Addendum on Mein Kampf: Hitler on Religion

This post is an addendum to my Book Write-Up on Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.  This post will briefly discuss Adolf Hitler’s views on religion, as they are expressed in this book.  This is significant because of contemporary debates about Hitler’s religion, as some regard him as a Christian, others see him as an atheist, and others label him a pagan or an occultist.

  1. Hitler frequently refers to “Fate” thrusting him into situations rather than “God.” At least one time, he referred to the “gods.” This could be a literary device, or perhaps he is giving a nod to paganism, as some suggest.  Occasionally, Hitler refers to God, as when he states that, by opposing the Jew, he is doing the work of the Lord
  2. Hitler expresses admiration for the Catholic church because it commands the loyalty of so many people, from so many walks of life.
  3. Hitler also sees a valuable place for religion in German society: it provides people, especially the working class, with a moral code.
  4. Hitler makes use of the Bible when it suits him. In criticizing the Jews, he refers to Christ’s cleansing of the Temple.
  5. As was stated in my Book Write-Up, Hitler criticizes the Jews for their disbelief in an afterlife. Adherence to a belief in personal immortality, in his eyes, is a mark of strength and ennobles human beings.  Jews, in Hitler’s mind, focus on gain in this life and seek to undermine humanity for the sake of power.
  6. I do not recall Hitler saying anything about the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Hitler says that the Jews are incapable of forming a state of their own, since they are ruthless towards each other, so they gain power by being parasites on the accomplishments of others.  As I said in my Book Write-Up, though, I wonder how Hitler would reconcile that sentiment with the existence of an Israelite state in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.  Would he deny that the biblical Jews were the ancestors of the Jews of his day, as some anti-Semites today claim that modern-day Jews are descended from the Khazars (converts to Judaism) rather than the biblical Jews?  But that would run contrary to Hitler’s appeal to Christ’s cleansing of the Temple in his attempt to justify anti-Semitism, since the Khazars converted centuries later than the time of the historical Jesus.  I recall a book that I read years ago for a paper, Theologians Under Hitler, and one such theologian argued that Christ was not a Jew because Galilee was populated by other people.  Is this what Hitler thought?  Another reason that I wonder what Hitler thought about the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament is that some contemporary anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish writings are quite critical of the biblical Jews or the ancient Israelites, including such luminaries as Moses.

My impression in reading this book is that Hitler was not particularly religious himself, but he saw religion as a valuable tool.  What he prioritized was the German people and nation.

I hesitantly leave open the comments, in case someone has new information to add.  I will not continually re-edit this post in light of new information, though.  Snarky and snotty comments will not be accepted.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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2 Responses to Addendum on Mein Kampf: Hitler on Religion

  1. In your reading of Mein Kampf, are there any theological treatise, early Church fathers, or particular traditions of Biblical Interpretation to which he refers, quotes, or cites? In other words, you note that “some contemporary anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish writings are quite critical of the biblical Jews or the ancient Israelites, including such luminaries as Moses.” Is there a particular circle of people from whom Hitler may have drawn these ideas? Or did he just draw on those ideas from the broader cultural and societal thoughts?

    Also, if you ever write an article tracking Hitlers use of “god,” “God,” “Lord,” etc., let me know. It would be interesting to see a closer reading of that particular aspect of the text.

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  2. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Hi Will! Thanks for your comment.

    1. I do not recall any place in Mein Kampf in which Hitler referred to a theological treatise, early church fathers, or traditions of Biblical Interpretation. Probably the closest he came to interacting with the Bible was when he talked about Jesus’ disputes with the Jewish leaders.

    2. The way Main Kampf presents it, Hitler read anti-Semitic pamphlets and newspapers. At first he did not agree with them, but he came to agree. But Hitler also presents himself embracing anti-Semitism as a result of his own personal observations: the Jews in Social Democratic movements, Jews with which he interacted, etc.

    3. By “contemporary,” I mean today rather than Hitler’s time, but there was a source that came to my mind shortly after I wrote that post. I was wondering about anti-Semitism’s stance towards Moses, and there was a book (or more accurately a booklet) by Deitrich Eckart entitled “Bolshevism from Moses to Lenin.” Eckart actually did have an influence on Hitler. I have not read it, but scanning it, it does look like Eckart was critical of the Old Testament, such as the genocide in the Book of Joshua. You can find Eckart’s book on archive—-not the archive of this blog, but the web site archive, which has old books that one can download as PDFs.

    4. I’ll let you know if I write an article or blog post on that. One way to look at the data would be to find a PDF of Mein Kampf and search under “gods” or “God” or “Lord.”

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