occasionally even seemed to hold
Christian beliefs. After all, Hitler
had been raised Christian. Weikart
does not mention this, but one can
think of famous American militant
atheist Madalyn O’Hair, who indicated
that, decades after having stopped
believing, she could recall some
Christian hymns in detail.
Owing to all the foregoing reasons, it is not surprising that Hitler’s
statements about God seem contradictory. Still less surprising is his
idiosyncratic reuse of theistic and
Christian terminology for his own purposes. Let us examine some of them.
Who (or what) was
‘God’ to Hitler?
Hitler frequently used the words
‘providence’ and ‘almighty’, but he
was actually referring to fate. Such
was the conclusion of fellow Nazis
Alfred Rosenberg and Hans Frank,
who were hanged at Nuremberg. (I
recall that, when I first read Mein
Kampf as a teenager decades ago,
I was struck by Hitler’s frequent
allusions to fate.) There are other
Nazi usages of ‘god’, not mentioned
by Weikart, and these are in the sense
of blood and race. 1
At times, however, Hitler did make
it sound as though he believed that
history had been predetermined.
However, this does not imply theism,
at least not necessarily. In fact, it is
not uncommon for people, especially
when in a desperate situation, to
imagine some sort of predetermined
outcome, involving God or not
involving God, where there is none.
One obvious example, not mentioned
by Weikart, involves Hitler’s reaction
to the news of the death of American
President Franklin D. Roosevelt in
April 1945. Hitler deluded himself into
concluding that ‘God’ had intervened
on Nazi Germany’s behalf in the
last minute, causing the impending
collapse of the Allied war effort, and
thereby enabling Germany to snatch
victory from the jaws of defeat.
Most of the time, when Hitler
prayed, he did it in the sense that
the one praying would be inspired to
solve his own problems. (Nowadays,
this is often verbalized as ‘God helps
those who help themselves’.) At
other times, however, it superficially
seemed that Hitler was indeed praying,
to a personal god, for deliverance.
However, it is not rare for even atheists
to pray to God when in difficult
situations, wherein we get the saying
that ‘there are no atheists in foxholes’.
One might also think of the parallel
Polish proverb, “Kiedy trwoga to do
Boga” (when people are in fear, they
turn to God).
Incredibly, some commentators
have not only argued that Hitler
was a theist, but also that he was a
creationist—all because he sometimes
referred to a creator of the universe. A
close analysis of Hitler’s usage of this
term disposes of this silly claim. In
his infamous Mein Kampf, Hitler uses
‘creator’ with reference to nature. This
is also consonant with his deification
of nature in many other contexts. So
when Hitler spoke that man was made
‘in the image of the creator’, he meant
that man was made in the image of
Hitler was no Christian
At times, Hitler spoke that Jesus
was ‘his lord and saviour’, and that he
was ;fighting for the work of the lord;.
In context, it is obvious that Hitler was
referring to deified nature. Weikart
adds that, in Hitler’s twisted thinking,
Jesus was the saviour in the sense that
He came to save the world from the
Jews. Hitler thought that Jesus Christ
had stood up to the Jews and their
avarice and materialism and, for this
reason, the Jews had Him put to death.
There is no way that Hitler could
have been a Christian as convention-
ally defined. Hitler entirely rejected
the miraculous. Furthermore, Hitler
rejected all the Christian doctrines,
including the resurrection of Jesus
Christ, and disbelieved in an afterlife
(except in the redefined sense of the
persistence of the Volk), even weeks
before his suicide.
The pattern of Hitler’s thinking
is unmistakable. Weikart concludes
that, “Most historians today agree
that Hitler was not a Christian in any
meaningful sense” (p. 69).
Hitler the pantheist / Hitler
Author Weikart suggests that Hitler’s frequent usages of the term ‘god’
mean that Hitler cannot be considered
an atheist. So what term best describes
Hitler’s beliefs? Weikart concludes
that Hitler is best understood to be a
pantheist—a conclusion also reached
earlier by several investigators.
Let us take a closer look at this.
The pantheist believes that ‘everything
is god’. Now, if everything is god, it
means that nothing in particular is
god. It also certainly means that no
personal, transcendent Supreme Being
exists. This, by definition, is atheism.
As Christian apologist and legal
scholar John Warwick Montgomery
“Pantheism … is neither true nor
false; it is something much worse,
viz., entirely trivial. We had little
doubt that the universe was here
anyway; by giving it a new name
(‘God’) we explain nothing. We
actually commit the venerable
intellectual sin of Word Magic,
wherein the naming of something
is supposed to give added power
either to the thing named or to the
semantic magician himself.” 2
Such was also the conclusion of
Artur Schopenhauer, a philosopher
widely read, and admired, by Hitler
(figure 1). Therefore, and contrary to
Weikart, Hitler indeed was an atheist.
Modern definitions of atheism
only reinforce this point. In the past,
atheism was usually understood as
a conscious and deliberate decision
to disbelieve the existence of God.
Nowadays, however, merely an
absence of belief in God suffices to