By R. G. Price | 23 October 2003
Fascism is recognized to have first been officially developed by Benito Mussolini, who came to power in Italy in 1922. To sum up fascism in one word would be to say “anti-liberalism”.
Fascism is much more than that however, but understanding fascism is in fact one of the most important elements in understanding the 20th century and our modern world.
In 1932 Mussolini declared that the 20th century would be the “Fascist century” by stating:
If it is admitted that the nineteenth century has been the century of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy, it does not follow that the twentieth must also be the century of Liberalism, Socialism and Democracy. Political doctrines pass; peoples remain. It is to be expected that this century may be that of authority, a century of the “Right,” a Fascist century.
Mussolini and his followers believed that this ideology was the best hope for “saving Western Civilization”.
What, then, is fascism exactly?
In order to understand fascism it is first important to understand the climate of the early 20th century in which fascism took shape.
Fascism was born out of the ruins of World War I, in which Mussolini served. Fascism was immediately reactionary to its surroundings in Europe, which was dominated by the two established powers of Britain and France. Britain and France were seen as economically dominant but decaying imperial civilizations who were imposing their hegemony on the rest of Europe. At the same time, Russia had recently undergone its Bolshevik Revolution and was supporting Marxist revolutionary activity and ideology throughout Europe. All of the countries in which fascism took root were countries that had significant socialist movements. Fascism was the opposition to those socialist movements. Fascism further recognized the finance capitalism of the United States and Britain as a destructive and corrupting force on “Western Culture” and as a threat to the still developing European countries, such as Italy, Germany and Ireland.
So, this was the environment in which fascism formed; in an environment where the “lesser” countries of Europe felt trapped between the established powers of international capital and the powers of revolutionary Marxism.
Fascism was ultimately born out of, and supported by, conservatism and the belief that Western Civilization had become decadent and self-ruinous.
In 1927 Oswald Spengler, who wrote Decline of the West, wrote that the infection the West was suffering came from certain elements. He went on to state: “I will list them: liberalism, democracy, socialism, free-masonry. The organism of the West has been weakened, debilitated by these ideologies. Well, there is in existence only one movement existing at the present time which has the courage possessing the power of a great nation to be fundamentally, openly, ferociously anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-Freemason: Fascism.”
A German article, The Victory of Faith, was published in 1939 which talked extensively about Spengler’s Decline of the West. The article stated:
The fact that “The Decline of the West” was written, read and believed is clear proof that Germany, and with it Europe, was in deadly danger, heading for destruction. Spengler pinpointed the worldview situation of the declining liberal age.
Mussolini argued that it was ridiculous to base policy simply on the desires of the majority because of his belief in the decline of Western Civilization and the idea that the majority of people had become decadent. In his 1935 essay on fascism, Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions, Mussolini wrote: “Fascism denies, in democracy, the absurd conventional untruth of political equality dressed out in the garb of collective irresponsibility…”
The development of fascism, and its eventual popular support, was a total rejection of Marxism, which was a growing movement at the time. In fact, Germany was the birthplace of Marxism, as it is where Karl Marx was born and schooled and where his ideologies were first accepted. Germany, at the time of the fascist takeover, had one of the strongest Marxist traditions in the world with a large and organized Marxist labor movement. Fascism ultimately rejected all of the ideas contained in Marxism and took action to break Marxist labor movements.
The principle tenets of Marxism are equality, democracy and atheism/materialism. Marxism champions the pursuit of the equality of race, gender, and economic status. Marxism stated that democracy as it was practiced was not truly representative of all people, it was only representative of establishment interests, and thus Marxism was a call for “true” and total democracy where every citizen was totally equal in their political influence. Marxism, of course, stated that religion was the “opium of the people” and a barrier to solutions for worldly problems, and Marxism, as an atheist ideology, acknowledges nothing supernatural and held that the only things that exist are material; that all of reality is simply the material reality that we see and experience. Additionally, Marxism held that “class struggle” was the driving force of social progress, and that class struggle was the appropriate means by which a just society would be created.
Fascism was based on the fundamental rejection of all of these ideas.
Mussolini states in his 1935 essay on fascism:
Such a conception of life makes Fascism the complete opposite of that doctrine, the base of so-called scientific and Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception of history; according to which the history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and instruments of production. That the changes in the economic field – new discoveries of raw materials, new methods of working them and the inventions of science – have their importance no one can deny; but that these factors are sufficient to explain the history of humanity excluding all others is an absurd delusion. Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect. And if we deny the economic conception of history, according to which men are no more than puppets carried to and fro by the waves of chance, while the real directing forces are quite out of their control, it follows that the existence of an unchangeable and unchanging class-war is also denied – the natural progeny of the economic conception of history. And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the transformation of society.
Hitler’s 1933 Reichstag speech, considered one of his most important because of its generally positive reception by the international community, also clearly defined the fascist anti-Communist agenda.
IN NOVEMBER, 1918, Marxist organizations seized the executive power by means of a revolution. The monarchs were dethroned, the authorities of the Reich and of the States removed from office, and thereby a breach of the Constitution was committed. The success of the revolution in a material sense protected the guilty parties from the hands of the law. They sought to justify it morally by asserting that Germany or its Government bore the guilt for the outbreak of the War.
This assertion was deliberately and actually untrue. In consequence, however, these untrue accusations in the interest of our former enemies led to the severest oppression of the entire German nation and to the breach of the assurances given to us in Wilson’s fourteen points, and so for Germany, that is to say the working classes of the German people, to a time of infinite misfortune….
The splitting up of the nation into groups with irreconcilable views, systematically brought about by the false doctrines of Marxism, means the destruction of the basis of a possible communal life…. It is only the creation of a real national community, rising above the interests and differences of rank and class, that can permanently remove the source of nourishment of these aberrations of the human mind. The establishment of such a solidarity of views in the German body corporate is all the more important, for it is only thereby that the possibility is provided of maintaining friendly relations with foreign Powers without regard to the tendencies or general principles by which they are dominated, for the elimination of communism in Germany is a purely domestic German affair.
So fascism, as it developed, was reactionary; it was a reaction to the perceived problems of modernism, and the immediate perceived threat of Communism.
Mussolini declared fascism as the ideology of the “ethical State”. From Mussolini’s 1935 essay:
The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. The “Liberal State” is not a directing force, guiding the play and development (both material and spiritual) of a collective body, but merely a force limited to the function of recording results. On the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious, and has itself a will and a personality – thus it may be called the “ethical” State….
The individual in the Fascist State is not annulled but rather multiplied, just in the same way that a soldier in a regiment is not diminished but rather increased by the number of his comrades. The Fascist State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains what is essential; the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the State alone….
The Fascist State is an embodied will to power and government, the idea of force in action. According to Fascism, government is not so much a thing to be expressed in territorial or military terms as in terms of morality and spirit. It is an empire – that is to say, a nation which directly or indirectly rules other nations without the need of conquering a single square yard of territory.
That statement says a lot so I will dissect out the finer points.
This starts to get tricky because of modern understandings of what Liberalism is. I don’t want to get too far ahead, but I will say that the modern popular concept of “Liberalism” in America is in some ways the concept of fascism, and what was at that time referred to as Liberalism would perhaps be referred to as libertarianism in America today, thus the above statement is seemingly confusing.
Firstly, fascism, as it relates to governance, is an ideology based on the importance of the State. Fascism holds that the institution of the State is itself the most important entity in society, i.e. that the government is more important than individuals.
Secondly, fascism holds that the purpose of the State is not just to uphold rights and document legalities, but that the purpose of the State is to organize society and guide the spiritual and economic development of the nation. Thirdly, the goal of the fascist State is to, essentially, protect people by removing “harmful” freedoms, while preserving “essential” rights. These two concepts are what most people in America identify with so-called “Nanny State Liberalism”, although in truth both conservatives and liberals in America support such views.
Additionally, the fascist State embarks on imperialism, not only through the traditional means of colonial territorial control, like that of the British Empire, but through the use of hegemony to directly or indirectly control nations with or without occupation.
This is known as neo-liberalism, but is now often referred to as neo-conservatism, as this practice is supported mostly by the American Right today.
There are two somewhat distinct aspects of fascism, social fascism and economic fascism. Both the economic and social aspects of fascism focused importance on the role of the State.
The fascist concept of the State was as an entity which was to be used to promote the “cultural well being” of civilization; that liberal society existed in chaos because the State had no authority to enforce organization or to actually promote culture or to give people a direction, and that it was the goal of fascism to give people direction in a chaotic world. The desires of the fascist leaders, Mussolini, Franco, and Hitler, to “improve” society were genuine. These were not people who were simply trying to take power in order to materially benefit themselves. They did materially benefit themselves in the process, but they had an honest desire to transform society and, in their view, make the world a better place.
Economic fascism was essentially the predecessor of Keynesian ideology.
Keynes’ The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money was published in 1936 and has today been largely regarded as the foundation of the post-War economy of the United States. However, Keynes’ economic ideology is essentially the same thing as economic fascism, and indeed Keynes himself was heavily influenced by fascism, associated with fascist thinkers, and stated that the fascists were perhaps the most well suited to adopting his economic agenda (which is really because they had already developed similar programs).
Keynesianism is an attack on laissez-faire capitalism and proposes solutions to the problems posed by that model.
In relation to the State Keynes said in 1924:
We must aim at separating those services which are technically social from those which are technically individual. The most important items on the Agenda of the State relate not to those activities which private individuals are already fulfilling, but to those activities which fall outside the sphere of the individual, to those decisions which are made by no one if the State does not make them. The important thing for Government is not to do things which individuals are doing already, and to do them a little better or a little worse, but to do those things which at present are not done at all.
In the German version of the The General Theory Keynes wrote:
I confess that much of the following book is illustrated and expounded mainly with reference to the conditions existing in the Anglo-Saxon countries. Nevertheless the theory of output as a whole, which is what the following book purports to provide, is much more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state than is the production and distribution of a given output produced under conditions of perfect competition and a large measure of laissez-faire. This is one of the reasons that justifies my calling my theory a general theory. Since it is based on less narrow assumptions than the orthodox theory, it is also more easily adapted to a large order of different circumstances. Although I have thus worked it out having the conditions in the Anglo-Saxon countries in view – where a great deal of laissez-faire still prevails – it yet remains applicable in situations where national leadership is more pronounced.
The essence of Keynesian economic ideology is basically the use of the State to promote economic interests, the idea that the State should promote a middle class through the redistribution of wealth, and the idea of the use of State spending in order to promote employment.
The early laissez-faire economists, such as Adam Smith, believed in the liberal ideology that individuals should be encouraged to take actions that would be beneficial to society. The development of laissez-faire capitalist ideology was based on the premise that when allowing people to peruse their own private interests people would be guided by an “invisible hand” to act in the best interests of society. The foundation of laissez-faire ideology was not the pursuit of self interest for self interest’s sake, but rather that through the laissez-faire process social interests would be served. As Smith put it, men would live in a system of natural liberty in which each individual would be free to pursue his own ends but would be guided as if by an invisible hand to serve the interests of others in society as the means to his own self-improvement.
By the turn of the 20th century people in all advanced capitalist societies were reaching the conclusion that Smith’s vision of society was simply not being realized and that laissez-faire policy was in fact not serving the interests of society, but rather the interests of a small wealthy elite.
One of the ultimate agendas, and successes, of the fascists was to create a strong and stable middle class. They viewed the problems of Western society to be both “out of control” laissez-faire capitalism and its opposing force, Communism. The fascists correctly understood that Communism was a reaction to the excesses of laissez-faire capitalism. Thus they believed that the solution to the threat of Communism was the mitigation of the problems of laissez-faire capitalism.
This problem was widely recognized in the early 20th century in all Western societies. America and Britain entered the 20th century as the giants of trade and relatively laissez-faire capitalism, but it was recognized even in those countries that laissez-faire capitalism was in fact causing major problems, not only for society, which was growing increasingly fragmented with increasing economic inequality, but also for the dominant capitalists themselves who were becoming more and more interested in protectionism as opposed to free trade.
At this point it would be a good time to define what capitalism really is. Capitalism is basically an economic system in which profits can be made through ownership of property. To expound on that, capitalism is a system in which people privately own the “means of production” and employ others to generate profits for them.
People often get free trade tied up into the idea of capitalism, but free trade and capitalism do not directly have anything to do with each other. You can have capitalism without free trade and you can have free trade without capitalism. In fact, you can argue that under a purely privatized capitalist system free trade could not exist because if everything were privatized then all trade would have to take place along privately owned infrastructure, which of course would mean that tolls or some form of compensation would have to be used to pay for the use of the infrastructure on a per-use basis, meaning that it would not be “free to trade”, as all trade would have tolls or user fees tied to it. Free trade, however, was definitely a strong element of the development of laissez-faire capitalism, but as the Marxists pointed out, capitalism ends up creating its own obstacles as it develops.
So in fact free trade can only take place with the existence of at least some publicly owned property, which can be used as the avenue of trade.
Getting back to capitalism, capitalism is a system that revolves around the capitalist. A capitalist is someone who makes money through ownership. A capitalist is one who is an investor or an owner. Support of capitalism is support of a system in which people can “earn” money without actually working, i.e. they can receive profits from the work of others by owning the property which they employ other people to use to provide goods or services.
In many cases the owner of the property, for example a barbershop, also works in the business and provides part of the labor to make the business run and operate and generate profits. This is typically what we think of when we think of a small business. In other cases owners or investors do not actually provide any of the labor for the business that they own. This is what is traditionally referred to as being a “capitalist”, one who owns but does not labor, and this is often what we think of when we think of big business and investors.
What fascism was all about in the economic sense was ultimately the protection and regulation of capitalism, i.e. the preservation of private ownership of the means of production. Fascism sought to use the power of the State to protect and to stabilize the economic system by bringing the major capitalists into a system of cooperation with each other so that economic conflict would be reduced and through their cooperation stability would be, and was, achieved. Fascism opposed laissez-faire capitalism, but nonetheless supported capitalism in a regulated form. The Italian form of fascism was more capitalist in nature, the German form was more socialist in nature. Both supported private ownership of the means of production.
Of the three major ideologies, laissez-faire capitalism, fascism, and Marxist socialism, fascism was the only one which was objectively pro middle class. Fundamentally, laissez-faire capitalism has no goals at all, however it was apparent that laissez-faire resulted in major socio-economic stratification and promoted the interests of a small wealthy elite over everyone else. The goal of Marxist socialism/communism was the complete elimination of class and the role of private capital. The goal of the Marxists was ultimately to eliminate all traditional elements of society and create a new society founded on the principle of equality. Fascism (and Keynesianism), in the economic sense, was the middle ground between these two major competing ideologies.
In 1920 Adolph Hitler outlined 25 points of the NSDAP program (the program of the National Socialist Party). Among the points was:
We demand the creation and maintenance of a healthy middle class, the immediate communalizing of big department stores, and their lease at a cheap rate to small traders, and that the utmost consideration shall be shown to all small traders in the placing of State and municiple orders.
The National Socialist Workers Party, which would eventually become known as the Nazis, was not known as a fascist party at the time, but it would later become accepted by Mussolini and others as a party who’s platform was in line with the objectives of fascism.
The National Socialist platform, like other fascist platforms, called for the promotion of a middle class and for the support of small business through the power of the State.
However, once in power the fascist regimes, especially in Germany, actually supported the wealthy establishment and did not give the middle class the gains that they were hoping for.
Another major goal of fascist policy was to achieve “full employment”. This was of critical importance due to the economic depression of post WWI Europe.
Part of the way that the fascists sought to do this was through the use of state spending and corporate regulations. When Mussolini came to power he, “instituted a program of public works hitherto unrivalled in modern Europe. Bridges, canals and roads were built, hospitals and schools, railway stations and orphanages, swamps were drained and land reclaimed, forests were planted and universities were endowed.” (Hibbert 1965)
Mussolini’s policies were revolutionary at the time and they were admired by many people around the world. Through the use of these types of programs, and deficit spending, both Germany and Italy quickly rose up out of the worldwide depression and become some of the most successful countries of the time economically. Unemployment dropped dramatically and social welfare programs were instituted in both Germany and Italy. The fascists were the first to seriously call for and institute forms of social insurance. Again from Hitler’s 1920 NSDAP 25 point agenda, point number 15:
We demand the extensive development of insurance for old age.
In order to regulate industry and “promote the interests of society” the fascists merged the State with private industry.
Mussolini himself stated that:
Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power.
After the war, during the Nuremberg Trials, Hermann Goering stated:
The strange part of it all is that I don’t feel like a criminal and that if I had been in the United States or South America or any other place else, I would probably be a leading figure in one of those countries. I am a capitalist and a cultured gentleman.
Fascism is essentially organized capitalism. By organizing capitalism, and tying the interests of corporations to that of the State, Mussolini was able to, in some ways, please the wealthy elite while at the same time pleasing the working classes of Italy. Mussolini promised to restore discipline to the workplace and to back up and support private industry, while at the same time removing some of the autonomy and individual power of private interests.
Elements of Mussolini’s fascist system, such as the National Council of Corporations, which was to be comprised of representatives from industry, labor, and state, who worked together to settle labor disputes and guide industry, the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction, and other such state bureaucracies, regulated and administered Italy’s economy. Well established big businessmen became highly involved in the state bureaucracy and the Corporate State became a tool for establishment businessmen to serve themselves.
The Italian system also subsidized and regulated agriculture as part of their program for national self sufficiency. Mussolini pushed for autarchy, economic self-sufficiency, which won popular support as a means to make Italians more independent and as a protectionist measure for Italian businesses.
Of course another major reason for self sufficiency was Italy’s military aspirations. Mussolini openly stated that fascism was anti-pacifist, and that he intended to rebuild a Roman Empire. Because of this, Italy’s economy was geared towards military industry. This was true in Germany as well. Both countries began to promote science, mathematics, and engineering in school as a way to develop better scientists who could be employed to build better weapons and military corporations were given significant support from State funds. The military focus worked best in Germany, which proceeded to produce some of the most advanced technologies in the history of the world at the time, and the most advanced weapons. The military industrial complex acted as a boon to the economy by providing a large number of jobs, which made people happy and further bolstered support for the leaders. By the fact that the State played an important role in the economy, the State saw to it to protect and promote industries which were viewed as vital to State interests. However, both Italy and Germany ran up huge deficits which ended up severely hurting their economies by mid war.
Throughout World War II, Italy and Germany both suffered major economic hardship and even the citizens had very little food to eat. The concentration camps were beyond horrific, but what is less known is that the German people were barely able to feed themselves as well. On May 2, 1942, three years before the end of the war, Joseph Goebbels wrote in his personal diary:
I received a report about the present position of German agriculture which is anything but encouraging. There is a dearth of seeds, of man power, of gasoline, of horses, of cattle, of good weather – in short of just about everything essential to guarantee sufficient food. It may be necessary next autumn to take in out belts a few more notches.
Fascism, in the social sense, is ultimately an affirmation of “traditional values”. Fascism embodied much of traditional social ideology, such as “machismo”, family values, religious faith, patriotism, social structure, honor, and traditional hard work.
Asvero Gravelli, a prominent author on fascism at the time, described fascism in the following way:
Fascism transcends democracy and liberalism; its regenerative action is based on granite foundations: the idea of hierarchy, of the participation of the whole population in the life of the State, social justice in the equitable distribution of rights and duties, the infusion of public life with moral principles, the affirmation of religious values, the prestige of the family, the ethical interpretation of the ideas of order, authority and liberty. In the light of this transcendence Europe will be able to find its way to enter a new phase of History.
Discussing the exact nature of fascist beliefs can be difficult because there is always debate about what the fascist leaders “really” believed and what they just said in order to manipulate the public. In truth there is some disconnect between the “true” beliefs of some fascist leaders and what they espoused in public, but what is actually most important is understanding the public perception of fascism because this is what determined fascist culture and this is what the public at large believed in and were drawn to. The other thing that is difficult about understanding the personal views of some of the fascist leaders is that it’s very hard to separate anti-fascist propaganda from truth.
Fascism first took root as an opposition to Marxism. The core of fascist propaganda and mentality was anti-Marxist. The fascists were in a more general sense opposed to everything that was of the “Left leaning” ideology, which is to say liberalism in general, but what they had the strongest opposition to was Marxism.
The fascists talked a lot about the building of strong moral character, hard work, and family values. Fascism was an ideology of order and obedience where people were expected to fall in line with leadership, and questioning and criticizing were looked at as the qualities of the decadent “liberals”.
From a 1943 Nazi pamphlet:
…liberalism taught that all people were equal, that there were no value differences between the races, that external differences (e.g., body type, skin color) were unimportant. Each person, regardless of race, might be a hero or a coward, an idealist or a materialist, creative or useless to society, militarily able, scientifically able, artistically gifted. The environment and education were the important elements that made men good and valuable. If one provided the proper environment and freed people from their chains, the peoples would join together to develop their abilities in a unified humanity, and eternal peace would result. Therefore liberalism demanded equality for all, the same opportunities for everyone, in particular the Jews, equality and freedom in the economic sphere, etc.
We Germans have seen where such doctrines lead. Liberalism tore down the structures that held races and peoples together, releasing the destructive drives. The result was economic chaos that led to millions of unemployed on the one side and the senseless luxury of economic jackals on the other. Liberalism destroyed the people’s economic foundations, allowing the triumph of subhumans. They won the leading role in the political parties, the economy, the sciences, arts and press, hollowing out the nation from inside. The equality of all citizens, regardless of race, led to the mixing of Europeans with Jews, Negro, Mongols and so on, resulting in the decay and decline of the Aryan race.
Fascism is an ideology that focuses on the State, and as such the boundaries between Church and State were broken just as the boundaries between Corporation and State were broken. Just as corporations and the State were brought into mutually beneficial relationships so to were the Christian Churches and the State.
Above all, fascism was a movement that gained its support from a growing religious sentiment among the public. It is not so much a case of what certain fascist leaders believed, it was more a case of what it was that the public wanted from their leadership and the ways in which those leaders gave the public what they wanted. What the people wanted was a religious experience and they wanted to feel a close bond between Church and State, and thus the fascist leaders identified with religious feelings in the community and used it to their advantage.
Benito Mussolini was himself not a particularly religious man, but he did cater to the religious beliefs of the public. He embraced the Catholic Church and in fact became a member of the Church. Mussolini stated, “There is no need to get all tied up with antireligiousness and give Catholics reason for unease. A fight…between Church and State, the State would lose.”
The Catholic tradition was very strong in Italy, but it had come under attack from liberals and Marxists. Mussolini knew that people were unhappy about this and instead embraced the Church as a partner of the State.
In 1929 Mussolini signed the Lateran Treaty with Pope Pius XI. This established Catholicism as the official religion of the State, gave the Pope increased political powers, gave papal sovereignty to Vatican City, ensured that the Catholic religion would be taught in all schools, compensated the Pope with $90 million for the loss of papal property since 1870, and cemented broad Catholic support for Mussolini.
The issue of religion in Nazi Germany was a bit more complex however. Religion was an important part of the National Socialist movement and, as in Italy, a desire for a religious resurgence fueled support for the Nazi regime, especially early on. However, Hitler preached his own brand of Christian fundamentalism. Some of the other Nazi leaders espoused anti-Christian, but still highly religious, views. Nevertheless it was the strong religiosity of his message that gained Hitler much of his support.
In Hitler’s 1920 NSDAP 25 point agenda, point number 24:
We demand freedom for all religious denominations in the State, provided they do not threaten its existence and do not offend the moral feelings of the German race.
The Party, as such, stands for positive Christianity, but does not commit itself to any particular denomination. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and without us, and is convinced that our nation can achieve permanent health only from within on the basis of the principle: The common interest before self-interest.
Both Italy and Germany had a reasonable degree of religious freedom with the exception of Judaism and the lack religious belief. Atheism was seen as one of the major “evils” of modern society and heavily associated with Marxism, and Judaism of course, was not tolerated in Germany, where the Jewish synagogues were eventually destroyed in 1938. What was ultimately important in Germany was a belief in God, whatever form that belief took, as this 1937 article on education, Educational Principles of the New Germany; What Schools and Parents Need to Know About the Goals of National Socialist Education, states:
Life comes from God and returns to God. All life and all races follow God’s ordinances. No people and no race can ignore them. We want the German youth to again recognize the religious nature of life. They must realize that God wants the individual as well as the whole people, and that they lose contact with life when they lose contact with God! God and nation are the two foundations of the life of the individual and the community. We want no shallow and superficial piety, rather a deep faith that God guides the world, that he controls it, and a consciousness of the relationship between God and each individual, and between God and the life of the people and the fatherland. The National Socialist state will promote such a deeply religious educational system. We want parents to support and strengthen this by honesty and by good example.
Early on fascism was seen as a movement that embraced Christianity. In Germany fascists promoted what they called “true Christianity”, which was essentially Christian fundamentalism.
In 1999 John Conway of the Association of Contemporary Church Historians discussed the role of Protestantism in the Nazi movement. Here he presents information from another study:
Richard Steigmann-Gall’s contribution, “Apostasy or Religiosity? The Cultural Meanings of the Protestant Vote for Hitler,” dealt with the question of who voted for Hitler and investigated the roles that German Protestantism played among the Nazi electorate. Steigmann-Gall identifies what he calls a “Protestant affinity” for Nazi politics leading up to January 1933, when Hitler became chancellor of Germany. Protestantism was the single most important factor in determining who voted for Hitler, he said, and it was not just the institutional affiliation that made the difference. According to Steigmann-Gall, the extent of support for National Socialism correlates directly to the degree of allegiance to Protestantism, rather than, as has been so often suggested, apostasy from it.
In 1933 in a speech in Stuttgart Hitler stated:
And now Staatspräsident Bolz says that Christianity and the Catholic faith are threatened by us. And to that charge I can answer: In the first place it is Christians and not international atheists who now stand at the head of Germany. I do not merely talk of Christianity, no, I also profess that I will never ally myself with the parties which destroy Christianity. If many wish today to take threatened Christianity under their protection, where, I would ask, was Christianity for them in these fourteen years when they went arm in arm with atheism? No, never and at no time was greater internal damage done to Christianity than in these fourteen years when a party, theoretically Christian, sat with those who denied God in one and the same Government.
I would ask whether the economic policy of this now superseded system was a Christian policy. Was the inflation an undertaking for which Christians could answer, or has the destruction of German life, of the German peasant as well as of the middles classes, been Christian?
What the Nazis espoused was that Christians who tolerated atheism or Jews were in fact not “true Christians”. Hitler’s major social charge was that he was going to clean up Germany and rid it of the influences of Marxists, Jews, and atheists, who he claimed were destroying not only German culture, but all of Western culture.
Just to drive this point home I’m going to present several more Nazi quotes.
There are only two possibilities in Germany; do not imagine that the people will forever go with the middle party, the party of compromises; one day it will turn to those who have most consistently foretold the coming ruin and have sought to dissociate themselves from it. And that party is either the Left: and then God help us! for it will lead us to complete destruction – to Bolshevism, or else it is a party of the Right which at the last, when the people is in utter despair, when it has lost all its spirit and has no longer any faith in anything, is determined for its part ruthlessly to seize the reins of power – that is the beginning of resistance of which I spoke a few minutes ago.
– Adolph Hitler, 1922 Munich Speech
He said in the last session of the Landtag that his feeling ‘as a man and a Christian’ prevented him from being an anti-Semite. I SAY: MY FEELING AS A CHRISTIAN POINTS ME TO MY LORD AND SAVIOUR AS A FIGHTER. IT POINTS ME TO THE MAN WHO ONCE IN LONELINESS, SURROUNDED ONLY BY A FEW FOLLOWERS, RECOGNIZED THESE JEWS FOR WHAT THEY WERE AND SUMMONED MEN TO THE FIGHT AGAINST THEM AND WHO, GOD’S TRUTH! WAS GREATEST NOT AS SUFFERER BUT AS FIGHTER. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and of adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before – the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice. And as a man I have the duty to see to it that human society does not suffer the same catastrophic collapse as did the civilization of the ancient world some two thousand years ago – a civilization which was driven to its ruin through this same Jewish people.
Then indeed when Rome collapsed there were endless streams of new German bands flowing into the Empire from the North; but, if Germany collapses today, who is there to come after us? German blood upon this earth is on the way to gradual exhaustion unless we pull ourselves together and make ourselves free!
And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly, it is the distress which daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people. And when I look on my people I see it work and work and toil and labor, and at the end of the week it has only for its wage wretchedness and misery. When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil, if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom today this poor people is plundered and exploited.
– Adolph Hitler, 1922 Munich Speech
Christianity was not content with erecting an altar of its own. It had first to destroy the pagan altars. It was only in virtue of this passionate intolerance that an apodictic faith could grow up. And intolerance is an indispensable condition for the growth of such a faith.
– Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf
The best characterization is provided by the product of this religious education, the Jew himself. His life is only of this world, and his spirit is inwardly as alien to true Christianity as his nature two thousand years previous was to the great founder of the new doctrine. Of course, the latter made no secret of his attitude toward the Jewish people, and when necessary he even took to the whip to drive from the temple of the Lord this adversary of all humanity, who then as always saw in religion nothing but an instrument for his business existence. In return, Christ was nailed to the cross, while our present-day party Christians debase themselves to begging for Jewish votes at elections and later try to arrange political swindles with atheistic Jewish parties – and this against their own nation.
— Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf
As a matter of fact we succeeded until the autumn of 1923 in keeping our movement away from such controversies. The most devoted Protestant could stand side by side with the most devoted Catholic in our ranks without having his conscience disturbed in the slightest as far as concerned his religious convictions. The bitter struggle which both waged in common against the wrecker of Aryan humanity taught them natural respect and esteem. And it was just in those years that our movement had to engage in a bitter strife with the Centre Party not for religious ends but for national, racial, political and economic ends. The success we then achieved showed that we were right, but it does not speak today in favour of those who thought they knew better.
In recent years things have gone so far that patriotic circles, in god-forsaken blindness of their religious strife, could not recognize the folly of their conduct even from the fact that atheist Marxist newspapers advocated the cause of one religious denomination or the other, according as it suited Marxist interests, so as to create confusion through slogans and declarations which were often immeasurably stupid, now molesting the one party and again the other, and thus poking the fire to keep the blaze at its highest.
But in the case of a people like the Germans, whose history has so often shown them capable of fighting for phantoms to the point of complete exhaustion, every war-cry is a mortal danger. By these slogans our people have often been drawn away from the real problems of their existence. While we were exhausting our energies in religious wars the others were acquiring their share of the world. And while the patriotic movement is debating with itself whether the ultramontane danger be greater than the Jewish, or vice versa, the Jew is destroying the racial basis of our existence and thereby annihilating our people. As far as regards that kind of ‘patriotic’ warrior, on behalf of the National Socialist Movement and therefore of the German people I pray with all my heart: “Lord, preserve us from such friends, and then we can easily deal with our enemies.
– Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf
We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.
-Adolph Hitler, 1933 Berlin Speech
The Government, being resolved to undertake the political and moral purification of our public life, is creating and securing the conditions necessary for a really profound revival of religious life.
The advantages of a personal and political nature that might arise from compromising with atheistic organizations would not outweigh the consequences which would become apparent in the destruction of general moral basic values. The national Government regards the two Christian confessions as the weightiest factors for the maintenance of our nationality. It will respect the agreements concluded between it and the federal States. Their rights are not to be infringed. But the Government hopes and expects that the work on the national and moral regeneration of our nation which it has made its task will, on the other hand, be treated with the same respect.
– Adolph Hitler, 1933 Reichstag speech
May God Almighty give our work His blessing, strengthen our purpose, and endow us with wisdom and the trust of our people, for we are fighting not for ourselves but for Germany.
– Adolph Hitler, 1933 Berlin Speech
And then came the German resurrection. It began with a change of faith. While all the German parties before us believed in forces and ideals which lay outside of the German Reich and outside of our people, we National Socialists have resolutely championed belief in our own people, starting from that watchword of eternal validity: God helps only those who are prepared and determined to help themselves. In the place of all those international factors – Democracy, the Conscience of Peoples, the Conscience of the World, the League of Nations, and the like – we have set a single factor – our own people.
– Adolph Hitler, 1938 Weimer Speech
At the head of our program there stand no secret surmisings but clear-cut perception and straightforward profession of belief. But since we set as the central point of this perception and of this profession of belief the maintenance and hence the security for the future of a being formed by God, we thus serve the maintenance of a divine work and fulfill a divine will – not in the secret twilight of a new house of worship, but openly before the face of the Lord.
– Adolph Hitler, 1938 Nuremburg Speech
During the events at the Cathedral of Light at the 1936 Nuremberg Party Rally the following oath was taken by all those in attendance:
We have come
For the good
And to renew the holy oath.
Blazing flames hold us together
May the times
Bring what they will,
We are a young people ever ready.
No one shall take this faith
From those who are dedicated to Germany.
When we pass on,
Something new will come
Today and forever more.
Hitler closed the ceremony after a long speech with the following:
And I especially greet the youth who are present. Become men like those you see before you!
Fight as they have fought! Be upright and determined, fear no one and do your duty!
If you do so, the Lord God will never leave our people.
(Note about the Cathedral of Light: The Cathedral of Light was a large outdoor area that was used every year during the Nuremberg Party Rallies for a special nighttime speech. Architect Albert Speer designed the “Cathedral” using spotlights to create an impression of space. What you see in the picture above is columns of light. The light was used in such a way as to create the sense that you were in a giant space that extended up into the heavens)
The following are a variety of quotes and oaths:
God gave the savior to the German people. We have faith, deep and unshakeable faith, that he [Hitler] was sent to us by God to save Germany.
– Hermann Göring
The Führer wanted to achieve the unification of the Protestant Evangelical Churches by appointing a Reich Bishop, so that there would be a high Protestant church dignitary as well as a high Catholic church dignitary.
– Hermann Göring
We believe that the Fuhrer is fulfilling a divine mission to German destiny! This belief is beyond challenge.
– Rudolf Hess, speech, 20 June 1934
I swear before God this holy oath, that I shall give absolute confidence to the Fuehrer of the German Reich and people.
– Heinrich Himmler, reminding his hearers about the oath taken by all SS men as well as by the military forces
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 program 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, 1935
We have a feeling that Germany has been transformed into a great house of God, including all classes, professions and creeds, where the Fuhrer as our mediator stood before the throne of the Almighty.
– Joseph Goebbels, in a broadcast, April 19, 1936
It is touching to hear the Fuehrer express his wish that he may be privileged to live to see the day of victory. The visions he has of the coming peace are truly intoxicating. God grant that we may be permitted to enter upon that period! Then the restrictions under which we live and work today will, for the most part, disappear like a nightmare.
– Joseph Goebbels in his personal dairy, April 28, 1942
I swear by God this sacred oath that I shall render unconditional obedience to Adolf Hitler, the Führer of the German Reich, supreme commander of the armed forces, and that I shall at all times be prepared, as a brave soldier, to give my life for this oath.
– Wehrmacht Oath
I swear to you, Adolf Hitler, as Führer and Chancellor of the German Nation, loyalty and bravery. I vow to you and to my superiors designated by you obedience to the death. So help me God.
– Waffen SS Oath
Though Hitler spoke often of belief in God, there was Christian opposition to him as well, mostly liberal priests and preachers. This was due to several different factors, in some cases it was due to the imposition of State power over the churches, which the Nazis did do. In Nazi Germany, as in Italy, the lines between Church and State were broken and in both cases mutual self serving relationships were formed. Churches who did not like the deal they were getting sometimes spoke out against the regime, and they were then punished. In addition, some church leaders simply did not agree with Hitler’s fundamentalist views; they were more tolerant people who had nothing against Jews nor did they accept his implications that tolerance was in fact anti-Christian. Some of these people spoke out, and they too were generally punished, sometimes sent to concentration camps.
The first concentration camp in Germany was Dachau, which opened in 1933. The primary prisoners of the Dachau camp were Communists, Social Democrats, and atheists. The first camps were essentially for “enemies of the State”. Over time Gypsies, homosexuals, and dissenting clergymen were sent to Dachau as well.
On the whole though, the embracing of his religious ideology by the public bolstered Hitler’s support.
In 1934 Triumph of the Will was filmed during the Nuremberg NASDP party rallies. Triumph of the Will was shown in theaters in Germany every year from 1935 through the end of the war. Triumph of the Will is an un-narrated theatrically staged documentary. Below is a clip from Triumph of the Will, taken during the events at the Cathedral of Light, in which Hitler proclaims divine command.
As time went on Nazi opposition to the role of private churches in Germany increased, however Hitler always maintained that he was still a Catholic. In 1941 he stated to General Gerhard Engel: “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.”
Though Hitler himself never spoke openly in opposition to Christianity, other Nazi leaders did. Below is a speech from Dr. Robert Ley to party leaders in 1939, which serves as an example of the types of things said by some Nazi leaders in relation to Christianity:
“We must take a broad view of history, and see everything that German culture has accomplished. It is childish of England to want to play our baby-sitter. We cannot allow that. We must see our enemies clearly. Their worldview is Christian and negative. Of course Roosevelt does not imagine himself only a liberator of the Christian world; he knows the Jew is at the root of it all.
If the Jew wants to fight, it is fine with us. We have wanted that fight for a long time. There is no room in the world for the Jews any more. The Jew or us, one of us will have to go. We know that the Jew will lose, that he and his devilish, life-denying and destructive doctrines will be annihilated…”
“Look at our people today, and remember how they were ten or twenty years ago. If that is the measure of whether one believes in God or not, if one faces everything that fate brings, if one faces war or peace calmly, if one faces life calmly and lives it the same way, then one has God. To have God means to have a fixed point in life, to have God means to have faith. I do not know what the future will bring, since I am only a man, but I am not concerned. English newspapers write: “Germany will gain no advantage from Bohemia and Moravia.” One doesn’t know which is more astonishing: the Führer’s pace or the peace with which 80 million Germans accept what happens. That means we have God: we are calm, we have faith and confidence – just like the priests always say. Yes, the Führer gave confidence to every German, and therefore peace and faith. We have found God.
We have become a people that believes in God. This is what our idea of life and of affirming life has accomplished, becoming the idea of Germany. We will be able to do everything if that grows from its small beginning into a religion, to something holy to the German people….”
“The Church may say its only weapon is peace. There is no institution more bloodthirsty than the Church. No state, no count, no world ruler has spilled anywhere near as much blood as the Church. It says it was all for a higher cause, and that the end justifies the means. No, that was not for the glory of God, who created humanity so that it could live. It was only for the glory of the pope and to satisfy the power lust of the priests.”
All of the Nazi leadership and institutions were deeply religious, but some were less traditional in their beliefs. Again, there are two issues to consider, #1 the personal views of Nazi leadership, and #2 the perception of the public. In terms of learning lessons about society and in terms of understanding fascist culture #2 is the more important, however issue #1 will always remain relevant as well.
There have always been questions as to whether Hitler originally just used pro-Christian rhetoric as a propaganda tool, but this does not seem to be the case. It appears more likely that his views did in fact change over time. There are many examples of Hitler’s early writings which were written before there was any need for him to try and propagandize to anyone and his views were Christian at that time.
In fact it seems more likely that Dr. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, and one of Hitler’s closest friends, influenced Hitler’s views over time. Dr. Goebbels, though himself a believer in God and raised a devout Catholic, was opposed to established religions and saw the power of churches as a possible threat to the Nazi State. There is also speculation that Joseph Goebbels may have been molested by Catholic priests as a boy. Dr. Goebbels led a major campaign against pedophile priests while in power with the Nazi Party.
Goebbels had frequent private talks with Hitler and had a noticeable impact on Hitler’s ideology. It is arguable that Goebbels’ anti-Semitism was even more fervent than Hitler’s and he pushed Hitler’s anti-Semitism to further extremes. It is also notable that Goebbels himself was already opposed to Christianity as a religion which had been influenced by Jews prior to his coming into a relation with Hitler and that over time Hitler’s views fell more in line with Goebbels.
In the introduction to The Goebbels’ Dairies 1942 – 1943 published in 1948 Louis Lochner states:
The selections reveal Goebbels as the unflagging motive force behind the vicious anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime. His aim was the extermination of all Jews. Hitler was in complete sympathy with this infamous project, as were his henchmen. Goebbels’ role was to keep Hitler’s mind inflamed and obtain authority to carry out specific measures against the Jews.
Much is also made of the connections between the Nazis and the occult. This is primarily because Rudolf Hess believed in the occult and followed the advice of a fortune teller to go to Britain on a solo mission to try and negotiate a peace agreement. After this the Allies then believed that the Nazis believed in the occult as a whole, however Nazis did not. Hitler was outraged at this and then had people arrested in Germany for occult practices. The occult was seen as part of the decadence of modern liberal society. It was also well known by the Germans that many people in Europe, especially France and England, were believers in the occult so they used leaflets and other publications to promote occult revelations that promoted the Nazi agenda. There were occult propaganda wars that went on all throughout the war coming from both sides, with both believing the campaigns to be more effective than they really were.
From Goebbels’ Dairy:
The enemy is now making use of horoscopes in the form of handbills dropped from planes, in which a terrible future is prophesied for the German people. But we know something about this ourselves! I am having counter-horoscopes worked up which we are going to distribute, especially in the occupied areas.
– March 16, 1942
In the United States astrologers are at work to prophesy an early end for the Fuehrer. We know that type of work as we have often done it ourselves. We shall take up our astrological propaganda again as soon as possible. I expect quite a little of it, especially in the United States and England.
– April 28, 1942
In addition to the initial misunderstandings about occultism and Nazism, occultism was used as a convenient scapegoat after the war in explaining the Nazi movement. This was because many of the early anti-Nazi writers in the West were Christians and both wanted to use Nazism to support their own agenda by labeling everything they didn’t like as “Nazi” and also in order to deflect attention from the role of Christianity in German anti-Semitism, which was in fact significant. Even among Christians, Protestants were quick to pass blame on to the Catholic Church as a means to shift attention away from the role of Protestantism in the Nazi movement.
Now that the basics of fascism have been outlined, how does anti-Semitism play into all of this?
There is much, much, more to anti-Semitism then first meets the eye. Anti-Semitism is not just hating Jews for the sake of hating Jews, in the anti-Semitic mind there are clearly defined reasons to hate Jews. In order to understand anti-Semitism you first have to know what these reasons are, why these things are hated in the first place, and lastly why they are associated with Jews.
For the most part, Jews were, in their mind, the embodiment of everything that the fascists opposed, and when I say fascists I do not just mean the leaders, I mean the civilian public as well.
I have already outlined what the fascists opposed, they opposed liberalism, democracy, Marxism, secularism, and laissez-faire capitalism. What is most important to note about this is that many people, not just the fascists, shared many elements of these same feelings. These sentiments are in essence the definition of right-wing social ideology.
The roots of anti-Semitism go back to the early days of Christianity, but I will only cover them briefly.
Ironically, Christianity was in its origin a liberal movement within Judaism. Both the Pharisees and the Zealots were Jewish conservatives that were opposed to Roman culture and rule. There were also the Sadducees and Herodians who were Jewish liberals, some of which worked with the Romans and had in fact become respected members of the Roman community.
The Christian movement was in many ways a political movement that opposed corruption within the Jewish community and supported non-violence in opposition to Roman infringement on Jewish sovereignty. Christianity was a liberal movement that opposed the Roman treatment of Jews, the poor, and the oppressed masses. While some Jews integrated into Roman society, others were oppressed by the Romans, and Rome took some Jews into slavery. During a strongly conservative time in Romans society, shortly prior to the adoption of Christianity by Rome, many religions, including Judaism and Christianity, were outlawed. Christianity was later adopted as the official religion of Rome however.
Once Christianity became the dominant religion of Rome the Christians that came to power in Rome began taking further action against Jews, who they despised as people who were not only responsible for the killing of Jesus, but who had also opposed the Christian movement all along.
306: The church Synod of Elvira banned marriages, sexual intercourse and community contacts between Christians and Jews.
315: Constantine published the Edict of Milan which extended religious tolerance to Christians. Jews lost many rights with this edict. They were no longer permitted to live in Jerusalem, or to proselytize.
325: The Council of Nicea decided to separate the celebration of Easter from the Jewish Passover. They stated: “For it is unbecoming beyond measure that on this holiest of festivals we should follow the customs of the Jews. Henceforth let us have nothing in common with this odious people…We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews…our worship follows a…more convenient course…we desire dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews…How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are almost certainly blinded.”
337: Christian Emperor Constantius created a law which made the marriage of a Jewish man to a Christian punishable by death.
339: Converting to Judaism became a criminal offense.
343-381: The Laodicean Synod approved Cannon XXXVIII: “It is not lawful [for Christians] to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety.”
367-376: St. Hilary of Poitiers referred to Jews as a perverse people who God has cursed forever. St. Ephroem refers to synagogues as brothels.
379-395: Emperor Theodosius the Great permitted the destruction of synagogues if it served a religious purpose. Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire at this time.
380: The bishop of Milan was responsible for the burning of a synagogue; he referred to it as “an act pleasing to God.”
415: The Bishop of Alexandria, St. Cyril, expelled the Jews from that Egyptian city.
415: St. Augustine wrote “The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jew can never understand the Scriptures and forever will bear the guilt for the death of Jesus.”
source: Jewish Persecution 70-1200 C.E.
Jews had become a part of the Roman Empire and traveled throughout it as other people did. Rome, like modern America, facilitated travel and movement of people, especially the well educated Sadducee and Herodian Jews who often took clerical or administrative jobs which required movement throughout the empire. Additionally, other Jews were spread throughout the empire by force as well. Interestingly, the more conservative Jewish cultures of the Pharisees and the Zealots tended to stay around the Middle East and later immigrated east into the Eastern Orthodox Empire in present day Turkey and Russia, etc. These are all just generalizations, but this is basically what happened.
So, once the Christians had obtained the upper hand in the Roman Empire, and later Holy Roman Empire, they became antagonistic to Jews and saw them as a rival and threat politically, economically, and religiously, as they did all other religious groups.
These antagonisms continued on between Jews and Christians throughout the Middle Ages.
For a historical timeline of anti-Jewish activities see: A History of Anti-Semitism.
There were several distinctions between Jewish and Christian culture that created tensions between the two cultures. Some of these differences were along economic lines in terms of labor and finance. One of the differences that lead to tensions was the fact that Christian practice dictated that it was wrong to charge interest on loans. Passages such as Matthew 5:42 “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away”, came to be translated to mean that if someone needed to borrow money that you should just GIVE it to them. The result of the doctrine of the church was that Jews in the community dominated banking because Christians were prevented from engaging in the practice.
All of this came to a boil with the Protestant Reformation, which started in Germany with Martin Luther. Like all movements, Martin Luther was not the true originator of the ideology, he was simply the leader that brought the growing social conditions into a unified movement. Movements don’t spring up out of nowhere, but tend to come to a head when there is a significant portion of the population that shares the same feelings, then a leader emerges to organize the community. The Protestant Reformation was one of the largest revolutionary movements in history at the time, largely due to the use of the printing press.
The Protestant Reformation was itself an anti-Semitic movement. The Protestant Reformation was also in many ways part of the roots of capitalism. What had happened was that the policies of the Catholic Church had become obviously restrictive to Christians, who could see non-Christians, Jews and Muslims, doing better than them financially. The root of that problem was restrictive Catholic dogma. The Protestants were hard working Christians who wanted more and didn’t like the growing wealth and power of non-Christians in Europe and the Middle East. (There were of course many other issues involved in the Protestant Reformation as well.)
Martin Luther himself was extremely anti-Semitic and wrote a book titled The Jews and Their Lies in 1543. In this book he accused Jews of being liars and thieves and blamed just about every bad thing in the world on “the Jews”. He also requested in this book that the Catholic Church cast the Jews out of Europe, and it was the Church’s failure to comply with this request, among others, that convinced Martin Luther to break with the Catholic Church.
Quotes from The Jews and Their Lies follow:
“I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them. But since I learned that these miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure to themselves even us, that is, the Christians, I have published this little book, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews who warned the Christians to be on their guard against them. I would not have believed that a Christian could be duped by the Jews into taking their exile and wretchedness upon himself. However, the devil is the god of the world, and wherever God’s word is absent he has an easy task, not only with the weak but also with the strong. May God help us. Amen.”
“Learn from this, dear Christian, what you are doing if you permit the blind Jews to mislead you. Then the saying will truly apply, “When a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into the pit” [cf. Luke 6:39]. You cannot learn anything from them except how to misunderstand the divine commandments.”
“Therefore be on your guard against the Jews, knowing that wherever they have their synagogues, nothing is found but a den of devils in which sheer selfglory, conceit, lies, blasphemy, and defaming of God and men are practiced most maliciously and veheming his eyes on them.”
“Moreover, they are nothing but thieves and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing which they have not stolen and pilfered from us by means of their accursed usury. Thus they live from day to day, together with wife and child, by theft and robbery, as archthieves and robbers, in the most impenitent security.”
“Over and above that we let them get rich on our sweat and blood, while we remain poor and they such the marrow from our bones.”
“brief, dear princes and lords, those of you who have Jews under your rule if my counsel does not please your, find better advice, so that you and we all can be rid of the unbearable, devilish burden of the Jews, lest we become guilty sharers before God in the lies, blasphemy, the defamation, and the curses which the mad Jews indulge in so freely and wantonly against the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, this dear mother, all Christians, all authority, and ourselves. Do not grant them protection, safeconduct, or communion with us…. With this faithful counsel and warning I wish to cleanse and exonerate my conscience.”
“Therefore we Christians, in turn, are obliged not to tolerate their wanton and conscious blasphemy.”
Martin Luther outlined seven points of action to take against Jews:
First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly and I myself was unaware of it will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.
Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.
Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. (remainder omitted)
Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17 [:10 ff.]) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: “what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord.” Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people’s obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 [:18], “You are Peter,” etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the right to teach.
Fifth, I advise that safeconduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home. (…remainder omitted).
Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God’s blessing in a good and worthy cause.
Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3[:19]). For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.
As you can see, there is little difference, if any, between the teachings of Martin Luther, the founder of modern Protestantism, and that of Adolph Hitler. In fact Hitler implemented Luther’s Seven Points; that was what Hitler was doing, he was carrying out the Seven Points prescribed by Luther. Hitler carried out every single one of the Seven Points to a tee, including of course putting Jews into labor camps and forcing them to work. In fact the burning of the synagogues took place on Martin Luther’s birthday. Protestantism itself is born of anti-Semitism, and the birth of Protestantism took place in Germany where it had from then on been a strong part of German culture.
In Hitler’s Willing Executioners Daniel Goldhagen wrote:
One leading Protestant churchman, Bishop Martin Sasse, published a compendium of Martin Luther’s antisemitic vitriol shortly after Kristallnacht’s orgy of anti-Jewish violence. In the foreword to the volume, he applauded the burning of the synagogues and the coincidence of the day: “On November 10, 1938, on Luther’s birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany.” The German people, he urged, ought to heed these words “of the greatest antisemite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews.”
In Why Aryan Law?, published in 1934, Dr. E. H. Schulz and Dr. R. Frercks state:
Martin Luther wrote this of the Jews in his book “The Jews and their Lies”: “They hold we Christians captive in our own land. They have seized our goods by their cursed usury, they mock and insult us because we work. They are our lords, and we and our goods belong to them.” If in the coming days the Jewish race is driven out of the non-Jewish world, it will have at least this consolation: It has made clear to them for all time the value of maintaining the purity of race and blood in clear, understandable and unforgettable ways.
National Socialist racial legislation has reduced the influence of Jewry in all professions, and above all excluded them from the leading offices of the nation. That is an important step in the relationship between Germans and Jews, but one cannot ignore the fact that we have not yet fully eliminated the influence of the Jewish foreign body in German national life.
In John Conway’s discussion of the role of Protestantism and Martin Luther in Nazi society, he commented on a 1946 study into the issue of Luther’s legacy after Nazism:
Nazi propaganda had made much use of Luther’s anti-Jewish writings, but as Lehmann showed, postwar Protestants found ways to avoid confronting that stain on their hero.
Martin Luther, with his creation of the Protestant movement, was also the creator of modern anti-Semitism. Of course anti-Semitism had been present for a long time, but Luther galvanized anti-Semitism along with the Protestant movement and in fact the two have been hand in hand ever since, though since World War II and the atrocities of the Nazi regime this connection has faded.
What else is important here is to note the points of contention. Among the important points is that of usury and that of the idea that through control of money Jews were taking advantage of the labor of Christians.
The result of the Protestant Reformation was actually that Christians began engaging in the activities which they had cursed Jews for, such as banking, finance and mercantilism. This was the beginnings of modern capitalism.
A more modern “champion” of anti-Semitism was Protestant Henry Ford, who started an anti-Semitic periodical called The Dearborn Independent in 1921, went on to publish The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, a fraudulent writing which was claimed to be the secret hidden agenda of Jews to rule the world, and then published The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem.
In The International Jew Ford outlined a brief history of Jewish involvement in America and labeled New York City as the “center of the Jewish population.”
Ford goes on to blame all of the negative images of American business on Jews.
The American people would be vastly surprised if they could see a line-up of some of the “American business men” who hold up our commercial prestige overseas. They are mostly Jews. This may throw a sidelight on the regard in which “American business methods” are held in some parts of the world. When many different races of people can carry on business under the name “American,” and do it legally, too, it is not surprising that Americans do not recognize some of the descriptions of American methods which appear in the foreign Press. If the reputation of American business has suffered, it is because something other than American methods have been used under the American name…
“The British did this,” “The Germans did this,” when it was the International Jew who did it, the nations being but the marked spaces on his checker board. Today, around the world the blaming word is heard, “The United States did this. If it were not for the United States the world would be in a better shape. The Americans are a sordid, greedy, cruel people.”
Why? Because the Jewish money power is centered here and is making money out of both our immunity and Europe’s distress, playing one against the other; and because so many so-called “American business men” abroad today are not Americans at all – they are Jews.
Henry Ford raised, “the Jewish Question”.
The Jewish Question exists wherever Jews appear, says Theodor Herzl, because they bring it with them. It is not their numbers that create the Question, for there is in almost every country a larger number of other aliens than of Jews. It is not their much-boasted ability, for it is now coming to be understood that, give the Jew an equal start and hold him to the rules of the game, and he is not smarter than anyone else; indeed, in one great class of Jews the zeal is quenched when opportunity for intrigue is removed…
It is not the Jewish people but the Jewish idea, and the people only as vehicles of the idea, that is the point at issue. In this investigation of the Jewish Question, it is Jewish influence and the Jewish Idea that are being discovered and defined.
And here we get to something. Anti-Semitism is not just a racial, ethic, or cultural hating of “Jews”, it is a hate of “the Jewish idea”.
This is important to understand because many people still use anti-Semitic speech, they do it not by saying, “I hate the Jews”, but instead by speaking out against the “Jewish idea”.
The task then in understanding anti-Semitism is in understanding what anti-Semitics consider to be “the Jewish idea” and why.
The essence of the Jewish Idea to its influence on the labor world is the same as in all other departments – the destruction of real values in favor of fictitious values. The Jewish philosophy of money is not to “make money,” but to “get money.” The distinction between these two is fundamental. That explains Jews being “financiers” instead of “captains of industry.” It is the difference between “getting” and “making.”
The problem here is obvious. What anti-Semites have done is to label a behavior that they don’t like as “Jewish”. They then consider anyone who engaged in that behavior to be acting “Jewish”. Of course if 9 out of 10 people doing it are not Jews it makes no difference to the anti-Semite all of those other people are “Jews” by definition.
Jews then just become the bearer of the label for things that people do not like.
There is still much more to it though.
Now, previous to the advent of Jewish socialistic and subversive ideas, the predominant thought in the labor world was to “make” things and thus “make” money. There was a pride among mechanics. Men who made things were a sturdy, honest race because they dealt with ideas of skill and quality, and their very characters were formed by the satisfaction of having performed useful functions in society. They were the Makers. And society was solid so long as they were solid. Men made shoes as exhibitions of their skill. Farmers raised crops for the inherent love of crops, not with reference to far-off money-markets. Everywhere THE JOB was the main thing and the rest was incidental.
The only way to break down this strong safeguard of society – a creative laboring class of sturdy character – was to sow other ideas among it; and the most dangerous of all the ideas sown was that which substituted “get” for “make.”
Here the idea is promoted that hard work, by definition is “non-Jewish” and that the drive for profits was a “Jewish” concept. Henry Ford and others blamed the “Jewish mentality” for corrupting capitalism. Their view was that laissez-faire had the potential to be good, but that it was the “Jewish idea” that was ruining it, in other words laissez-faire capitalism would be fine as long as people didn’t intentionally try to maximize profits and reduce their own work apparently… I’m not sure how he, Henry Ford of all people, came to that conclusion.
Henry Ford outlines how, according to him, Jews had infiltrated the Christian Church and were subverting it. This was a view that had a direct impact on Hitler’s later views and contributed to Hitler’s view that there were “true Christians”, the ones who were aware of and resisted the “Jewish influence” and bad Christians, the ones who worked with the Jewish and were victims of Jewish influence.
The last place the uninstructed observer would look for traces of Jewish influence is in the Christian Church, yet if he fails to look there he will miss much. If the libraries of our theological seminaries were equipped with complete files of Jewish literary effort during recent decades, and if the theological students were required to read these Jewish utterances there would be less silly talk and fewer “easy marks” for Jewish propaganda in the American pulpit…
It is perfectly in keeping with the Jewish World Program that this destructive influence should be sent out under Jewish auspices, and it is perfectly in keeping with non-Jewish trustfulness to accept the thing without looking at its source. The Church is now victim of a second attack against her, in the rampant Socialism and Sovietism that have been thrust upon her in the name of flabby and unmoral theories of “brotherhood” and in an appeal to her “fairness.” The church has been made to believe that she is a forum for discussion and not a high place for annunciation.
Jews have actually invaded, in person and in program, hundreds of American churches, with their subversive and impossible social ideals, and at last became so cocksure of their domination of the situation that they were met with the inevitable check.
It is this line of ideology that resulted in Hitler’s eventual belief in the later part of his career, that even the churches themselves were a part of the Jewish problem. His belief was that it was apparent that “all of the Jewish idea” had not been wiped out in Germany so, therefore, it must be that he was too late and Jews had already “infected” the churches.
Ford goes on to discuss the Jewish influence in universities and schools.
The revolutionary forces which head up in Jewry rely very heavily on the respectability which is given their movement by the adhesion of students and a few professors. It was so in Russia – everyone knows what the name “student” eventually came to signify in that country. The Jewish Chautauqua, which works almost exclusively in colleges and universities, together with Bolshevism in art, science, religion, economics and sociology, are driving straight through the Anglo-Saxon traditions and landmarks of our race of students. These are ably assisted by professors and clergymen whose thinking has been dislocated and poisoned by Jewish subversive influences in theology and sociology…
The trouble with the colleges has progressed along precisely the same lines that have been described in connection with the churches. First, Jewish higher criticism in their destruction of young men’s sense of respect for the ancient foundations; second, Jewish revolutionary social doctrines.
Essentially, what he saw as the problem in the schools was the use of critical analysis of society and the teaching of progressive ideology instead of conservatism.
Ford then goes on to explain that Jews are anti-American and that “anti-Americanism” is “Jewish”.
More, the true and normal type of Jew believes that the influence of Americanism, or of any civilized Gentile state, is harmful to Judaism. That is a serious statement and no amount of Gentile assertion will be sufficient to confirm it. Indeed, it is such a statement as the Gentile mind could not have evolved, because the trend of Gentile feeling is all in the opposite direction, namely that Americanization is a good thing for the Jew. It is from authoritative Jewish sources we learn this fact, that what we call civilizing influences are looked upon as being at enmity with Judaism. It is not the Gentile who says that Jewish ideals, as ideals, are incompatible with the life of our country; it is the Jew who says so. It is he who inveighs against Americanism, not the American who inveighs against Judaism.
In his criticism of the “Jewish” objection to “Americanism” he essentially states that to question or be critical of American society or culture, is, of course, bad, and in fact, “Jewish”.
He claims that secularization is part of the Jewish program to take over America.
The warning has already gone out through the colleges. The system of Jewish procedure is already fully known. How simple it is! First, you secularize the public schools – “secularize” is the precise word the Jews use for the process. You prepare the mind of the public school child by enforcing the rule that no mention shall ever be made to indicate that culture or patriotism is in any way connected with the deeper principles of the Anglo-Saxon religion. Keep it out, every sight and sound of it! Keep out also every word that will aid any child to identify the Jewish race. Then, when you have thus prepared the soil, you can go into the universities and colleges and enter upon the double program of pouring contempt on all the Anglo-Saxon landmarks, at the same time filling the void with Jewish revolutionary ideas.
Ford then explains how Jews have promoted and “abused” democracy to further their cause, and explain that democracy is a Jewish tool.
First, his essential lack of democracy. Jewish nature is autocratic. Democracy is all right for the rest of the world, but the Jew wherever he is found forms an aristocracy of one sort or another. Democracy is merely a tool of a word which Jewish agitators use to raise themselves to the ordinary level in places where they are oppressed below it; but having reached the common level they immediately make efforts for special privileges, as being entitled to them.
Ford then explains that it is Jews who are behind attacks on Christianity in America, and goes on to list things such as protesting against the use of Christian phrases in government speech and on government property.
Under cover of the ideal of Liberty we have given the Jews liberty to attack Liberty. What America has been tolerating is intolerance itself. Let us look rapidly down the years and see one phase of that attack. It is the attack upon Christianity.
Ford then goes on to attack the Jewish ties to socialism and communism and the role of Jews in the Bolshevik Revolution.
The power house of Communist influence and propaganda in the United States is in the Jewish trade unions which, almost without exception, adhere to a Bolshevik program for the respective industries and for the country as a whole. The fact proves most embarrassing to the Jewish leaders in the recognized political parties very frequently. It is bad enough that Russian Bolshevism, Communism, should be so predominantly Jewish, but to confront the same situation in the United States is a problem which Jewish leaders have to use much ingenuity and deception to explain away or avoid. Yet the International Jew of America cannot be absolved from bearing sole responsibility for it. Russian Bolshevism came out of the East Side of New York where it was fostered by the encouragement – the religious, moral and financial encouragement – of Jewish leaders.
Leon Trotsky (Braunstein) was an East Sider. The forces which fostered what he stood for centered in the Kehillah and the American Jewish Committee. Both were interested in the work he set out to do – the overthrow of an established government, one of the allies of the United States in world war one. Russian Bolshevism was helped to its objective by Jewish gold from the United States – and by the ignorance and indolence of the Gentile citizens of the United States whose crimes of omission are almost as grave as those of bolshevik commission.
In so attacking the socialist movement, labor unions were also attacked as “Jewish” institutions.
The ideas set forth in Henry Ford’s work should be seen more as a documentation of popular anti-Semitic beliefs of the time. They serve as a good illustration of what exactly anti-Semitism was, and still is. Henry Ford was by no means the only man to put such ideas in writing, but his publications were popular and served to spread the ideology, in fact he was very popular among the Nazis and received The Grand Cross of the Order of the German eagle from Hitler for his birthday in 1938.
Ford’s books were also very popular in all of Germany, especially with the Hitler Youth, and contributed significantly to anti-Semitism among the Germans due to its documentary style approach that made it appear as though there was actually a real Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.
At the Nuremberg Trials Baldur Von Shirach claimed that Henry Ford was the primary inspiration for his anti-Semitism.
Shirach, a former Nazi youth leader, stated: “You have no idea what a great influence this book had on the thinking of the German youth…I read Henry Ford’s book The International Jewry…and became anti-Semitic.”
Winston Churchill also wrote about Jewish threat to modern society in his 1920 article Zionism versus Bolshevism, which was published in British newspapers. Churchill was not “racially” anti-Semitic or opposed to Jews in general, however he articulated what was popularly considered to be part of the “Jewish problem” in the world at the time.
SOME people like Jews and some do not; but no thoughtful man can doubt the fact that they are beyond all question the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has ever appeared in the world.
And it may well be that this same astounding race may at the present time be in the actual process of producing another system of morals and philosophy, as malevolent as Christianity was benevolent, which, if not arrested would shatter irretrievably all that Christianity has rendered possible. It would almost seem as if the gospel of Christ and the gospel of Antichrist were destined to originate among the same people; and that this mystic and mysterious race had been chosen for the supreme manifestations, both of the divine and the diabolical.
The National Russian Jews, in spite of the disabilities under which they have suffered, have managed to play an honorable and successful part in the national life even of Russia. As bankers and industrialists they have strenuously promoted the development of Russia’s economic resources, and they were foremost in the creation of those remarkable organizations, the Russian Co-operative Societies. In politics their support has been given, for the most part, to liberal and progressive movements, and they have been among the staunchest upholders of friend-ship with France and Great Britain
In violent opposition to all this sphere of Jewish effort rise the schemes of the Inter-national Jews. The adherents of this sinister confederacy are mostly men reared up among the unhappy populations of countries where Jews are persecuted on account of their race. Most, if not all, of them have forsaken the faith of their forefathers, and divorced from their minds all spiritual hopes of the next world. This movement among the Jews is not new. From the days of Spartacus – Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, and down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States), this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. It played, as a modern writer, Mrs. Webster, has so ably shown, a definitely recognizable part in the tragedy of the French Revolution. It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement during the Nineteenth Century; and now at last this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically the undisputed masters of that enormous empire.
So, what we have now seen is exactly what the charges against Jews are. The charges are that Jews promote liberalism, equality, communism, socialism, secularism, are anti-patriotic, greedy, liars, and thieves, who control banking and finance and have corrupted capitalism. Though the ideas of capitalism and communism are total opposites Jews are charged with being the root cause of the problems that exist in both, and in fact some argued that the Communist movement was some sort of Jewish plot to control finance and enslave the world, despite the fact that they already were arguing that Jews already controlled finance and had enslaved the world through capitalist finance.
This is what Jews were charged with being responsible for, and this is also exactly what fascism was opposed to.
The question then becomes, which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did fascism become anti-Semitic because of the Jewish association with these ideas or did the Jewish association with these ideas shape the positions of the fascists?
I think that it is the former. The perceived problems of the early 20th century were very real. In the early 20th century secularism was growing, laissez-faire capitalism was out of control, the Bolshevik Revolution was spreading socialism world wide, religion was being seriously challenged by science, liberalism was seen as a decadent force by conservatives, and there was a real possibility of socialists taking democratic control of many parts of Europe, including Italy, Germany and Spain.
Many people did not like these things based on their own merits, it’s not that they didn’t like them because of their supposed association with Jews. However, once these fascist regimes came to power anti-Semitism was embraced, especially in Germany, because it was part of the culture and the association between Jews and these social and economic issues was culturally embedded, and the situation was also initially portrayed as a war between Christianity and “the Jews.”
Shortly before the German invasion of the Soviet Union an editorial was published, Bolshevism and Synagogue, which demonized the Soviets as anti-Christians, which they were, and used the Bible as a source of anti-Semitism.
Even at the beginning of the Bolshevist revolution, Christian churches were destroyed or turned into movie theaters or warehouses and Christian priests bestially murdered.
But the synagogues, called dens of thieves in the New Testament of the Bible, were preserved, and the rabbis could continue to pray their prayers of hatred and curse Christianity in the name of their god Jahwe.
Obviously the fact that Germans were appealed to on a Christian level is an indication of the role of Christianity in German society and German anti-Semitism.
A number of anti-Semitic children’s books were printed in Germany under the Nazi regime as well, which have references that are helpful in understanding Nazi anti-Semitism.
In 1936 the book Trust No Fox on his Green Heath And No Jew on his Oath was printed and used in schools.
Sections of the book read:
At the creation of the world
The Lord God conceived the races:
Red Indians, Negroes and Chinese,
And Jew-boys too, the rotten crew.
And, we were also on the scene:
We Germans midst this motley medley-
He gave them all a piece of earth
To fill in the sweat of their brow.
But the Jew-boy went on strike at once!
For the devil rode him from the first…
The Devil brought them to our midst,
Like thieves they stole into our land
Hoping to get the upper hand…
From the start the Jew has been
A murderer, said Jesus Christ.
And as Our Lord died on the cross
God the Father knew no other race
To torment His Son to death,
He chose the Jews for this…
On Sabbath he won’t move a finger;
The stupid “goy” does all the work!
And even to put out the light
He calls the “goy” to do the job.
Did you know that, my Christian friends?…
Other tricks performs the Jew,
Inspired by his Satanic blood.
Urged on by just this meanness.
He’s fooled the lot of us Germans,
But he shan’t do that any more.
The Nazis also taught that Jesus was in fact not a Jew, as this recounting of an event by a Nazi author, where a pastor tried to persuade a room full of Germans against anti-Semitism, describes:
‘Well, the pastor wants us to believe that Christ was a Jew. But we are good Christians who paid attention to what we were taught.
We learned that Christ was God’s son, not the son of some Hebrew. Besides that, the Catholic Church teaches that Holy Mary, the mother of Christ, died a virgin. That means she never had sexual relations with a man, certainly not with a flat-footed garlic Jew. And thirdly, according to Catholic doctrine, Christ was born by a miracle, not by the normal natural process. Finally, the Church teaches that ‘Holy Spirit came upon’ the Virgin Mary. He must therefore be regarded as the father or source of Christ. Surely not even the pastor wants to tell us that the Holy Spirit is a Jew!’
His argument resulted in explosive laughter. Defeated on his own ground, the red-faced ultramontane Jew-lover had no choice but to disappear as fast as possible. Only later did he remember that he had left his hat and coat behind.
The teaching that Jesus was not a Jew was an integral part of German religious education during the Nazi era.
The cartoon above was published on the front page of the Nazi publication Der Stuermer and depicts a group of Hitler Youth marching forth to drive the forces of evil from the land. The caption under the cartoon reads, “We youth step happily forward facing the sun… With our faith we drive the devil from the land.” The “devil”, in this case, was implied to be the Jews.
Now the question becomes, did the Fascist leaders really believe their own propaganda about Jews? I believe that the answer is yes, at least in the case of the Nazis, though the Italians seem more to just be going along with the Nazis at Hitler’s request.
There is no question that many people believed in all of the ideas of anti-Semitism. It should be no surprise then that the Nazis believed it themselves as well.
I have no doubt that Hitler honestly believed that he was saving the world, or at least Europe, by eliminating Jews.
Hitler’s first known letter about Jews was written in 1919, well before he came to power. His belief that Jews were a threat to Western Civilization was real. His anti-Semitism was not just a political ploy on his part, it was his real mission and the meaning behind his actions.
In the closing statements of the letter he wrote to his military superior he wrote:
This very fact serves to deprive the Republic of the inner support of the spiritual forces any nation needs very badly. Hence the present leaders of the nation are forced to seek support from those who alone have benefited and continue to benefit from changing the form of the German state, and who for that very reason become the driving force of the Revolution – the Jews. Disregarding the Jewish threat, which is undoubtedly recognized even by today’s leaders (as various statement from prominent personalities reveal), these men are forced to accept Jewish favors to their private advantage and to repay these favors. And the repayment does not merely involve satisfying every possible Jewish demand, but above all preventing the struggle of the betrayed people against its defrauders, by sabotaging the antisemitic movement.
In the letter he also stated:
To begin with, the Jews are unquestionably a race, not a religious community.
In Mein Kampf Hitler explained his “revelation” about the political situation in Germany:
I gradually became aware that the Social Democratic press was directed predominantly by Jews…. I swallowed my disgust and tried to read this type of Marxist press production, but my revulsion became so unlimited in so doing that I endeavored to become more closely acquainted with the men who manufactured these compendiums of knavery. From the publisher down, they were all Jews. I took all the Social Democratic pamphlets I could lay hands on and sought the names of their authors: Jews. I noted the names of the leaders: by far the greatest part were likewise members of the “chosen” people….
One thing had grown clear to me: the party with whose petty representatives I had been carrying on the most violent struggle for months was, as to leadership, almost exclusively in the hands of a foreign people; for, to my deep and joyful satisfaction I had at last come to the conclusion that the Jew was no German. Only now did I become thoroughly acquainted with the seducer of our people…. If, with the help of his Marxist creed, the Jew is victorious over the other peoples of the world, his crown will be the funeral wreath of humanity and this planet will, as it did thousands of years ago, move through the ether devoid of men. Eternal Nature inexorably avenges the infringement of her commands.
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.
Here Hitler has discussed his “revelation” about the “Jewish problem”. Hitler was opposed to Marxism politically and here he tells the story about how he made the connection between Jews and Marxists in Germany, which according to the story is why he took up action against Jews, because he saw them as the root source of Marxist political ideology in Germany. There is actually some truth to the connection between Marxism and Jews, Karl Marx was of Jewish heritage, and many other prominent Marxist leaders and writers were Jews, however there were also plenty of non-Jews who were involved in the movement as well. It is often noted that the Bolsheviks who carried out the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia were largely comprised of Jews, but that is also partially because Russia had the largest Jewish population in the world at the time and the Czarist government was actively persecuting Jews.
Likewise Hitler’s last testament further indicates his beliefs about Jews.
It is untrue that I or anyone else in Germany wanted war in 1939. It was wanted and provoked solely by international statesmen either of Jewish origin or working for Jewish interests. I have made too many offers for the limitation and control of armaments, which posterity will not be cowardly enough always to disregard, for responsibility for the outbreak of this war to be placed on me. Nor have I ever wished that, after the appalling First World War, there would ever be a second against either England or America. Centuries will go by, but from the ruins of our towns and monuments the hatred of those ultimately responsible will always grow anew against the people whom we have to thank for all this: international Jewry and its henchmen.
Only three days before the outbreak of the German-Polish war I proposed a solution of the German-Polish problem to the British Ambassador in Berlin – international control as in the case of the Saar. This offer, too, cannot be lied away. It was only rejected because the ruling clique in England wanted war, partly for commercial reasons and partly because it was influenced by the propaganda put out by international Jewry.
I have left no one in doubt that if the people of Europe are once more treated as mere blocks of shares in the hands of these international money and finance conspirators, then the sole responsibility for the massacre must be borne by the true culprits: the Jews.
– April 29, 1945
Towards the end of the war Hitler also commented that his gift to humanity would be the elimination of Jews from Europe, and that if he were able to fully eliminate Jews from Europe there was hope, whether Germany won the war or not, for Europe to be saved.
So, his anti-Semitism was present early on and it was a genuine belief of his. Furthermore it was a genuine belief of the other members of Nazi leadership as well.
What has to be understood is that the Nazis honestly believed that what they were doing was right.
To emphasize this I will highlight a few passages from Joseph Goebbels Diaries:
I had a few hours’ time tonight to read Wirsing’s new book, The Continent Without Limit. Wirsing gives us a picture of American life, American business, culture, and politics. The material he has assembled is truly shattering. Roosevelt is one of the worst enemies of modern culture and civilization. If we do not succeed in definitely defeating the enemy, made up of Bolshevism, plutocracy, and lack of culture, the world will be headed for densest darkness. That is the reason why we must courageously and uncompromisingly take all inconveniences and hardships upon ourselves. We are actually carrying in our hands the torch that brings light to humanity.
– March 11,1942
The House of Lords has once again taken a stand against the Arabs and for the Jews. It is surprising how much Jewish influence there is among the English people, especially the upper crust, which is hardly English in character any longer. The chief reason is no doubt the fact that these Upper Ten Thousand have become so infested with the Jewish virus by Jewish marriages that they can hardly think in English.
– March 12, 1942
A judgment is being visited upon the Jews that, while barbaric, is fully deserved by them. The prophesy which the Fuehrer made about them for having brought on a new world war is beginning to come true in a most terrible manner. One must not be sentimental in these matters. If we did not fight the Jews, they would destroy us. It’s a life – and – death struggle between Aryan race and the Jewish bacillus.
– March 27, 1942
The most recent act of sabotage [in France] against a German military train resulted in several deaths and will be punished with severe reprisals. The number of people to be shot will be doubled, and over a thousand Communists and Jews will be put into freight cars and shipped East. There they will soon cease to see any fun in disturbing Germany’s policies for order in Europe.
– April 20, 1942
The Jews aren’t always so clever as they would like themselves to believe. Whenever they are in danger they are the stupidest devils.
– April 24, 1942
I could go on, but the point should be clear. These are excerpts from the personal diary of a top Nazi official, as well as statements made by Hitler when they were not intended for any propaganda purpose. The Nazis believed in themselves, they believed that what they were doing was right and good.
They believed that what they were doing was right because they opposed liberalism, Marxism, democracy, secularism, atheism, labor unions, and finance capitalism and they believed that Jews were at the root of all of these “problems”.
Thus they honestly believed that by eliminating Jews they would eliminate these “problems”.
This is why understanding fascism and anti-Semitism is much more important than just acknowledging the labels. You have to understand what ideas lie behind those labels, and when you see the ideas behind the labels you can then actually recognize these ideologies as they still present themselves today. The problem is not just “hating Jews”, which is a problem in and of itself, the problem goes deeper into the the opposition to the ideas themselves. As long as significant numbers of people continue to hold essentially the same views as the Nazis, though perhaps not associated with Jews, the problem of social fascism will still continue.
Committing Atrocities and Genocide
Ever since World War II the question has been raised, how could the Germans have done what they did? Why did so many people go along with such horrific treatment of other human beings? All too often the easy or comfortable answer is given, even today. The easy answers, however, often don’t reflect the truth, and therefore don’t help us to better understand the situation.
Anyone who knows about German culture knows that Germany was one of the most advanced countries in the world in the early 20th century. Germans were extremely well educated, among the most highly educated people in the world at that time actually. The Germans are also a historically caring people, deeply rooted in community and family values. German culture at that time was not a historically brutal or cruel culture, in fact it was the opposite, it was a historically kind and caring culture, though often mischaracterized by Germanophobes. Strict and orderly – yes, but not callous.
How is it that one of the most civilized and advanced societies in the world, with a generally kind hearted population, participated in some of the worst acts of organized cruelty in human history?
Many people have put the blame on “hate”.
Hate, however, is not the real answer, and much of the approach to demonizing Nazism has led to great misunderstanding of Nazi society. This understanding is vital for not only understanding Nazism, but for understanding large social movements in general.
When one takes a broad view of German society in the 1930s, what is noticed is actually the lack of hate rhetoric and the prevalence of a strong sense of community and kinship. The Nazi movement was not built on hate, but really it was built on a type of love. The swastika, in fact, was a recognized symbol of peace and good luck at the time that the Nazis adopted it.
Perhaps the best way to think of the Nazi Party is to think of it as a giant national fraternity. In fact, the Nazi Party grew out of a type of fraternity, the Thule Society, and many of today’s fraternities have a lot in common with Nazi Party customs. Most of today’s college fraternities have their origins in late 19th and early 20th century secret societies. The types of rituals common in fraternities were popular in the secret societies of the 18th and 19th century.
Fraternities, of course, have a history of hazing problems, fighting amongst each other, being very exclusive, and being highly structured. The Nazi Party was effectively like a fraternity on steroids that took over political control of the State. In addition to the negative aspects of fraternities, however, fraternities are also known for the formation of extremely close bonds between members, fostering a sense of brotherhood and loyalty, and creating a sense of empowerment among members as well as a belief in an ideal. Fraternities often seek to create the “ideal man” and instill a sense of virtue in their members.
The practices of fraternities are also very similar to the practices of the Nazi Party: Induction rituals, historical training, learning and singing fraternity songs, fostering an animosity towards a rival fraternity, bonding retreats, initiation rituals, oaths, codes, building projects, taking on challenges, working together, etc.
All of this serves to form a bond between the members and engender a feeling of security, loyalty, love and commitment among the members. This is really what was taking place in Germany during the reign of the Nazi regime.
The Nazis did not capture the hearts and minds of the German people with hate speeches, they did it by fostering this strong sense of community, loyalty, progress, and love among the people. What historians note about Nazi Germany was the strong sense of happiness and purpose among the people.
This was especially true of the youth.
Imagine Boy Scout and Girl Scout camp, and now imagine that your entire life all year long is Boy Scout or Girl Scout camp. That was something like what the youth of Nazi Germany experienced. They wore uniforms every day, they marched in single file line to and from school every day singing songs and holding hands; they participated in charity works and skills training on a regular basis; they recited oaths and pledges on a regular basis, and, most of all, they were encouraged to love one another, as long as they were German, not Jewish or some other minority.
The children in Nazi Germany, as long as they were “Aryan” and liked to fit in, really, really enjoyed themselves. They had an excellent life. Some of the really common exercises for children were choreographed dance and parade patterns. These group activities really gave the children a sense of power and a sense of being a part of something bigger. This built a strong sense of cooperation and community among the children, who formed very close and deep friendships with each other. Forming deep social bonds and a strong sense of trust among Germans was a major part of the Nazi movement.
Building trust was of course very important for the political movement – trust in leadership, and trust of Germans in each other as well – a sense that together, as Germans, they could rely on each other and accomplish anything.
This is the real social setting of Nazi Germany; it wasn’t a setting of hate and fear, not for the Germans. To the average German, until shortly before the outbreak of the war, their experience with the Nazi Party and with the German society of the time as a whole was extremely positive and engendered a great sense of pride and love.
The Nazis took this to a religious type of level. Anyone who has participated in a powerful mass movement will be familiar with the special sense of power that comes from being “a part of something bigger”. An actual physical sensation is experienced as people feel joined to those around them, almost as if by electricity. A feeling as though together you are all united and you are all in complete harmony. This is an important element of many religions, and it is this feeling that groups such as Christian fundamentalists make heavy use of in their organizations. When you see fundamentalist Christians at a service in large masses, swaying back and fourth with their hands in the air and their eyes closed, they are often experiencing this feeling of social unity. This feeling is produced by chemicals in the brain and can actually become addictive.
The Nazi regime engendered this type of feeling in a large segment of the German nation. This powerful, electric, feeling of social unity and love for Germany, fellow Germans, and the Fuhrer, swept the country under the leadership of Adolph Hitler.
It is this powerful feeling of love and unity that made the atrocities of the Nazi regime possible.
The Jews increasingly became outsiders, because they were never a part of the Nazi Party, and the Nazi Party had become like a national fraternity. Just as people in fraternities often look down on non-members naturally, this same phenomenon took place in Germany. In addition to this natural attitude towards non-Nazis, the Jews were increasingly portrayed as a threat to the unity and community that had been created in Germany. It’s important to remember that the major actions against the Jews didn’t begin until 5 or more years after the Nazi Party had gained control of the country, and that during that time the focus of the party was not on spreading hate, but on building community and loyalty.
Similar to the way that a lover may commit murder in a crime of passion, or the way that fraternity members may commit violence out of a sense of passion for the group, Germans turned against the Jews because they were viewed as threats to the unity and strength of the German society that they had grown to love. The Germans had become so attached to their sense of community, and so addicted to the religious sense of purpose and social bonds that they felt as Nazis, they were driven to take any action they believed was necessary to preserve this feeling and to protect this sense of community.
It is impossible to understand the actions of the Germans against minorities, and the loyalty of the Germans to Adolph Hitler, without understanding this real sense of passion and community that had been engendered in the German people. By viewing Nazism primarily as an institution of hate the reality of the movement is missed and it is impossible to understand why it was really so powerful.
Now I see a little better how Nazism overcame Germany. It was what most Germans wanted – or, under pressure of combined reality and illusion, came to want. They wanted it; they got it; and they liked it. I came back home a little afraid for my country, afraid of what it might want, and get, and like, under pressure of combined reality and illusions. I felt – and feel – that it was not German Man that I had met, but Man. He happened to be in Germany under certain conditions. He might be here, under certain conditions. He might, under certain conditions, be I.
– Milton Mayer, Jewish Journalist in They Thought They Were Free.
Reprinted with permission from the author.
Christopher Hitchens – Hitler, Fascism and the Catholic Church
Hitler and the Roman Catholic Church
Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook