Cafe Scientifique — tomorrow, in Morris


The Making of Hitler: A Tale of Social Darwinism or Christian Idealism?
Michael Lackey, UMM

Tuesday, 28 April – Common Cup Coffeehouse – 6:30pm

You’re all planning to come on out, right? It should be a good one: Michael Lackey will be directly addressing the fallacious claim that Hitler’s crimes were built on a foundation of godless Darwinism.


  1. Ouchimoo says

    If anyone could mp3 this that would be great!

    @ 11

    Well according to a Eugenics display the Science Museum of MN, they had a nice little plaque all written up talking about how one of Hitler’s lackeys was motivated by Darwin’s theory. It was horribly insulting the way they wrote it then never bothered to clarify why it was WRONG. That was a couple years ago and I still haven’t forgiven them about it, because the creationists that I’ve met are ‘all about science, it’s just evolution and Darwin that’s wrong’. So that display landed right in their laps.

  2. says

    Michael C, #16

    That should be easy, there are pages worth of nice Christian quotes from Adolf Hitler, such as: “I will always remain a Christian!”

    You are an idiot to think it is so simple–as if Hitler were not capable of co-opting whatever ideas were convenient to perpetuate his evil. Not to mention the fact that the Nazis also had a plan to persecute the Christian church. But I’m confident the speaker will not be as stupid as you.

  3. catta says

    Reminder: Social Darwinism has very little to do with science. I hope no one jumps to its defense because it has “Darwin” in the name. The relationship between Social Darwinism and Darwinism is roughly like the relationship between a dictatorship calling itself “democratic republic” and an actual democratic republic.

    That said, it did play an important role in justification and attempts to give a sciency veneer to genocide and eugenics.

  4. daveau says

    “Social Darwinism” is a misnomer, and is not a useful scientific argument, I meant…

  5. says

    Well according to a Eugenics display the Science Museum of MN, they had a nice little plaque all written up talking about how one of Hitler’s lackeys was motivated by Darwin’s theory. It was horribly insulting the way they wrote it then never bothered to clarify why it was WRONG.

    Yes, the “motivated” bit, whether explicitly written or simply implied, is BS.

    For one thing–and I don’t know how anyone could miss it–Jews were demonstrated to be inferior. There seems to have been fear that the situation was the opposite. While a kind of “selection” might be desired by the anti-Semites, by no means would such selection be “Darwinian” (or at most, it might be in a very broad and unusual manner) and as far as I know, would not accord with even regular Social Darwinism.

    That the Holocaust was contrary to the central idea of Natural Selection as normally understood, seems not to have occurred to so many of those dolts. A few of them must be either deliberately ignoring it, or in denial of that fact.

    Glen D

  6. The Petey says

    Our Darwin, who art in interred,
    Hallowed be thy Name.
    Thy Species come.
    Natural Selection be done,
    On earth as there is no heaven.
    Give us this day our free thinking.
    And forgive us our incomprehension
    As we try to educate those who trespass against us.
    And lead us not into ignorance,
    But deliver us from religion.
    For thine is the knowledge,
    and the power, and the theory,
    for ever and ever.
    Or until a better explanation is discovered.

    It’s not very good,
    but i tried

  7. gman says

    Even if “Darwinism” or Social Darwinism played an incidental role in Nazi ideology, I’ve never understood how that translates, without remainder, into killing Jews. To identify those specific victims, it seems, you need Christian beliefs (the blood libel, Christ-killers, etc.)

    I shan’t be able to attend (since I’m in Canada), but I hope someone asks the speaker if that old Jew-hater Luther was a premature Social Darwinist.

  8. says

    For one thing–and I don’t know how anyone could miss it–Jews were demonstrated to be inferior.

    Oopsy, a “not” was left out. Was meant to be:

    For one thing–and I don’t know how anyone could miss it–Jews were notdemonstrated to be inferior.

    Sorta makes all the difference.

    Glen D

  9. the pro from dover says

    Darwin was a firm believer in the importance of inheritable (read “genetic”) diversity for the success and inevitable evolvability and survival of populations (read “species”). Master race and racial purity is a denial of the importance of this variability and seeks to eliminate it lest it pollutes the gene pool. Darwin would have been aghast at the abuse of the Nazis regarding his work. It is just another example of trying to cloak political opportunism in scientific justification.

  10. Holbach says

    How about: “The Making Of Hitler: A Tale Of Social Madness or Christian Insanity?”
    I just can’t help getting in a plug for religious crap.

  11. Ouchimoo says

    For one thing–and I don’t know how anyone could miss it–Jews were demonstrated to be inferior.

    Oopsy, a “not” was left out. Was meant to be:

    For one thing–and I don’t know how anyone could miss it–Jews were notdemonstrated to be inferior.

    Sorta makes all the difference.

    For one thing–and I don’t know how anyone could miss it–Jews were not demonstrated to be inferior.

    Not on your game today huh? hehe. Sorry I had to.

  12. says

    Not on your game today huh? hehe. Sorry I had to.

    Usually I’m not commenting so much. Since comments have to be fit into other stuff I’m doing on the computer, I get hurried when I’m commenting more than usual.

    Not on game, true.

    Glen D

  13. Robyn says

    Ooh. That looks pretty interesting.
    Darn it, can’t go. Oh well. Will there be a recording?

  14. MrFire says

    Yeah, there was a similar talk here in MA on MIT’s campus, titled (somewhat poorly) “Darwin and Racism”.

    The speaker emphasized Darwin’s strong anti-slavery and anti-racism credentials, as he himself listed specifically in ‘The Descent of Man’. She also also plugged the book ‘Darwin’s Sacred Cause’, which gives an account of all this.

    It’s good to be aware of that next time Ben Stein decides to open his mouth.

  15. retest says

    As a very robust collector of militaria, it would be most interesting if Michael’s key points could be posted. Anyone that is an avid collector of German WWII militaria knows full well that the NSDAP used Christianity, mysticism, and paganism to create a nationalist religion and used Adolf Hitler as it’s messiah.

  16. Blue Fielder says

    There’s probably going to be a lot of “No True Scotsman” and “Hitler was a Hitlerist” posts in this thread.

  17. Last Hussar says

    I agree with Greg at 14- the Nazi ‘Social Darwinism’ is based on Darwin’s work. What they seem to have ignored is the caveats Darwin put in about humans. Instead they just saw “Kill the inferior = better society”, and used it as a justification for antisemitism. But then at least they progressed to using science for evil. Up till then most people had to use the New Testament as justification for anti-semitism! (“I didn’t do 4 years at evil doctor school to be called Mister!”)

    If Ben Stein’s boss thought ‘The Office’ was a management training video, would Ben blame Ricky Gervais? Probably.

  18. says

    #9: “Wow, a discussion that satisfies Godwin’s Law before it even starts.”

    You don’t say. Why not expand the discussion to include gun control and libertarianism? Then you’ll have every Internet argument ever!

  19. Blue Fielder says

    You don’t say. Why not expand the discussion to include gun control and libertarianism? Then you’ll have every Internet argument ever!

    Your statement is incorrect – it doesn’t encompass the eternal debates of Kirk v. Picard, Star Trek v. Star Wars, or dub v. subtitles.

  20. says

    «bønez_brigade», April 27, 2009 11:49 AM

    How did you come to your conclusion regarding the talking heads at Fox News? Was it through careful research, or because it accords with your desires?

    Would you be so eager to express your animosity if we were talking about gays or Jews?

  21. Michael C says

    Only someone completely ignorant in the history of the time could not see that Christianity was in lock-step with the NSDAP. Both the Catholic Church and Protestant, primarily Lutheran Church, were overwhelmingly in support of the NSDAP, until fortunes started turning against Germany. The number of the “Christian opposition” that were persecuted were so small as to be statistically insignificant. Looking more deeply in to the overwhelming percentage of those that were, one will find that it was not Chrisitanity itself that was the reason for their persecution. The National Socialist movement was seen there at that time as a crusade against the “godless-Bolshevists”, but of course, heddle, you are probably also unaware of the state of civil war with the ‘godless communists’ in Germany that existed before the coming to power of the national socialists- could you really be that ignorant of history?

  22. Piper 13 says

    Hullo, I’ve been trolling for yonks, but I’m stepping out of the shadows to try and add a little historical background to this debate. (please forgive the lack of citations, as this class’ notes are in a box in storage, sorry)

    Galton was a diehard C of E member, and very much a part of his very upper-class Victorian, English society. In the late Victorian era, the Empire sought justification (or at least to assuage its potentially injured sensibilities) for the exploitation of what was essentially the entire world. To this end ‘the Grand Chain of Life’ was created (though not by Galton, I’ll get back to him) that detailed every creature from mozzies on up to the Big G himself (with the English very much near the top, just below angels and Turkish Delight). Some exquisitely executed diagrams were created, and some are artistically quite lovely (though thematically ghastly).

    What this was all intended to prove was that the English had Divine Authority to continue to usurp the lands of various non-industrial nations, they were higher on the chain, and therefore not only allowed, but yea commanded to take matters into their own hands and seize the lands of the benighted. They didn’t really publish these for the world, but they were presented to Royalty and the HoL, and everyone in the peerage generally agreed that this was a jolly good idea. (the nagging thought is in the back of my mind that this was in the 1880s, and England wanted to seize Jerusalem, and this was the primary motivator for this elaborate snipe hunt, but my memory…)

    In steps Galton. His cousin, Chuck, has just published his work and is creating sometimes literal riots in reaction to the work. Galton (he may have bred horses, my memory is slipping a bit) gets the notion to combine the Grand Chain while cherry-picking some of the very basest tenets of the ‘Survival of the Fittest’ into his theory of ‘Social Darwinism’ (though IIRC his name for it was Cultural (or Social?) Evolution). Insufferably long story cut short, this spreads or morphs into the Eugenics movement, and gains tremendous support first in the US, where numerous states (I was looking at Indiana and California for a red/blue feel, only to be surprised) took this all up with aplomb. CA and IN sterilised the ‘mentally retarded,’ drunk, poor, what have you in their thousands (there is a museum of syphillis and other social diseases in an old hospital on the north side of Indy… I will find a link for it)

    Folks started getting pretty upset about this, especially after a couple of more well-known peoples’ relatives (local IN folks) were ‘assisted’ through eugenics, but it didn’t die out until well into the 1940s, and was still working in the early 1960s (many Native American tribes were being afflicted with assistance into the early 1960s).

    In steps the Austrian Corporal, and well looky here, it’s a popular movement that will allow me to further my goals while improving my hold on the economy of Germany. At the time I was doing (my admittedly rather spotty) research, I was unable to find ANY evidence that Dolphy had ever heard of Darwin, he certainly never mentioned him in print. It was, by the 1930s, ‘the Eugenics Movement,’ and I doubt that anyone will ever find evidence that any Nazi gave a damn about Darwin or Galton or even eugenics, other than it was a means to an end.

    So, the bottom line of my rant is that it was the x-tians *themselves* that created the idea of ‘Social Darwinism’ in the beginning, co-opting scientific theory from the very start. At first, it was to ride on the coattails, now it is to throw rotten fruit. Darwin may well have considered Galton’s ‘research,’ but dismissed it out of had, publicly, and vocally. Other than his last name and a VERY select, out-of-context phrases, eugenics as practised by the Nazis has NOTHING to do with Darwin, or the prejudices held by any number of groups during the 1930s (it wasn’t just Jews the Nazis were after, but gays, Hungarians, Gypsies, the mentally handicapped, Slavs… the list is frightening). Eric Wolf in ‘Envisioning Power,’ and ‘Europe: the People without a History’ are good starters for the power struggle of the late Victorian – Depression era.

    OK, I’ve thrown around a bunch of broad generalisations with wild opinions that are almost utterly unsupported by citation; though I do assert that they are largely accurate, if a bit cheek at times. *straps on flame-retardant goggles*

    Thanks for reading.

  23. «bønez_brigade» says

    @ Alan Kellogg [#41]
    It’s quite simple, really: by watching said heads whilst they talk on Fox News (many times, at that).
    How much “careful research” do you recommend one conduct in order to come to a conclusion about an aggregate of TV shows?

    Your last question doesn’t make much sense, so a re-phrasing of it is in order (e.g., how it specifically relates to this thread).

  24. Christian Final Solution Quotes says

    From God, Greed, and Genocide:

    Scholars have noted the Nazi persecution of the Jews had its basis in the Christian tradition. For example, Trevor-Roper, Leschnitzer, and Cohen, have traced parallels between the Christian zealotry of the European witch-hunts and the Nazi war against the Jews. Likewise, Elie Wiesel regards the holocaust as the outgrowth of anti-Jewish beliefs and attitudes of Christians in Europe. Hyam Maccoby states that the attempt by the Nazis to destroy the Jews has its base in Christianity. He sees little that was new in the Nazi vilification of the Jews. The Nazi episode was, thus, not an ahistorical explosion of evil, but part of the Christian war against Jews, which dated back to the Middle Ages.

    Quotes from Christian history leading to the Final Solution:

    When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
    All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”
    o Matthew 27:24-25

    But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them-bring them here and kill them in front of me.
    o Jesus, Luke 19:27

    It was … declared improper to follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this holy festival, because, their hands having been stained with crime, the minds of these wretched men are necessarily blinded. … Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries. … avoiding all contact with that evil way. … who, after having compassed the death of the Lord, being out of their minds, are guided not by sound reason, but by an unrestrained passion, wherever their innate madness carries them. … a people so utterly depraved. … Therefore, this irregularity must be corrected, in order that we may no more have any thing in common with those parricides and the murderers of our Lord. … no single point in common with the perjury of the Jews.
    o First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, in which the Christian Church separates the calculation of the date of Easter from the Jewish Passover. See The Epistle of the Emperor Constantine, concerning the matters transacted at the Council, addressed to those Bishops who were not present and Life of Constantine Vol. III Ch. XVIII by Eusebius.

    The Jewish people were driven by their drunkenness and plumpness to the ultimate evil; they kicked about, they failed to accept the yoke of Christ, nor did they pull the plow of his teaching. Another prophet hinted at this when he said: “Israel is as obstinate as a stubborn heifer.” … Although such beasts are unfit for work, they are fit for killing. And this is what happened to the Jews: while they were making themselves unfit for work, they grew fit for slaughter. This is why Christ said: “But as for these my enemies, who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and slay them.” (Luke 19:27)
    o John Chrysostom (349-ca. 407), Eight Homilies Against the Jews, Homily 1

    You [Jews] did slay Christ, you did lift violent hands against the Master, you did spill his precious blood. This is why you have no chance for atonement, excuse, or defense.
    o John Chrysostom (349-ca. 407), Eight Homilies Against the Jews, Homily 6

    The Jews are enduring their present troubles because of Christ.
    o John Chrysostom (349-ca. 407), Eight Homilies Against the Jews, Homily 6

    We know that salvation belongs to the Church alone, and that no one can partake of Christ nor be saved outside the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith.
    o John Chrysostom (349-ca. 407), De Capto Eutropia

    Whoever is separated from this Catholic Church, by this single sin of being separated from the unity of Christ, no matter how estimable a life he may imagine he is living, shall not have life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.
    o Augustine of Hippo, (412), Letters 141:5.

    Most firmly hold and never doubt that not only pagans, but also all Jews, all heretics, and all schismatics who finish this life outside of the Catholic Church, will go into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
    o Saint Fulgentius (467-527), Enchriridion Patristicum

    Jews and Saracens [Muslims] of both sexes in every Christian province must be distinguished from the Christian by a difference of dress. On Passion Sunday and the last three days of Holy Week they may not appear in public.
    o The Canons of the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215, Canon 68; see Judenhut, yellow badge. This is partly so that Christians will not unknowingly have sexual relations with Jews or Muslims.

    Jews are not to be given public offices. Anyone instrumental in doing this is to be punished. A Jewish official is to be denied all intercourse with Christians.
    o The Canons of the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215, Canon 69. This law remains in force (2009).

    It appears utterly absurd and impermissible that the Jews, whom God has condemned to eternal slavery for their guilt, should enjoy our Christian love.
    o Pope Paul IV, Papal Bull Cum nimis absurdum (1555)

    All the world suffers from the usury of the Jews, their monopolies and deceit. … Then as now Jews have to be reminded intermittently anew that they were enjoying rights in any country since they left Palestine and the Arabian desert, and subsequently their ethical and moral doctrines as well as their deeds rightly deserve to be exposed to criticism in whatever country they happen to live.
    o Pope Clement VIII, Caeca et obdurata (“Blind Obstinacy”, 1593)

    Whoever shall maintain that wrong is done to heretics and blasphemers in punishing them makes himself an accomplice in their crime and guilty as they are. There is no question here of man’s authority; it is God who speaks, and clear it is what law he will have kept in the church, even to the end of the world. Wherefore does he demand of us a so extreme severity, if not to show us that due honor is not paid him, so long as we set not his service above every human consideration, so that we spare not kin, nor blood of any, and forget all humanity when the matter is to combat for His glory.
    o John Calvin’s justification of torture and execution for heretics. John Marshall, John Locke, Toleration and Early Enlightenment Culture (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History), Cambridge University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-521-65114-X p. 325.

    First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn … This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. …
    Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. …
    Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. …
    Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. …
    Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. …
    Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. …
    Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen 3[:19]).
    o Martin Luther (1543), On the Jews and Their Lies

    And the founder of Christianity made no secret indeed of his estimation of the Jewish people. When He found it necessary, He drove those enemies of the human race out of the Temple of God.
    o Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (1925), Vol. 1, p. 174

    The Catholic Church considered the Jews pestilent for fifteen hundred years, put them in ghettos, etc, because it recognized the Jews for what they were. … I recognize the representatives of this race as pestilent for the state and for the church and perhaps I am thereby doing Christianity a great service by pushing them out of schools and public functions.
    o Adolf Hitler, 26 April 1933, cited from Richard Steigmann-Gall’s The Holy Reich)

    My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Saviour as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognised these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognise more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow my self to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice…and if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.
    o Adolf Hitler, Speech in Munich (12 April 1922)

    We are a people of different faiths, but we are one. Which faith conquers the other is not the question; rather, the question is whether Christianity stands or falls. … We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity … in fact our movement is Christian. We are filled with a desire for Catholics and Protestants to discover one another in the deep distress of our own people.
    o Adolf Hitler, Speech in Passau, (October 27, 1928), Bundesarchiv Berlin-Zehlendorf, cited from Richard Steigmann-Gall’s The Holy Reich

    Jewish persecution only followed after Christians first were persecuted.
    o American Catholic priest Charles Coughlin’s radio address following the Nazi Kristallnacht attack on German Jews, November 20, 1938. In New York, two thousand followers of Coughlin chanted

    Send Jews back where they came from in leaky boats!
    Wait until Hitler comes over here!

    on December 18, 1938 in protest to a potential U.S. asylum law.

    I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so.
    o Adolph Hitler to Gen. Gerhard Engel, 1941

  25. ElitistB says

    I’m not sure about everyone else, but I grew up on a pig and chicken farm, where no one had ever heard of Darwin, Eugenics, or even natural selection for whatever reason. It was pretty common practice to kill off the inferior and to allow only the better stock to breed. Basically in a population you remove the weak elements.

    I’m not sure why Darwin’s theories would ever have been necessary for the Holocaust. It looks to me like it was basically another in a long line of excuses and grasping at straws to justify what they were wanting to do. They would have done it regardless.

  26. TheVirginian says

    “Social Darwinism” more accurately should be called Social Christianism, as Christians were tossing around the idea that the white-skinned Christians of Europe were superior to all dark-skinned pagans before Darwin. I quote below a speech from 1837, copied from part of a book I’m working on. This chapter deals with Christianity’s role in racism:

    H. William Harper gave a speech to the South Carolina Society for the Advancement of Learning in 1837 that was permeated with religious references in defense of slavery, calling it a principal cause of civilization. He claimed: “The coercion of slavery alone is adequate to form man to habits of labor. … He who has obtained the command of another’s labor, first begins to accumulate and provide for the future, and the foundations of civilization are laid. …
    “Will those who regard Slavery as immoral, or crime in itself, tell us that man was not intended for civilization, but to roam the earth as a biped brute? That he was not to raise his eyes to Heaven, or be conformed in his nobler faculties to the image of his Maker? Or will they say that the Judge of all the earth has done wrong in ordaining the means by which alone that end can be attained? It is true that the Creator can make the wickedness as well as the wrath of man to praise him, and bring forth the most benevolent results from the most atrocious actions. But in such cases, it is the motive of the actor alone which condemns the action. The act itself is good, if it promotes the good purposes of God, and would be approved by him, if that result only were intended. Do they not blaspheme the providence of God who denounce as wickedness and outrage, that which is rendered indispensable to his purposes in the government of the world?” Harper claimed slavery foes “… pervert the inspired writings — which in some parts expressly sanction Slavery, and throughout indicate most clearly that it is a civil institution, with which religion has no concern …”#
    Harper rejected the Declaration of Independence’s statement about the equality of all people, citing natural inequalities due to wealth, health, talents, social status, etc. He noted that some women were smarter and “better qualified to exercise political privileges and to attain the distinctions of society than many men; yet who complains of the order of society by which they are excluded from them? For I do not speak of the few who would desecrate them; do violence to the nature which their Creator has impressed upon them; drag them from the position which they necessarily occupy for the existence of civilized society, and in which they constitute its blessing and ornament — the only position which they have ever occupied in any human society — to place them in a situation in which they would be alike miserable and degraded.”# So legal equality was degradation. By his reckoning, every American woman today is miserable and degraded. No wonder slavery did not bother him.
    And, “Man is born to subjection. Not only during infancy is he dependent and under the control of others; at all ages, it is the very bias of his nature, that the strong and the wise should control the weak and the ignorant. So it has been since the days of Nimrod. The existence of some form of Slavery in all ages and countries, is proof enough of this. … The proclivity of the natural man is to domineer or to be subservient. A noble result indeed, but in the attaining of which, as in the instances of knowledge and virtue, the Creator, for his own purposes, has set a limit beyond which we cannot go.”#
    Harper repeated this concept when he noted humanity’s control of animals: “… I say that on the very same foundation, with the difference only of circumstance and degree, rests the right of the civilized and cultivated man, over the savage and ignorant. It is the order of nature and of God, that the being of superior faculties and knowledge, and therefore of superior power, should control and dispose of those who are inferior. It is as much in the order of nature, that men should enslave each other, as that other animals should prey upon each other.”#
    Finally, Harper claimed: “Servitude is the condition of civilization. It was decreed, when the command was given, ‘be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it,’ and when it was added, ‘in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.’ [Gen. 1:28, 3:17] And what human being shall arrogate to himself the authority to pronounce that our form of it is worse in itself, or more displeasing to God than that which exists elsewhere?”
    BTW, Harper was the son of a Presbyterian minister and had been a U.S. senator and held other high government posts.

    As for Hitler, he was heir to the traditional theological antisemitism of the Catholic Church, of which he was a lifetime member, but also to the racial antisemitism that developed in the later 19th century in response to various events, particularly the spread of church-state separation. In a simplified overview, C-S separation freed Jews to be full citizens of their nations (in theory), to live among the general population and not be restricted as they had been by Christian governments. Conservative Christians responded by developing the idea that Jews were responsible for C-S separation and all the real and imagined problems of society (this was the Industrial Revolution era) that allegedly result from separation. Theological antisemitism mutated into a racist form, which Hitler and others grew up hearing. He credited Vienna Mayor Karl Luger with awakening his political instincts and leading him to recognize Jews’ evil influence. Luger was head of the leading antisemitic party in Austria and had the support of some religious leaders, including the pope.
    BTW, most Nazis were church-going Christians, about two-thirds Protestant, one-third Catholic. To the extent that there was a conflict with Christianity, it was either the old Protestant-Catholic split, majority hostility toward some minority Christian groups, or fights within the Protestant churches over their relationship to the government. There was no general hostlity among Nazis toward Christianity.

  27. says

    Michael C,#42

    Try doing some homework. This might help.

    From Julie Mandel, editor of Rutgers’ Nurmberg Project, to the Philadelphia Inquirer (1/9/2002):

    “A lot of people will say, ‘I didn’t realize that they [The Nazis] were trying to convert Christians to a Nazi philosophy.’ . . . They wanted to eliminate the Jews altogether, but they were also looking to eliminate Christianity.”

    You do understand the concept of “co-opting?” We see a mild form of it in every national election in the U.S., from virtually every candidate. Candidates shift right or left–assuming their true followers are secure will recognize (wink, nod) that they are reaching out to those not quite ready to jump on board.

    The Nuremberg documents about the Nazi plan to persecute the church do not, of course, prove that Hitler (or various other Nazis) was not a Christian. But they ought to give idiots like you a pause–to reflect on the possibility that Hitler used Christian trappings to help make his ideology more palatable to a population of self-identified Christians many of whom wanted to accept his policies but needed a little more rationalization–much like the Klan does in the US. But you won’t–you’ll continue to be of the school that goes for the unthinking, trivial connection. Just like your intellectual cousins on the other side who use trivial connections to blame Darwin for Hitler.

  28. says

    I’ve read translations of quite a few Hitler speeches which range from crude nationalist jingo screeds, to extremely detailed explanations of the Party reconstruction of economic institutions.

    One of the things that surprised me was how often he referenced God. Far more than GWB or any major US politician I know of. He was always talking about how the Germans were God’s chosen people, which is interchangeable with Master Race, also how he was doing God’s work, and that the will of the party was God’s will, on and on like fucking Billy Graham.

    The Nazis were in direct competition with traditional jews for being ‘God’s Chosen People’ so that made things a bit tense I assume.

    If your whole schtick is ‘God’s Chosen People’ then you are not going to take kindly to other groups making that claim, there can only be one, the other has Got. To. Go.

  29. SC, OM says

    I post this every so often when the topic comes up:

    Michael Mann offers this analysis of Nazi religious voting constituencies in his 2004 comparative study Fascists (I have replaced actual references with “[reference]”), pages 186-8:

    In the major national studies, easily the best predictor of Nazi voting is religion ([references]). Of all registered voters in July 1932 (including people who did not vote), about 38 percent of Protestants supported the Nazis, only 16 percent of Catholics – a big difference. The greater percentage of Protestants in an area, the greater its Nazi vote. In solid Catholic areas the Nazi vote was commonly below 10 percent, in solid Protestant areas it was commonly above 60 percent. All but seven of the 124 constituencies with the highest Nazi vote in 1930 were majority Protestant ([reference]). Even in the big cities, where the two faiths lived among each other, the religious impact was as important as class ([reference]). And in the small towns with a population of fewer than 25,000, where two-thirds of Germans lived, religion far exceeded class as a predictor of Nazi voting.

    Thus the electoral surge of the Nazis was disproportionately a surge among Protestants. Conversely, the collapse of the liberal and conservative parties in the face of the Nazi electoral surge was only a Protestant collapse. The two Catholic parties (the Center Party and the Bavarian BVP) managed to hold up their vote, which was correlated around .90 with the percentage of Catholics in a constituency. Thus Catholics in the Catholic areas barely wavered. Yet the three so-called bourgeois parties – the liberal DDP, the conservative DVP and the ultraconservative DNVP – had depended on Protestants. From 1928 the Nazis began to mop up much of these…

    Thus all other correlations reported here were only partial ones: It was overwhelmingly Protestant classes, Protestant veterans, Protestant students, a Protestant generation, and so on, which were drawn particularly toward Nazism. Strong Catholic communities were insulated against the charms of Nazism – just as a similar number of Germans were insulated inside cohesive ‘proletarian ghettos’. In the end neither ‘reds’ nor ‘blacks’ were untainted by authoritarianism. The Catholic parties supported reactionary authoritarianism after 1930, in order to head off what they believed to be the worse dual threats of fascism and Bolshevism. In 1932-3 they cooperated with Hitler…

    The importance of religion to Nazism has been recognized, but undertheorized. In general, scholars stress Catholic resistance to Nazism, but see Protestantism less as pro-Nazi than as ‘weaker’ than the Catholic Church, less able to resist ([reference]). There are also puzzles. The association between Nazism and Protestantism was not constant. Initially, the core Nazis, especially the core theorists, tended to be renegade Catholics (like Hitler) coming from the Vienna-Munich axis. And from the late 1930s renegade Catholics were to reassert themselves, being disproportionately involved in the worst excesses of Nazism (see my forthcoming volume). Nor was the relationship constant across Europe…So why at this particular stage did German Protestants support Nazism?

    The causal link runs less through theology or church strength than through the churches’ relation to the nation-state. The Catholic Church looked askance at the German state. Catholicism’s heartlands were in southern provinces incorporated fairly unwillingly into the Prussian-dominated Kaiserreich in the nineteenth century. The German Catholic Church was controlled from abroad and favored transnationalism, not ‘nation-statism’…Thus they had imbibed pan-German aspirations (the union of all Germans), not the Kleindeutsch (little German) strategy of Prussia. The Protestant Church – strictly, the Evangelical* Church – had been in a complicated way the Established Church of Prussian Germany, and so was ‘nation-statist’ in an implicitly Kleindeutsch way…Their assemblies, pulpits, and publications supported the Kaiserreich and its official values of discipline, piety, order, and hierarchy. Weimar had removed the monarchy and most state controls, but not the government subsidies or the identification with the nation-state. Thus the Evangelical Church remained, in its traditions and expectations, rather ‘nation-statist’. It looked to the state to provide social order, positive Christian-German and mainly conservative values, and an active national social policy.

    But such a Christian conservative state no longer existed, and conservatives and Evangelicals were now searching for a stronger state capable of embodying German culture and morality. Few initially supported the Nazis. More drifted through volkisch or conservative organizations toward the Nazis. From the mid-1920s the irreligious Nazi leaders were surprised by a spate of Protestant churchmen endorsing the party from the pulpit and party platforms. Nazis in the small town of ‘Northeim’ studied by Allen (1965) responded by adding prayers and hymns to meetings, and they ran ‘Christian-National’ candidates for school board elections. Protestant themes attracted votes to the Nazis from the ‘bourgeois’ parties. The Nazis thus succeeded in splitting the Evangelical Church, as they could not the Catholic. The Evangelical ‘German Christian’ Nazi front organization won a two-thirds majority in the Evangelical Church election of July 1933. But it then overreached itself, proposing to expunge the whole of the (Jewish) Old Testament from the Bible! Nonetheless, over half the church remained ‘Nazi German Christian’, the rump forced to form an independent ‘Confessing Church’ ([references]). The affinity between Nazism and the Evangelical Church, evident in both membership and voting data, had an obvious ideological core: their common nation-statism. Since it was Protestant civil servants, Protestant students, Protestant veterans, and so on who were becoming Nazis, this doubled their nation-statism.

    But once an expansionist Reich was established, the Evangelical Church might not offer such ideological support. A powerful Austria no longer existed to block union of all Germans in a single Grossdeutsch state…My forthcoming volume shows a religious shift in the core Nazi constituency, from Protestant to (ex-)Catholic, occurring in the late 1930s as Nazism ‘radicalized’.

    *What’s translated as “Evangelical” doesn’t mean what it does in the contemporary US context – it was the largest Protestant denomination in Germany at the time.

  30. danielm says

    There is a distinct quote from Darwin which puts paid to this horrendous idea that “Darwinism” has anything to do with the Holocaust – he explicitly says that treating humans as farmers treat their animals renders us *less than human* ourselves, and that such behaviour is not morally acceptable. This quote is often quotemined for the preceeding sentences where Darwin explains that it is possible, but his detractors deliberately miss off the part where he says it is dubious and suspect use to attempt this with humans.

    The holocaust has far more to do with right-wing christian nutjobbery, where it is still felt necessary to vilify and attack the “dirty, filthy god-killers”, a fact borne out directly by hitler himself.

  31. TheVirginian says

    Heddle basically is invoking the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. Nazism reflected certain traditional aspects of Christianity, as well as the 19th-century evolution of racial antisemitism out of theological antisemitism. Some racial antisemites were atheists, or at least hostile to Christianity – but that was usually on the basis that Christianity was “too Jewish” because it incorporated the Jewish scriptures.
    More importantly, Nazism was just one of a number of right-wing movements in Europe – whether you consider them all “fascism” or not is irrelevant here – that were deeply intertwined with Christian churches, both Protestant and Catholic, and reflected traditional Christian beliefs. You cannot understand what happened in 1930-40s Europe without looking at Christianity’s deep and broad role.
    For one example, from just one country, I highly recommend “Christianity and the Holocaust of Hungarian Jewry,” by Moshe Y. Herczl, who was a Hungarian Holocaust survivor. After the war, he documented, through Christians’ own words, how Hungarians came to hate, fear and slaughter so many Jews. It was not the Nazis but the native Hungarian Christians who carried out the Holocaust in Hungary, just as native Romanians, Serbs and Croats carried out the slaughter or expulsion of their Jewish populations. The Holocaust was a European Christian crime, not a Nazi crime. Herczl has extensive quotes from Christian antisemites going back to the 19th century, and these are political and church leaders, not street preachers. Read it, and keep in mind that similar books can and have been written about the role of Christianity in other countries, and you will see that Hitler and Nazism were genuine Christians driven to a significant degree by Christian beliefs.

  32. Steve Dutch says

    Interesting exercise for people who link Hitler and evolution. Download Mein Kampf (I got it off the Australian Project Gutenberg archive – Bavaria still owns the copyright and is loath to permit use) and search for “evolution.” There are about a dozen references – in a 700 page book. Most of them refer to historical evolution and aren’t even pertinent to biology. Not a single one uses the term in anything like a scientific context. But this entails a lot of arduous research – it took me five minutes, tops, from the time I Googled “Mein Kampf.” So I can see why we never see any actual documentation. It’s so HAAARRRD.