Throughout history, politicians have used religious language to win elections. One world leader was particularly good at it:
That may sound like an ideal leader, but that speech was given in 1937 by the Chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler. In his speeches, he challenged people to love their neighbors, to care for the poor and sick, and to take a stand against violence.
“His speeches were filled with hope,” says Ray Comfort, the author of Hitler, God & the Bible. “He says ‘I’m going to restore the glory.’ He also said that ‘I believe I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator.‘”
In public, Hitler often referred to himself as a follower of Christ. Even today, many people still believe the Holocaust was carried out in the name of Christianity, but what was the real relationship between God and Hitler?
“Adolf Hitler was the nastiest, most hate-filled, almost wickedest man in history,” says Comfort, “and to say that he was a Christian is to be tremendously ignorant, or to be disingenuous.”
As a child, Hitler was baptized into the Catholic Church. He was an altar boy, and at one point he even wanted to become a priest. But as history would later show, a church member and a Christian are two different things.
From his earliest political speeches, Hitler invoked God: a smart political move in the mostly Christian nation of Germany.
“At the very beginning of his career, Adolf Hitler was a baby-kisser, believe it or not,” says Comfort. “Even nowadays, if you want to get anywhere as a politician, you flavor your language and your speeches with maybe a Bible verse here and there, maybe have your picture taken with a robed minister outside his church on a Sunday, show up at a prayer breakfast and say something about God – then once you’re in your place of political authority, you can let your agenda come out, and that’s exactly what Hitler did.”
One of Hitler’s most public shows of solidarity with the Church was the signing of the Nazi-Vatican Concordat in 1933.
“That pact was that the Catholic Church would support Adolf Hitler politically, and Hitler would make sure they had freedom of religion,” Comfort explains. “Hitler in 1933 said wonderful things about Christianity. He even said he hated atheism and wanted to get rid of it in the country, so Hitler was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and he did pull the wool over the Catholic Church.”
So if Hitler wasn’t a Christian himself, why did he go to so much trouble to win the support of the Church?
As one author put it, he knew Christians would interfere with his plans if they were not hoodwinked first.
What you won’t hear in history class is that Hitler wasn’t just out to eliminate the Jews: he wanted to get rid of Christianity as well.
Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach said, “The destruction of Christianity was explicitly recognized as a purpose of the national socialist movement.”
And Nazi leader Alfred Rosenberg, a member of Hitler’s inner circle, stated at the Nuremberg Congress of 1938, “I am absolutely clear in my own mind, and I think I can speak for the Fuhrer as well, that both the Catholic and Protestant churches must vanish from the life of our people.”
In 1933, the German economy was in freefall, with unemployment over 30 percent. Germany was a nation in need of a savior, and Hitler decided that he would be the one to fill that role.
As Hitler grew more powerful, his religious tolerance disappeared, and he tried to replace Christianity with a new “Reich Church,” a religion in which there was no god but Hitler.
“I think after a while, Hitler begins to believe in Hitler,” says Dr. Anthony Santoro, a history professor at Christopher Newport University.
“Hitler set up a very horrible antichrist system disguised as a Christian church,” adds Comfort.
His fellow Nazis were only too happy to embrace their Fuhrer as Germany’s messiah.
“It is only on one or two exceptional points that Christ and Hitler stand comparably. For Hitler is far too big a man to be compared with one so petty,” said Julius Streicher, the publisher of the Nazi paper Der Sturmer.
Hitler’s propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels said, “Our Fuhrer is the intermediary between his people and the throne of God. Everything the Fuhrer utters is religion in the highest sense.”
And since every religion needs a house of worship, Hitler developed a 30-point plan for the new “National Reich Church,” which was even published by The New York Times in 1942. Among the rules:
- No pastors, chaplains or priests were allowed to speak in church…. only National Reich orators.
- All Bibles and pictures of saints were removed from the church altars and replaced with copies of Mein Kampf.
- The cross was also removed and replaced with the swastika.
- One of the most controversial Reich Church rules involved the Bible.
Although Hitler quoted scripture in many of his early speeches, he later referred to it as “a fairy story invented by the Jews,” and in 1942, the Bible became a banned book in Germany.
“Adolf Hitler hated the Bible,” says Comfort. “He had his own bible printed, 100,000 copies. There are some copies still around, but most of them were destroyed by people who realized what Hitler had done.”
In Hitler’s bible, all Hebrew words like hallelujah were removed. He also replaced the Ten Commandments with twelve of this own. Among them:
- Keep the blood pure and your honor holy.
- Maintain and multiply the heritage of your forefathers.
- Joyously serve the people with work and sacrifice.
- Honour your Fuhrer and Master.
Hitler also wrote his own version of the Lord’s Prayer, to be recited by the Hitler Youth:
“Adolf Hitler, you are our great Fuhrer. Thy name makes the enemy tremble. Thy Third Reich comes; thy will alone is law upon the earth. Let us hear daily thy voice, and order us by thy leadership, for we will obey to the end, even with our lives We praise thee; hail Hitler Fuhrer my Fuhrer, given me by God. Protect and preserve my life for long. You saved Germany in time of need; I thank you for my daily bread; be with me for a long time, do not leave me, Fuhrer my Fuhrer, my faith, my light – hail, my Fuhrer.”
Hitler had his own church, his own bible and even his own hymn, sung every day in German schools:
“Adolf Hitler is our savior, our hero. He is the noblest being in the whole wide world. For Hitler, we live. For Hitler, we die. Our Hitler is our Lord, who rules a brave new world.”
Now that Hitler had set up his own Reich religion, it was time to get rid of the competition. And while his persecution of the Jews was well- known, his “Final Solution” for Christians remained a secret for more than 60 years.
In 2002, a Jewish law student discovered a 120-page report from the 1940s.
It was compiled by members of the OSS, an American spy agency in World War II. The report was called The Nazi Master Plan: The Persecution of the Christian Churches. The documents lay out a step-by-step plan to de-Christianize Germany:
- “Take over the churches from within, using party sympathizers.
- Discredit, jail or kill Christian leaders.
- Re-indoctrinate the congregants.
- Give them a new faith in Germany’s Third Reich.”
So where were Germany’s Christians in all this? Most of them were too frightened to protest, but a small remnant of Christians did stand up against the Reich Church. A group of 3,000 Protestants known as the “Confessing Church” openly defied Hitler and paid the price.
Hitler said, “I’ll make those damned pastors feel the power of the state in a way they’ve never believed possible. If I ever have the slightest suspicion that they’re getting dangerous, I’ll shoot the lot of them.”
Seven-hundred pastors from the Confessing Church were arrested. Many of them were murdered or sent to concentration camps.
“There is such a thing as evil, in my judgment, and this man is evil,” says Santoro. “Hitler has no permanent loyalties. If you cross him, you'll die.”
The most important aspect of Christianity that Hitler ignored was the belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. That’s a role Hitler preferred to take for himself. And even when he did mention Jesus, it wasn’t the Jesus of the Bible. For example, he refused to admit the fact that Jesus was Jewish.
“They didn’t take any notice of John 4, where the woman at the well says, ‘How is it, you being a Jew…’ and Jesus didn’t say, ‘Hang on – I’m a gentile.’” says Comfort. “And then you find the genealogies in the book of Luke; they go right back through David, through to Abraham, so obviously, they didn’t believe the scriptures, and they made up their own Jesus. “
The Jesus Hitler made up was an Aryan, to whom he often referred as “The Nazarene” and “the first great enemy of the Jews.”
Hitler denied the deity of Christ and forced people to worship him as god. Then he killed or imprisoned hundreds of Christian pastors and developed a detailed plan to destroy the Church. If he was a Christian, as many people suggest, then he wasn’t a very good one.
“If you are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, if you are truly born again, you will have the evidence of fruit,” says Comfort. “The fruit of righteousness, the fruit of praise, the fruit of thanksgiving, the fruit of repentance, and especially, the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, generous, faith, meekness and temperance. So if you haven’t got love, you are not a Christian.”
If someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.
I John 4:3, 8, 18