Posted in: Apologetics

Was Hitler a Christian?

also: Troubling Finds regarding Richard Carrier’s reading of Hitler’s Table Talk

By John Baskette

I originally the Hitler table talk quotes and information from Marty Helgesen in a soc.religion.christian post back in the 1990s.

Much later I added some material from the writings of Albert Speer that backs up the view that Hitler rejected Christianity. I also explain correctly that the existence of these Secret Conversations is not is dispute. However, the well known atheist mythicist Richard Carrier disputes that the English translations of the relevant passages correctly or were present in the original german.

Carrier makes these claims in a article published in German Studies Review in an article titled “Hitler’s Table Talk: Troubling Finds” (Vol. 26, No.3 Oct., 2003). Richard Carrier claimis that the Trevor-Roper translation is “worthless.” (Hitler’s Table Talk: Troubling Finds German Studies Review 26/3 (2003) p. 574). He opens his article, not with a quote from Table Talk, but from a secondary source (a book by Jonathan Glover) that quotes Hitler’s Table Talk. It is a very clever, if disingenous tactic, because Glover uses a quote from the English translation that is not present at all in the original German. He then makes this sweeping claim, “…the quotations are largely false. Hitler did criticize priests and the Church and certain Christian dogmas quite a bit, but so do god-fearing Christians. Hitler never went quite as far as these statements imply.” Later in the article he likens Hitler to a bigoted Protestant.

What he has glommed on to is that this English translation has some problems including some missing and questionable material. A few of Hitler quotes regarding Christianity are not in the German text, but most of the quotes are in the German text. Hitler scholars who write in English such as Ian Kershaw and Richard Steignam-Gall do in fact quote from Trevor-Roper’s English translation. Hitler’s Table Talk continues to be an accepted and credible source for Hitler’s thought. However, Ian Keshaw does say that one must take care regarding this source and complains about the quality of the translation. (Ian Kersahe, Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris, New York: W.W.Norton & Co., 1998, p.779)

What follows are the quotes from the Table Talk followed by the original German, followed again by google translations of the original German. This is sufficient to verify most of the quotes as being essentially correct. When you read them you will see that Carrier’s claims makes no sense at all. No Protestant is going to say that Christianity is the bastard offspring of communism, the worst thing to strike humanity, a Jewish lie, or comparable to syphilis. It is evident that Carrier has not been honest in his evaluation of Trevor-Roper’s work. One internet atheist site, relying on Carrier, made the claim that “The German versions of the talk do not include the anti-Christian quotes.” Not true! They contain most of the quotes which have been reliably translated. Carrier’s disengenous work is intend a troubling find.

Wikipedia has a good introduction to this work and its background. See Hitler’s Table Talk.

I have added the material that follows: versions of the quotes in the original german as taken from Adolf Hitler, Monologe im Führerhauptquartier 1941-1944. published by Orbis Verlag, Hamburg, Approved Special Edition in 2000. (here’s a copy). This is this the original German of the Bormann-Vermerke published by historian Werner Jochmann referred to in the Wikepedia article. I don’t know German so I follow up the german version of the quote with a google translate for what it is worth.

Note that the specious belief that Nazism was somehow “Christian” is easily seen as false when the claims of Nazi German Positive Christianity are fairly examined. The author of Nazism’s religious ideaology is Alfred Rosenberg, a man known for his hatred of Christianity. J. P. Holding does a good job of demonstrating the antithetical nature of Nazism towards Christianity. (See also His youtube video on the subject.)

He is wary of using the Table Talk quotes due to disputes regarding their authenticity or the correctness of their translations. He also says regarding these Table Talk quotes, “… All of these statements coming as they did near the end of Hitler’s life and in the face of imminent failure would likely reflect an evolved perception of Christianity that came about becuase of Hitler’s bitterness.” I believe J. P. Holding has done some outstanding work here, but consider the dates of these quotes all from 1941 or early 1942. This was before the fall of Stalingrad. Many of these were before America entered the war. I don’t think at this stage in his life that Hitler or even much of the German military believed that failure was imminent or that Germany would lose the war at all.

So, here we go:

The claim is sometimes made that Hitler was a Christian – a Roman Catholic until the day he died. In fact, Hitler rejected Christianity.

The book Hitler’s Secret Conversations 1941-1944 published by Farrar, Straus and Young, Inc.first edition, 1953, contains definitive proof of Hitler’s real views. The book was published in Britain under the title, _Hitler’s Table Talk 1941-1944, which title was used for the Oxford University Press paperback edition in the United States.

All of these are quotes from Adolf Hitler:

Night of 11th-12th July, 1941:

National Socialism and religion cannot exist together…. The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity…. Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things. (p 6 & 7)

The Original with some additional text to give some more context as best as I can match them up:

Auf die Dauer vermögen Nationalsozialismus und Kirche nicht nebeneinander zu bestehen…. Der schwerste Schlag, der die Menschheit getroffen hat, ist das Christentum; der Bolschewismus ist der uneheliche Sohn des Christentums; beide sind eine Ausgeburt des Juden. Durch das Christentum ist in die Welt gekommen die bewußte Lüge in den Fragen der Religion; in gleicher Weise lügt der Bolschewismus, wenn er behauptet, die Freiheit zu bringen, während er nur Sklaven sehen will….Ohne das Christentum würde es keinen mohammedanismus gegeben haben; das römische Reich hätte sich unter germanischer Führung zur Weltherrschaft entwickelt und geweitet: Die Menschheit würde nicht um fünfzehnhundert Jahre in der Entwicklung zurückgeworfen worden sein. Man sage nicht: Das Christentum hat die Verinnerlichung gebracht. Die würde es auch so gegeben haben. Die Folge des Zusammenbruchs des römischen Reiches was das Nichts durch Jahrhunderte. (p. 40-41)

Google translate renders this as follows:

In the long run are not able to co-exist Nazism and Church…. The heaviest blow which took humanity, is Christianity; Bolshevism is the illegitimate son of Christianity; both are a figment of the Jews. Through Christianity came into the world the deliberate lie in the matters of religion; in the same way lying Bolshevism when it claims to bring liberty, while he wants to see only slaves….Without Christianity there would have been no Mohammedanism; the Roman Empire would have developed and expanded under Germanic guide to world domination: Humanity would have been thrown back not by fifteen hundred years of development. One does not say that Christianity has brought the internalization. It would also have been so. The result of the collapse of the Roman Empire which nothingness through centuries.

10th October, 1941, midday:

Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure. (p 43)

The Original:

Das Christentum ist Auflehnen gegen dieses Grundgesetz, Protest gegen die Schöpfung; konsequent durchgeführt, würde es zur Züchtung des Minderwertigen führen. (p. 76)

The Google translate version of this is:

Christianity is rebellion against this constitution, a protest against the creation; performed consistently, it would lead to the breeding of inferior.

14th October, 1941, midday:

The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death…. When understanding of the universe has become widespread… Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity…. Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity…. And that’s whysomeday its structure will collapse…. …the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little….Christianity the liar…. We’ll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State. (p 49-52)

Here is the German text with expanded text so we can see more of the context:

Am besten, man läß das Christentum langsam verklingen; ein langsames Ausklingen hat auch etwas Versöhnendes in sich: Das Dogma des Christentums zerbricht vor der Wissenschaft. Die Kirche muß jetzt schon mehr und mehr Konzessionen machen. Tausend Dinge werden allmählich hinfällig. Es braucht nur noch der Nachweis geführt zu werden, daß das Anorganische und das Organische in der Natur ohne Grenze ineinanderüberfließen! Wenn erst einmal das Wissen um das Universum sich verbreitet, wenn der Großteil der Menschen sich klar darüber wird, daß die Sterne nicht Leuchtkörper sind, sondern Welten, vielleicht belebte Welten, wie die unsere, dann wird die Lehre des Christentums vöß ad absurdum geführt.

…Das Christentum nun freilich hat den Gipfel aller Torheit erklommen. Deshalb wird eines Tages sein Gebäude gänzlich zerbrechen. Das Wissen hat heute schon die ganze Menschheit erfaßt. Je mehr sich das Christentum an das Dogma klammert, um so rascher wird es verglimmen

…Es erschiene mir unsagbar töricht, einen Wotanskult wieder erstehen zu lassen. Unsere alte Götter-Mythologie war überholt, war nicht mehr lebensfähig, als das Christentum kam. Es verschwindet immer nur, was reif ist unterzugehen! Die ganze antike Welt lebte damals lediglich noch in philosophischen Systemen und auf der anderen Seite in einem Götzenkult. Es ist nun aber auch nicht wünschenswert, daßl; die ganze Menschheit verblödet. Man kann sich deshalb vom Christentum nicht besser lösen als dadurch, daß man es ausklingen läßt.

…Das Christentum lügt.

…Wir werden dafür sorgen, daß die Kirchen keine Lehren mehr verkünden, die mit unseren Lehren in Widerspruch stehen. Wir werden weiter unsere nationalsozialistischen Lehren durchsetzen, und die Jugend wird nur mehr die Wahrheit hören. (p 83-85).

Here is the google translation of this text:

The best thing you can Christianity fade away slowly; a slow decay has something conciliatory in itself: The dogma of Christianity breaks before science. The Church must now do even more and more concessions. A thousand things are gradually lapsed. It only needs to be performed to prove that the inorganic and organic in nature with no limit on flow into each other! If once the knowledge of the universe is spread when the majority of the people will realize that the stars are not luminous body, but worlds, perhaps animated worlds like ours, then the doctrine of Christianity is performed completely absurd.

…Christianity certainly has now reached the summit of all folly. Therefore, one day be buildings shatter completely. This knowledge has already acquired all mankind. The more Christianity clings to the dogma, the quicker it will fade.

…It strikes me as unspeakably foolish to raise up a Wotan cult again. Our ancient gods mythology was outdated, was no longer viable when Christianity came. It only disappears, what has come to go down! The whole ancient world was living only still in philosophical systems, and on the other side in an idolatry. It is now but also not desirable that all mankind stupid. One can therefore not solved better by Christianity than by the fact that it is allowed to finish.

…Christianity is lying.

…We will ensure that the churches no longer preach doctrines that with our teachings contradict. We will continue to enforce our National Socialist doctrines, and the youth will only hear the truth.

19th October, 1941, night:

The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity.

Here is the german text:

Daß die antike Welt so schön, so heiter und unbeschwert war, erklärt sich daraus, daß sie von zwei Seuchen verschont geblieben ist: der Syphilis und dem Christentum! (p 96)

Here is the google translation:

That the ancient world was so beautiful so cheerful and carefree, explained by the fact that it has been spared from two epidemics: syphilis and Christianity!

21st October, 1941, midday:

Originally, Christianity was merely an incarnation of Bolshevism, the destroyer…. The decisive falsification of Jesus’ doctrine was the work of St.Paul. He gave himself to this work… for the purposes of personal exploitation…Didn’t the world see, carried on right into the Middle Ages, the same old system of martyrs, tortures, faggots? Of old, it was in the name of Christianity. Today, it’s in the name of Bolshevism. Yesterday the instigator was Saul: the instigator today, Mardochai. Saul was changed into St.Paul, and Mardochai into Karl Marx. By exterminating this pest, we shall do humanity a service of which our soldiers can have no idea. (p 63-65)

Here is the german text, expanded again:

Das Christentum war alles zerstörender Bolschewismus. Dabei hat der Galiläer, den man später Christus benannte, etwas ganz anderes gewollt. Er war ein Volksführer, der gegen das Judentum Stellung nahm. Galiläa war sicher eine Kolonie, in welcher die Römer gallische Legionäre angesiedelt haben, und Jesus war bestimmt kein Jude. Die Juden nannten ihn ja auch einen Hurensohn, den Sohn einer Hure und eines römischen Soldaten.

Die entscheidende Verfälschung der Lehre des Jesus kam durch Paulus. Er hat raffiniert die Lehre des Galiläers für seine Zwecke umgefälscht und ausgewertet.

…vergleichen mit dem, was die bolschewistische Unterwelt damals in den Katakomben als neue christliche Kultur brachte. Damals Zerstörung aller Bibliotheken, und heute sehen wir in Rußland das gleiche: ein Herabdrücken auf ein ganz niedriges, allen gleiches Niveau. Damals und bis in das Mittelalter hinein die fürchterlichsten Folterungen, Marterungen und Verbrennungen im Namen des Christentums, und heute das gleiche im Namen des Bolschewismus. Aus dem Saulus wurde ein Paulus und aus dem Mardochai ein Karl Marx.

Ween wir diese Pest ausrotten, so vollbringen wir eine Tat für die Menschheit, von deren Bedeutung sich unsere Männer draußen noch gar keine Vorstellung machen können. (p 96,99)

Here is the google translation of this text:

Christianity was all destructive Bolshevism. It has the Galileans, the one later named Christ, something else wanted. He was a popular leader who took a stand against the Jews. Galilee was certainly a colony in which have settled the Romans Gallic legionaries, and Jesus was certainly not a Jew. The Jews called him indeed a son of a bitch, son of a whore and a Roman soldier.

The decisive falsification of the teachings of Jesus came through Paul. He has refined falsified and analyzed the doctrine of the Galilean for his purposes….Compare with what brought the Bolshevik underworld back in the catacombs as a new Christian culture. At that time, the destruction of all libraries, and today we see in Russia the same: a depression in a very low, all the same level. At that time and until the Middle Ages the most terrible tortures, tortures and burns in the name of Christianity, and today the same on behalf of Bolshevism. From Saul a Paul and from Mordecai was a Karl Marx.

If we eradicate this pest, so we perform an act of humanity, of their significance, our men out yet can make no idea.

13th December, 1941, midnight:

Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery…. ….When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let’s be the only people who are immunised against the disease. (p 118 & 119)

Curiously, the book I am using does not have this quote. There is an entry for the 13th of December, 1941 at midday, but there is no entry for midnight. This is a little surprising, but the German copy I am working from is Jochmann’s edition which is known not to be complete.

14th December, 1941, midday:

Kerrl, with noblest of intentions, wanted to attempt a synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. I don’t believe the thing’s possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself…. Pure Christianity– the Christianity of the catacombs– is concerned with translating Christian doctrine into facts. It leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind. It is merely whole-hearted Bolshevism, under a tinsel of metaphysics. (p 119 & 120)

Here is the german for this:

Minister Kerrl wollte im edelsten Sinne eine Synthese herstellen zwischen Nationalsozialismus und Christentum. Ich glaube nicht, daß das möglich ist; der Grund liegt im Christentum selbst. … Das reine Christentum, das sogenannte Urchristentum, geht auf die Wahrmachung der christlichen Theorie aus: Es führt zur Vernichtung des Menschentums, ist nackter Bolschewismus in metaphysischer Verbrämung.(p 152)

And here is the google translation of this:

Minister Kerrl wanted to create a synthesis between the noblest sense National Socialism and Christianity. I do not think that’s possible; the reason lies in Christianity itself … The pure Christianity, the so-called primitive Christianity, going to the Wahrmachung the Christian theory. It leads to the destruction of humanity, naked Bolshevism is in metaphysical trappings.

The next short quote is from a substantial section of the Jochmann’s edition is not complete, as it lacks the 100 entries made by Picker between 12 March and 1 September 1942.

9th April, 1942, dinner:

There is something very unhealthy about Christianity (p 339)

27th February, 1942, midday:

It would always be disagreeable for me to go down to posterity as a man who made concessions in this field. I realize that man, in his imperfection, can commit innumerable errors– but to devote myself deliberately to errors, that is something I cannot do. I shall never come personally to terms with the Christian lie. Our epoch in the next 200 years will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity…. My regret will have been that I couldn’t…behold .” (p 278)

Here is the german text I found:

Ich möchte aber nicht der Nachwelt überliefert werden als einer von denen, die hier Konzessionen gemacht haben. Ich weiß, daß der Mensch in seiner Fehlerhaftigkeit tausend Dinge falsch machen wird, aber entgegen meinem Wissen etwas falsch tun, das mache ich nicht! Ich persönlich werde mich einer solchen Lüge niemals fügen, nicht weil ich andere ärgern will, sondern weil ich darin eine Verhöhnung der ewigen Vorsehung erkenne. Ich bin froh, daß ich mit denen keine innere Verbindung habe. Ich fühle mich wohl in der geschichtlichen Gesellschaft, in der ich mich befinde, wenn es einen Olymp gibt. In dem, in den ich eingehe, werden sich die erlauchtesten Geister aller Zeiten finden. … Es wird nur dem das Leben gegeben, der am stärksten darum ficht. Das Gesetz des Lebens heißt: Verteidige dich! Die Zeit, in der wir leben, es ist die Erscheinung des Zusammenbruchs dieser Sache. Es kann hundert oder zweihundert Jahre noch dau gelobte Land nur aus der Ferne sehen kann.

And here is the google translation:

But I would not be handed down to posterity as one of those who here have made concessions. I know that man will go wrong a thousand things in his imperfection, but do something wrong against my knowledge, I’m not doing! Personally, I’ll never put such a lie, not because I want to annoy others, but because I know it makes a mockery of the eternal providence. I am glad that I have with which no internal connection. I feel comfortable in the historical society in which I find myself, if there is a Mount Olympus. In the, in I go, the most illustrious minds ever be found. … It is only given to the life, of why most fights. The law of Life is: Defend yourself! The time in which we live, it is the phenomenon of the collapse of this matter. It may hundred or two hundred years, nor can see dau Promised Land from afar.

The last quote doesn’t match at all! Note that this is the passage that Richard Carrier found and translated more correctly. He is right about this passage. The original documents do not match the translation given in the Trevor-Roper English translation from the 1950’s.

A reader asks,“Where did the quotes from Hitler’s Secret Conversations come from? How do we know that they are accurate?”

As we have seen Hitler’s Secret Conversations is a translation of a document called the “Bormann-Vermerke” or Borrman endorsements. They are a collection of hand written notes made by Martin Bormann who was Hitler’s personal secretary during the war. Bormann is known to have been an extraordinarily powerful figure in Nazi Germany and a notorious opponent of Christianity.

There is no real dispute regarding the authenticity of these notes. They are what Borrman wrote. They are published in the original German in Adolf Hitler, Monologe im Führerhauptquartier 1941-1944. published by Orbis Verlag, Hamburg, Approved Special Edition in 2000.

The quotes are disputed by some Hitler is often quoted as publically professing to be a Christian. The simplest reconciliation of this seeming contradiction is that Hitler lied to gain the support of the German people, 90% of whom where professing Christians.

What follows is an excerpt from “Inside the Third Reich” by Hitler’s chief architect and minister of Armaments, Albert Speer. It illuminates how Hitler “adapted his remarks to his surroundings”, thus making himself a friend of the church when it was convenient. It is also another independent witness to Hitler’s true feeling regarding Christianity — it was meek and flabby, Germany would have been better off if Islam had conquered Europe after the battle of Tours, and that Germany had the misfortune of having the wrong religion.

From Inside the Third Reich, Memiors by Albert Speer, Translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston, Avon Publishers, 1970:

What remains in my memory of social life at Obersalzberg is a curious vacuity. Fortunately, during my first years of imprisonment, while my recollections were still fresh, I noted down a few scraps of conversations which I can now regard as reasonably authentic….

Amid his political associates in Berlin, Hitler made harsh pronouncements against the church, but in the presence of women he adopted a milder tone — one of the instances where he adapted his remarks to his surroundings.

“The church is certainly necessary for the people. It is a strong and conservative element,” he might say at one time or another in this private circle. However, he conceived of the church as an instrument that could be useful to him. “If only Reibi [this was his nickname for Reich Bishop Ludwig Müller] had some kind of stature. But why do they appoint a nobody of an army chaplain? I’d be glad to give him my full support. Think of all he could do with that. Through me the Evangelical [Protestant] Church could become the established church, as in England.”

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. He still regretted that Reich Bishop Müller was not the right man to carry out his far-reaching plans. But he sharply condemned the campaign against the church, calling it a crime against the future of the nation. For it was impossible, he said, to replace the church by any “party ideology.” Undoubtedly, he continued, the church would learn to adapt to the political goals of National Socialism in the long run, as it had always adapted in the course of history. A new party religion would only bring about a relapse into the mysticism of the Middle Ages. The growing SS myth showed that clearly enough, as did Rosenburg’s unreadable Myth of the Twentieth Century.

If in the course of such a monologue Hitler had pronounced a more negative judgment upon the church, Bormann would undoubtedly have taken from his jacket pocket one of the white cards he always carried with him. For he noted down all Hitler’s remarks that seemed to him important; and there was hardly anything he wrote down more eagerly than deprecating comments on the church. At the time I assumed that he was gathering material for a biography of Hitler.

Around 1937, when Hitler heard that at the instigation of the party and the SS vast numbers of his followers had left the church because it was obstinately opposing his plans, he nevertheless ordered his chief associates, above all Goering and Goebbels, to remain members of the church. He too would remain a member of the Catholic Church, he said, although he had no real attachment to it. And in fact he remained in the church until his suicide.

Hitler had been much impressed by a scrap of history he had learned from a delegation of distinguished Arabs. When the Mohammedans attempted to penetrate beyond France into Central Europe during the eight century, his visitors had told him, they had been driven back at the battle of Tours. Had the Arabs won this battle, the world would be Mohammedan today. For theirs was a religion that believed in spreading the faith by the sword and subjugating all nations to that faith. The Germanic peoples would have become the heirs to that religion. Such a creed was perfectly suited to the Germanic temperament. Hitler said that the conquering Arabs, because of their racial inferiority, would in the long run have been unable to contend with the harsher climate and conditions of the country. They could not have kept down the more vigorous natives, so that ultimately not Arabs but Islamized Germans could have stood at the head of this Mohammedan Empire.

Hitler usually concluded this historical speculation by remarking: “You see, it’s been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn’t we have the religion of the Japaneses, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to use than Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?”

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