The Twisted Beliefs that Drove the Third Reich
Regnery History 2016
New Books in Genocide StudiesNew Books in German StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network March 14, 2017 Marshall Poe
Trying to figure out what Hitler “really” thought about anything is difficult because he was–among many other things–a clever, opportunistic politician and a very prolix one at that. Over the course of his 20+ career he gave thousands of speeches, wrote two long books “explaining” (if that’s the right word) his beliefs, and offered endless monologues to his acolytes on every imaginable topic. He was always adjusting his message to his audience, the result–taken together–being a mass of contradictions. Hitler was, well, a professional dissembler.
Hitler’s inconstancy is never more evident than in his talk about religion. Depending on which Hitler you pay attention to, you can find him sounding like a Christian or a Pagan, a Believer or an Atheist, a supporter of established religion and someone who wanted to obliterate it. What he said on religious topics always depended on whom he was talking to and, more generally, when he was talking. As Richard Weikart points out in his terrific book Hitler’s Religion: The Twisted Beliefs that Drove the Third Reich (Regnery History, 2016), you really have to pay close attention to context and timing if you want to uncover Hitler’s likely religious beliefs.
And that’s exactly what Weikart does in Hitler’s Religion. In the effort, he destroys myths (that Hitler was a Christian of any sort) and proves what has only been suspected (that Hitler would have destroyed the established Churches had he won the war). Weikart’s prose is crystal clear and the book is wonderfully organized. This is an excellent, readable history. You should read it.