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Weikart, Medved: Getting to the Bottom of “Hitler’s Religion”

David Klinghoffer

Hitler

You think Adolf Hitler is dead? In a physical sense, yes, but he lives on in ludicrous comparisons that political and cultural partisans seem unable to stop themselves from making. Is there a prominent person, idea, or fact that you really don’t like? He or it must be like Hitler, like Hitlerism, or like the Holocaust.

Example? Atheists and others in the media point to Hitler’s nominal Catholic upbringing and to a few self-serving public statements he made as evidence that he was a believing Christian. Hence, goes this way of thinking, the Nazi takeover of Germany is a crime that can be blamed on the Christian faith. The comparison between Nazi and Christian thought fails in so many way that I wouldn’t know where to start in listing them. Yet foes of religion will not desist from this particular talking point.

Was Hitler a Christian?

When you get down to the bottom of it, what’s the truth? Was Hitler in any meaningful sense a “Christian”? Historian Richard Weikart talks about the question with host Michael Medved on a new episode of Great Minds with Michael Medved, from Discovery Institute. You’ll find it up now at the Great Minds website in both audio and video versions.

Weikart is a Center for Science & Culture Senior Fellow and professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus. His most recent book is Hitler’s Religion, which explains that Hitler is most accurately classed as a pantheist, someone who identifies an impersonal God, not the God of the Bible, with the laws and glories of Nature.

An Aryan Icon

Professor Weikart mentions, fascinatingly, that some Nazis did in fact attempt to incorporate the historical figure of Jesus as an Aryan icon, whose teachings were spoiled by the “Jewish rabbi” Paul. How to reconceptualize Jesus as something other than a born Jew? Nazis theorized that Galilee by the 1st  century had been Hellenized, so Jesus’ mother had a Greek “racial” background. Meanwhile, they said, his father was a Roman soldier. As Hitler believed, the rise of the Greek and Roman civilizations could only have been fueled by the energies of the racially superior Aryans. Hence Jesus, part Greek and part Roman, was an Aryan. 

That’s absurd, but as I said, fascinating. Where else would you go to learn such things?

One great value of the Great Minds podcast series is that it allows serious and original thinkers like Weikart and Medved to step back and reconsider the shallow, easy answers to important questions that the media are often satisfied with. Check out the Great Minds website for past podcasts and please consider donating to keep this fine series going strong!