"Atheism Was Not the Reason Hitler Killed So Many People" by Dr. Hector Avalos from The Christian Delusion

I've been thinking about posting whole chapters of my books. At Dr. Avalos's suggestion here's one of them from The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails, edited by John W. Loftus (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2010), pp. 368-95, used with permission. No reproduction of this chapter is permitted outside of this post under copyright laws. You may reasonably quote from it and link to it though.

This is an extended chapter of what you'll find in Avalos's book, Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence. At the present time Avalos is doing a revision of that book, which will almost certainly update the chapter you're about to read, so look for it.

Avalos explains why atheism was not the cause of the Holocaust, especially dealing with the arguments of Dinesh D'Souza, and including other apologetic attempts to distance Christianity from the Holocaust. If you love this chapter as I do, there are many others in my anthology you'll love as well.

Chapter 14:
Atheism Was Not the Reason Hitler Killed So Many People
Dr. Hector Avalos

In his remonstrance against the New Atheist’s claims that religion has led to massive human slaughters, Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative commentator, assures us that “Nazism . . . was a secular, anti-religious philosophy that, strangely enough, had a lot in common with Communism.”1 Thus, D’Souza is able to charge atheism in Nazi Germany with some 10 million deaths, including that of 6 million Jews. Actually, for D’Souza, the atheist regimes of Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong take the top two spots in the list of atheist violence. Altogether, D’Souza affirms that these big three atheist regimes have killed about 100 million people.2

D’Souza is typical of many Christian apologists whose best response to the genocides committed by self-described Christians is that atheists have killed even more. In fact, D’Souza calculates that “deaths caused by Christian rulers over a five-hundred year period amount to only 1 percent of the deaths caused by Stalin, Hitler, and Mao in the space of a few decades.”3 Witches and Jews are some of the groups that D’Souza grudgingly concedes may have been killed due to Christian violence. 

I have already discussed at length the fallacies of viewing Stalinist violence just in terms of atheism.4 Most of Stalinist violence resulted from forced collectivization, and recently published documents show the complicity of church authorities in the Stalinist agenda.5 D’Souza does not provide a single document or statement by Stalin that shows that he was collectivizing or killing for atheist reasons.

Moreover, communism, in the sense of a system of collectivized property, is a biblical notion found already in Acts 4:32–27. That Christian communist system also results in the killing of a married couple (Acts 5:1–11) that reneged on their promise to surrender their property. Thus, the principle of killing those who did not conform to collectivization of property is already a biblical one. The defense that it was simply lying about turning over property that was the motive for the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira overlooks the brute fact that the value of life was put below handing over all their property. For instead of just being expelled, they were killed. Stalin or Mao probably would have done the same thing. Since communism is advocated by some biblical authors, then Maoist and Stalinist deaths cannot simply be attributed to atheism, as enforcing collectivization can be deadly in both atheist or Christian forms.

In addition, D’Souza does not have the competence to evaluate claims of Maoist violence because it requires extensive training in Chinese language and documents to check the accuracy of the information provided in English sources. Since I also do not have the expertise in Chinese to evaluate Maoist violence, I will not address Maoism here. What I do know is that D’Souza does not provide a single quote from Mao or even a translated Chinese document for his assertions that Mao killed because of atheism. 

In any case, this chapter will analyze in greater depth the argument that the deaths caused by Hitler should be attributed to some form of Darwinist atheism, something especially argued by Richard Weikart in his book, From Darwin to Hitler (2004).6 Weikart’s book is one of the sources for D’Souza’s pronouncements. In fact, I shall argue that:

• Hitler’s holocaust, rather than the result of some form of Darwinist atheism, is actually the most tragic consequence of a long history of Christian anti-Judaism and racism.
• Nazism follows principles of killing people for their ethnicity or religion enunciated in the Bible.

In addition, I will show that many of D’Souza’s claims rely on poor research techniques and a superficial knowledge of Christian anti-Judaism.

Ethical Principles and Numbers

According to the United Nations Convention against Genocide (also called the first Geneva Convention), genocide describes “acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.”7 There is no ethical distinction between killing a religious group or an ethnic group. There is no ethical distinction between killing a racial or a national group. All are equally banned by the United Nations standards. This is important because D’Souza often tries to mitigate religious violence by claiming, usually without documentation, that some acts attributed to religious violence are really cases of ethnic/racial violence. 

Moreover, D’Souza often leaves unexplained what it is about warring ethnic groups that makes them so opprobrious to each other. D’Souza fails to see that ethnicity can be created and/or exacerbated by religious differences. For instance, according to biblical accounts, the creation of the Hebrew ethnic group is traced to the calling of Abraham to form his own separate lineage (Genesis 12:1–7), even though he was not different “ethnically” at that point from the rest of his kinship group.8 Abraham’s lineage was further differentiated by adhering to monotheism and adding some religiously-mandated practices (e.g., endogamy, circumcision) that set them apart from their neighbors (see Genesis 17:12, 24:3–4).

A similar phenomenon occurred between Christians and Jews. The initial conflict was between Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah and Jews who did not (See John 5:18, Acts 17:2–5, Galatians 2:11–16). Such Jews really did not differ “ethnically” from each other. While it is clear that some persons in the New Testament (NT) regarded themselves as Jewish and Christian, eventually “Jews” became those who retained the traditional religion of their ancestors, and did not accept Jesus as the Christ. The Catholic Church then reinforced the separate religious identity of Jews through marriage laws, professional restrictions, spatial separation in ghettos, and distinctive garb, which made Jews even more different and even more identifiable targets.9 Yet, it was a perceived Jewish antagonism to Christ that was often the stated initial reason for such actions. Thus, when Pope Paul IV issued his bull, Cum nimis (1555), which established a ghetto for Jews, his introductory rationale was that the Jews’ “own guilt has consigned them to perpetual servitude.”10 Thus, one cannot divorce ethnicity and religion as easily as D’Souza attempts to do.

D’Souza also focuses on numbers more than on the ethical principle that it is wrong to kill groups of human beings based on their race, ethnicity, nationality, or religion. But if, as D’Souza seems to think, genocide is always evil, then the numbers don’t matter as much as does the principle. If D’Souza does not think genocide is always evil, then he is no less a moral relativist than atheists, and now we would have only his arbitrary reasons for justifying it.

So, let’s suppose that two genocidal groups, X and Y, were following the same principle of killing all members of some group that they had targeted for ethnic or religious reasons. We will label the victims of Group X as Target 1 and the victims of Group Y as Target 2. However, let’s further suppose that Target 1 was an ethnic tribe that only had a thousand people, while Target 2 was a religious group composed of a million people. In tabular form:

Victimizer:                                         Group X         Group Y
Size of Victimized Group:                   1,000            1,000,000

Now, would the reprehensibility of the principle of genocide change if Group X only killed one thousand while Group Y killed one million? Of course not, because we can reasonably suppose that if Target 1 had been composed of a million members, then Group X might have killed a million. 

So an ethical sleight-of-hand is being deployed by D’Souza in his numbers game insofar as he supposes that Christianity is somehow morally superior because it simply had lesser numbers of people available for killing in some target groups. Consider that even by D’Souza’s admission, Christian witch-hunts killed some 100,000 persons in Europe.11 But if the principle of killing witches did not change, then we might have had 10 million witches killed if witch-hunters had managed to find and kill that many. 

The fact that we had only 100,000 victims of witch-hunts just means that the target group was smaller, but not that the goal of total extermination was different. Thus, we must judge genocide’s morality not just by the absolute numbers of people killed but also by the proportion of the target group slated to be killed. Since the presumed extermination goal for Hitler or for Christian witch-hunters is both 100%, the moral reprehensibility of Hitler and the witch-hunters are morally equal. Their acts of genocide also would be equally banned by the United Nations standard. 

Therefore, the only thing D’Souza accomplishes is to show that Christianity is not morally superior in its principles of genocide. Christians can and have sought to kill entire groups of people. It is simply a historical accident that there were different sets of numbers for atheist versus Christian regimes, even if we allow D’Souza’s erroneous assumption that Hitler represented an atheist regime. Otherwise, D’Souza’s argument is akin to claiming that Hitler should be given credit for killing only 6 million Jews because that is all he managed to round up.

Nazism and Christian Anti-Judaism

Contrary to D’Souza’s contention that Nazism is an anti-religious philosophy, Nazism is part of a long history of Christian anti-Judaism. Nazism does not represent a radical departure from traditional Christian attitudes toward Jews. This much is admitted by the Catholic historian, José M. Sánchez: “There is little question that the Holocaust had its origin in the centuries-long hostility felt by Christians against Jews.”12

The fact that Nazism is simply an updated form of Christian anti-Judaism is evidenced by how closely the Nazi plan for Jews resembles that of the father of Protestant Christianity, Martin Luther (1483–1546). In order to understand this link, we present an actual extract of Luther’s seven-point plan, issued in 1543 in his tract, On the Jews and Their Lies:
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, blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians . . .
Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed . . .
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.
Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb . . .
Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews.
Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasures of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping . . .
Seventh, I recommend 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]).13

Every single point in Luther’s plan was implemented by Nazi policy. For example, during Kristallnacht, the horrific anti-Jewish rampage of 1938, Jewish synagogues, businesses, and homes were burned or ransacked, just as Luther’s first and second points direct. Moreover, whether by coincidence or not, Kristallnacht spanned Luther’s birthday on November 10. Jewish literature was burned by the Nazis just as is stated in Luther’s third point. Rabbis were certainly forbidden to teach, as directed by Luther’s fourth point. The arrests and shipment of Jews to concentration camps certainly would be consistent with Luther’s fifth point. Jewish property, including works of art, was confiscated by the Nazis, thus paralleling Luther’s sixth point. Luther’s seventh point had a correspondence in Nazi labor camps, with their infamous Arbeit macht frei (“work liberates”) slogan.
The plans are so similar that even Martin H. Bertram, a Lutheran Luther scholar and the translator of Luther’s anti-Jewish tract, states: “It is impossible to publish Luther’s treatise today, however, without noting how similar his proposals were to the actions of the Nationalist Socialist regime in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.”14 And when one looks at how Hitler viewed Luther, all we need to do is consult Mein Kampf : “Beside Frederick the Great stands Martin Luther as well as Richard Wagner.”15

Catholic Christians have an even longer history of anti-Judaism. Canon Sixteen of the Council of Elvira (ca. 306), for instance, prohibited marriage between Christians and Jews.16 Thus the Nazi Nuremberg laws, which prohibited marriages between Germans and Jews, are simply an extension of a Christian tradition, not a radical departure as D’Souza would have us believe. While anti-Judaism reaches back to the NT, it is in the Middle Ages that we begin to witness some of the most brutal and systematic Christian attacks on Jews.17 In part, the codification of Catholic Canon Law was responsible for a more uniform policy toward the Jews.18 And despite signs of tolerance shown in Canon Law at times, the reality is that Jews were expelled from England in 1290 and from France in 1306. Of course, by 1492, Spain also expelled the Jews. 

In any event, the First Crusade, which aimed to capture the Holy Land from Muslims, generated a new wave of systematic anti-Jewish violence. The First Crusade was proclaimed in 1095, and the first contingents began to make their way eastward in 1096. These contingents, composed mostly of laypersons, were held responsible for most anti-Jewish violence. Hordes of “crusaders” stormed into towns such as Cologne, Mainz, and Worms, and left some three-thousand Jews dead.19 Many of the Jews caught in those pogroms refused to convert to Christianity. According to one Jewish chronicle, the following rationale for martyrdom was uttered:
After all things, there is no questioning the ways of the Holy One, blessed be He . . . Who has given us His Torah and has commanded us to allow ourselves to be killed and slain in witness to the Oneness of His Holy Name. Happy are we if we fulfill His will and happy is he who is slain or slaughtered and who dies attesting to the Oneness of His Name.20

These Jews, victimized by Christians, certainly saw hatred against them as rooted in religion. D’Souza’s defense that at least Medieval Jews could have converted to Christianity, as opposed to the case in Nazi Germany, fails by the United Nations standard.21 One cannot kill any group based on their ethnicity or religion, and so the opportunity to convert does not make a difference.

So does D’Souza think that if the number of Jews available for killing in those Medieval German cities would have been greater, then fewer Jews would have been killed? On the one hand, church authorities did denounce these pogroms. On the other hand, the laity may have acted the way they did because of words such as those of Pope Innocent III, who on October 9, 1208, issued the following announcement concerning heretics and Jews to Philip II Augustus, the king of France: 
In order that the Holy Church of God, arrayed like a fearful battlefront, may proceed against its cruelest enemies, to exterminate [ad exterminandum] the followers of wicked heresy, which like a serpent or an ulcer, has infected the entire province, we have caused garrisons of Christian soldiers to be called together . . .22

Notice that, even if not always carried out literally, the idea of exterminating groups of people (heretics, Jews) is already there, as is the use of medicalized genocidal language (“ulcer . . . infected”) also common to Nazism.23

The fact that Hitler saw what he was doing as a continuation of Catholic policy is confirmed by a conversation he had on April 26 1933, with Hermann Wilhelm Berning, bishop of Osnabrück, Germany. According to a report recorded in Documents on German Foreign Policy:

[Hitler] then brought up the Jewish question. In justification of his hostility to the Jews he referred to the Catholic Church, which had likewise always regarded the Jews as undesirables and which on account of the moral dangers involved had forbidden Christians to work for Jews. For these very reasons the Church had banished the Jews to the ghetto. He saw the Jews as nothing but pernicious enemies of the state and Church and therefore he wanted to drive the Jews out more and more, especially from academic life and public professions.24

As the famed Holocaust historian, Guenter Lewy, summarized this meeting, “Hitler was merely doing what the Church had done for 1,500 years.”25 Indeed, Hitler simply had much better logistics and technology to do what some Medieval Christians wanted to do to the Jews. There were also many more Jews living in Germany by Hitler’s time. Thus, D’Souza should be counting the increases in target populations, not just general populations, to judge the proportionality of atheist and religious violence.

How Religious Was Nazi Anti-Judaism?

D’Souza contends that Nazism was an “antireligious philosophy,” but he offers meager indisputable evidence for his claim. If we wish to know motives, a reasonable procedure is to seek the reasons people give for what they do. If we follow this procedure, then the following statement by Hitler in Mein Kampf is most relevant:

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.26

But D’Souza dismisses Hitler’s statement as evidence that Hitler meant what he said.27 Instead, D’Souza suggests that a better source for Hitler’s thoughts on religion is Allan Bullock, author of a book titled Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives (1993). As D’Souza phrases it: “From an early age, historian Allan Bullock writes, ‘Hitler had no time at all for Catholic teaching, regarding it as a religion fit only for slaves and detesting its ethics.’”28 This is clearly a deflective tactic since D’Souza does not explain why Bullock knows what Hitler thinks better than Hitler himself. It is usually poor history when one substitutes a secondary source (i.e., Bullock) for a primary source (i.e., Hitler). Moreover, even if Hitler detested Catholic teachings, D’Souza confuses atheism with anti-Catholicism. And the above quotation was not the only time Hitler invoked God, religion, or Christianity to explain his policies in Mein Kampf. Hitler also stated: “For God’s will gave men their form, their essence and their abilities. Anyone who destroys His work is declaring war on the Lord’s creation, the divine will.”29 In the meeting with Berning, Hitler insisted that “neither a personal life could be built without Christianity nor a state.”30

Yet another attempt to avoid the obvious implications of Hitler’s statements is D’Souza’s appeal to the propagandistic aspect of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. D’Souza claims that “Hitler himself says in Mein Kampf that his public statements should be understood as propaganda that bears no relation to the truth but are designed to sway the masses.”31 D’Souza does not cite a direct quote from Hitler for this claim and only refers us to pages 177–85 of Mein Kampf, which again reflects poor scholarship. D’Souza does not seem to realize that his gross generalization about Mein Kampf’s bearing “no relation to the truth” creates a case of self-referential incoherence. If Hitler’s propaganda always hides the truth, then it follows that the very statement about how he was using propaganda must be false. And does Hitler not really believe that Jews are evil because what he says in Mein Kampf has no relation to the truth? Rather, a better historical procedure is to presume that an author meant what he said about what he believed unless proven otherwise. Nothing Hitler said disproves that he believed he was doing God’s will.

Moreover, D’Souza leaves unexplained why Hitler could have thought that his anti-Jewish rhetoric would sway the masses unless the masses were receptive to an anti-Jewish message. This is important because the masses of which D’Souza speaks identified themselves largely as Christians. For example, a Nazi report indicates that by 1938, 54 percent of SS members were identified as Protestant, 22.7 percent were Catholic, and 25.7 percent were “God-believers” (Gottglaübigen).32 Since anti-Judaism was not associated with Darwin’s own writings, then it is a history of Christian anti-Judaism that would be much more effective in convincing the Christian masses.

Positive Christianity

Another aspect of Nazism that D’Souza dismisses without much investigation is the Nazi idea of Positive Christianity. The term dates from as early as Point 24 of the Nazi Party Program of 1920, which says:

The Party as such reflects the viewpoint of a positive Christianity without being bound confessionally to any specific denomination. It battles the Jewish materialistic spirit.33

Again, anti-Judaism was one of its main tenets, and that simply follows a long history of Christian anti-Judaism. It is not a radical departure from historically orthodox Christianity in that sense.

If one reads The Myth of the Twentieth Century, a treatise on Nazism by Alfred Rosenberg, who is credited with authorship of that Party Program of 1920, one will understand that he saw Positive Christianity as a restoration of the original and purer teachings of Christ.34 Indeed, Rosenberg tells us that Christ’s life is what should be meaningful for Germans.35 Rosenberg repudiated the idea of Christ’s sacrifice as a Jewish corruption, and saw Jesus as a great figure whose true work, the love of one’s race, has been distorted by organized Christendom into a universal love, instead of a love restricted to one’s racial group (especially as he interpreted Leviticus 19:18 and 25:17). 

That is why Rosenberg called it “positive Christianity” (positive Christentum), which he explicitly contrasted to the “corrupt” form represented by the “etrusco-asiatic clergy” (etrusco-asiatische . . . priesterherrschaft), which encompassed Roman Catholicism.36 Thus, for Positive Christianity, the mere word “Christianity” often meant the Judaized and clerically organized form seen in Roman Catholicism, which was not equivalent to what Jesus had in mind. Being opposed to “Christianity,” therefore, did not mean opposing the religion of Christ or opposing religion.

In fact, Der Mythus is replete with biblical quotations. Some of Rosenberg’s interpretations of the Bible were ones upon which even Jewish scholars could agree. For example, he notes that Leviticus 25:17, which states “thou shalt not take advantage of thine neighbor,” refers to fellow Hebrews, and not to everyone else.37 But this interpretation of “thine neighbor” is consistent with the interpretation of Harry M. Orlinsky, the great Jewish biblical scholar.38 Rosenberg also thought that the Gospel of John best preserved some of the teachings of Jesus. He commented thus: “The Gospel of John, which still bears an aristocratic spirit throughout, strove against the collective bastardization, orientalization and Judaization of Christianity.”39 It is in the Gospel of John (8:44) where Jesus himself says that the Jews are liars fathered by the Devil. That verse later shows up on Nazi road signs, whereas no quotes from Darwin were ever on Nazi road signs.40 That verse has echoes in the title of Luther’s tract (On the Jews and their Lies), as well as the longer original title of Mein Kampf ([My] 4 and 1/2 Years of Struggle against Lies . . .).

Yes, Rosenberg syncretized Christian concepts found in the NT with Germanic myths, and myths of his own creation or adaptation. But how does Rosenberg’s biblical exegesis and syncretism differ from what other self-described Christians have been doing throughout history? Indeed, many scholars argue precisely that Christianity was the result of combining Jewish with Hellenistic ideas. In understanding themselves as restorers of early Christianity, Positive Christians are no less Christian than the first Lutherans or Anabaptists. Indeed, Positive Christianity had great forebears among early Christians who rejected Judaism. This includes Marcion (second century), the Gnostic Christian who repudiated the Old Testament (OT) entirely, and promoted a canon consisting only of an expurgated Gospel of Luke and some of Paul’s Epistles. Marcionism repeats itself in Christian history, especially among some Anabaptist groups and Christian theologians (e.g., Friedrich Schleiermacher).41

In short, if we use the same logic used by many Christian theologians who radically reinterpret the Hebrew Bible for Christian practice, we could also argue that Positive Christianity does not represent so much an anti-Christian movement, as it does a reinterpretation of Christianity, a phenomenon which is a standard part of Christian history. That is why we have some 25,000 Christian groups today, some of which believe radically opposite things. To say that Marcionites, Lutherans, or Positive Christians are not really Christians is to make a theological judgment more than a historical judgment.

What’s So Negative about Positive Christianity?

Not only does D’Souza exhibit a woeful misunderstanding of Positive Christianity, but the main objections he launches against it are extremely superficial. For D’Souza, Positive Christianity cannot count as Christianity because it “was obviously a radical departure from traditional Christian understanding, and was condemned as such by Pope Pius XI at the time.”42 The latter case alone shows D’Souza’s theological prejudices because he assumes that whatever Pope Pius condemns must represent a false Christianity. And of course, the claim that an Aryan Christ is a radical departure from traditional Christian understanding comes as news to anyone who has ever studied the long history of Christian art, where Christ is routinely painted as a white European. According to Epiphanius Monachus (eighth or ninth century), a Greek monk from Constantinople, Jesus “stood six feet tall, his hair was long, goulden-colored, and not very thick . . . ”43 So, how is a Nazi Aryan Christ such a radical departure?44

D’Souza also neglects to tell his readers that before Pope Pius XI distanced himself from Nazism in his famous 1937 encyclical (Mit Brennender Sorge / “With Burning Sorrow”), that same Pope had signed, “at the time,” a Concordat with the Nazis in 1933, which even Hitler credited with helping to further his “struggle against international Jewry (“Kampf gegen das international Judentum”).45 And note how D’Souza does not question whether Pope Pius XI has political rather than lofty humanitarian motives for his reproof of the Nazis in 1937. D’Souza does not question whether Pius XI meant what he said, as he does when Hitler says he is following God’s will.

Yet when one reads that 1937 encyclical, Pope Pius XI admits compromising with Nazi Germany:

When, in 1933, We consented, Venerable Brethren, to open negotiations for a concordat, which the Reich Government proposed on the basis of a scheme of several years’ standing . . . We were prompted by the desire, as it behooved Us, to secure for Germany the freedom of the Church’s beneficent mission and the salvation of the souls in her care, as well as by the sincere wish to render the German people a service essential for its peaceful development and prosperity. Hence, despite many and grave misgivings, We then decided not to withhold Our consent for We wished to spare the Faithful of Germany, as far as it was humanly possible, the trials and difficulties they would have had to face, given the circumstances, had the negotiations fallen through.46

Why does that not qualify as a political move since it is meant to protect the interests of a distinct group (Catholics)? Why can’t we say that Vatican hierarchy did not mean what it said in 1937 either? And were none of the Pope’s advisers familiar with Mein Kampf, which had been published nearly a decade before 1933?

In fact, Diego von Bergen, the Reich’s ambassador to the Holy See, reported that while the Pope was saying one thing, Eugenio Pacelli, the Cardinal Secretary to the Vatican and the man who would become Pope Pius XII, promised that “normal and friendly relations . . . would be restored as soon as possible” between the Vatican and the Nazis after that encyclical.47 Indeed, by 1939, Archbishop Cesare Orsenigo, the nuncio to Berlin, was busy opening a gala reception for Hitler’s fiftieth birthday in Berlin.48 So much for the Catholic hierarchy repudiating the Nazi regime.

Otherwise, it all depends on whether one views the mission of the Catholic Church as worthy of such a compromise, and that is a theological judgment. If Hitler believed that God wanted him to kill Jews, there is no way to verify that that mission was any less from God than when Pope Innocent III wanted to exterminate Jews or other heretics in the Middle Ages. Otherwise, D’Souza would have to explain why Pope Innocent III was right to say God wanted him to exterminate Jews or heretics in the Middle Ages, but God would not have wanted the same thing for Hitler in the twentieth century.

How Anti-Religious Was Hitler?

Misunderstanding the difference between Positive Christianity and the rest of Christianity is what has led D’Souza and others to transform any of Hitler’s supposed anti-Christian views into antireligious views. There is a logical problem, of course, with the claim that being anti-Christian or being anti-Catholic means being antireligious. Religion is much broader than Christianity or Catholicism.

More importantly, for part of his evidence, D’Souza appeals to Hitler’s Table Talk, which supposedly records the Fuehrer’s more private thoughts. However, the reliability of this source for determining Hitler’s views is most questionable. Four major versions of Table Talk exist, here named after the main editors or translators and the years of publication: (1) Henry Picker (German, 1951, 1963, 1976); (2) François Genoud (French translation only, 1952); (3) H. R. Trevor-Roper (English, 1953, 1973, 2000); and (4) Werner Jochmann (German, 1980). These records are usually organized internally by the date in which Hitler held a conversation.

The problems with Table Talk have been studied carefully by Richard Carrier.49 From my perspective, as an academic historian, there are at least three problems with using this source: (1) There are no extant manuscripts from Hitler’s own hand of this source. We have no audio tapes to verify the transcripts. What we have are reputed copies which often have been filtered through Martin Bormann, Hitler’s adjutant. The fact that versions agree sufficiently to propose a common source does not necessarily prove that this common source was Hitler himself. (2) The versions are sometimes discrepant. Some passages are missing from the edition of Trevor-Roper relative to the edition of Picker. So it is difficult to tell what comes from Hitler and what comes from the editors. (3) Trevor-Roper authenticated the Hitler Diaries, despite the fact that they later proved to be forgeries.50 Genoud is also a questionable character who may have been involved in forgery. And as Carrier has shown, both the Genoud and Trevor-Roper editions often egregiously mistranslate the original German.

In addition, a main intermediate in all known versions of Table Talk is Hitler’s personal secretary, Martin Bormann, who was known for his anti-Christian views.51 So sometimes we may be reading Bormann’s thoughts rather than Hitler’s.52

We also know, from other sources, that Hitler disagreed with Bormann and also disagreed with his own supposed views expressed in Table Talk. For example, Albert Speer, who was Hitler’s personal architect, said:

Even after 1942 Hitler went on maintaining that he regarded the church as indispensable in political life. He would be happy he said in one of those teatime talks at Obersalzberg, if someday a prominent churchman turned up who was suited to lead one of the churches—or if possible both the Catholic and Protestant churches reunited.53

Speer also reports cases where Hitler contravened anti-Christian actions by his underlings.54
So, if we use only the most reliable sources, D’Souza definitely has not proven his case. D’Souza does not cite a single instance in Mein Kampf, a source indisputably ascribed to Hitler, where the latter says his motives are atheistic. Yet we can find a number of places in Mein Kampf where Hitler, no less than Martin Luther, claims to be following the will of God. 

But even if we were to regard Table Talk as a reliable source, Hitler’s antireligionism is not as clear as D’Souza claims because he conflates anti-Christianity with atheism. Of the quotes D’Souza provides, the one that would best makes his case is: “through the peasantry we shall be able to destroy Christianity.”55 But D’Souza does not provide a page number to Hitler’s Table Talk, and his corresponding footnote just refers to “Hitler’s Table Talk (New York: Enigma Books, 2000),” which is an edition associated with Hugh Trevor-Roper.56 This is, at best, very sloppy documentation, and it raises the question of whether D’Souza is even reading Table Talk firsthand.

Moreover, D’Souza does not reveal the full sentence, which is actually found in Hitler Speaks, a historically discredited book authored by Hermann Rauschning: “But it is through the peasantry that we shall be really able to destroy Christianity because there is in them a true religion rooted in nature and blood.”57 Thus, in this fuller version, Hitler’s alleged goal is a better religion (“true religion”), not no religion.

If D’Souza had read the various versions of Table Talk carefully, he would also find a lot that contradicts his claim that Hitler was antireligious. For example, in a conversation reported for October 14, 1941 (Trevor-Roper edition), Hitler remarks:

An educated man retains the sense of the mysteries of nature and bows before the unknowable. An uneducated man, on the other hand, runs the risk of going over to atheism (which is a return to the state of the animal) . . .58

Hitler adds:

One may ask whether the disappearance of Christianity would entail the disappearance of belief in God. That’s not to be desired. The notion of divinity gives most men the opportunity to concretise the feeling they have of supernatural realities. Why should we destroy this wonderful power they have of incarnating the feeling for the divine that is within them?59

Thus, even here Hitler makes a difference between not believing in Christianity and not believing in God. In fact, in the original German of the Table Talk, Hitler expresses his expectation of eternal life in heaven and his actual disdain for those who mock the providence of God, declaring instead that he thinks he may have been chosen by God, and that it is our belief in a Creator that separates us from the animals.60

And it is in Table Talk that Hitler clearly distinguishes the original teachings of Christ from the corrupt form that became known as “Christianity.” He said (October 21, 1941) that:

Originally, Christianity was merely an incarnation of Bolshevism the destroyer. Nevertheless, the Galilean, who later was called the Christ, intended something quite different. He must be regarded as a popular leader who took up His position against Jewry.61

In any case, Hitler’s actions against any churches are not necessarily more anti-Christian or antireligious than Protestant destruction of Catholic churches, or Catholic destruction of Protestant shrines. For instance, King Henry VIII (1491–1547), who initiated the English Reformation, did not see himself as anti-Christian or antireligious when he demolished Catholic monasteries. Christian kings often killed clerics and persecuted churches who disagreed with them.62 What we are seeing in Nazism is a sectarian war or an intrareligious war, which should not be confused with antireligionism.63

How Darwinist Was Nazism?

Despite all the evidence that Nazism is a continuation of Christian anti-Judaism, D’Souza assures us that Darwinism is really behind Nazism. For his evidence, D’Souza refers us to the work of Richard Weikart, as follows:

If Nazism represented the culmination of anything it was that of the nineteenth century and early twentieth-century ideology of social Darwinism. As historian Richard Weikart documents, both Hitler and Himmler were admirers of Darwin and often spoke of their role as enacting a “law of nature” that guaranteed “the elimination of the unfit.” Weikart . . . concludes that while Darwinism is not a “sufficient” intellectual explanation for Nazism, it is a “necessary” one. Without Darwinism there might not have been Nazism.64

As in the previous cases, D’Souza does not seem to have the expertise to evaluate the claims of Weikart. I have already offered a number of lengthy critiques of Weikart, but here I will summarize some of the problems with using Weikart’s book.65

First, the very notion that Darwinism was “necessary” for Nazism is disproven by Luther’s 1543 plan for the Jews. By 1543 one could achieve a program that even Luther scholars admit resembles Nazism, and there was no Darwin then. Weikart forgets Luther altogether, and he hardly mentions a long history of Christian anti-Judaism which certainly would be more important than Darwinism. Most Germans were not as familiar with Darwin’s books as they were with the Bible or with anti-Jewish traditions of German figures, such as Luther.

D’Souza never provides any direct quotation to show that Hitler was an admirer of Darwin. In fact, D’Souza seems to be unaware of Weikart’s exact views on Hitler’s references to Darwin. Weikart has been quoted as saying:

It’s true that Hitler hardly ever mentioned Darwin by name (the only direct mention of Darwin I have been able to find is an account by a colleague Wagener).66

Yet, even “hardly ever” is deceptive because Weikart admits that the only direct reference to Darwin by Hitler does not come from Hitler at all. Hitler, however, mentions Luther, and praises him in Mein Kampf. That alone tells us that, for Hitler, Luther was important enough to mention a few times, but Darwin never was.

Moreover, D’Souza and Weikart also ignore evidence that Darwinism was specifically banned in Nazi Germany, at least in 1935. Evidence derives from this directive in a list of banned books in Nazi Germany compiled by an exhibit of the University of Arizona library: “Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Häckel).”67

Weikart’s Darwinism

A principal problem with Weikart’s thesis is that he begins with this very restrictive definition of “Darwinism”:

When I use the term Darwinism in this study, I mean the theory of evolution through natural selection as advanced by Darwin in The Origin of Species.68

It is puzzling why Weikart restricted his definition of Darwinism just to what is found in The Origin of Species (1859), especially as that book says really nothing about human evolution or racial struggle. Consequently, Weikart has to keep redefining “Darwinism” to include other works of Darwin and whatever perversions of Darwinism he can find. This flaw is all the more important because he has criticized other recognized historians for not adhering to their definitions. Thus, in a review of a book by Annette Wittkau-Horgby, Weikart remarks, “Wittkau-Horgby thus does not adhere to the definition of materialism she starts with . . .”69 To avoid constantly moving the definitional goal post for Darwinism, Weikart could have defined Darwinism more broadly, and said “. . . as advanced by Darwin in his works.” Since, for Weikart, misinterpretations of Darwin still count as “Darwinism,” then he actually should say: “. . . as advanced by Darwin in his books and in various interpretations of his work, whether those interpretations are right or wrong.” 

Weikart’s willingness to count misrepresentations of Darwin as Darwinism, however, is not consistently applied to other writings that the Nazis misrepresented. For example, in his review of Richard Steigmann-Gall’s The Holy Reich, Weikart remarks: “Many German pantheists used religious—even Christian—terminology, but they often redefined it.”70 So, when Nazi writers use pantheistic terminology, then they are pantheists, but when they use Christian terminology, then they are not really Christians, but pantheists. Redefining Christian terms absolves one from being Christian, but redefining Darwin will still brand one a Darwinist. This logical inconsistency is tendentious and serves to deflect responsibility from Christianity.

All this is important because none of Darwin’s works, and especially not Origin of Species, is concerned with anti-Judaism. Anti-Judaism is an essential component of Nazism, and one that is shared, not with Darwin’s books, but with early Christianity (e.g., John 8:44, Revelation 2:9–10). Again, even if Darwin had an anti-Jewish agenda, most Germans would not be as familiar with Darwin’s books as they were with the Bible.

Racialization of Jews

D’Souza claims that at least Medieval Jews could have converted to Christianity while Nazi Darwinist eugenics had racialized Jews to the point where the latter could not change their identity. As I have argued, this really does not make a difference in condemning genocide based on religion or ethnicity. But the idea that Jews were a racial category, not just a religious category, already had a long history in Christianity before Darwin.

Consider Hitler’s idea of “purity of blood” (“Reinhaltung des Blutes”).71 This notion did not begin with Darwin, nor was it even discussed as such by Darwin in Origin of Species. Instead, Hitler’s specific terminology corresponds quite closely to Catholic Spanish terminology (limpieza de sangre = cleanliness or purity of blood) applied against Jews in Spain. In particular, Juan Martinez Siliceo, the archbishop of Toledo, proposed legislation in 1547 based very specifically on this “limpieza de sangre.”72 Statutes enacted in Toledo in 1449 also focused on blood purity as a means to discriminate against Jews who had converted but were not Spaniards by “blood.”

As even Jewish scholars have noted, many biblical figures can be interpreted as advocating forms of eugenics before the term was even invented. Rabbi Max Reichler, one of the authors of Jewish Eugenics and Other Essays tells us:
To be sure eugenics as a science could hardly have existed among ancient Jews; but many eugenic rules were certainly incorporated in the large collection of Biblical and Rabbinical laws. Indeed there are clear indications of a conscious effort to utilize all influences that might improve the inborn qualities of the Jewish races, and to guard against any practice that might vitiate the purity of the race or “impair the racial qualities of future generations” either physically, mentally, or morally . .. The very founder of the Jewish race, the patriarch Abraham, recognized the importance of certain inherited qualities, and insisted that the wife of his “only beloved son” should not come from “the daughters of the Canaanites,” but from the seed of a superior stock.73
D’Souza provides really nothing comparable, other than a secondary reference to Weikart, that would show that Darwin’s Origin of Species had any notions of blood purity or eugenics even close to this. As it is, D’Souza seems to be confusing natural selection, the main concept behind Origin of Species, with artificial selection which was an essential part of Nazism.

If we look at Hitler’s own racialist rationales, we find that he appeals to the Bible, not to Origin of Species, for support. One example is this statement from Mein Kampf concerning race mixing:
 . . . it is one of those concerning which it is said with such terrible justice that the sins of the fathers are avenged down to the tenth generation . . . Blood sin and desecration of the race are the original sin in this world . . .74
But whence comes Hitler’s notion that blood desecration is a sin down to the tenth generation? It is not from any of Darwin’s works. Rather, it is from Deuteronomy 23:2–3 (RSV):
No bastard shall enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD. No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none belonging to them shall enter the assembly of the LORD for ever.
Hitler adds that “To bring about such a development is, then, nothing else but to sin against the will of the eternal creator.”75
And where do we find the notion that race mixing is a sin? It is not from Origin of Species. But it is in Ezra 9:1–2 and 12:
The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations . . . For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons. Thus the holy seed has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands, and in this faithlessness the officials and leaders have led the way . . . Therefore give not your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever.
Notice that the purpose of endogamy is so "that you may be strong,” which exemplifies a classic eugenic concept of improving some desired trait through proper breeding. Thus, Mein Kampf indicates that it is the Bible, not Origin of Species, that seems to be the more direct influence for Hitler.
Racial Struggle Part of Christianity
Weikart tags as particularly Darwinian the notion of history as a racial struggle. Weikart has repeatedly used the following quote from The Descent of Man to support this contention:
At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.76
But this quote is out of context. The proper context is a lament for this extinction, and not an endorsement of it. This lament is even clearer if one reads further, where Darwin observes that, in fact, “savages did not formerly waste away” until modern civilizations (not modern races) encroached upon them, since in classical times “there is no lament in any writer of that period over the perishing barbarians.”77 Hence Darwin believed superior culture and technology, not inferior blood, was exterminating “the savage races.”
And history as a racial struggle is very much part of Christian history. Already in 1853, and a few years before Darwin’s Origin of Species was even published, George Fitzhugh, the American proslavery advocate, had a racial struggle framed in a survival-of-the-fittest matrix when he said:
Members of Congress of the Young American party, boast that the Anglo-Saxon race is manifestly destined to eat out all other races, as the wire-grass destroys and takes the place of other grasses.78
And contrary to Weikart’s claim that the spiritual orientation of Judeo-Christianity resisted such racialist ideas, Robert Knox, the famous Scottish racialist writer, says:
Now, whether the earth be over-populated or not, one thing is certain—the strong will always grasp at the property and lands of the weak. I have been assured that this conduct is not at all incompatible with the highest moral and even Christian feeling.79
Indeed, John Campbell, a proslavery Christian writer, saw racial struggle as an essential part of the history of mankind, and he quotes Knox for part of his 1851 essay, “Negro-Mania”:
The antagonism of races is working itself out in every instance where two races are put in collision by the quicker or slower extinction of the inferior and feebler race . . . Knox has shown us everywhere the white blood treading down and exterminating the darker races. “The Saxon (he remarks) will not mingle with any dark race, nor will he allow him to hold an acre of land in the country occupied by him . . . There is no denying the fact that the Saxon—call him by what name you will—has a perfect horror for his darker brethren.”80
In general, Weikart seems blissfully unaware of an abundance of Pre-Nazi Christian racialist literature that would show that Nazism is not a departure from Christian history whatsoever.


D’Souza fails spectacularly in his efforts to paint Nazism as an “antireligious philosophy” responsible for ten million deaths. First, D’Souza provides almost no documentation for his claims, and what he does provide comes mostly from secondary sources. He is apparently unable to read primary German sources in the original language. He also confuses any efforts against organized Christianity with antireligionism. But even in Table Talk, a questionable source used by D’Souza, Hitler makes clear that being against Christianity is not the same as being against belief in God. 

D’Souza’s numbers game simply hides the fact that both theistic and nontheistic morality can result in genocide. Any differences in the number of deaths is more an accident of history than a difference in a principle that can justify the killing of groups based on ethnicity, race, nationality, or religion. By the United Nations standards, Christian acts of genocide have failed just as much as those of Maoists or Stalinists because they were all equally devoted to the extermination of 100 percent of their respective target groups. 

But the most significant problem with D’Souza’s argument is his convenient amnesia about a long history of Christian anti-Judaism before Hitler and Darwin were even born. The calling for the extermination of heretics and Jews in France by Pope Innocent III in the Middle Ages did not need Darwinism. And Luther’s murderous seven-point plan, which is nearly identical to that of Nazism, proves beyond a doubt that Darwinism certainly was not “necessary” to achieve a Nazi vision (see chart below). Nazism, indeed, was very much at home in a long tradition of Christian anti-Judaism.

A Comparison of Hitler’s Anti-Jewish
Policies and Policies Advocated in Any of the Works of
Martin Luther and Charles Darwin

Hitler’s Policies                                   Luther            Darwin
Burning Jewish Synagogues                                       Yes                   No
Destroying Jewish Homes                                          Yes                   No
Sacred Jewish Books Destroyed                                 Yes                   No
Rabbis Forbidden to Teach                                         Yes                   No
Safe Conduct Abolished                                             Yes                   No
Confiscation of Jewish Property                                 Yes                   No
Jews Forced into Labor                                               Yes                   No
God Cited as Part of the Reason
for Anti-Judaism                                                   Yes                   No

1. Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great about Christianity (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2007), p. 215.
2. D’Souza, What’s So Great, p. 215. D’Souza is particularly responding to the arguments of Sam Harris, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason (New York: W. W. Norton, 2005); Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (New York: Viking, 2006); and Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006).
3. D’Souza, What’s So Great, p. 214.
4. Hector Avalos, Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2005), pp. 325–34.
5. See especially, Tatiana A. Chumachenko, Church and State in Soviet Russia: Russian Orthodoxy from World War II to the Krushchev Years, trans. Edward E. Roslof (Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2002).
6. Richard Weikart, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany (New York: PalgraveMacmillan, 2004).
7. A Summary of the United Nations Agreements on Human Rights at: http://www.hrweb.org/legal/undocs.html#CAG.
8. For recent discussions on theories of ethnicity, see Richard H. Thompson, Theories of Ethnicity: A Critical Appraisal (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989). For ancient Israel, see Kenton Sparks, Ethnicity and Identity in Ancient Israel: Prolegomena to the Study of Ethnic Sentiments and Their Expression in the Hebrew Bible (Winona Lake: IN: Eisenbrauns, 1998).
9. See further, Solomon Grayzel, The Church and the Jews in the XIIIth Century (New York: Hermon Press, 1966); Kenneth R. Stow, Catholic Thought and Papal Jewry Policy, 1555–1593 (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1977).
10. Stow, Catholic Thought, p. 295; Latin (p. 291): quos propia culpa perpetua servituta submisit.
11. D’Souza, What’s So Great, p. 208.
12. José M. Sánchez, Pius XII and the Holocaust: Understanding the Controversy (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2002), p. 70.
13. Martin Luther, “On the Jews and Their Lies,” trans. Martin H. Bertram in Luther’s Works: The Christian in Society IV, ed. Franklin Sherman (55 volumes; Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1971), pp. 268–72.
14. Martin Luther, “On the Jews,” p. 268 n. 173. See also, William Montgomery McGovern, From Luther to Hitler: The History of Fascist-Nazi Political Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1941).
15. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. Ralph Manheim (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971), p. 213; German (p. 232): Neben Friedrich der Grossen stehen hier Martin Luther sowohl als wie Richard Wagner. Our German text is from Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (München: Müller, 1938). Henceforth, we refer to this source as “German (page number).”
16. On the Council of Elvira, see Louis H. Feldman, Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World: Attitudes and Interactions from Alexander to Justinian (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 373, 380, 398.
17. For a Catholic scholar’s view of this period, especially in light of Vatican II, see Edward A. Synan, The Pope and the Jews in the Middle Ages (New York: Macmillan, 1965).
18. John Y. B. Hood, Aquinas and the Jews (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995), p. 25.
19. See, Robert Chazan, In the Year 1096: The First Crusade and the Jews (Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 1996), p. 129.
20. Shlomo Eidelberg, The Jews and the Crusaders: The Hebrew Chronicles of the First and Second Crusades (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1977), p. 31.
21. D’Souza, What’s So Great, p. 218.
22. Grayzel, The Church and the Jews, p. 133, Latin text on p. 132. Innocent (Grayzel, The Church and the Jews, pp. 92–93) paradoxically also subscribed to the Augustinian idea of keeping some Jews alive as a sign of unbelief, and so he also believed that one should “not destroy the Jews completely” (Latin: “ne deleveris omnino Judeos”). On this latter idea, see Jeremy Cohen, Living Letters of the Law: Ideas of the Jew in Medieval Christianity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).
23. For this aspect of Nazism, see Götz Aly, Peter Chroust, and Christian Pross, Cleansing the Fatherland: Nazi Medicine and Racial Hygiene, trans. Belinda Cooper (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994).
24. Paul R. Sweet, ed., Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, from the Archives of the German Foreign Ministry (Washington, DC: United States Printing Office, 1949), series C, vol. 1, p. 347.
25. Guenter Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany (New York: De Capo Press, 2000), p. 51.
26. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 65 / German (p. 70): So glaube ich heute im Sinne des allmächtigen Schöpfers zu handeln: Indem ich mich des Juden erwehre, kämpfe ich für das Werk des herrn.
27. D’Souza, What’s So Great, p. 217.
28. Ibid.
29. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 562 / German (p. 630): Denn Gottes Wille gab den Menschen einst ihre Gestalt, ihr Wesen und ihre Fähigkeiten. Wer sein Wert zerstört sagt damit der Schöpfung des hernn, dem göttlichen Wollen, den kampf an.
30. Sweet, Documents on German Foreign Policy, series C, vol. 1, p. 347.
31. D’Souza, What’s So Great, p. 217.
32. Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 221. For a study of the anti-Jewish receptivity of the German masses, see Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York: Little, Brown, 1996).
33. Alfred Rosenberg, Das Parteiprogramm: Wesen, Grundsätze und Ziele der NSDAP (Münich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1922 [25th edition, 1943]), p. 13: Die Partei als solche vertritt den Standpunkt eines positiven Christentums, ohne sich konfessionell an ein bestimmtes Bekenntnis zu binden. Sie bekämpft den jüdisch-materialistischen Geist . . . [My English translation].
34. Alfred Rosenberg, Der Mythus des 20, Jahrhunderts: Eine Wertung der seelisch-geistigen Gestaltentkämpfe unserer Zeit, (München: Hoheneichen Verlag, 1938). Steigmann-Gall (The Holy Reich, pp. 92–93) contends that Rosenberg’s book was not highly regarded within the Nazi Party. However, Albert Speer (Inside the Third Reich, trans. Richard and Clara Winston [New York: Macmillan, 1970], p. 115), Hitler’s personal architect, says that “the public regarded the book as the standard text for party ideology.”
35. Rosenberg, Der Mythus, p. 74.
36. Ibid., p. 78: Das positive Christentum gegenüber dem negativum der auf der etrusco-asiatische Vorstellung zuruckgehende Priesterherrschaft und des Hexenwahns.
37. Alfred Rosenberg, Race and Race History and Other Essays, ed. Robert Pois and trans. Jonathon Cape (New York: Harper & Row, 1970), p. 180.
38. See Harry M. Orlinsky, “Nationalism-Universalism and Internationalism in Ancient Israel,” in Translating and Understanding the Old Testament: Essays in Honor of Herbert Gordon May, eds. Harry Thomas Frank and William L. Reed (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1970), pp. 206–36, especially pp. 210–11.
39. Rosenberg, Der Mythus, p. 75. My translation of the German: Gegen diese gesamte Verbastardierung, Verointalisierung und Verjudung des Christentums wehrte sich bereits das durchaus noch aristokratischen Geist atmende Johannesevangelium. Robert Pois’ edition (Race and Race History and Other Essays, p. 70) translated Johannesevangelium as “evangelical teachings of St. John,” which obscures Rosenberg’s more specific reference to the book we call the Gospel of John.
40. For illustrations of Nazi road signs with this verse, see Robert P. Ericksen and Susannah Heschel, Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1999), fig. 6.
41. For a history of the canon and Marcionism among Anabaptists, see my article “The Letter Killeth: A Plea for Decanonizing Violent Biblical Texts,” Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace 1, no. 1 (Fall 2007): http://www.plowsharesproject.org/journal/php/article.php?issu_list_id=8&article_list_id=22.
42. D’Souza, What’s So Great, p. 217.
43. Frederic W. Farrar, The Life of Christ as Represented in Art (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1901), p. 84.
44. See further, Susannah Heschel, An Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008).
45. My quote is from the minutes of a meeting of the Nazi government on July 14, 1933. My source is Walther Hofer, ed., Der Nationalsozialismus: Dokumente 1933–1945 (Frankfurt: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1976), p. 130.
46. Mit Brennender Sorge, at http://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_pi11mb.htm.
47. Telegram from Diego von Bergen to Eugenio Pacelli as preserved in Raymond James Sontag, et al., eds., Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, from the Archives of the German Foreign Ministry (Washington, DC: United States Printing Office, 1949), series D, vol. 1, p. 991.
48. See Richard Phayer, The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930–1965 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000), p. 45.
49. See Richard Carrier, “Hitler’s Table Talk: Troubling Finds,” German Studies Review 26, no. 3 (2003): 561–76.
50. For a history of the Hitler Diaries, see Charles Hamilton, The Hitler Diaries: Fakes That Fooled the World (Louisville: University Press of Kentucky, 1991) and Robert Harris, Selling Hitler (New York: Pantheon Books, 1986).
51. Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich, pp. 243–60.
52. Carrier, “Hitler’s Table Talk,” p. 573.
53. Speer, Inside the Third Reich, p. 113.
54. Ibid., p. 114.
55. D’Souza, What’s So Great, p. 218.
56. Ibid., p. 327 n. 12.
57. Hermann Rauschning, ed., Hitler Speaks: A Series of Conversations with Adolf Hitler on His Real Aims (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1939; Reprint: Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, 2007), p. 63. On the unreliability of this source, see Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich, pp. 28–29.
58. H. R. Trevor-Roper, ed., Hitler’s Table Talk, 1941–1944: His Private Conversations (London: Phoenix Press, 2000), p. 59.
59. Trevor-Roper, ed., Hitler’s Table Talk, p. 61.
60. Carrier, “Hitler’s Table Talk,” pp. 566–72 (all four statements appear in the entry dated the afternoon of 27 February 1942, in the original German).
61. Trevor-Roper, ed., Hitler’s Table Talk, p. 76. Hitler routinely equated “Bolshevism” and “Judaism.” He also believed Jesus was an Aryan whose true message was corrupted by the Jewish Paul (Carrier, “Hitler’s Table Talk,” p. 572).
62. See further, Peter A. Dykema and Heiko Oberman, eds., Anticlericalism in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (Leiden: Brill, 1993), which also discusses various conflicts between Protestants and Catholics.
63. Diego von Bergen, the German ambassador to the Vatican, specifically reported (Documents on German Foreign Policy, series D, vol. 1, p. 988) that the Pope feared that “a ‘third’ faith is being organized and encouraged” in addition to Catholicism and Evangelical faiths. This shows that the Vatican saw Nazi religion as a competing faith, and not as “atheism,” a term it sometimes applied to competing faiths, as well.
64. D’Souza, What’s So Great, p. 219; Richard Weikart, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany (New York: Palgrave, 2004).
65. For my critiques of Weikart, see “Avalos contra Weikart: Part I: General Problems with Dr. Weikart’s Methods,” at http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com /2008/05/avalos-contra-weikart-part-i-general.html; and “Avalos Contra Weikart: Part II: Weikart’s Seven Darwinian Aspects of Nazism,” at http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/06/avalos-contra-weikart-part-ii-weikarts.html. See also Sander Gliboff, H. G. Bromm, Ernst Haeckel, and the Origins of German Darwinism: A Study in Translation and Transformation (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008).
66. Denyse O’Leary, “Post-Details: Expelling the Outrage: Hitler and Darwinism,” at http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.php/2/2008/04/15/ expell_ing_the_outrage_hitler_and_darwin (accessed July 3, 2009).
67. “Guidelines from Die Bücherei,” 2:6, 1935, p. 279, at http://www.library.arizona.edu/exhibits/burnedbooks/documents.htm.
68. Weikart, From Darwin to Hitler, p. 9.
69. Richard Weikart, “Review of Annette Wittkau-Horgby, Materialismus: Enstehung und Wirkung in den Wissenschaften des 19. Jahrhunderts (Göttingen: Vandehoek und Ruprecht, 1998),” German Studies Review 24, no. 3 (October 2001): 610.
70. Richard Weikart, “Review of Richard Steigmann-Gall’s The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity,” German Studies Review 27, no. 1 (February 2004): 175.
71. See Mein Kampf, p. 312: “keeping his blood pure” / German (p. 342): Reinhaltung seines Blutes.
72. See further, Linda Martz, “Pure Blood Statutes in Sixteenth-Century Toledo: Implementation as Opposed to Adoption,” Sefarad 61/1 (1994): 91–94; Albert Sicroff, Los estatutos de limpieza de sangre: Controversias entre los siglos xv y xvii (Madrid: Taurus, 1985); Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1997), especially pp. 242–54; Henry Kamen, Philip of Spain (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 33–34.
73. Max Reichler, Jewish Eugenics and Other Essays (New York: Bloch, 1916), pp. 7–8.
74. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 249.
75. Ibid., p. 286.
76. Weikart, From Darwin to Hitler, p. 186.
77. Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, 2nd ed. (New York: D. Appleton, 1909 [1874]), p. 187 (in context: pp. 185–96). See also Patrick Brantlinger, Dark Vanishings: Discourse on the Extinction of Primitive Races 1800–1930 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003).
78. George Fitzhugh, “Sociology for the South or the Failure of Free Society,” in Antebellum Writings of George Fitzhugh and Hinton Rowan Helper on Slavery, ed. Harvey Wish (New York: Capricorn Books, 1960 [reprint of 1854 edition]), p. 61.
79. Robert Knox, The Races of Men (Philadelphia, PA: Lea & Blanchard, 1850), pp. 38–39.
80. John Campbell, “Negro-Mania,” in E. N. Elliott, Cotton is King and Pro-Slavery Arguments: Comprising the Writings of Hammond, Harper, Christy, Stringfellow, Hodge, Bledsoe, and Cartwright, on This Important Subject (Augusta, GA: Pritchard, Abbott and Loomis, 1860), p. 520.