Hitler Was NOT An Atheist

By John Patrick Michael Murphy | Spring 1999
Council for Secular Humanism

Adolf Hitler chancellor of Germany is welcomed by supporters at Nuremberg.

In George Orwell’s 1984, it was stated, “Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past.” Who is going to control the present-fundamentalism or freedom?

History is being distorted by many preachers and politicians. They are heard on the airwaves condemning atheists and routinely claim Adolph Hitler was one. Hitler was a Roman Catholic, baptized into that religio-political institution as an infant in Austria. He became a communicant and an altar boy in his youth and was confirmed as a “soldier of Christ” in that church. Its worst doctrines never left him. He was steeped in its liturgy, which contained the words “perfidious jew.” This hateful statement was not removed until 1961. “Perfidy” means treachery.

In his day, hatred of Jews was the norm. In great measure it was sponsored by two major religions of Germany, Catholicism, and Lutheranism. He greatly admired Martin Luther, who openly hated the Jews. Luther condemned the Catholic Church for its pretensions and corruption, but he supported the centuries of papal pogroms against the Jews. Luther said, “The Jews deserve to be hanged on gallows, seven times higher than ordinary thieves,” and “We ought to take revenge on the Jews and kill them.” “Ungodly wretches” he called the Jews in his book Table Talk.

Hitler seeking power, wrote in Mein Kampf, “… I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews. I am doing the Lord’s work.” Years later, when in power, he quoted those same words in a Reichstag speech in 1938.

Three years later he informed General Gerhart Engel: “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.” He never left the church, and the church never left him. Great literature was banned by his church, but his miserable Mein Kampf never appeared on the index of Forbidden Books. He was not excommunicated or even condemned by his church. Popes, in fact, contracted with Hitler and his fascist friends Franco and Mussolini, giving them veto power over whom the pope could appoint as a bishop in Germany, Spain, and Italy. The three thugs agreed to surtax the Catholics of these countries and send the money to Rome in exchange for making sure the state could control the church.

Those who would make Hitler an atheist should turn their eyes to history books before they address their pews and microphones. Acclaimed Hitler biographer John Toland explains his heartlessness as follows: “Still a member in good standing of the Church of Rome despite the detestation of its hierarchy, he carried within him its teaching that the Jews was the killer of god. The extermination, therefore, could be done without a twinge of conscience since he was merely acting as the avenging hand of god. …”

Top: A German soldier in winter uniform on motorcycle. Bottom: The inscription on the German soldier’s belt buckle translates “God With Us”.

Hitler’s Germany amalgamated state with church. Soldiers of the vermacht wore belt buckles inscribed with the following: “Gott mit uns” (God is with us). His troops were often sprinkled with holy water by the priests. It was a real Christian country whose citizens were indoctrinated by both state and church and blindly followed all authority figures, political and ecclesiastical.

Hitler, like some of the today’s politicians and preachers, politicized “family values.” He liked corporeal punishment in home and school. Jesus prayers became mandatory in all schools under his administration. While abortion was illegal in pre-Hitler Germany, he took it to new depths of enforcement, requiring all doctors to report to the government the circumstances of all miscarriages. He openly despised homosexuality and criminalized it. If past is prologue, we know what to expect if liberty becomes license.

As a young child, I remember my late father, Martin J. Murphy, practicing a speech and loudly quoting the following: “Light up the mountain. Bring out the wild and fiery steed. Let it be known, that I, Gustavus, have insulted the King.” Thinking for yourself and speaking your true thoughts – now that’s a real family value.

John Patrick Michael Murphy, a retired attorney and a member of Freethinkers of Colorado Springs, co-writes a freethought column for an alternative weekly newspaper.

Nazi War Criminal and Roman Catholic Cardinal Stepinac

Christopher Hitchens – Hitler, Fascism and the Catholic Church

Geoffrey Robertson QC: Pope Pius XII did everything to help the Nazis, and nothing to save the Jews

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17 COMMENTS

  1. When was the last time Christianity assumed responsibility for its monsters?

    If you remove the title of this article, you are still left with a people, the Church, denominations, a monster, and centuries of hatred that all align perfectly together. In other words, even if Hitler was not a Christian, he was damn good in asking for and receiving support from millions of Christians who believed they had a 'personal relationship' with Jesus. Now, that's something, isn't it?

  2. It's a pointless debate. He made a lot of anti-religious comments as well, some public and some private. What he said probably depended on his audience, so who knows what he thought? Or even if he thought about it much at all.

    I think about the line from the Roman senator in Spartacus, "Privately I believe in none of the gods. Publicly I believe in them all."

    There is plenty of evidence of atheism and plenty of evidence of belief in deity. All of it is questionable. He may have been neither atheist or religious.

    Ultimately – who cares?

  3. Over 1800 priest died in Nazi concentration camps in Poland alone. I wouldn’t call that a Freind. Is the implication Hitler was deranged by Catholism.

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