Politicians are rightly known for their love of power and influence and what they will do in order to obtain and maintain that power. Hitler might be an extreme example, but he was also a very typical politician in his use of deception and manipulation to achieve his goals. In his public persona, he charmed his people, demonstrating that he was truly one of them:
• In public statements, especially at the beginning of his rule, Hitler frequently spoke positively about the Christian German culture, and his belief in an Aryan Christ. Before his ascension to power, Hitler stated before a crowd in Munich: "My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized 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 against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize 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 myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice."
• In a proclamation to the German Nation February 1, 1933 Hitler stated, "The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and co-operation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life."
• Historian Joachim Fest wrote, "Hitler knew, through the constant invocation of the God the Lord (German: Herrgott) or of providence (German: Vorsehung), to make the impression of a godly way of thought." He used his "ability to simulate, even to potentially critical Church leaders, an image of a leader keen to uphold and protect Christianity," according to biographer Ian Kershaw. Kershaw adds that Hitler's ability also succeeded in appeasing possible Church resistance to anti-Christian Nazi Party radicals. For example, on March 23, 1933, he addressed the Reichstag: "The National Government regards the two Christian confessions [i.e. Catholicism and Protestantism] as factors essential to the soul of the German people. ... We hold the spiritual forces of Christianity to be indispensable elements in the moral uplift of most of the German people."
• According to Hitler's chief architect Albert Speer, Hitler remained a formal member of the Catholic Church until his death, and even ordered his chief associates to remain members, however it was Speer's opinion that "he had no real attachment to it."
• "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."
• Elsewhere in Mein Kampf Hitler speaks of the "creator of the universe" and "eternal Providence." He also states his belief that the Aryan race was created by God, and that it would be a sin to dilute it through racial intermixing:
• "The folkish-minded man, in particular, has the sacred duty, each in his own denomination, of making people stop just talking superficially of God's will, and actually fulfill God's will, and not let God's word be desecrated. For God's will gave men their form, their essence and their abilities. Anyone who destroys His work is declaring war on the Lord's creation, the divine will."
However, as is often the case with the most successful and skillful politicians, their private beliefs pronouncements, which drive their policies, may not at all match their public proclamations. His closest associates, “Joseph Goebbels, Albert Speer, and Martin Bormann suggest that Hitler generally had negative opinions of Christianity.”
• It was Goebbels opinion that Hitler was "deeply religious but entirely anti-Christian." In his diary Goebbels reported that Hitler believed Jesus "also wanted to act against the Jewish world domination. Jewry had him crucified. But Paul falsified his doctrine and undermined ancient Rome. "Albert Speer quotes Hitler stating, "You see, it's been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn't we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?"
• Author Konrad Heiden has quoted Hitler as stating, "We do not want any other god than Germany itself. It is essential to have fanatical faith and hope and love in and for Germany." According to historian Laurence Rees, "Hitler did not believe in the afterlife, but he did believe he would have a life after death because of what he had achieved." Historian Richard Overy maintains that Hitler was not a "practising Christian," nor was he a "thorough atheist." (All the above quotes are taken from Wikipedia.)
Here are some quotations from Hitler’s own mouth:
• Night of 11th-12th July, 1941: "National Socialism and religion cannot exist together....The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity....Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things." (p 6 & 7)
• 10th October, 1941, midday: "Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure." (p 43)
• 14th October, 1941, midday: "The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death.... When understanding of the universe has become widespread... Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity....Christianity has reached the peak of absurdity.... And that's why someday its structure will collapse....the only way to get rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little....We'll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State." (p 49-52)
• 19th October, 1941, night: “The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity."
• 21st October, 1941, midday: "Originally, Christianity was merely an incarnation of Bolshevism, the destroyer....The decisive falsification of Jesus'
• 13th December, 1941, midnight: "Christianity is an invention of sick brains: one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery…When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let's be the only people who are immunised against the disease." (p 118-119)
• 14th December, 1941, midday: "Kerrl, with noblest of intentions, wanted to attempt a synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. I don't believe the thing's possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself....Pure Christianity-- the Christianity of the catacombs-- is concerned with translating Christian doctrine into facts. It leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind. It is merely whole-hearted Bolshevism, under a tinsel of metaphysics." (p 119 & 120) http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/mischedj/ca_hitler.html
• 27th February, 1942, midday: "It would always be disagreeable for me to go down to posterity as a man who made concessions in this field. I realize that man, in his imperfection, can commit innumerable errors-- but to devote myself deliberately to errors, that is something I cannot do. I shall never come personally to terms with the Christian lie…Our epoch in the next 200 years will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.... My regret will have been that I couldn't... behold
He might not have been a “thorough atheist,” but his promotion of himself and his race reflect a humanist rather than a theist perspective:
• The claim to be the representatives of a new paganism was not just a personal idiosyncrasy of a few minor figures in the Nazi regime. The conviction of being in the vanguard of a new ideological force in European culture was an integral part of Nazi thinking. Among the most prominent features of this new paganism can be discerned in the exaltation of the personality of Adolph Hitler, the propagation of the ‘religion of blood’ and the attempts to provide pagan equivalents for outdated Christian ceremonies.” (J.S. Conway, “The Nazi Persecution of the Churches”)
His policies also reflected his negative assessment of the Christian faith:
• By 1939, only 2% of the university student body was enrolled in theological students as compared to 6% in 1933. (Conway)
• In West Prussia, out of 690 parish priests, at least 2/3 were arrested and the remainder escaped…No less than 214 were executed…By 1940 only 20 priests were left in their parishes. (Conway)
• Christian schools disappeared altogether by 1940. ‘The Catholic German Center Party’ was extinguished; Christian trade unions were undermined; religious youth groups were bullied and vilified, and their sporting events, camps, parades, and uniforms banned. Monks and nuns by the hundreds were brought up on bogus charges of currency violations and sexual perversions. Carols and nativity plays were barred from classrooms; crosses gradually stripped from hospitals and schools; the religious press censored and circumscribed…and theological faculties at universities starved of replacements. (Carroll and Shifflet, Christianity on Trial)
All of this means that we must be discerning. It is not enough to simply listen to what someone says. Instead, we have to also look at what they do (and what they have done.):
• Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:15-20)