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The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of…
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The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945 (2003)

by Richard Steigmann-Gall

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A work of revisionist history. The author examines whether the Nazis were as hostile to Christianity as they are usually painted. He discovers a more nuanced and complex picture, with Nazi hostility toward the Catholic Church, but not to the Protestants. Hostility to the church as an institution, including Protestant churches, grew as the regime progressed and the churches demonstrated that they put the church above the Reich. Party members left the churches, but the author plumbs both public and private documents to determine whether they similarly left God. In general, the conclusion he draws is that the Nazi regime was not atheist, and was in fact rather hostile toward atheism. Paganists and Christians battled for the soul of Germany, and there were a couple of high-placed individuals, particularly Boorman, who were profoundly not only anti-clerical but anti-Christian, but this sentiment does not appear to be widespread, and does not appear to have spread to Hitler. Well researched and well written; my only complaint is the amount of German phrases thrown in without explanation. While some of them were familiar, others could have used some clarification. ( )
1 vote Devil_llama | Mar 5, 2015 |
For me the key to this book comes late in the monograph with this quote in regards to the purging of a Nazi party member, as to how "unreserved support for the National Socialist state and and National Socialist ideology cannot be expected" from the individual in question, and who on this basis became expendable.

The relevance here is that Steigmann-Gall depicts a Nazi party that entered power believing itself to be essentially "Christian" (once purified of all those pesky Jewish influences and holding that Christ was not really a Jew) and expecting reciprocity from the Protestant religious leadership of Germany in helping to create a new regime capable of achieving the Nazi vision. When the Protestant clerics recoiled from the political demands placed upon them to subsume their institutions in a new Reich state church, it was apparently only then that Hitler soured on institutional religion and the dream of a Protestant state church became expendable; perhaps largely under the influence of Martin Bormann, one of the leading anti-religious figures in the party.

Apart from that, Steigmann-Gall does a convincing job of showing that the paganistic trimmings of the Nazi Party were a much more superficial affair then I had been given to believe. More ominously, there appears to have been more than a few Lutheran clerical figures who thought they were sympatico with the Nazi agenda, at least until it was made clear who was going to be the dominant player. There is also no great evidence that the Nazi leadership was interested in conciliating with the Vatican, seeing the Catholic church as merely another internationalist enemy seeking to thwart the greatness of the German nation.

I also might note that this book is surprisingly readable for a dusted-off doctoral thesis. ( )
2 vote Shrike58 | Jun 25, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0521603528, Paperback)

Analyzing the previously unexplored religious views of the Nazi elite, Richard Steigmann-Gall argues against the consensus that Nazism as a whole was either unrelated to Christianity or actively opposed to it. In contrast, Steigmann-Gall demonstrates that many in the Nazi movement believed the contours of their ideology were based on a Christian understanding of Germany's ills and their cure. He also explores the struggle the "positive Christians" waged with the party's paganists and demonstrates that this was not just a conflict over religion, but over the very meaning of Nazi ideology itself. Richard Steigmann-Gall is assistant professor of history at Kent Sate University. He earned his BA and MA at the University of Michigan, and PhD at the University of Toronto. He has earned fellowships and awards from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism in Israel, and the Max-Planck Institut fur Geschichte in Göttingen. His research interests include modern Germany, Fascism, and religion and society in Europe, and he has published articles in Central European History, German History, Social History, and Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:30 -0400)

"Analyzing the previously unexplored religious views of the Nazi elite, Richard Steigmann-Gall argues against the consensus that Nazism as a whole was either unrelated to Christianity or actively opposed to it. He demonstrates that many participants in the Nazi movement believed that the contours of their ideology were based on a Christian understanding of Germany's ills and their cure. A program usually regarded as secular in inspiration - the creation of a racialist "peoples' community" embracing antisemitism, antiliberalism, and anti-Marxism - was, for these Nazis, conceived in explicitly Christian terms. His examination centers on the concept of "positive Christianity," a religion espoused by many members of the party leadership.He also explores the struggle the "positive Christians" waged with the party's paganists - those who rejected Christianity in toto as foreign and corrupting - and demonstrates that this was a conflict not just over religion, but over the very meaning of Nazi ideology itself."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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