Onward Christian Fascists? An Example of Christian and Fascist Syncretism in Nazi Germany, May, 1936

At the U.S. Holocaust Museum photo archive is a sobering front page of the anti-Semitic newspaper, Der Stuermer, from May, 1936, in which Christianity and fascist messages are blended. Here’s the Holocaust Museum’s catalog description of the image:

Front page of the Nazi publication, Der Stuermer, with a cartoon depicting a group of Hitler Youth marching forth to drive the forces of evil from the land. The caption under the cartoon reads, “We youth step happily forward facing the sun… With our faith we drive the devil from the land.”

The headline reads, “Declaration of the Higher Clergy/So spoke Jesus Christ: You hippocrites who do not see the beam in your own eyes.”

And here’s the image: 

[Photograph #37848]

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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5 Responses to Onward Christian Fascists? An Example of Christian and Fascist Syncretism in Nazi Germany, May, 1936

  1. Sidney Carton says:

    The Deutsche Kristen movement during the Third Reich is definitely a black mark in the history of Chrisitianity. These strange and deluded souls sought to remake Christianity in an Aryan image. Their strategies included throwing out the Old Testament, and all of the Pauline Epistles (too Jewish). The Nazis actually had little interest in Christianizing their movement, the ultimate goal of the New Order was to absorb and abolish Protestantism into the new cult of the Fuehrer and the Nazi-Aryan pseudo-religion.

  2. santitafarella says:

    Sidney,

    Taking a broader perspective, there are large aspects of Christianity that meshed fairly well with what Hitler espoused. Like Hilter, most German Christians feared communism, thought that Jews and homosexuals were dangerous, and glorified the patriarchal family. In short, Christianity can have an authoritarian streak to it. Please recall that it was the Protestant Martin Luther who infamously called for the burning of synagogues in Germany (in a tract titled, “On the Jews and Their Lies”). And Hitler loved the anti-semitic passion play put on each decade at Oberamergau. I wish that we could put a greater distance between Hitler and Christianity, but the reality is that Germany, when Hitler rose to power, was a nominally Christian country—with both professing Catholics and Protestants in the overwhelming majority. And the Holocaust occurred in the heart of Christian Europe. Somehow, the way Hitler spoke was not so discordant with the Christians then living that alarm bells went off that he was not in accord with them. It’s kind of like looking back at slavery. How could so many Christians, living 200 years ago, have made slavery in accord with the gospel? But they did.

    —Santi

    • Paul says:

      Let me ask you this: Does not Orthodox Judaism believe ‘that homosexuality is sinful and dangerous?’ Does it not ‘glorify the patriarchal family?’ Does it not have an authoritarian streak to it? The answer to all those questions is YES. And yes, Martin Luther did call for the burning of synagogues and the expulsion of the Jews, just as Orthodox Jews have burned copies of the New Testament in Israel in our own era. So what? Luther’s comments do not reflect true Christian teaching. There is no correlation between the politician and racist, Adolf Hitler and Christianity. It is a MYTH. The holocaust occurred in Christian Europe? Have you stopped to consider that 3.5 million Polish Catholics perished during the war while under Nazi occupation? A holocaust is occurring right now in the United States – 60 million infants murdered – aborted – by their own biological mothers – but the usual liberal leftists are more concerned with ‘saving the environment’ than saving innocent human beings who deserve the full protection of Law. And please do not raise the issue of slavery, because the Old Testament fully condoned it. These people who owned slaves were false Christians – in NAME ONLY. You conveniently omit mentioning that far greater numbers of Christians were adamantly opposed to SLAVERY. Enough said, I hope.

  3. aunty dawkins says:

    Santi
    I think you overstate your case.I agree with Sidney.

    Looking at the ‘broader perspective’ only the ‘German Christian’ faction injected Nazi politics into it’s sordid operations.
    German Protestantism as a whole admitedly flirted a little more with the Nazis than the RC Church which remained largely strongly opposed to the racist totalitarian aberations of the nazis,repeatedly condemning their treatment of the Jews. However Hitler failed to unite German protestantism in support of him. Globally the vast majority of Protestantism condemned the Nazis including most of the US. Anglican clergy too were hostile to nazi totalitarianism and racism.
    I think most Christians did hear alarm bells but hindsight is a wonderful thing. Hitler initially wanted to gain a wonderful propaganda coup by linking Christainity with national socialism but failed and ended up persecuting Christian and Jew alike substituting the state a pseudo religion as did that other totalitarian phsychopath Stalin.
    Christianity has nothing to be ashamed about in relation to the Holocaust taking the ‘broader perspective’. We can and should lay the blame where it belongs.

  4. santitafarella says:

    Aunty Dawkins,

    I may well have overstated my case. I’ll have to think about it. But I think that contemporary Christians, however painful this may be, need to confront the historic role of anti-Semitism within the church (Protestant and Catholic), and how that anti-Semitism laid the groundwork, over many centuries, for 20th century anti-Semitism. It’s not a coincidence that the Jews were nearly obliterated from CHRISTIAN Europe. But I agree with you that the issue is complicated and not uni-dimensional.

    —Santi

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