Susannah Heschel refutes Pope Benedict's attack on exclusive atheistic complicity in Nazism, and finds fault with a Christian complicity:

Christian theologians, Catholic and Protestant, reassured Germans that Nazism was in full accord with Christian principles. This was not a marginal effort; at the 1934 Oberammergau passion play, watching Jesus being hoisted on the cross, the audience saw a parable of the Third Reich, calling out: “There he is. That is our Führer, our Hitler!”

Hitler became Christ, the redeemer of Germany, thanks to a reinterpretation of the Gospels: Jesus was not a Jew, but an Aryan who came to redeem them from the Jews who sought their destruction. Karl Adam, the prominent German Catholic theologian, affirmed in 1933 that Hitler was the one “prophesied by our poets and our wise men” who suffered in his fight for Germany’s salvation. Adam continued in 1941: “Christ’s teaching was entirely anti-Jewish in its tenor (that is why he was crucified).” ...

Pope Benedict could gain the respect of world opinion by acknowledging what historians have amply demonstrated: that well-intentioned, pious Christiansand not just atheistscommitted heinous acts. Christian teachings are no guarantee against atrocity and, in the context of the Third Reich, actually came to justify the Holocaust.

My own review of the way in which Christianity created anti-Semitism and bears some, but not all, responsibility for the Holocaust, is here. More background on the Nazi Deutsche Christen movement here. And here. The fusion of faith and dictatorship has never been an exclusively Islamist invention.

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