photo by surfstyle (Creative Commons CC BY 2.0).


  1. I would call it Fabian Socialism. Thank you for quoting Hitler, I did not know he wrote this.

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