chapter  8
14 Pages

The Nazis’ ‘Positive Christianity’: a Variety of ‘Clerical Fascism’? Richard Steigmann-Gall

John Keegan once remarked that Adolf Hitler was an ‘anticlerical in the church of war’. Of course, Keegan did not mean by this that Hitler was a pacifist, since that would have made Hitler an atheist in that church. Rather, Keegan’s point was that Hitler believed he understood the message and meaning from the religion of war better than the ‘high priests’ – the generals. Precisely because he felt his loyalty to the faith so keenly, he decried the institution and its representatives who, in his mind, could no longer speak with authority. As I have argued elsewhere, in many ways we can see that, in the church of Christ as well, Hitler was this kind of anticlerical – not a complete anti-Christian, not an apostate (and certainly not an atheist) in the church of Christ, but instead believing he knew and understood, and ultimately fulfilled the religion of Christ better than its hated clergy and institutions. Other Nazis who subscribed to ‘positive Christianity’ similarly combined a strong anti-clericalism with a vision of Christianity which, while radical, was not simply ‘heretical’ or beyond the pale of past Christian thinking.