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Appearing in January

I’ll be appearing at two local events this January. I will be selling and signing my books at both events as usual.

On Saturday, January 14 (2012) at the Amador Christian Center I will be participating in another debate in the Sacramento hills (Plymouth, California), this time with Douglas Jacoby, on Jesus: Man, Myth or Messiah? The whole event will begin at 5pm and last about two hours, including audience Q&A. Jacoby will affirm that Jesus was confirmed to be the Son of God by his teachings, life, and miracles. I will argue the evidence is insufficient to conclude that. To cover their modest expenses this time they will be charging a very reasonable $3 at the door. It will also be filmed and posted online like last time (when I debated J.P. Holding at the ACC; click here for links to the video and slides). But I would love to see a lot of local atheists out to support me (and the whole interfaith dialogue Amador is paying for) and maybe go out for dinner and drinks after. I had a great time doing that last time. And I’d love to meet you all again. The church is at 16829 Latrobe Road, Plymouth, CA 95669, about 25 minutes east of Sacramento. Further directions can be found at the Amador website (above). It’s out in beautiful hill country.

Then on Sunday, January 29 I will be speaking in Walnut Creek (California) about my work on the origins of Hitler’s Table Talk and exposing the (so far only) English translation of it as hopelessly unfaithful to the original German (my study on this was published in German Studies Review many years ago). This is especially infamous as a source of those “anti-Christian” quotes from Hitler you see bandied about. I’m usually never asked to talk about this so it’s a delight to be able to this time. It’s part of their Sunday dinner (which starts shortly after 4pm) which you can also pay a modest amount to eat, or not. To attend and get details (the precise where and when) you have to join the meetup group sponsored by Atheists and Freethinkers of Contra Costa County, which requires an approval process, so you’ll want to start that now, and not at the last minute.

Comments

  1. coelsblog says

    Hello Richard, I’ve been taking an interest in your work on Table Talk through writing a blog post on Nazi ideology. Do you have any more extensive collection of “corrections” than in your 2002 article? Is there any prospect of a better English translation of Table Talk? It would seem sufficiently worthwhile for someone to do it.

    • says

      Enigma was supposed to do a new translation shortly after my article in GSR came out (they even offered me the job, but I told them I had plenty else to do and there were more qualified translators). But instead all they did was re-issue the same translation with a new preface briefly mentioning it’s unreliable (WTF?). It’s been a decade by now, but I can imagine a new translation might take as long or longer if they aren’t willing to throw enough cash at it. Or possibly they decided it wasn’t worth the money and just did the reissue with the equivalent of a buried warning label. One thing I told Enigma was that it really wasn’t academically appropriate to do a translation without first commissioning a critical edition of the German, compiling all variants (as there are two versions, with considerable differences, and a third fragment with handwritten corrections that has yet to be properly studied). No one has done that, either.

      Since my article I have collected a few more “quotations” that I could have added (of all different kinds, some appear only in one text and not another, others only derive from the unreliable French, others just aren’t faithfully translated from the German or out of context, etc.) but I won’t be putting all those together until next month, when I’ll bring them up in my Walnut Creek talk. I might generate a blog post from it after the talk.

  2. Sierra Nevada says

    I would love to come, and I live just up the road from the Plymouth event. Alas, it would be irrational for me, as a Vegan, to allow myself to associate with someone like you.

    • says

      Sierra Nevada, if you think it’s immoral to eat meat, then yes, it would be irrational to associate with me. Unless you think it’s only mildly immoral, and thus its unrepentant persistence forgivable. Which would mean you do not believe meat is murder.

  3. James says

    What about Speers comments in Inside the Third Reich that Hitler told him he would have preferred Islam to Christianity and that he would “reckon” with the church after the war?

    • says

      James, I don’t understand your question. Perhaps my discussion above of the Goebbels diary entry will help. Likewise for the Speers memoir. It’s also worth remembering that both are second hand; whereas, in the Table Talk it is direct dictation from Hitler himself, in an environment where he was obviously being completely candid (as we can tell from his rants against Catholicism and in support of the principles of Positive Christianity, the exact opposite of his public position).

  4. Bertram Cabot says

    You are trying to hide from the fact that both Albert Speer and Goebbels wrote about Hitler’s desire to eliminate Christianity.

    The facts are there. They are going to become more widely known, so you better deal with them or you will look incompetent.

    • says

      That “Goebbels and Speer wrote about Hitler’s desire to eliminate Christianity” is simply untrue, and is a classic example of slipshod exaggeration and reading out of context.

      Speer wrote a dubious guilt-ridden memoir after decades of languishing in prison for Nazi crimes (and thus having every motive to slander Hitler in order to prove his remorse), in which from memory alone he suggests Hitler said something about Islam being better than Christianity because the latter was too flabby, which (a) says nothing about a desire to “eliminate Christianity” and (b) is almost certainly false because it contradicts the authentic words of Hitler himself in the original German of the Table Talk, where he does say something like that, and thus we can see Speer might be working from a bad memory of something he evidently read in the Table Talk itself, and therefore his evidence is worthless; when we look at the original words of Hitler, they show admiration for religious fanatics as die-hard soldiers, but not denunciation of Christians as weak; in fact something like that sentiment exists only in Genoud’s bogus translation (and something similar in an entry mysteriously added to the later German text of Jochmann but not present in the original of Picker, hence I suspect a forgery of Bormann’s).

      Goebbels wrote in his diary in 1939 what is usually translated into English as a tirade against Christianity, but it’s clear from context Catholicism is meant, not Christianity. Positive Christianity rejected the Church founded by Paul as a Jewish conspiracy and sought to “reinstate” the “original” religion of the Aryan Jesus, and the Table Talk confirms Hitler’s sympathies really lied with Positive Christianity and not his publicly professed Catholicism. We can confirm this in the original German of the Table Talk, where Hitler’s actual rants are against Catholicism, not Christianity as such (as I show in my article for GSR). Likewise in the Goebbels entry, the main reason he says Hitler rejected “Christianity” was that its elaborate religious rites were Jewish, a claim that obviously could only have been made of Catholicism, as Protestants rejected those same rites as too pagan, and thus Hitler can’t have been denouncing Protestantism; Positive Christians likewise denounced Catholic rites as crypto-Jewish, thus clearly Hitler was speaking right in line with Positive Christian rhetoric. So clearly he was talking about Catholicism, not Christianity.

      And yet even in the Goebbels diary nothing is said of Hitler having a desire “to eliminate” Christianity, or indeed even Catholicism. In context, as just noted, only Catholicism was meant, and all Goebbels wrote was that Hitler expected both Judaism and Catholicism would come to an end, pretty much the exact same sentiment voiced by every fascist Protestant in Germany at the time, and thus not an anti-Christian sentiment, but anti-Catholic; and even that sentiment did not articulate Hitler’s desire to do the destroying, only that the world would come to its senses eventually. As Hitler implies in the Table Talk, he expected the future utopia to embrace something like a liberalized Positive Christianity.

  5. LeonAteo says

    Except no one is hiding from anything. That Hitler’s own comments were purposefully mistranslated is itself what is being addressed.

    If you prefer to go by hearsay to make whatever conclusion about Hitler’s view of Christianity be my guest. I prefer to if at all possible understand what he felt by what he said and I don’t know why anyone would take exception to getting a more accurate understanding of his words.

    • says

      LeonAteo, I don’t think Cabot was taking exception to getting more accurate translations. Rather, he was claiming that Hitler’s “desire to eliminate Christianity” was attested in other sources (namely, or so he implied, Goebbels’ diary and Speer’s memoir). And on that point, you can see my discussion above of why that isn’t exactly true.

  6. petzl20 says

    @Cabot,
    Your bias is showing. He is translating. The only incompetence, apparently, was with Genoud’s original translation, and Trevor-Roper, for using Genoud’s french translation to reach an English version rather than going to the original German.

    • says

      Petzl20, Cabot was referring to something else. (See my reply to him above.)

      As to your comment, of course, technically, Trevor-Roper didn’t translate anything. He endorsed and “edited” the text, which was actually translated by two other guys, Stevens & Cameron. Genoud’s French edition was not incompetent, but deceitful–the changes he made were clearly deliberate and not just mistakes. Stevens & Cameron just translated Genoud without even checking the German original (or if they did, they ignored it), which I think is pretty slipshod. And worse, as I show in GSR, they botched even the translation of Genoud (making some basic mistakes in reading French grammar). There are also sections that do come from the German because Genoud had not gotten to them, but even the translations of those are not entirely trustworthy. Basically, in my opinion Stevens & Cameron did not do a great job. The worse as they didn’t compare the two editions of the German, which would have revealed some curiosities, including evidence of possible meddling by Bormann (as I also explain in my GSR article).

  7. Bertram Cabot says

    Thanks for responding, Dr. Carrier, but if you are going to claim Speer is unreliable you need more than an ad hominem attack on him.

    That he felt guilty is irrelevant; he WAS guilty and took a lot of responsibility at Nuremberg, unlike many of the other defendants who blamed Hitler for the whole thing.

    But is is also odd that you find Speer unreliable, since Hector Avalos quotes him for support in his article edited by your pal John Loftus.

    I guess if Avalos references him, he is reliable, but if I reference him he is unreliable.

    Thats a characteristic of yours, Dr. Carrier…everything that conflicts with your interpretations always HAS to be some kind of forgery or lie. Odd how that always works in your favor.

    As to Dr. Goebbles, Dr. Carrier, (love those Ph.D.’s, hope to have one of my own!) I will have to dig out my copy of the Goebbles diaries and check out the context but I am pretty sure he despised Christianity in general, not just Catholocism…and even if you are correct, it indicates that Hitler despised Catholocism as well.

    • says

      Bertram Cabot: That he felt guilty is irrelevant

      No, it’s not. As they say in law, it goes to bias. He wants to establish himself (even in his own mind) as reformed and misled. Thus the more he can scandalize Hitler, the more he will appear to be on the tomato-throwing side, and thus like us, not Hitler’s best friend. His memories will thus be colored and altered by how he wants to see the past. This doesn’t mean he will have completely fabricated memories. But it does mean there will be a distortionary trend in one particular direction that we, as historians, must take into account.

      But is is also odd that you find Speer unreliable, since Hector Avalos quotes him for support in his article edited by your pal John Loftus.

      Surely you are not a high school student. You know how to evaluate sources. It’s not as if a source is “wholly 100% unreliable on every single thing it says” or “wholly 100% reliable on every single thing it says.” Avalos uses Speer on a point that goes against Speer’s bias (The Christian Delusion, p. 381). Not so this case. Thus the two cases are not analogous.

      Indeed, it is instructive to see what Avalos quotes Speer saying:

      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.

      That we can confirm is an accurate understanding, because it’s similar to what Hitler himself says in the Table Talk. Whereas Speer’s statement about Christians being “flabby” and Muslims better is garbled (what Hitler himself said was significantly more nuanced) and more in line with a memory keen on discrediting Hitler (and therefore suspect, especially as it contradicts what even better sources say–namely, Hitler himself).

  8. Bertram Cabot says

    By the way, Speers memoir was not written AFTER he got out of prison, it was written while he was in prison and smuggled out in installements.

    They were published after his release, of course, as the allies would not have allowed it while he was in prison.

    • says

      Bertram Cabot Speers memoir was not written AFTER he got out of prison, it was written while he was in prison and smuggled out in installements.

      Source, please?

      Speer himself implies in his foreword that he did not begin writing until after he left prison. I can’t imagine what the point would be of smuggling the book out only to not publish anything until four years after he was released from prison. It’s not like anyone could have prevented earlier publication.

  9. Bertram Cabot says

    The trouble with your ad hominem line of reasoning against Speer is that it allows you to simply discredit in advance any statements he makes that don’t confirm your own position.

    But if Speer was as anxious to “throw tomatoes” at Hitler, as you put it, he would hardly have taken the degree of responsibility he did at Nuremberg but instead have simply blamed it all on Hitler…as others on trial with him, such as Raeder and Doenitz did. (And both of whom consequently served less time than Hitler did.)

    And the comments that you do accept from Speer indicate that Hitler wanted to control and use the church, not that he believed any of it.

    Fact it, Speer was an eyewitness to these events…and he can’t be simply dismissed as easliy as you seem to want.

    • says

      Bertram Cabot: And the comments that you do accept from Speer indicate that Hitler wanted to control and use the church, not that he believed any of it.

      You are moving the goal posts. The claim made was that Speer confirms Hitler was thoroughly anti-Christian and intended to destroy Christianity and the church. Note that it is that claim which Speer’s text does not corroborate. Speer was not a telepath. So if you want to know what Hitler actually believed you should look at what Hitler himself said in the candid remarks in the Table Talk (because unlike Speer, Hitler did know what was going on in Hitler’s head), and there he reveals his true beliefs, which were certainly very religious, but aligned with the ideology of Positive Christianity and his intention that the church should be subordinate to the state. Wishing to control the church is not the same as intending to destroy the church. Indeed, wishing to use the church is the exact opposite of wishing to destroy it.

      When we compare what Speer says, decades later, from a colored memory, with what Hitler said, directly recorded by transcript, it is obvious that Speer’s memory has become garbled, as we can see how it is close to what Hitler really did say but deviates from it in the very key respects I noted. And the fact that Hitler’s remarks in the Table Talk are candid and reveal his true mind we can confirm from the fact that they boldly contradict what he was saying in public (where he staunchly played up his loyal Catholicism; unlike in the Table Talk where he tears the Catholic church up with loads of snide criticism identical to what a bigoted Protestant would say, while defending beliefs that align with the Nazi Protestant movement of Positive Christianity).

  10. Bertram Cabot says

    That would have been Doenitz and Raeder who served less time that Speer did…Hitler of course having longed escaped judgment.

    As to an earlier publication of Inside the Third Reich, that is questionable, since he had to prepare the material and find a suitable publisher for the Memoirs of a convicted War Criminal…perhaps not as easy in the Germany of circa 1970 as today.

  11. Bertram Cabot says

    I checked the publlciaton of Inside the Third Reich, it was 1969 in Germany, a volatile time for publcication of such material and not all that long since he got out of prison. The book was compiled from about 1300 pages of notes he gave to his regular visitors from 1946 on.

    Speer was as “eyewitness” as you can get. You need more than your speculations to discredit his remarks about Hitler. And they are consistent with what Goebbels wrote in his diaries.

  12. Bertram Cabot says

    The claim that Speer’s memory was garbled is a shift from your claim that the was trying to cover up…but regardless he was indisputably an eyewitness to what Hitler said.

    Your attacks on on Speer’s memory and or his veracity could of course be made of any eyewitness, but making those assertions about a witness does not make them so. Inside the third Reich was written from some 1300 pages of notes compiled during his prison stay…it was not simply composed over 20 years after the fact as you imply. Moreover, the allies would not have let him publish it while he was in prison; that’s why he set to work on it after he got out in 1966…only 21 years after the war…and got it published in 1969, not an unusual length of time for publication.

    What we do see is what something you touched on indicates, that Hitler said one thing in public and another in private…and the preponderance of evidence is that Hitler despised Christianity. And that he would not hesitate to destroy it when he had the chance…but that would have to wait until he had won the war.

    Exactly as Speer indicated.

    And its not just Speer, you still have Goebbels. DR. Goebbels.

    • says

      Bertram Cabot: The claim that Speer’s memory was garbled is a shift from your claim that the was trying to cover up.

      I never said anything about a cover up. From the very first comment I said his memory was garbled and unreliable, and proposed a possible psychological reason that may have affected it. I then even gave evidence that his memory was garbled, by comparing what he said to what Hitler actually said, showing his confusion, likely the result of decades of remorseful cognitive dissonance coloring how he remembered what happened.

      but regardless he was indisputably an eyewitness to what Hitler said.

      So is Hitler. And his bunker stenographers (from one of whom we have the transcripts directly). And Bormann, BTW, who notably did alter what Hitler said, almost immediately after he said it (thus showing that “being an eyewitness to what Hitler said” does not in fact mean much). I discuss Bormann’s “edits” to the Table Talk in the GSR article (and I’ll discuss them again at my talk in Walnut Creek this month).

      he allies would not have let him publish it while he was in prison

      Your evidence for this statement?

      the preponderance of evidence is that Hitler despised Christianity.

      What preponderance of evidence? Almost every single item the evidence, and all of the best evidence (e.g. the unedited Table Talk), confirms Hitler was a sincerely believing Christian who endorsed the entire program of Positive Christianity and intended to maintain the Church in line with the state. You can’t overcome all that evidence with one, decades-late, garbled memory of one psychologically shattered guy, who contradicts himself in the very same memoir (as I quoted above, he says Hitler intended to continue supporting the church, and even hoped the Catholic and Protestant churches could be reunited).

      That’s how historical reasoning works. Strong evidence trumps weak. And quantity of independent sources trumps uncorroborated individuals. You are doing exactly the opposite. And that’s insane.

      And that he would not hesitate to destroy it

      You have presented no evidence of this whatever; not even Speer or Goebels say any such thing (as I’ve already noted).

      It is evident to me you do not respond to evidence or logic.

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