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Nazism and the Christian Heritage

Robert Carr draws uncomfortable parallels between Christianity and Nazism.

At first sight, the very idea that Nazism bears any relation to Christianity seems absurd. Yet before dismissing such an idea, we have we consider certain similarities. Certainly there were marked Christian influences on Nazism. This article will look specifically at the expression of Nazi anti-Semitism.

Christian Anti-Semitism

Nazi Germany was both a product of, and established in, Christian Europe. The Führer himself was educated in the strictest of Catholic institutions - a Benedictine monastery in Bavaria. More than that, he’d been a church chorister. Without doubt, childhood experiences help to mould adulthood. Christian influences certainly remained important in Hitler’s life: his favourite bed-time reading was Martin Luther. Luther had particular advice to offer concerning those who had failed to follow Christ - the Jews. Luther urged Christian action against them, including concentrating them in certain areas, drowning Jewish individuals and even wholesale murder:

We are at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and the blood of the children they have shed since then (which still shines forth from their eyes and their skin). We are at fault in not slaying them.

Christian protagonists and texts have levelled spiteful accusations at Jews since the advent of Christianity. Part of the very foundations of the faith are ideas of Jewish betrayal, hard-heartedness and deicide. New Testament characters such as Judas, Herod, Saul, the Pharisees and the Jerusalem crowd (baying ‘Crucify him!’) have shaped, over centuries, European attitudes towards Jews. Such accusations and the demonisation of Jewry are based on the Christian idea that it has, as a faith and a civilisation, superseded Judaism. For Christians, God transferred his covenant and favour to them; rather than being the chosen people, Jews simply became stubborn unbelievers.

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