Catholicism and the Nazi State, Questions

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    I was recently engaged in a conversation with a pair of anti-Catholics (I myself am not a Catholic but seem to find myself apologizing for Catholics because they are often picked on unjustly in intellectual conversations). I was discussing the occult religion of the Nazi’s, namely that of the Thule Society and its adherents such as Alfred Rosenberg, Rudolf Hess, Hermann Goring, and Heinrich Himmler. I was met with surprising skepticism and disbelief. They asserted that the Nazi’s were friendly to Christianity (no doubt it fits with their modern-left world view), and even that Hitler himself was pro-Catholic.

    It is my understanding that Hitler turned to Lutheranism in his younger years (were there Catholics in his family?) because it was more German-focused and lacked the (Italian) “Romanism” of the Church. As for the occultism, I do not know what Hitlers personal views on the matter were, but he clearly tolerated the hardcore occult fancies of some of his most powerful cronies.

    My questions are as follows:

    1) What were Hitler’s views on Christianity and Catholicism. What were his views on occultism. Did he have a vision or an idea for a new State religion (perhaps pagan-occult in nature)? What exactly was the role of religion in the Nazi state, and what was the true relationship between Hitler and the Catholic Church?

    2) Another question that came up in conversation was whether or not Goebbels was a lefty, or at least representative of the more “left wing” of the early Nazi party (this was my understanding). Was Goebbels a lefty, and where can I find some primary information on the question?

    Jason Jewell

    Hitler was baptized as an infant into the Roman Catholic Church, which was the official church in Austria-Hungary, where he grew up. But I don’t know of any evidence that he ever showed any commitment to Christian doctrine as an adult; his membership in the Catholic Church was purely nominal, and he did not participate in the sacraments.

    The “Christianity” that Hitler occasionally affirmed in public was one that most Christians would not recognize because it was “Nazified.”

    The Wikipedia article on this topic has many citations to give you an idea of the conflicting interpretations of Hitler’s religious views:

    As to the role of religion in the Nazi state, Hitler tried with some success to turn the churches into instruments of Nazi policy. He succeeded to the extent that the leadership of the churches echoed nationalist propaganda when the war started. However, there was always resistance within the churches, too.

    I don’t know as much about Goebbels, unfortunately, but I hope this helps.

    Jason Jewell

    Following up on this, I just ran across an announcement of a new book anthologizing resistance sermons preached during the Third Reich. The book isn’t scheduled for release until October, but you might be interested in taking a look. I don’t know if any Roman Catholics are represented in it:

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