A reader sent along an interesting quote from Heinrich Himmler, taken from Heinrich Himmler: A Life by Peter Longerich. Since we’ve got another religious idiot claiming the Nazis were atheists, it seemed appropriate to include it here…and since I’m lazy, I’m just going to include everything my correspondent wrote to me.
I am a WWII history buff and I was reading the English translation of Peter Longerich’s biography of Heinrich Himmler. Longerich made the point that Himmler did not like Christianity or the Christian churches even forbidding SS men from having any leadership role in the church. He further made the point that Himmler described himself as a believer in God.
He then noted something that I had not heard before: Longerich quoted a letter that Himmler wrote a pastor in 1937 to the effect that what denomination an SS man chose was his own person business. However, apparently this deference did not extend to non-belief. Atheism, Himmler wrote, “is the only world- or religious view that is not tolerated within the SS.” He further wrote, “I have not tolerated an atheist in the ranks of the SS. Every member has a deep faith in God, in what my ancestors called in their language Waralda, the ancient one, the one who is mightier than we are.” (Longerich, Heinrich Himmler, Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 220)
I found that passage interesting in light of the claim that the Nazis were an atheistic system. It clearly rebuts that claim. (As if it needed further rebuttal.) But further, if the Nazi were supposedly atheistic, how is it that the SS — the group that was supposed the vanguard of the Nazi system, the epitome of the Nazi ideal — did not admit atheists in its ranks? One had to be at least a theist. So how, again was the Nazi system atheist??
And of course, for those of you who want to argue that this is merely Heinrich Himmler, we can always turn to good ol’ Adolf Hitler, who was quite clear on the subject of atheism.
We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.
You want to call the Nazi leadership unorthodox, marginally Christian, or representative of a pathological religious extreme, I’ll agree with you; but you don’t get to call them atheist.