Truth, Lies and the Holocaust
Any fool can tell the truth, but it requires a man of some sense to know how to lie well. -Samuel Butler
Over the years, I have heard many tales of tragedy and persecution committed against Neo-Pagans around the country. From folks losing jobs, losing children, stores being closed, houses being burned down. Just yesterday I received a report that in Kentucky a Pagan's fundamentalist Christian neighbors stole an entire library of magical and Pagan books from her house and burned them. The police decided the case was not worth pursuing.
I tend to see red at such reports, but sometimes something comes across my desk that sends me into a rage.
The Pope just issued a statement that the Holocaust was "the work of a thoroughly modern neo-pagan regime. Its anti-Semitism had its roots outside of Christianity..."
At such times, I sit in my study and stroke and coo over my collection of ancient weapons. My double headed battle ax is a favorite. I grip the handle and dream I am among my Viking ancestors, our longships silently coming ashore and laying siege to a monastery. After the gates are battered down, I run down the hallways, a torch in one hand and a bloody ax in the other, slaughtering...
Ah, that felt good. But, I am civilized and must respond to words with words. The only way to confront such lies are with the truth.
Let's study the Pope's assertion. Please forgive the extensive use of quotes, but I would rather someone's words tell their own story. We'll start with the Bible.
When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person (Jesus): see ye to it. Then answered all the people (The Jews), and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Matthew 27:24-25
This passage was written by the early church to blame the Jews for the death of Jesus, and to clear the Romans of any responsibility. The reasons are simple: the Jews rebelled against Roman rule in 69 BCE and were slaughtered. The Christians, seeking to distance themselves from the Jews, both to escape Roman wrath and to ingratiate themselves with the conquerors, denounced the Jews in their writings, which later became the Bible. Thus is the foundation laid for the Holocaust.
Bishop John Shelby Spong says that:
Jesus is...depicted, especially in the Book of John, as being guilty of what we today would surely call anti-Semitism. Indeed, the hatred of the Jews that has been the dark underside of Christianity for two thousand years is fed by the pejorative attitudes found in the Christian Scriptures and even in the supposed words of Jesus. It has led to pogroms, ghettos, segregated housing and clubs, defaced synagogues, Krystallnacht, and Dachau.
The founding fathers of the Catholic Church repeated Jesus' call for Jewish persecution:
The Jews are the most worthless of all men. They are lecherous, greedy, rapacious. They are perfidious murderers of Christ . . .The Jews are the odious assassins of Christ and for killing God there is no expiation possible, no indulgence or pardon. Christian may never cease vengeance, and the Jews must live in servitude forever. God always hated the Jews. It is incumbent upon all Christians to hate the Jews.
St. John Chrysotom, Patriarch of Constantinople
The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jew can never understand the Scriptures and forever will bear the guilt for the death of Jesus.
St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, Father of the Church
The call for persecution continued through the centuries.
The Jews' guilt of the crucifixion of Jesus consigned them to perpetual servitude, and like Cain, they are to be wanderers and fugitives...the Jews will not dare to raise their necks, bowed under the yoke of perpetual slavery, against the reverence of the Christian faith.
Pope Innocent III (1198-1216)
By the time of Hitler, Germany was 90-95% Christian. The many church denominations were publishing over 600 independent church papers with a circulation of 17,000,000. The Protestant church had a large influence over its adherents. So how did Martin Luther, founder of Protestantism, regard the Jews?
What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? Since they live among us and we know about their lying and blasphemy and cursing, we can not tolerate them if we do not wish to share in their lies, curses, and blasphemy...First, their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians. ...For their kidnapping of children they have often been burned at the stake or banished (as we already heard). I am well aware that they deny all of this. However, it all coincides with the judgment of Christ which declares that they are venomous, bitter, vindictive, tricky serpents, assassins, and children of the devil, who sting and work harm stealthily wherever they cannot do it openly.
On The Jews and Their Lies
The Lutheran editor of the American translation of Luther's works commented that:
It is impossible to publish Luther's treatise today...without noting how similar to his proposals were the actions of the National Socialist regime in Germany in the 1930's and 1940's.
Lets go on to other Protestant notables.
Their [the Jews] rotten and unbending stiffneckedness deserves that they be oppressed unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery without the pity of anyone.
A Response To Questions and Objections of a Certain Jew
(note: Robin goes on to quote about every Protestant and Catholic writer from 300 CE to 1940 CE. To save trees and space, suffice it to say that Christians disliked the Jew's, a lot. -ed.)
Hitler and the Church
Hitler was raised as a Catholic and received his early education in a Catholic school. Germany had been anti-Semitic for hundreds of years, urged on by the preaching of Catholic priests, and Protestant ministers. Hitler frequently expressed a great admiration for Martin Luther and his writings.
In Mein Kampf, Hitler frequently makes reference to the Christian God and the Bible.
Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
Christianity could not content itself with building up its own altar; it was absolutely forced to undertake the destruction of the heathen altars. Only from this fanatical intolerance could its apodictic faith take form; this intolerance is, in fact, its absolute presupposition.
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
But there was a resurgence of Neo-Paganism in Germany that Hitler was well aware of.
The characteristic thing about these people is that they rave about old Germanic heroism, about dim prehistory, stone axes, spear and shield, but in reality are the greatest cowards that can be imagined. For the same people who brandish scholarly imitations of old German tin swords, and wear a dressed bearskin with bull's horns over their heads, preach for the present nothing but struggle with spiritual weapons, and run away as fast as they can from every Communist blackjack.
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
It is clear that Hitler scorned and detested the Neo-Pagan movement. But how about Hitler's associates?
God gave the savior to the German people. We have faith, deep and unshakable faith, that he [Hitler] was sent to us by God to save Germany.
I swear before God this holy oath, that I shall give absolute confidence to the Fuehrer of the German Reich and people.
Heinrich Himmler, a practicing Catholic, (reminding his hearers about the oath taken by all SS men as well as by the military forces)
No matter what human beings do I shall some day stand before the judgment seat of the Eternal. I shall answer to Him, and I know he will judge me innocent.
Rudolf Hess (to the Nuremberg Tribunal)
(Note: Robin goes on to quote about every official in Nazi Germany, except Martin Borman, who hated Christianity. But to save even more trees and space, suffice it to say that almost all professed to be Christians. –ed.)
So where did the myth of a Pagan Germany come from? While Hitler was mulling over plans for a Reich Christian Church, which would combine German nationalism with Christianity, he enlisted the aid of Alfred Rosenberg to create a "religion of the Blood." This religion was used for propaganda and to remake the image of Jesus into "a man of true Nordic character," a revolutionary who opposed the Jewish and Roman systems with sword in hand, bringing not peace but war (Matthew 10:34-37). Although Rosenberg attempted to remake Jesus from a pacifist to a warrior, he still worked within the Christian mythology, not a Pagan one.
The Pope's Silence
So the crimes of the holocaust can be laid squarely on the teachings of the bible and the Christian leadership throughout the centuries. Indeed, there was not one law passed in Nazi Germany curtailing the rights of the Jews that had not been used by the Christian church in the preceding centuries.
A few months after Hitler came to power, Pope Pius XII signed a Concordat where the Church recognized the legitimacy of Hitler's government and abolished all Catholic secular organizations in Germany. This precluded any Catholic who objected to Hitler's actions from having any public forum from which to speak out. In return, Hitler granted special status to the Catholic church, which he disregarded as soon as it was convenient.
History Professor Friedrich Heer observed that the:
"Catholic theologians rightly discovered many affinities between Nazi ideology and Catholicism. . . . Many church papers...became virtually propaganda organs of National Socialism..the [Catholic] press worked smoothly in the service of the war propaganda machine."
Once the horrors of the holocaust became known, the Pope refused to comment on the German extermination of the Jews. The Papal secretary told American representatives that the Vatican, pursuing a policy of neutrality, could not protest specific atrocities and could only condemn immoral actions in general.
"How is one to explain that neither Hitler nor Himmler was ever excommunicated by the Church? That Pius XII never thought it necessary, not to say indispensable, to condemn Auschwitz and Treblinka?
That among the S.S. a large proportion were believers who remained faithful to their Christian ties to the end?
That there were killers who went to confession between massacres. And that they all came from Christian families and had received a Christian education?
How explain that the Christian in them did not make their arms tremble as they shot at children or their conscience bridle as they shoved their naked, beaten victims into the factories of death?"
Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor
As the Vatican makes peace with the Jews, the church selects a new enemy, a new threat to Christendom. And in doing, sows the seeds of hate, the seeds of a new holocaust. It is almost flattering that we are beginning to be perceived as such a threat to the dominant religions that we are singled out as the scapegoats for their horrific actions. So the Pope, knowing the true story of history, seeks to pass off the atrocities of the holocaust to the Neo-Pagans and fails in the most basic skill of spiritual leaders – honesty.
As for the Pope himself...
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