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MBS Texte 94

5. Jahrgang

2008

Thomas Schirrmacher
National Socialism
as Religion

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Table of Contents
Inhaltsverzeichnis

‘Salvation Hitler’....................................................................... 3
14 Documents........................................................................... 3
Research on National Socialism as Religion.............................. 7
Why German Churches
Failed to Understand National Socialism.................................. 8
Annotation.............................................................................. 11
The Author.............................................................................. 13
Impressum.............................................................................. 14

This essay was originally published as “National Socialism as Religion”.


Global Journal of Classical Theology (Trinity Theological Seminary) 4
(2005) 3: 1ff. An earlier English version was published in the authors book
“Love is the Fulfilment of Law: Essays on Ethics” (RVB: Hamburg, 2001).

For detailed documentation see:

1. Aufl. 2008
National Socialism as Religion

National Socialism as Religion


Thomas Schirrmacher

Abstract: Provides an overview of National Socialism as a rival religion to


Christianity. 14 major documents and research literature prove National
Socialism not only to be a political party, but to be a faith in salvation and a
future kingdom. There even examples of prayers to Hitler and of plans to esta-
blish the Hitler cult as the only religion in Europe once the war was won.

‘Salvation Hitler’ in several ways. We could discuss the


roots of Hit­ler’s thinking, which lie in
Let us have a look at one of the two occult orders and sects2. We could dis-
political religions that have been in cuss the parallels between the salvation
power on German soil and attempted history of or­thodox Chri­stianity and of
to bring salva­tion by the State: National National Socialism. But surely the most
Socialism and Communism. impressive argument is the everyday
It is impossible to count how many songs, the poems, offi­cial rituals and
billion times the Germans said ‘Heil lectu­res of the Third Reich. Most Nazis
Hitler’ during the Third Reich. To did not dis­guise or hide the reli­gious
greet with ‘Heil Hit­ler’ was required character of their actions. Let us look at
by a strict law, and people were put some samples.
into concen­tration camps because they
refused. But only a few non-Germans
realize that ‘Heil’ is the German word 14 Documents
for ‘salvation’, which is ex­tensively used
in the German Bible translations. ‘Sal- Document 1: A Blessing
vation Hit­ler’ or ‘Salvation by Hitler’ In Cologne, the children receiving
was the daily message every German, meals from the Nazi State du­ring World
including nearly all Christians, preached War II prayed before meal. This prayer
to his neighbour daily. Although some follows typi­cal German Christian bless-
tried to explain ‘Heil Hitler’ as wishing ings before meal and is originally writ-
salvation for Hitler1, the official mean- ten in rhyme:
ing was clear: Hitler is the salvation for
Germany and for the world. “Fold your hands, bow your head and
That ‘Salvation Hitler’ was only a think about Adolf Hitler.
small, but revealing part of the Social- He gives us our daily bread and helps us
ist message and practice of a new anti- out of every misery.” 3
Christian reli­gion can be demonstrated

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Thomas Schirrmacher

Document 2: A Blessing of the united trade unions, Robert Ley,


Another children’s prayer by the said:
Nationalsocialist Welfare Office for
Children’s Meals in Cologne: “Once your heart is branded with the
swastika,
“Before the meal: You hate any other cross!
Fuehrer, my Fuehrer, given of God, If you identify yourself with your nation,
Protect me and keep my life. You laugh at redeemer cranks.
Thou has saved Germany from the Beware anyone one who demands:
greatest of need ‘Whosoever will come after me, let him
I thank you today for my daily bread. deny himself ’
Stay by me, don’t leave me, ‘What the Nazarine demands is our
Fuehrer, my Fuehrer, my faith and my demise...’ 6
light.
After the meal: Document 5: A Confession
I thank thee for this food, The same Robert Ley proclaimed in
Defender of youth, defender of age! his personal ‘confession’ (‘Glaubens-
Thou hast care, I know, but no fear, bekenntnis’):
Thou art with me by day and by night. “Adolf Hitler! We are united with you
Lay thy head quiet in my lap, alone! We want to re­new our vow in this
Art safe, my Fuehrer, then thou art hour: On this earth we believe only in
great.. Adolf Hitler. We believe that National
Hail my Fuehrer!”4 Socialism alone is the saving faith for
our people. We believe that there is a
Document 3: A Statement Lord-God in Heaven, who created us,
In a lecture at a course for the lead- who leads us, who directs us and who
ers of the youth of the German States blesses us visibly. And we believe that
it was stated: this Lord-God sent Adolf Hitler to us,
“National Socialism is a religion, so that Germany may be­come a basis
born out of blood and race, not a politi- for all eternity.” 7
cal world view. It is the new, only true
religion, born out of a Nordic spirit and Document 6: Song
an Arian soul. The religions still exi­st- A widely used song by the ‚Reichsju-
ing must disap­pear as soon as possible. gendführer’, the Fuehrer of youth in
If they do not dis­solve themselves the Nazi Germany, Baldur von Schirach:
State must destroy them.”5
“Before thee, my Fuehrer
Document 4: An Official Poem Though thousands may stand before
The ‘Confession of Faith’ of the thee,
‘Reichsarbeitsführer’, the Nazi Chief

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National Socialism as Religion

each feels thine eye on himself alone and Document 8: Song


thinks, The official song of the Hitlerjugend
his own hour has come, (‘Youth of Hitler’) at the Reichsparteitag
when thou sees the depths of his soul. 1934:
In those few minutes in thy presence, we
would open every door to thee, “We are Hitler’s joyous youth,
all thoughts we lift to thee, Why need we Christian virtue!,
that thou correct and improve. Our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler
So good art thou and so great; Is always our redeemer!
so strong and infinitely pure No wicked priest can hinder us,
To thee we reveal without deceit our To sense that we are Hitler’s children;
hearts’ innocence. We follow not Christ but Horst Wessel,
None depart from thee with empty Away with incense and holy water!”10
hands,
if thine eyes have touched him with Document 9: Song
their steely gaze. Song by Ernst Leibl:
We know that thou proclaimeth con-
stantly: “We lift our hands in our direst need.
I am with you – and you belong to Lord, send us the Fuehrer, to avert our
me!” 8 doom with powerful command.
Awaken our hero, to have mercy on his
Document 7: Song people, who walk in darkness,
Another widely used song of the Sold and betrayed into enemy hand.”11
Reichsjugendführer:
Document 10: Poem
“How often we heard the sound of thy
voice and listened silently, “God We see no God with long beard
folding our hands, as every word pierced And cane in his hand.
the depth of our souls. We see only the work of the creator
We know it, one day the end will In our German Fatherland.
come, We see no Jewish God,
and free us from force and from need. Who elected that people.
What is a year when the era shall turn?! We believe in no divine contracts,
Where is a law that will stifle our faith, Reported in the old Book.
the pure faith you have bestowed, We see no God in the daily crimes,
that beats as our hearts and guides our Committed by His people,
existence. We see God in His acts,
My Fuehrer, thou alone art the way When He gives Germans bread and
and the goal!” 9 work.
We do not believe in God’s Words

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Thomas Schirrmacher

We do not believe in God’s Book approach. Gray clamour huddles at the


We believe that man is closest to God in end of the world. The Fuehrer arises!
his deeds.”12 He raises his hand to eternal salute.
His heart beats the heartbeat of his
Document 11: Poem people
Poem by Max Storsberg: His step is our prayer ...
He arises and stands shrouded in mira-
“Wherever our banner waves, cles.
The Gospel of Germany is preached, He burns with the faith of his com-
There stand our altars, rades. No priestly ordination has more
There blossoms our faith in you, eternal power than the silent, stonelike prayer
Germany, of the man in whose being the nation
There the deep fountains of our hearts is moved. The vow we make here is our
surge to flow towards the eternity before prayer to the creator!
God’s throne.”13 May our banner wave! Let it be hoisted,
for it is our German high altar! The
Document 12: Order of Ceremony standard bearers rejoice: What is death,
Instructions for the central memorial when you command us to live, O Ger-
ceremony at the Munich Field Marshal many!”14
Hall:
Document 13
“National Socialist Worship The high SS officer Schulz stated in a
On these steps to the Hall of the Field lecture called “Ours is the kingdom and
Marshals, to which we make pilgrim- the power and the glory”15:
age, once stood a sacrament of battle, In
this, its only cathedral, Germany, may “I do not want to become guilty of blas-
stand only those who carve their moti- phemy, but I ask: Who was greater,
vation deep into their deeds. Christ or Hitler? By (the time of) his
You are pilgrims, if you honour the death Christ had twelve disciples, who
glory of your nation above the revela- did not even stay faithful. But Hitler
tions of any religion. today has a people of 70 million behind
You sense the holiness of the Hall of him. We cannot tolerate that another
Field Marshals. organization, which has another spirit
What value have prayers and hymns, than ours, should come into existence.
The swinging of incense bowls in com- Natio­nal Socialism se­riously lays this
parison with the muffled rhythm of our claim: I am the Lord, your God, you
drums when our Fuehrer ascends the shall have no other gods beside me ...
steps? Our is the kingdom, because we have
The sighs of the watchers extinguish a strong army (“Wehrmacht”), and the
the earth, still trembling under our glory, because we are a respected people

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National Socialism as Religion

again, and this, if God wants it, ‘ in words “the first useful outline” and then
eter­nity’. Heil Hitler”16 . sent to Joseph Goebbels.

Document 14 “Immediatel and unconditional aboli-


Because of space I cannot quote fur- tion of all religions af­ter the final vic-
ther ex­amples. Yet there are hundreds tory (‘Endsieg’) not only for the territory
and thousands of documents like this. of Greater Germany but also for all
All documents demonstrate clearly an released, occupied and ann­exed coun-
agressive opposition to Jesus Christ and tries ... proclai­ming at the same time
to the Christian faith. All make the rea- Hitler as the new messiah. Out of politi-
son for National Socialism’s unbeliev- cal con­siderations the Muslim, Buddhist
able success clear – its religious enthu- and Shintoist religion will be spared
siasm. All of the documents mentioned for the present. The ‘Führer’ has to be
above were available to the public, and presented as an intermediate between
had been either published or sanctioned a redeemer and a liberator, yet surely
by the Party. These are no peripheral as one sent by God, who must receive
idiosyncrasies, but were accessible to divine honour. The existing churches,
anyone interested in reading them. One chapels, temples and cult places of the
only needs to browse through the song different religions have to be changed
books of the Hitler Youth, the SS or the into ‘Adolf-Hitler-consecration places’.
Arbeitsdienst (Worker’s Society) to find The theological faculties of the universi-
further examples. Each of these docu- ties have to be transformed according to
ments speaks for itself, and is sufficient the new faith. Special emphasis has to
to remind us how an antichristian reli- be laid on the educa­tion of missionaries
gion propelled the world to the brink. and wandering prea­chers, who should
I also want to assure you that the reli- pro­claim the teaching in Greater Ger-
gious overtone does not depend on the many and in the rest of the world and
translation. The case is just the opposite: must form religious bodies, which can
I find it difficult to translate the strongly be used as centers for further extension.
religious overtone into English. These (With this the problems in the abolition
shocking songs, prayers and confessions of monogamy will disappear, because
were no secret, but part of everyday life polygamy can be included into the new
in Nazi Germany. For compari­son, the teaching as one of the statements of
last ex­ample will be taken from a truly faith.)”18
‘secret document’, which shows that the
documents already quoted were a mild
ver­sion for the public. The text is a secret
document from 1943, writ­ten only for
Adolf Hitler17. His signature shows that
the text was ap­proved by him with the

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Thomas Schirrmacher

Research on National is there salvation in any other” (Acts


Socialism as Religion 4:12), countless believers thoughtlessly
repeated the formula.
National Socialism can only be suf- It is not my intention to describe the
ficiently understood when its religious religious aspects of National Socialism
character is perceived. As early as 1924, in detail or to prove that this defini-
Carl Christian Bry classified National tion is appropriate, as I have already
Socialism in his book “Verkappte Reli- presented preliminary arguments in my
gionen”19 (Disguised Religions) as a article “Adolf Hitler und kein Ende”23,
religious utopia capable of inducing in which I demonstrate that Hitler had
a “collective insanity”. The later Ger- already formulated a definite world
man Federal President Theodor Heuss view in the 1920’s, which he later put
introduced the term “disguised reli- into practise, step by step. This article
gion” in 1925 in the Reichtstag. In his also discloses the religio-political secret
in 1931 sermon “Political Messiahs”20, sects which nourished Hitler’s ideas.
the Protestant pastor Richard Karwehl Other sources have already provided
demonstrated that National Socialism detailed information. Werner Ham-
provided an antichristian alternative to berski, for example, discussing ‘Mein
every fundamental truth of the Chris- Kampf’, writes:
tian faith. In 1939, the Jewish phi-
losopher Hans-Joachim Schoeps also “Hitler constantly used religious formula
published an anonymous article which in his speeches and writings. He spoke
described National Socialism as a dis- of receiving divine signs from Fate, and
guised religion.21 Both before and dur- always claimed to act ‘ in the Creator’s
ing the Third Reich, voices warned that will’. In the first three chapters alone
the National Socialist system was more (137 pages) of the book he uses the word
than an ideology or political totalitari- ‘Fate’ 37 times in a variety of meanings
anism but a religion with a comprehen- and contexts. ‘God’ is mentioned seven
sive assertion. Only recently, however, times, both ‘providence’ and ‘ heaven’
have historians begun to study National four times, ‘goddess’, three times. The
Socialism under this aspect.22 words ‘almighty creator’, ‘Lord’ and
The very conflict between Christian- ‘the gods’ appear once a piece ... From
ity and National Socialism emphasizes a theological point of view, these expres-
the tragic failure of Christians to heed sions belong to completely contradictory
National Socialism’s religious aspect systems. The ‘almighty God’ shares his
and to approach it as more than a omnipotence with the ‘will of the gods’,
poltical system. The obligatory greet- the ‘wisdom of providence’ contradicts
ing “Heil Hitler” should have alerted the ‘wickedness of Fate.’ 24
them, but in spite of the explicit Bibli-
cal reference to Jesus Christ, “Neither

8 MBS Texte 94
National Socialism as Religion

Why German Churches military officers, politicians, and pastors


Failed to Understand such as Niemoeller and Bonhoeffer. The
National Socialism so-called ‘Confessional Church’ was a
mixture of Bible-belie­ving Christians
If the Christian churches in Ger- like the Re­formed Heinrich Jochums
many (and in many other coun­tries) and strong libe­rals like Rudolf Bult­
did not realize that they had been taken mann.
over by a rival religion called National Beside the thoughts and actions from
Socialism, which explicitly called itself conservative Lutherans, the only real
a religion, how can you convince them resistance came from neo-orthodox
today that they are taken over by rival Reformed theologians in Switzerland
religions which deny that they are reli- and Germany and from Reformed
gions, such as Socialism and Marx- Chri­stians in the Netherlands. Karl
ism25, Freemasonry26, Rudolf Steiner’s Barth was the only professor of theol-
An­throposophy27 or other forms of ogy who continued to start his lecture
Humanism? with a prayer in­stead ‘Heil Hitler’. Nor
That there was nearly no resistance was he willing to swear an oath to Hit­
to use this ‘German gree­ting’ among ler28, even though he changed his mind
Christians shows the condition of later, when it was already too late29. But
the German chur­ches after hundreds Barth was deserted by the ‘Confessional
of years of being influenced by the Church’, which told the Nazi State that
Humanistic philosophy of Lessing, it saw no problem in swearing an oath
Hegel, Goethe and others, and by the to Hitler. Only then was the Nazi State
aggres­sive theology of higher critics ready to dismiss Barth!30 Even though
like Reima­rus, Strauss and Renan. The Barth is to be rejected because he denies
so-called ‘free churches’ – including biblical history31, he ar­gued for resis-
the Dispensationalist churches – cried tance to the Nazi State be­cause he saw
‘Heil Hitler’, removed conver­ted Jews Jesus from a Reformed perspective as
from their congregations and took Lord over every area of life, which is the
over the ‘Führer’-princi­ple which Hit- clear mes­sage of the otherwise mi­xed
ler forced on all organi­zations. Most Declaration of Barmen. Please do not
‘free chuches’ merged into one large misunderstand me. I am not advocating
denomination by order of the Nazis. Karl Barth. But to under­stand the situ-
Many Lu­theran churches did not want ation in Germany we must understand
to get involved in politics, thus mis- that un­til the end of the sixties Barth
interpreting the Lutheran teaching of was offering the most conservative eth-
the two kingdoms and not taking into ics you could buy on the open market.
account that the only real resistance Incidentally, the attitude of the Ger-
against Hitler finally leading to that of man Dispensational chur­ches toward
20th of July, 1944 came from Lutheran Hitler and the Jews compared to those

Pro mundis 9
Thomas Schirrmacher

of the Re­formed (and Lutheran) Chris- but on his naïve disappointment that
tians is a striking argument against Hal the Jews did not embrace Christianity
Lindsey’s rude attack that Reformed the- once the errors of medieval Catholicism
ology will lead to a second holocaust32. had been removed through Reforma-
Normally, it is the Dispensationa­list tion teaching.34) As for Pietism, it often
who will not step in for others, because based its preaching on the conscience,
this would mean beco­ming involved in not on the Law. Pietism could easily live
politics or economics. Lind­sey must be without the Old Testament, alt­hough
reminded that love in the Bible is to be this was never stated.
measured by deeds (1 John 3,18), not by Liberal theology hated the Old Testa-
nice words, proclamations or bestsel­ ment, and professors of Old Testament
ling books. have done everything to undermine the
One of the main reasons why the applica­tion of the Old Testament today,
German churches did not fight against in spite of their massive studies of the
Hitler’s rival religion and his Anti- text itself. Adolf von Harnack, a fore-
semitism was the low view of the Old most liberal theologian and close ally of
Testament. Antisemitism is only possible Emperor Wilhelm II, wrote a famous
where the Old Testament and especially sentence in his book on Marcion, reject-
Old Testament Law has been put aside. ing the Old Testament as the work of
A love for the Old Testament and its another god:
Law is the best protection against Anti-
semitism. This is the major mistake “To reject the Old Testament in the
of Hal Lindsay who compa­res Refor­ second century was a mistake which the
med theology to National Socialism. great Church refused rightfully; to keep
National Socialism hated the Old it in the sixteenth century was a fate
Testament, while Reformed theology which the Reformation was not able to
is surely much closer to the Old Tes- escape; but to conserve it after the nine-
tament than hyper-Dispensationalist teenth cen­tury as a canonical text in
Hal Lindsey. Alfred Rosenberg, Hit­ler’s Prote­stantism, was the result of a reli-
agent for world view affairs, saw it the gious and ecclesiastical paralysis.” 35
biggest mistake of Pro­testantism that
Martin Luther translated and spread One of Hitler’s first actions was to
the Old Testa­ment and took an oath force the churches to get rid of their
on the Old and New Testament before Jewish-Christian members. So all Jew-
the Emperor in Worms in 152033. (It ish members of all chur­ches were dis-
should be remembered that, as a pro- ciplined. This took place in churches
fessor of Old Testament, Luther loved where church disci­pline had nearly
the Old Testament very much; also, totally faded! This most gigantic act of
that Luther’s oft condemned “anti- church discipline in history took place
Semitism” was founded, not on racism quietly and without much protest. And

10 MBS Texte 94
National Socialism as Religion

it excommunicated Jews, that were bap- ‘the Word of God’. But still he agrees
tized! Another reli­gion had taken over with Rosenberg, writing:
the churches.
The theologians had prepared the “It will be the task of theology to com-
way36. A typical example is Hans bine the submission to the Word of God
Schlemmer, who wrote a book against with the perception which truthful-
Alfred Rosenberg’s main book, some- ness de­mands, that the origin of the
times called ‘the Bible of National canon was a rather human event and
Socialism’. This meant risking his life! that the Old Testa­ment contains not
He writes that Rosenberg went too far a few unpleasant things and that its
by dropping the Old Testament alto- place is far be­low the faith of the New
gether. The Old Testament is for him Te­stament.” 37

Annotation
Anmerkungen

1
 For example the professor of German literature 7
 Confession of Faith of the “Reichsarbeitsfüh-
in Bonn, Hans Naumann, Rede zum Geburtstag rer” Robert Ley, quoted from Der Schulungsbrief:
des Führers, Bonner Akademische Reden 27 Das zentrale Monatsblatt der NSDAP und DAF,
(Bonn: Scheur, 1937), p. 17; see my disserta- 4 (1937) 4: 124.
tion Hans Naumann als Volkskundler im Dritten 8
 Baldur von Schirach [Ed.], Das Lied der Get-
Reich, PhD-thesis (Los An­geles: Pacific Western reuen: Verse ungenannter österreichischer Hitler-
University, 1990) (published in 2 vol. as Bonn: jugend aus den Jahren der Verfolgung 1933–37
Verlag für Kultur und Wissenschaft: Bonn, (Leipzig 1940), p. 52.
19921; in 1 vol. 20002), p. 291. 9
 Song of the Reichsjugendführer in: Baldur von
2
 See the literature in my article “Adolf Hitler und Schirach [Ed.], Das Lied der Getreuen, op. cit.,
kein Ende”, Fac­tum 6/1989, pp. 252–255. p. 7.
3
 Quoted from Gerhard E. Stoll, “Gebete in pub-  Quoted by Joseph Wulf, Literatur und Dich-
10

lizistischer Umgestal­tung”, Publizistik 3(1958): tung im Dritten Reich (Gütersloh: Sigbert Mohn
337–352, here p. 346. The article discus­ses ‘secu- Verlag, 1963), p. 299.
lar’ forms of German prayers used in press and
propa­ganda.  Song by Ernst Leibl in: Reichsarbeitsdienst
11

[Ed.], Lieder der Arbeitsmaiden (Potsdam 1934),


 Gerhard E. Stoll, Gebete in publizistischer
4
p. 34.
Umgestaltung, op. cit., p. 346. 12
 In: “Flammenzeichen”, cited by Johann
 Quoted from Johann Neuhäuser, Kreuz und
5
Neuhäuser, Kreuz und Hakenkreuz, Part 1, op.
Hakenkreuz, part 1 (Munich: Verlag Katholische cit., p. 250.
Kirche Bayerns, 1946), p. 261. 13
 Poem by Max Storsberg in: M. Sambeth,
6
 G. Sebecker, Freiheitsflammen: Verse und Sonnenlauf in Lied und Spruch, den jungen
Sprüche für deutsche Helden, cited in Johann Deutschen zugeeignet, Ausgabe für Westfalen
Neuhäuser, Kreuz und Hakenkreuz, op cit., p. vom 5. Schuljahr an (Halle, Dortmund, Breslau:
249. various publishers, 1941), p. 4.

Pro mundis 11
Thomas Schirrmacher

14
 Reichspropagandaleitung [Ed.], Vorschläge 1989). See also: Manfred Ach, Clemes Pentrop,
der Reichspropagandaleitung zur nationalsozialis- Hitlers ‘Religion’: Pseudoreligiöse Elemente im
tischen Feiergestaltung (München Zentralverlag nationalsozialisti­schen Sprachge­brauch, Irmin-
Franz Eher, n.d.). Edition 3 (München: Arbeitsgemeinschaft für
15
 Taken from and put against the liturgi- Religi­ons- und Weltanschauungsfragen, 1977
cal ending of the Lord’s prayer “Our Father in [3. ed. 1982]), for an excellent sketch of Hitler’s
Heaven ...”, which is found from the second cen- religious language and his view of Christianity
tury on and taken partly from Dan 2,37; cf.2Chr and religion. The collection includes a survey of
29,11–12. the literary background to National Socialism’s
esoteric nature and 247 quotations by Hitler on
16
 SS-Obergruppenführer Schulz, quoted from Christianity and religion.
Johann Neuhäuser, Kreuz und Hakenkreuz, op.
cit., p. 255.  Thomas Schirrmacher, Adolf Hitler und kein
23

Ende, op. cit.


 A so-called “Führervorlage”
17
24
 Werner Hamerski, ‘Gott’ und ‘Vorsehung’ im
 Quoted from the photograph of the original in
18
Lied und Gedicht des Nationalsozialismus, Pub-
Wilfried Daim, Der Mann, der Hitler die Ideen lizistik 5[1960]: 280–300, here 282–283.
gab (Wien: Böhlau Verlag, 1985), pp. 216–218.
p. 299 discusses the genuineness of the docu-
25
 For arguments for the religious character of
ment. Marxism see my books Marxis­mus – Opium für
das Volk (Schwengeler: Berneck, 1987; VKW:
19
 Carl Christian Bry, Verkappte Religionen Bonn, 1997); Säkulare Religionen: Aufsätze zum
(Gotha: Perthes: Gotha, 19171; 19242; Leopold religiösen Charakter von Nationalsozialismus
Klotz Verlag: Gotha, 19253); ed. by Martin und Kommunismus (VKW: Bonn, 2001); and
Gregor-Dellin (Lockam: Gaus: Lockham, 19643; my article (together with my wife Chri­stine): “Der
München: Ehrenwirth Verlag, 1979; Nördlin- Kommunismus als Lehre vom Tausendjähri­gen
gen: Franz Greno, 1988). Reich” (Communism as teaching about the Mil-
20
 Richard Karwehl, Politisches Messiastum, lennium), Fac­tum 11/12/1986: 12–19.
Zwischen den Zeiten 9[1931]: 519–543. 26
 For arguments for the religious character of
 Hans-Joachim Schoeps. “Der Nationalsozialis-
21
Freemasonry see Hermann Neuer, Die Freimau-
mus als verkappte Religion”, Eletheto 93[1939]: rer: Religion der Mächtigen (Berneck: Schwen-
93–98. geler, 19911, 1994 4).
22
 Gary Lease, Hitler’s National Socialism as  For arguments for the religious character of
27

a Religious Movement, Journal of the Ameri- Anthroposophy see my article “Reinkarnation


can Academy of Religion 45[1977]: 793–838; und Karma in der Anthroposophie”, Factum
Claus-E. Bärsch, Antijudaismus, Apokalyp- 11/12/1988: 473–482, now reprinted in my book
tik und Satanologie: Die religiösen Elemente Im Gespräch mit dem Wanderprediger des New
des nationalsozialistischen Antisemitismus, Age – und andere apologetische Beiträge (VKW:
Zeitschrift für Religion- und Geistesgeschichte Bonn, 2003).
40[1988]: 112–133). On National Socialist cer- 28
 Hans Prolingheuer, Der Fall Karl Barth
emonies and rituals, see: Klaus Vondung, Magie 1934–1935: Chronographie einer Vertreibung
und Manipulation: Ideologischer Kult und poli- (Neukirchen: Neukirchener Verlag, 1977).
tische Religion des Nationalsozialismus (Göttin-
gen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1971). On the
cultic attitudes towards the Fuehrer, the flag,

29
Ibid. This is often neglected, although Pro-
lingheuer proves it from Barth’s own writings.
blood and battle, see: Hans-Jochen Gamm, Der
braune Kult: Das Dritte Reich und seine Ersatz- 30

Ibid. See also my dissertation Hans Naumann
religion (Hamburg: Rütten + Loening Verlag, als Volkskundler im Dritten Reich, op. cit. pp.
1962). On Hitler’s person, see: Friedrich Heer, 197–202.
Der Glaube des Adolf Hitler: Anatomie einer
politischen Religiosität (Frankfurt: Ullstein,

12 MBS Texte 94
National Socialism as Religion

31
 I agree with the judgment of Gary North, Anfang und Ende von ‘Christian Reconstruc-
Dominion and Common Grace (Tyler: Institute tion’ (1959–1995): Geschichte, Theologie und
for Christian Economics: Tyler, 1987), p. 151, Aufsplitterung einer reformierten Bewegung
that Bar­t hianism believes together with antino- (Bonn: VKW, 2001).
mianism that God does not speak to any specific  See Hans Schlemmer, Evangelische Gedanken
33

problems in history. zu Rosenbergs ‘Mythos’ (Görlitz: Hutten-Verlag,


32
 Hal Lindsey, The Road to Holocaust (New York: 1935), pp. 18–19.
Bantam, 1989). See the re­f utations of Lindsey’s  See John Warwick Montgomery, “Shirer’s
34

theories by Christian Reconstructionists in Gary Re-Hitlerizing of Luther,” in his In Defense of


De­Mar, The Debate over Christian Reconstruction Martin Luther (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: North-
(Ft. Worth: Dominion Press, 1988; Gary DeMar, western Publishing House, 1970), especially
Peter Leithart, The Reduction of Christianity (Ft. p. 147.
Worth: Dominion Press, 1988); Greg L. Bahn­
sen, Kenneth L. Gentry, House Divided (Tyler:  Adolf von Harnack, Marcion: Das Evangelium
35

Institute for Chri­stian Economics, 1989); Steve vom fremden Gott (Leipzig, 1921), p. 248.
Schlissel, David Brown, Hal Lindsey and the 36
 See especially Robert P. Ericksen, Theologians
Restoration of the Jews (Edmonton: Still Waters under Hitler (New Haven: Yale University Press,
Revival Books: Edmonton, 1990). On Christian 1985).
Reconstructionism see my history and refuta-  Adolf von Harnack, Marcion: Das Evangelium
37

tion of the movement, Thomas Schirrmacher, vom fremden Gott (Leipzig, 1921), pp. 19–20.

The Author
Über den Autor
Thomas Schirrmacher (born 1960) earned four doctorates in
Theology (Dr. theol., 1985, Netherlands), in Cultural Anthro-
pology (PhD, 1989, USA), in Ethics (ThD, 1996, USA), and in
Sociology of Religions (Dr. phil., 2007, Germany) and received
two honorary doctorates in Theology (DD, 1997, USA) and
International Development (DD, 2006, India). He is profes-
sor of ethics and world missions, as well as professor of the
sociology of religion and of international development in Ger-
many, Romania, USA and India, and is president of Martin Bucer Theological
Seminary with 11 small campuses in Europe (including Turkey).
As an international human rights expert he is board member of the Inter-
national Society for Human Rights, spokesman for human rights of the World
Evangelical Alliance and director of the International Institute for Religious
Freedom. He is also president of Gebende Hände gGmbH (Giving Hands), an
internationally active relief organisation. He has authored and edited 74 books,
which have been translated into 14 languages.
Thomas is married to Christine, a professor of Islamic Studies, and father of
a boy and a girl.

Pro mundis 13
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