Adolf Hitler called himself a Christian. Widely recognized as one of the most nefarious world leaders to ever hold power, Hitler’s Christian education led him to organize the “extermination” of over six million Jews, as he was also responsible for over forty six million European casualties during World War II. Hitler believed that the extermination of the Jews was for the good of Germany and that he was doing the work of the Lord. However, his actions may have come moreover from his own insight and hatred of the Jews and people of many different races and religions.
Hitler’s religious views and beliefs, as well as the church and various religious and political leaders whom he idolized as an adolescent, played a sizable role in motivating his course of action during World War II. Though Hitler developed masterful public speaking skills and methods of persuasion, much of his success as a political leader would not have been possible without Protestant and Catholic support. In fact, as a child, Hitler and his peers were taught by Catholic priests and Protestant ministers that the Jews were inferior to him.
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Many people don’t realize that the judgmental views Adolf Hitler held were also those of the majority of Germany, including the church, meaning Hitler had been more misguided by the church than anything. Frankly, Hitler lived in a time period when the church displayed particularly judgmental views concerning race and religious beliefs, and condemned those who saw things from a different spiritual point of view. Adolf Hitler was perhaps the first to take drastic action as a political leader to eliminate the Jewish populace in Germany. As a child, Hitler attended the Catholic Church and was educated in Catholic schools.
Throughout his childhood, he, along with many other children and young men, was taught that Jews were menial to Christians. In primary school, Hitler performed extremely well and was admired for his leadership qualities, and also considered being a monk, being as religious as he was. In spite of his success in primary school, secondary school proved to be much more difficult. This resulted in Hitler giving up, as well as losing his popularity with his fellow pupils. Hitler failed an entire year in secondary school and left without a degree. Hitler’s father, Alois Hitler, held high expectations for his third son to e successful in life. Young Adolf lived in a strict household where he was beaten if he did not do as he was told. Hitler’s father was a religious skeptic, although he claimed to be Catholic, while Hitler’s mother, Klara Hitler, was a committed Catholic. Therefore, Hitler was raised in a Christian household, and given opportunity to contract his own ideas and interpretations about religion, mainly Christianity. Although, while he was still attending school, Hitler was influenced by other religions and may have even started to reject Catholicism for a period of time.
Despite this, the Catholic and Protestant churches were dominant in Germany during this time, giving Hitler more exposure to Catholicism, as his parents preferred. As Hitler aged, his religious views drastically changed. In fact, it is difficult to differentiate exactly what Hitler believed and put his faith in. The Nazis caused a great conflict within the Catholic Church in the 1930’s with the rise of totalitarianism, becoming an enormous contention between the two. The Catholic Church didn’t know how to respond to this intersection of church and state.
The Nazi Party was not supported by the Catholic church until Hitler came into power (1933-1945) and the Nazi’s takeover of power in 1933. The Nazi Party strongly opposed Catholic institutional power and influence on the everyday life of the public in Germany, which makes it seem as though the Nazis wanted full control of the government, the public, and the church itself in Germany. Much of Hitler’s philosophies and political ideology can be interpreted from the Mien Kampf, a book written by Adolf Hitler, published in two volumes; Volume 1 on July 18, 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926.
In this book, he makes it apparent that he believes in power, government controlled by one man, and final decisions made by a single being. “There must be no majority decisions, but only responsible persons, and the word ‘council’ must be restored to its original meaning. Surely every man will have advisers by his side, but the decision will be made by one man”(Hitler). Hitler also greatly supported the idea of fighting for power, either as a man or as a country. Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live”(Hitler). Hitler also made many quotes in the Mien Kampf affirming how he utterly loathed the Jews, comparing them to the devil, as if they were creatures and not human beings. “The personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew”(Hitler). “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”(Hitler).
Hitler rejected the Catholic Church and struggled for the Nazi Party to hold a higher power than the church, but he did share hatred towards the Jews with the Catholic Church (most likely a more elevated level of hate). Hitler also claimed to give glory to his almighty creator, God, but made statements praising his country, and said that his faith was in his country. Works Cited: “Adolf Hitler. ” Spartacus Educational. Ed. John Simkin. 13 Nov. 2008. Web. 27 Nov. 2009. “Adolf Hitler’s Religious Beliefs. ” Wapedia. Web. 20 Nov. 2009. . Harris, Bruce. Adolf Hitler killer file. ” Moreorless – Heroes and killers of the 20th Century. 30 Apr. 2001. Web. 29 Nov. 2009. Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. Zentralverlag, 1936. Print. Jackson, Patsy. “Martin Luther – Hitler’s Spiritual Ancestor by Peter F. Wiener. ” Tentmaker. Web. 22 Nov. 2009. “Mein Kampf Quotes, Famous Mein Kampf Quotes Quotations Sayings from Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler. ” Famous Quotes, Famous Quotations & Sayings, Great Quotes. Web. 28 Nov. 2009. Walker, Jim. “Hitler’s religious beliefs and fanaticism. ” NoBeliefs. 28 Nov. 1996. Web. 10 Nov. 2009.