Unfortunately, the provocative claim that Adolf Hitler was a Christian keeps making its rounds. The claim, which is really an accusation leveled at all Christians, is fueled entirely by those with an axe to grind against religion in general and Christianity in particular. Objective historical evidence and common sense both indicate that Hitler was not, in any reasonable sense, a Christian.
Adolph Hitler’s family was Catholic, but all available sources indicate that Hitler was uninterested in Catholicism as a child. Once away from his mother’s care, Hitler never again participated in the rites of the Catholic Church. As an adult, Hitler frequently derided religion and those who practiced it. Christianity in particular, with its emphasis on love and peace, was something Hitler despised. In fact, Hitler was more attracted to Islam’s militant expansionism than to the “weakness” of Christianity. Albert Speer, Hitler’s Minister of Armaments and War Production, wrote that Hitler told him, “The Mohammedan religion . . . would have been much more compatible to us [Germans] than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?” (Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich (New York: Avon, 1971, p. 734).
U.S. intelligence information obtained during and after WWII shows that Hitler would have preferred to purge Germany of Christianity before the war, but he felt the church was a necessary evil. The Nazi-led German Christian group took control of the German Evangelical Church in 1933 and demanded conformity to Hitler’s political and ideological agenda. In response to Hitler’s takeover of the national church, about one third of the clergy formed the Confessing Church in 1934. The Confessing Church started with the goal of reforming the German Christians and bringing the church back to the basics of the gospel, but members of the Confessing Church soon realized that Hitler’s National Socialist Party was deeply anti-Christian. The suppression of the Confessing Church and the direct persecution of its members are clear examples of Hitler’s stance on faith. Hitler was not a Christian; rather, he viewed the national church as a means of reinforcing his policies.
Hitler was strongly influenced by the anti-Christian philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. This influence shows in Hitler’s private remarks on religion, as related by surviving associates. Hitler described Christianity as an “absurdity,” “an invention of sick brains,” and so forth. It’s interesting to note that Hitler spoke of religion using many of the same terms as modern-day misotheists; yet some of these modern voices attempt to peg Hitler as a Christian.
Beyond any reasonable doubt, Hitler wasn’t any kind of “Christian” at all. A person who hates what Christianity represents, who persecutes the faithful in the church, and who espouses principles totally contrary to Christ’s teachings is clearly not a Christian. Had we no information about Hitler’s personal beliefs, we could still say that Hitler’s acts—such as murdering millions of people—cannot be blamed on Christianity. Hitler was no follower of Christ.
Those who claim Hitler was a Christian are, for the most part, attempting to disparage religion. The primary tactic in such cases is to claim that Hitler never renounced his Catholic faith and that he often made positive references to God, religion, and the church. It is true that, in public speeches and official press releases, Hitler often seemed friendly to Christianity. But we must remember that Hitler was a politician—not just a politician but a propagandist willing to sink to any level of immorality to gain power. To argue meaningfully that Hitler was a Christian, we’d have to begin by assuming that a politician bent on genocide wasn’t being dishonest or manipulative in his campaign speeches.
Hitler considered religion a necessary evil and a tool to be manipulated until after he won the war. He was not a classic atheist as were various Communist dictators, but he was not a Christian. There is no rational reason to connect Hitler to Christianity.