POSITIVE CHRISTIANITY IN THE THIRD REICH
By Professor of Theology D. Cajus Fabricius
[Published in 1937 by Hermann Püschel, 10 Striesener Strasse, Dresden A 16]
There is much misconception in the world today with respect to the position of Christianity in the Third Reich, opinion being rife that an anti-Christian attitude or paganism is at the moment predominant in Germany. These were the considerations which led me to issue an English edition of my book: “Positives Christentum irn neuen Staat”.
This book is in no way an ofﬁcial statement. The only ofﬁcial book on National-Socialism is Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, Ofﬁcial documents are also “The Programme of the National-Socialistic Party” and the Laws of the State. I for my part, have simply endeavoured as a theologian to give in these pages a clear and scientiﬁc exposition of the substance of Christianity in its relations to the substance of National-Socialism. The point of view, however, thus set forth in this little book is not only my own, but is shared by millions of German people who are real Christians and at the same time good National-Socialists unswervingly loyal to their Führer Adolf Hitler.
The German edition of this book was published in 1935. Since then the German situation, the fundamental principles of the National-Socialistic State and the attitude of the Führer towards Christianity have remained unchanged. A few days before writing these lines, the Führer in his speech to the Reichstag on 30th January said, that in all humility he thanked Almighty God for His grace manifested in the uprising of the German Volk. He said too, in speaking of his personal experiences that he had had three unusual friends nearly all his life: In his youth, poverty, then sorrow at the collapse of his People, and ﬁnally anxiety for the Reich. This is the Führer’s unchanged attitude, one conforming both to a Christian and a heroic ﬁgure.
Thus may this little book serve to spread the truth throughout the world. I hope that my attempt at its expression will be understood abroad, and I should be glad to receive any comments on what I have said from friends in other countries.
30 Händel Allee, Berlin NW 87,
PART ONE: THE RELIGIOUS POLICY OF NATIONAL-SOCIALISM
I. WHAT WE REJECT
2. Attacks on Christianity
3. Substitutes for Religion
II. WHAT WE AFFIRM
1. Positive Christianity
2. Two Great Churches
3. The German Evangelical Church
III. WHAT WE STAND FOR
1. The Recognition of Christianity by the Party
2. The Christian Standpoint of the Party
PART TWO: THE CHRISTIAN FOUNDATIONS OF NATIONAL-SOCIALISM
I. KINSHIP WITH GOD
1. Kinship with God and Dominion over the World
2. God and Volk
II. LOVE FOR ONE’S NEIGHBOUR
1. Love, Justice, Honour
2. Help in Word and Deed
3. Family, Nation, Mankind
1. Sin and the National Corruption
2. Regeneration and the National Uprising
3. The Redeemer and the Führer
“We demand liberty for all religious denominations in the State, so far as they are not a danger to it and do not militate against the morality and moral sense of the German race. The Party as such, stands for positive Christianity but does not bind itself in the matter of creed to any particular confession. It combats the Jewish-materialist spirit within and without us, and is convinced that our nation can achieve permanent health from within only on the principle: The Common Interest Before Self-Interest.”
Such is Point 24 of the Programme of the German National-Socialistic Party. Since 1920 this has been the unchanged and unwavering guiding principle of the Movement with respect to its attitude towards religion, and since 1933 the inviolable expression of what is to be as law to the whole German nation. Adolf Hitler, its Führer and Chancellor has repeatedly afﬁrmed this article, especially the main clause relating to Positive Christianity. This was particularly the case in the three notable speeches made by him in the year 1934, namely, on January 30th, August 17th and 26th. On these three solemn occasions the Führer stated in words that left no doubt as to their meaning, that National-Socialism afﬁrmed Positive Christianity. Moreover, as a further explanation of his statement, Adolf Hitler declared that by Positive Christianity, he meant the Christianity of the two great Churches the Evangelical and the Roman Catholic, both of which are represented in Germany. He also called upon these Christian Churches to do everything in their power to make the moral forces of the Gospel Message effectual influences in the life of the German nation. At the same time however, he made it perfectly plain that he had nothing in common with “people in bear-skins” with those namely, who recalling the old Germanic tribes, would foist neo-pagan cult experiments upon the GermanVolk. On other occasions too, as for instance, in his historically remarkable speech of May 21st, 1935, the Führer emphatically rejected the godlessness of Bolshevism, contrasting it with the fact that in National-Socialistic Germany the Churches have not been turned into places of secular amusement. And even if the Führer does speak on occasions such as these of a new National-Socialistic Weltanschauung he means neither a new religion nor a new godlessness, but simply everything that is the result of national consciousness, of the ties of comradeship and of the heroic attitude of the National-Socialistic German with respect to his mode of life, and his views of the world surrounding him. To these may be added everything needed for the reconstruction of man’s inner life, and this includes in no small degree the forces of Positive Christianity.
Thus the fundamental lines to be followed are deﬁned here clearly and simply. There remains however, the task of tracing the programme of National-Socialism with regard to religion in every possible direction, and with attention to the minutest details. Hitherto this has not been attempted in a manner sufﬁciently comprehensive and exhaustive. And yet, how vitally important it is to form a picture of the religion of the German Volk in all its details, and to consider the development of its religious forces in various directions.
And just in an era of new beginnings, such as we are now experiencing, it is indeed doubly important for religious principles to be worked out on a perfectly clear basis, and in every possible direction. For during times such as these when the inner life of a nation is in the process of being revolutionized, how easy it is for a certain confusion of mind to arise, whereby many a trend of thought has come to the fore that had once already existed, only however, to fall into oblivion where it has remained until now, when the auspicious moment for its re-appearance and the realization of its aims would appear to have arrived. Efforts of this kind are remarkably prevalent at the present time, and in consequence, a certain religious unrest has seized hold of our Volk, most disturbing to the peaceful reconstruction of our new Reich, leading as it does men’s minds astray, and so placing difﬁculties in the path of national uniﬁcation.
Since this is the situation in which our spiritual life ﬁnds itself today, it is all the more necessary to state with simple directness the real attitude adopted by National-Socialism towards religion, and to consider it in detail from every point of view. An exposition such as this however, can only be undertaken by an expert, that is to say by one who is an authority on the subject, and as a researcher has devoted himself to the work of investigating the Christian religion, in short, a theologian, and at the same time a convinced National-Socialist.
It was the need for such a treatise that brought me to the fore. I am conscious of a sense of responsibility to God and to my own conscience, both in my capacity as theological expert on confessional questions, and as an Evangelical Christian I felt it incumbent on me to proclaim the truth in all publicity. As an ofﬁcial of the State and as a political leader within the Party I am bound by a two-fold oath to the Führer of my Volk. But my religious and political duties do not clash, nor do they necessitate any inward struggle, but rather the one supplements the other, and both stand together in complete harmony. Indeed, they do even more than this: In my own life and thought, Christianity and National-Socialism are closely knit together. And just because I am a Christian and a theologian, I felt compelled to put on the “brown shirt”. Just because my inmost being is ﬁlled with the most sacred feeling of responsibility, I have felt for years past a sense of duty towards my Volk in its time of distress. For this reason therefore, my path had perforce to lead me into the movement which has been called upon these days to rescue my Volk from need. My life during the past decisive years has been mapped out accordingly. Conscious of my responsibility as a Christian and as a Professor of Theology in the early days when National-Socialism was struggling to assert itself. I became one of the founders and pioneers of the Students’ Labour-service Corps. Community life such as I experienced in labour-camps with my students and unemployed Youth of all classes made me one of Adolf Hitler’s most loyal supporters. Not primarily through hearing speeches, or reading books and newspapers was I won for the National-Socialistic cause, but rather through my experience as an independent leader of the labour camp with all the heavy responsibilities connected with this task that also included strenuous physical work. Thus I was formed into a National-Socialist in the smithy of life, having become one of the great comradeship not only with all my heart and mind, but with flesh and blood as well.
My own personal attitude therefore, gives me every right, indeed makes it my duty to publish an expert opinion on the principles of National-Socialism with respect to religion. As an expert I shall adhere strictly to facts, having no intention of obtruding any personal theories or pet ideas that might tend to divert attention from the main line of thought. Rather shall I show with unwavering consistency how the attitude of National-Socialism to the Christian religion as evidenced in the Party Programme, and in the Führer’s own words, has been determined both by the substance of the Christian religion and by the substance of National-Socialism. But while keeping my own personal opinions in the background, I shall on the other hand, also refrain from bringing forward the philosophical ideas or fantastic utterances of other writers, who may perhaps have grasped only a part or even nothing at all of the meaning of Christianity or National-Socialism, and are thus guilty of a certain dilettantism particularly dangerous in matters of such serious import. And least of all am I inclined to make use of the views on Weltanschauung laid down by these writers who, half converted to National-Socialism as they may be, are still partly in the toils of the prejudices of the liberalistic and marxistic era, being caught up so to say, in the spirit of those epochs which, known as the ages of Reason, Romanticism and Technics, placed their mark on European thought from the 18. to the beginning of the 20. century.
Both forces however, Christianity as well National-Socialism will be dealt with by me as present realities, more with respect to what they are today, than with respect to their historical development and growth. For in this case we are not primarily interested in what has been and now is no more, but we wish to view the present and from it cast a glance into the future. We do not wish to travel far afield but prefer to consider what is alive today and close at hand.
This little book was written with the general purpose of assisting in the work of reconstruction, and of promoting peace and unanimity. My exposition has perhaps its combative side too, but that is simply in order to clear up misunderstandings and smooth away difﬁculties. Where I am polemical, it is absolutely impersonal, least of all would I attack fellow-Christians and National-Socialistic comrades. I ﬁght against thoughts only, but here too, not against systems of thought expounded in literary work of one kind or another, but I attack those ideas that are so as to say in the air and make their inﬂuence more or less strongly felt, or give hints of it only in existing trends of thought.
Such is the thought underlying my treatment of the question of Positive Christianity as the foundation of National-Socialism. It has been found advisable to divide the exposition itself into two main parts. The ﬁrst subject of investigation to be dealt with concerns the National-Socialistic policy with respect to Religion. Conclusions will thereby be drawn from the Party Programme applicable to the general attitude of the Party and the State towards Church life. In a second exposition the inner associations will be treated of, and it will shown how the spiritual forces of Christianity must needs have a great inﬂuence in the life of the newly awakened German Volk.
PART ONE: THE RELIGIOUS POLICY OF NATIONAL-SOCIALISM
To forestall all misconceptions we must show what religious policy would contradict the very essence of National-Socialism before we judge of what is meant by the afﬁrmation of Christianity in National-Socialism.
1. WHAT WE REJECT
The whole attitude of National-Socialism shows a striking difference on comparison with all that is to be included in the name of Liberalism. Every singling out of human individuals, every separation of interests, confusion of opinions, every irregular appearance of selﬁsh interests, everything that calls forth and emphasizes differences between individuals and between various groups is repellent to the spirit of National-Socialism, since it disturbs the unity of the Volk, breaks up the team spirit and menaces the powerful solidarity of the nation.
And least of all would it be compatible with National-Socialism were a form of religious Liberalism to ﬁnd a place in Germany, that is to say, the springing up of several hundreds or thousands of religious societies all at liberty to represent not only the old traditional teachings but also strange and questionable doctrines, and to abuse and accuse one another of heresy. A religious Liberalism of this kind would be far more dangerous than Liberalism in secular affairs, because Religion always lays claim to the whole individual, and shuts off the individual person and individual groups from the world outside far more completely than do secular interests.
For this reason therefore, the religious policy of National-Socialism is absolutely apposed to the principle “pronouncing Religion to be a private affair”, laid down by the Social Democrats, and which was derived from liberalistic ideas, in the hope of dealing a blow at the power of Religion by breaking up the Churches into private societies. In National-Socialistic Germany, Religion is not a private matter at all, it concerns the whole Volk. True one can ascribe the religious policy of National-Socialism to the utterance of Frederick the Great: “Here, each must be saved after his own fashion”, – but these words spoken by the great king, and which were to become proverbial, referred only to the peaceful intercourse between the Evangelical and Roman Catholic Christians in his country, and must not be understood to mean an unbridled Liberalism.
But again, it must not be argued here, that the Party Programme itself allows liberty to all religious beliefs. Religious liberty there most certainly is in the National-Socialistic State. This does not mean however, that a wild growth of private religious opinions and a breaking up of the Churches into groups is desirable. What is implied is simply this: No one is forced in the Third Reich to adopt any form of Religion. And again, no one is to be compelled by the State to join any one of the great Churches, or to withdraw from it. Finally, it implies that within a religious body the many individuals who go to form it are not to be conﬁned within the narrow limits of some form of belief. On the contrary: as everywhere in the newly awakened German Volk powers are allowed free play, those of creative personalities in particular being permitted to develop freely and vigorously, so within the great Churches as in every religious community, the characteristic features of personal piety will not be suppressed but will be given every opportunity for vigorous development, in so far as they do not sow the seeds of discord, or cause confusion of mind and so prove a menace to the spirit of unanimity prevailing in the Volk.
But the anti-liberalistic attitude of National-Socialism in matters pertaining to Religion has another aspect. The Liberal Era had a favourite scheme and sought to realize it in various ways: it was “Separation of Church and State”. This catchword was not only based on the idea of the individual and private nature of Religion, but also on the view that a distinct line must be drawn between Religion and secular culture. This universal letting loose of individual interests resulted in a splitting up of culture in its various domains, and a limited, one-sided devotion of individuals and groups of individuals to special cultural spheres. Indeed these divisions in cultural life even led individuals in their philosophy of life to specialize in one particular domain of culture, whereby all other spheres were either rejected or were looked upon as of no importance. Thus there arose the practical materialism or utilitarianism of Marx and his followers, which only acknowledged technico-economical culture as of any value; there were others, art-lovers to whom only the world of beauty meant anything at all, and who, engrossed by it, had lost all understanding for other things; there were men of science and circles of intelligentsia who only appreciated intellect, despising everything else; there were humane moralists in whose eyes the highest value of all was the moral or right relationship between man and man, and who were only slightly interested, or not at all, in the other spheres of life. This condition of separate and limited standpoints must also include the principle: “Separation of Church and State”. For this phrase may be so interpreted as to mean that occupation with things temporal is to be separated from occupation with things spiritual, because it is thought that the bulk of mankind is engrossed with temporal things and does not concern itself with what is sacred. And if one goes on to presuppose that the State is without Religion, that is to say, it concerns itself chiefly with secular interests, the principle may be inferred: “Separation of Church and State”.
This principle however, is totally opposed to the nature of National-Socialism. The whole meaning of the new life in Germany as revealed in National-Socialism is man’s desire to leave behind him the gulfs and schisms in cultural spheres, all the specialization, mutual distrust, suspicion and hostility, and to form instead an organic, living, co-ordinated culture which, notwithstanding its manifoldness is yet permeated with the one spirit common to all. The various spheres of culture must naturally be differentiated. We are fully aware that the physically-useful in technico-economical culture is different from the aesthetic-beautiful, and again, that the investigation of truth is a thing by itself, just as is care for the community of mankind, also that Religion as the surrender to the superhuman life of the Godhead differentiates itself from all connexions and activities which bind us to human and temporal things. But at the same time we know that the differentiation between the spheres of life must on no account mean a severance or schism, but that they have their common roots and foundations in human nature, and in the nature of things, and are further united and interwoven by countless reciprocal effects. And the National-Socialistic State is no “pagan” holding aloof from the Church as if from the sphere of what is sacred. On the contrary, the State is the lawful organization of the living Volk, of the same Volk that possesses the whole of temporal culture, and with it, Religion. In the Volk too, the organization of the State must naturally be in living, reciprocal connexion with the organizations of all the other spheres of culture, including the Church.
From the standpoint of National-Socialism therefore, it is impossible to assert that the new movement has nothing to do with Religion owing to its political character, and that the State must stand aloof, not concerning itself with ecclesiastical matters, just as the Church keeps aloof from State affairs. A religious policy with this view as its basic principle would remind one of the French Revolution in the 18th century, but certainly not of the National Uprising in Germany in the year 1933.
A policy of aloofness and alienation with regard to the relations between Church and State would indeed be most disastrous. It would open up a fatal chasm between church-folk and the worldly-minded, and cause a front to be formed at least as dangerous, if not more so than the former gulf between the bourgeois and the proletariat. And, moreover, in a Church obscured from the light of publicity, dark places would be created, where, under the protecting mantle of sacred things revolutionary elements could foregather and threaten the German Volk and all that it holds sacred with dissolution and destruction.
2. Attacks on Christianity
More alien to the essence of National-Socialism than the separation of Church and State is any attack on Christianity. Antagonism to the Christian Religion is much more compatible With the spirit of Jewish materialism rejected by the Party Programme, and closely corresponds to the spirit of Bolshevism, the deadly foe of National-Socialism. If as in Marxism, material pleasures and manual labour are to be regarded as the highest values. and time-honoured institutions are to be trampled under foot, while spiritual values are held to be merely illusive phantoms, and it is considered unworthy for any human being to believe in a higher life, then it must naturally follow that Churches are blown up, priests deprived of their rights or even murdered, the propagation of religious beliefs forbidden, and all suspected of piety subjected to suffering. National-Socialism, on the other hand, as a Movement emanating from within and testifying at every turn how great is the power of the spirit, perpetually striving to awaken man’s noblest instincts, summoning him to obedience, to respect, to self-abnegation and to sacriﬁce, would contradict itself, nay more, it would destroy itself, were it in any way to promote anti-Christian activities, or to tolerate such machinations even in their very beginnings. Marxism coined the phrase that Socialism is as much opposed to Christianity as ﬁre is to water, and it may here be said of National-Socialism: its relationship to anti-Christian activities is as that of ﬁre to water.
And if there should still be a few individuals in Germany today, who with regard to this point prefer to swim in the old channel of the last era, scofﬁng at priests and devout people after the manner of Marxist free-thinkers, looking askance at anyone professing to be a Christian, even preventing him perhaps from attending public worship, and looking upon-the clergy of a Christian Church as second-rate citizens, then it is a sign that such people have not yet grasped the significance of the new era and are rather to be considered as a grave menace to the peace and inner strength of the German Volk.
But in passing another misconception must removed. This refers to the relationship between Christianity and Judaism. Long before the rise of National-Socialism there were certain national, literary circles amongst theIntelligentsia of the upper middle classes of pre-war days, who, for the sake of their German nationality believed it necessary to reject Christianity as being historically connected with Judaism. On the appearance of National-Socialism and its attacks on the Jewish supremacy in our Volk, these Intelligentsiathought the moment had arrived for a similar attack on Christianity. This point of view is deﬁnitely rejected by the clause referred to in the Party Programme, and it is unnecessary to examine it further here. Besides it is clear that the spirit of the Christian Faith has nothing to do with the Judaism, we National-Socialists are combating. Our attacks are directed against the present-day Judaism, the ally of the powers of destruction, which, in all secrecy, through the agency of banks, bourses and press seeks to rule the world. We oppose the mixture of our race with that of the Jews. Moreover, we have liberated ourVolk from the dominating power of Judaism, and are constantly on the defensive against all attempts to renew this supremacy. But nothing is further from our intention than to confuse the spirit of this kind of Judaism with the Christian Religion, and to attack the Christian Faith as “Jewish”. Such an act would be in absolute contradiction both to the essence of Christianity and to the spirit and Programme of National-Socialism.
3. Substitutes for Religion
National-Socialism has as little desire to found a new religion as it has to attack Christianity. Attempts of this kind must rather be considered a menace to the unity of the Volk demanded by National-Socialism. It is already an historical disaster that the German Volk is fated to have not only one but two great Christian bodies, the Evangelical and Roman Catholic Churches. Wise statesmanship of the highest order, and a personal desire for peace is constantly demanded in order to preserve the inner solidarity of the Volkunder such conditions. But how increasingly great is the difﬁculty when a third religion confronts the two great Christian Churches, and in opposing them claims the right of calling itself the one and only future religion of the GermanVolk. The difﬁculty however, becomes a very grave danger when the exponents of such a new religion declare their ideas to be the philosophy of life in actual agreement with the spirit of the German race and with National-Socialism.
If we investigate the substance of the new religion that would appear to be offered to the German People as a substitute for Christianity, we are ﬁlled with a deep and genuine dismay. First of all we get the impression that it is not the case of one religion but of a great many, and men of learning as well as various writers dispute as to which of their systems is to become the true spiritual food of the German Volk. It is to be expected however, that these learned men and writers will continue to disagree as they have hitherto been doing, and so we have a picture that is both bewildering and disintegrated, and is likely to remain so. Thus there is danger of not only a third but of a fourth, ﬁfth and even more cults being founded, each of which lays claim to be the only true religion of the Volk.
Neither are the doctrines expounded in these new religions at all promising. Some are simply echoes of Christianity, others and to a greater extent, are reminders of the philosophy of the rationalists with their gloriﬁcation of humanity and reason, or of Nietzsche’s naturalism with his deification of those who are in communion with Nature and are critical of culture. Sometimes too, there is a revival of Indian ideas of self-redemption. All these beliefs however, are but pale wraiths lacking the force, the depth and the richness originally peculiar to those thoughts and systems. Neither is surrender to what is supernatural and superhuman the predominant feature of the new cults, rather do we ﬁnd a gloriﬁcation of Nature and of man in particular, who is held to be sufﬁcient unto himself and capable of attaining perfection by himself.
The basic principle of these new cults is accordingly the same as in the case of the older movements of free-thought and free religious beliefs of the last epoch. The only difference is that these same ideas which were considered applicable to mankind in general are now spoken of as being essentially “Germanic”.
All such aims are contradictory to National-Socialism. The Führer with the exemplary modesty characteristic of his whole being, decisively forbids any honour to be paid to him which is ﬁtting for God alone, and all genuine National-Socialists follow his example. When the Führer states on occasion that he “has faith” in the German Volk, and when we National-Socialists profess “our faith” in the Führer, that does not mean the conception of a new religion, it is simply a confession of trust and conﬁdence between man and man, and is included in our trust in God, but is by no means that trust in the Divine Power itself. We are well aware, and the Führer himself has made frequent mention of it too, that we are only instruments in the hand of Divine Providence, however great that human endeavour may be which has been so effectual in the great turn of history we are now experiencing, and which is still effectual. And we likewise refuse to deify those earthly forces which laid the foundation of the German uprising and are still basic principles. Race, blood, soil, freedom, honour are to us high values, and it is of lasting worth that National-Socialism has so ﬁrmly impressed the supremacy and importance of these forces and virtues upon an uprooted mankind and a sick Volk.
We will not and dare not relax our enthusiasm for those sublime things. But we know that such things sublime and glorious as they may be, are yet of this earth and are human, so that although we may consider them as willed and created by God, we must not look upon them as supreme divinities themselves.
These facts require constant reiteration in the full light of publicity, not only for the sake of the matter itself, but also because we know that in other countries the enemies of new Germany are busily engaged in spreading slanderous reports as to how Germany is in the thralldom of paganism, and that Christians are being persecuted by the State for their Faith’s sake. News of this alarming description are not only reported by Christians, but are also propagated by Jews and pagans, and the Foreign Press, if at all hostile to Germany, wallows in such reports and gives them full publicity, particularly in those papers that in past years completely ignored ecclesiastical questions. These slanders are published with the intention of prejudicing Christians of every other land against Germany so that they may close their ranks and form as solid a front as possible against our Volk.
We must defend ourselves against such defamations. Today, the German People amongst the nations of the earth is the strongest bulwark against all the powers of darkness threatening the overthrow of Christian culture. Indeed we may say: the powers of dissolution and disintegration that with sinister and diabolical strength are striving for mastery in the world today are nowhere so effectually repulsed as in National-Socialistic Germany. For this reason all foreign nations who ﬁght us as being non-Christian in their eyes, ﬁnd themselves in very tortuous and most dangerous paths, and in so far as they are Christians themselves combat in their appalling delusion those very things for which they would stake their lives.
In view of this situation predominant in the world at present, it is doubly important for us to defend National-Socialism unceasingly and untiringly against the defamatory reports that it favours paganism, be it openly or secretly, and desires on the strength of its authority to introduce a substitute for the Christian religion.
II. WHAT WE AFFIRM
1. Positive Christianity
Abandoning negatives, let us now ask the question: what is the religion upon which the new life in Germany is to be constructed in accordance with the basic principles of National-Socialism? What is the strong, life-giving spiritual food upon which the soul of the newly awakened Volk is to feed? The answer is: Positive Christianity.
But what is Positive Christianity? It means at any rate the religion that has grown and become as one with the spirit of the German nation throughout the history of centuries. The utterances of the Führer have made this perfectly clear, and undoubtedly it is in accordance with the essence of National-Socialism. For everywhere this Movement forms connections with all the noblest powers it discovers and knows to be national in the German spirit. Thus it is perfectly natural that the new Movement should seek contact with the religion so intimately woven by countless living associations into the history of our Volk both in past history and the present day.
“Positive” means here as everywhere “the real thing”, but in the case of a spiritual power like religion, it means what is a historical reality. A special meaning however, within this general interpretation may be given to the word “positive”, and with it to the term “Positive Christianity”. The “real thing” may be understood as something opposed to what is artiﬁcial, supposed or pretended. Thus a difference has been made between the positive, historical religion and a rational, philosophical trend of thought. Taken in this sense, to profess “Positive Christianity” would be to reject all systems of free thought and free religion together with all would-be rationalistic interpretations of Christianity. Again “Positive Christianity” may be taken to mean what is universally known as “practical Christianity”, which is a Christianity not exhausting itself in expressing convictions of faith but one active in loving one’s neighbour. But the sense of the word “positive” must not be strained too much in interpreting “Positive Christianity”. A political Party Programme like that of the National-Socialists has most certainly not taken upon itself the task of pronouncing a limited and special type of Christianity to be its religion. Moreover, the Programme itself adds that it “does not bind itself in the matter of creed to any particular confession”. Hence generally speaking, it is obvious that nothing else except the historical and real Christian Religion is meant, which, as the living religion of the Volk cannot be conﬁned within a narrow scheme, but encloses within itself individual opinions and points of view in abundance.
2. Two Great Churches
In Germany however, while considering the situation of Christianity we are confronted with an important fact of which we have already made brief mention, but must necessarily spend a moment or so in its further consideration, because it would appear to place special difficulties in the way of National-Socialism. It is the duality of the great Churches. Some two thirds of the German nation belong to the Evangelical Church, and about one third to the Roman Catholic Church. But National-Socialism wishes to consolidate the nation in all its parts into one strong inner unity. How is this to be accomplished when in its inner life, that is in religion, the nation is divided into two great communities, one of which is the largest organization in the country next to the Reich itself, and the other forms an organization that is mainly represented in other countries?
The answer to this is as follows: National-Socialism has not the intention of forcing every German to become Evangelical, nor to insist on his conversion to Roman Catholicism; neither does it intend by the authority of the State to establish one Church representing a mixture of both creeds. All such measures would be in sharp opposition to the recognised basic principle of confessional liberty, were attempts to be made to violate the consciences of many millions of people. Besides all National-Socialists who are at all conscious of their responsibility know enough of history and human nature to see that any attempts of this kind would lead to stubborn opposition. Rather must the differences between the great Churches be left as noble rivalry in the spiritual arena.
How the destinies of the two great Churches will be further shaped in the coming decades and centuries is not for the State nor for the Party as such to determine. It must be left to the great Guide of History to develop the inner life of our Volk in this respect according to His will, and never must pressure of any kind whatsoever be practised by the State or by the Party; reckoning as they do with facts they must simply tolerate the co-existence of two great Churches in Germany. At the same time however, they must so exercise their influence that the duality of the Churches should not be prejudicial to the inner peace of the nation. Let there be liberty of religious discussion, but at the same time care must be taken to see that freedom is united with love and dignity, to the avoidance of malice, slander and suspicion, and that even the most important debates be carried on as between experts and in a brotherly spirit.
The difficulty presented by confessional duality cannot be avoided by simply declaring that both State and Party ought officially to disregard the fact of confessional diversity. A standpoint such as this would be absolutely opposed to the essence of National-Socialism. Indeed it would be exactly the point of view adopted by Liberalism already rejected by us as being anti-National-Socialistic, and which we must always continue to reject. No real German be he an Evangelical or a Roman Catholic Christian would ever think for a moment of giving up or of denying his Christian sentiments, and no one may demand of him anything approaching the nature of such a step. Least of all would National-Socialism tolerate such unreasonable requests so contrary to its nature, and desiring as it does the whole personality and not a character so pieced together that it can be divided at will. Further it desires an organically uniform culture, and not what would appear externally a collection of cultural domains each capable as it were, of being enclosed within walls and of locking itself behind barred doors.
The path of Nationa-Socialism leads in the opposite direction. In every domain of German life multiform characteristics of individuals, the diversity of groups and the plurality of spiritual trends of thought are duly appreciated, but everything is brought from out [of] the spheres of secrecy, treachery, malice and contradiction to the full light of day and brotherly understanding. And so in the German nation today and in all National-Socialistic associations, the difference between Evangelical and Roman Catholic Christians may not be hidden or suppressed, and no one may cast suspicion on, or refuse to recognise another because he professes a different creed, or prefers another form of religious practice or methods of Church organization. This very difference ought to make him all the more respected and appreciated as a German and a Christian brother.
Much might be said in this connection about the substance of the two great types of Christianity and their attitude towards National-Socialism, which owing to their diversity of character, is obviously not quite the same. But this is not the place for me to deal with the differences existing between Evangelical and Roman Catholic Christians, since the task I have set myself here, is the exposition of the basic principles of National-Socialism with respect to Christianity as expressed in its spirit and in its Party Programme. For the rest I am writing now as an Evangelical theologian heedless of confessional strife, and leave it to Roman Catholic theologians to do the same. I am however, convinced that the survey of the principles of Christianity which I as an Evangelical theologian have set forth in these pages will be approved by very many Roman Catholic Christians, dealing as it does with fundamental truths that in spite of differences are affirmed by countless Roman Catholic Christians.
3. The German Evangelical Church
The attention of Party and State is naturally directed in a high degree to the Evangelical Church comprising as it does more than 40 millions of German citizens in the Reich itself, and beyond the frontiers where it forms the soul of Germans living abroad in all parts of the world, it numbers at least another 10 millions. This Church deserves the name of Church of the German Volk more than any other religious community. Outwardly, it is one and the same with the great bulk of the People, and not only this, its inner life is most intimately bound up with the inner life of the German nation. This Church therefore, is one of the great living facts confronting every National-Socialist at all conscious of his responsibility and who considers in all seriousness the present and future position of his Volk.
In this great Evangelical Church there is a certain multiformity of opinions and trends of thought. Here are to be found Christians of a more conservative turn of mind and others who hold more progressive views; there are Pietists who devote themselves more than others to the practice of piety; others again there are whose devoutness is most closely linked with secular life, either as workers serving their fellows in the social sphere or else by connecting their faith chiefly with the questions of intellectual life, and again amongst these are to be found those who “rationalistically” trust to human understanding for their conception of God, and others who “dialectically” emphasize the separation of the Divine from the human, as the infinite from the finite. These diversities of opinion however, amongst those holding Evangelical views are of considerably less importance than the gulf between Protestant and Roman Catholic Christianity. Neither has their duration been that of centuries as in the case of the separation of the two great Churches, but they come and go with decades and generations. Incidentally, a multiformity of views is consistent with the essence of a truly great and living National Church. Another important point is that in Germany such differences of opinion have hardly ever been known to lead to final disintegration and to the formation of Free Churches, unless foreign influences have made themselves felt, as has already happened to a very small extent. The feeling of unity in the German Evangelical Churches has always been exceedingly strong, notwithstanding the change of views, so that a splitting up of the Churches as in England for instance, has never taken place here. This kind of German Evangelical Church will probably continue to be preserved in future. For just at the very moment when everywhere in Germany as elsewhere in the world, the urge for unity is apparent, and great efforts are being made towards the reunion of separated Churches, it would indeed be an unusual condition of things were a cleavage worthy of particular remark to occur within the Evangelical Church of Germany. The unrest which befell the Evangelical Church in 1933 having already been noticeable in the preceding year, cannot allow the Government and Party to adopt a policy of aloofness. Rather is it necessary for responsible political authorities to investigate with particular care the question of this unrest and its accompanying symptoms. Close co-operation with the Church Administration and with theological experts is imperative in order to make the position perfectly clear and restore peace. For the new unrest was not merely caused by an inner ecclesiastical theological dispute, but it was due in no small measure to the national resurgence. True, it was not result of a proper understanding of National-Socialism, but was caused by certain misconceptions and a vagueness which in conjunction with the political revolution arose in the spiritual life of the German people. One important cause, perhaps indeed the most important cause of the recent quarrels is to be found in the fact that certain writers and their followers, all supporters of free thought created the impression that National-Socialism is necessarily connected with a new pagan creed that was to replace the Christian religion. This immediately brought the Opposition Party within the Church to the fore. This party however, in the course of events did not only militate against the pagans but against the German Christians who affirmed both Christianity and National-Socialism. Opposition was then extended against the Reich Church Government, because it was thought that the German Christian and the Reich Church Government were making common cause with National-Socialism that was supposed to be “pagan” at heart. A second cause of the conﬂict was to be found in the Church Constitution. A most thorough reconstruction of the Constitution of the German Evangelical Church on the lines of the “Reichs-Reform” had been undertaken because it was believed and correctly too, that normally speaking each Church is organized in accordance with the existing social order of a people. The Opposition Party within the Church however, were unwilling to renounce the existing forms which after the Revolution of 1918 had been constructed as emergency constitutions, and were partly adaptations of old Church Administrations under former ruling princes of the German States, and were partly derived from the democratic system of the Weimar Reich Constitution. A third important cause was that certain political elements critical of National-Socialism attached themselves to the Church Opposition Party hoping thereby to prevent the inner consolidation of the German Volk by making use of the disturbances within the Church. In consideration of the close connection of the tension within the Church with the political reconstruction of the Volk, the Reichs Government is naturally unable to hold aloof from Church affairs.
Rather is it a more rational proceeding on the part of State and Party to eliminate all possibilities of conflict with the Evangelical Church. The appointment of a Ministry for Church Affairs in the summer of 1935 was a propitious beginning, and it is to be expected that the activities of this Ministry and the efforts of all concerned will be effective in finally restoring confidential relations which are an essential preliminary to the promotion of the nation’s inner unity.
III. WHAT WE STAND FOR
1. The Recognition of Christianity by the Party
Let us now consider more closely the relations between National-Socialism and the Christian Religion.
It is taken for granted in National-Socialistic Germany the internal peace of which has always been the Führer’s chief care, that the Christian religion professed by the overwhelming majority of the nation should be regarded with the utmost reverence. This would also be the case even if a ruler were a free-thinker or if the sentiments of his entourage were professedly anti-Christian. Again, it would be extremely unwise on the part of men holding high offices in State and Party if they permitted anything however trivial, that would promulgate the idea that they wished to interfere with the Christian Faith and the furtherance of Christian life.
A deep respect for and recognition of the Christian religion on the part of the State and the Party have important consequences for the position of the Church within the nation. The Church is to be unconditionally allowed all the privileges becoming to its dignity and which can be claimed by any statutory corporation. It is granted entire liberty to preach the Gospel with all the means at its disposal, and to preserve and promote Christian life. It is the duty of the guardians of public peace to protect Church Services and all Church institutions with the utmost rigour against defamation and ridicule, in fact to repulse every act of violence directed against the Church and its representatives.
2. The Christian Standpoint of the Party
We have however, in the course of these remarks only reached the threshold of what is to be said concerning the relations between Christianity and National-Socialism. For the Christian religion is not merely regarded with outward respect by the National-Socialists or considered from a distance as something great and sacred it may be, to other and narrower circles, but for themselves as something negligible or useless. Neither is the Christian religion looked upon as something that merely adorns life, or enhances the beauty of some earthly experience in moments of uplift, nor is it only some sphere of life visited perfunctorily when occasion demands, in order to do for the sake of appearances what to others is a sacred and solemn act. No, “the Party as such stands for positive Christianity” is the pronouncement of the Party Programme, and that means vastly more than mere respect and regard, more than mere toleration of what now exists once and for all, and which must be preserved as one of the old traditions of the People.
Generally speaking, we mean by “standpoint” the foundation supporting us, that which gives us a hold and security. We should hover in the air and plunge into the abyss if we were without a firm standpoint. Now if the Party as such takes Positive Christianity as its standpoint, it means that the National-Socialistic Movement finds its hold, its support in Christianity, and that without this solid foundation National-Socialism would hover in the air and plunge into the abyss.
Important too, and the best possible explanation in this connection, is the statement in the Programme that the German nation can achieve permanent health “from within”. That is to say: Positive Christianity is the innermost life, the spirit, the soul of the National-Socialistic German People, or in other words, National-Socialism itself has its roots deep in the Christian spirit; it is a Movement determined by Christianity.
This does not mean however, that National-Socialism itself is actually a religious Movement. National-Socialism as such is nothing else but the vigorous drawing together of a People menaced by danger and destruction into one great bond of inner unity. It is substantially more national in character being a reversal of the relations existing between men within the nation, hence an event that is realized in the domain of social culture. National-Socialism as such, is therefore not a religious reformation, but is nevertheless an upheaval in a Christian People, and so the tumult in the minds of men brought about by the awakening to a new conception of national life, penetrates the innermost spheres of life even into religion itself, and consequently a Christian awakening through the national uprising would appear a perfectly natural thing. And moreover, the rich fullness of the Divine Spirit would bestow new gifts and endow the national regeneration with the final qualities of strength and depth.
And so when in the Party Programme Positive Christianity is spoken of as being the essential standpoint of the Party as such, if permanent health is to be achieved from within, and when the Führer appeals to the Christian Churches to make their moral inﬂuence an effectual force in the nation, this is sure proof that doors are not closed to Christianity in Germany, but that instead they are opened wide to allow the stream of the Holy Spirit to flow into the lives of the People and transform barren soil into a fruitful garden of God. The GermanVolk is ready to be sanctified, its soul, weary and parched in the age of materialistic barreness and Marxian agitation, longs for the noblest of spiritual food, tarries and waits for those who have authority to preach the Gospel Message to give them this food, in the hope too, that all personal forces will be active in promoting the regeneration of the spirit of the People from within. This, and this alone, is the real meaning of the clause pronouncing Positive Christianity to be the standpoint of the Party.
But another more weighty question arises – for us the core of the whole matter: Wherein does the inner connection consist between the Christian religion and the National-Socialistic view of life or Weltanschauung? It is not sufficient for us to know that according to Point 24 of the Party Programme both belong together, nor is it enough to ﬁnd that the Christian religion forms the kernel of National-Socialistic views of life or Weltanschauung, rather must we investigate the nature of those forces which emanating from the spirit of Christianity permeate the whole life of the People. Inversely, it must be determined in how far the forces proceeding from free-thought are inadequate or detrimental to the life of the Volk. And above all, we must keep in view in how far Christian forces are conducive to success in the present heroic ﬁght of the German Volk for life and honour, and to what extent pagan forces are a hindrance. But this makes a new and thorough investigation necessary.
PART TWO: THE CHRISTIAN FOUNDATIONS OF NATIONAL-SOCIALISM
He who lives on the heights of human life reaches up to the superhuman and so possesses real religion. For religion is surrender to the supernatural. But he who lives in the plains of human life is remote from the superhuman, and consequently has no real religion, or, if he declares what is purely human to be the supreme Being, then his is a false religion, and he himself practises idolatry.
A true leader of the People, one occupying the highest position of all and at any moment prepared to pronounce momentous decisions undertaking thereby responsibility for millions of his followers, knows he is united with the superhuman, and bends his will to God. And a People that has experienced a change of fate, having awakened from weakness, sickness and feverish dreams to new health and strength, experiences in its resurgence not only the highest of human things, but it feels the power of the superhuman. And also each single insigniﬁcant human being carrying within him what is noble in man, rises in some great decisive crisis of his life above the merely human, and in touching thus the fringe of the superhuman becomes reverent and devout. But human worms crawling along the ground know nothing except what is human and less than human, and do not rise to what is truly divine, but are sufficient unto themselves and even confuse themselves with what is divine.
Because of this it is a matter of course that the Führer, Adolf Hitler occupying the high position he does, feels and has expressed in many a notable speech, that he is under the providence of Almighty God, and is responsible to the great Guide of the destinies of nations. Neither are we surprised when he sometimes closes an address with a prayer; once he even concluded a great speech on May 1st 1933 with the words: “We will not leave thee except thou bless us”. And again, it is a matter of course that National-Socialism is, on the whole, to those who gaze into its depths, the experience of some immense change of destiny bestowed by God. Here we have proof of the indissoluble connection between the development of the power of our national uprising and a deep, reverent submission to God.
National-Socialistic piety does not consist in man’s deification of himself, or in his creation of new, imaginary idols – in a really great epoch such aberrations make no appeal to men’s minds – rather does he look to the Lord of the world and to the God of all nations of the earth whom his forefathers have already served in the usages of congregational life as well as in the forms of religion and divine worship, all of which from time immemorial have been bound up in the inner life of the German People, that is to say in the forms of the Christian religion. Consequently here then is to be found the necessary inner connection between the Christian religion and the National-Socialistic attitude.
It is therefore agreed that generally speaking the National-Socialistic spirit is closely connected with the powers of the Christian life. But what is applicable in general is no less true of the individual aspects and motives of the Christian life. And now we shall try to visualize those living forces in detail. We shall therefore treat of God’s children and kinship with God, and dominion over the world; love for one’s neighbour; sin; redemption and the Redeemer. We shall realize how the different powers of the Christian spirit ﬁnd their fulfillment in the life of the German People, and in the heroic struggle of the moment in particular. At the same time however, we shall keep in view those attempts at religion offered to the German People today under the name of Neo-Paganism, and we shall ask ourselves if they possess any value as sources of health and strength for a nation ﬁghting for its very existence.
I. KINSHIP WITH GOD
1. Kinship with God and Dominion over the World
All Christians unite in the use of the Lord’s Prayer addressing God as children do their Father. The more genuine their Christianity is, the more do they feel that what they pray is the truth. All real Christians submit to the Lord of the world and to the God of all the nations of the earth, just as children are submissive to their father. They experience in their child-like surrender how the superhuman Spirit descends and receives them into His divine life so that they are filled with His Spirit.
The state of being God’s children comprises many special motives. In it the Christian life is child-like joy, sublime felicity; of the peace of God and a happy refuge for the human mind in the Divine Spirit. And this in its turn results in the child-like surrender of the human will in voluntary obedience to the Divine Will, a striving in the same direction as God is working out His purpose, the desire to perform what is divine, to be perfect as the Father is perfect. This gives rise to a child-like trust in God, to the conviction that the Father in the world surrounding us directs everything in accordance with His divine will, just as He directs the happenings of our own lives that even the sufferings and unpleasantness of which the world is full, are there for the purpose of serving the honour of God. This frame of mind however, is accompanied by a child-like humility, that is to say, life in unison with the Father is lived within the narrow compass of the world, and the restriction of the world with all its hazards and uncertainties, difficulties and obscurations is recognized as such, and is affirmed as the framework, as the husk, as the shape in which God realizes the salvation of His children. All these, felicity, obedience, trust, humility when organically forged together in one uniform experience, make up the substance of this kinship with God.
In this child-like surrender to the Lord of the world, man, from a height which he otherwise would never have reached, experiences an inner release. The great security of the human spirit enfolded in the superhuman, Divine Spirit allows the sons of men to participate in the exaltation of God beyond the narrowness of the world. In the midst of this world man has inwardly gained superiority over the world, nothing that is of this earth has power to enslave him, and he lives exalted above all things.
But in the Christian religion this does not mean ﬂeeing the world or denying it. Closeness to God is not experienced remote from the world and away from things connected with the world. From the height to which man has ascended as a child of God, he influences the bustle and hurry of the world. He regards all his worldly goods as divine gifts. He lives and works in this world to the honour of God, and to him service in the world is divine service. True, divine service in the narrowest sense of the word is, and remains the direct surrender of the soul to the divine reality of life. But divine service in the widest sense of the word is activity in all the spheres of this earthly life, service in human society, search for truth, cultivation of the beautiful and all physical work.
With the domination of the Christian personality over the world there is a further connection, namely this, that in a life consciously placed under the direction of the Divine Spirit every value and every activity is arranged in its proper order. When man submits unconditionally to the rule of the superhuman Spirit then the consequences for his whole life including all worldly connections are that the spirit controls the ﬂesh in everything. The values determining human life from the sacred through the good, the true and the beautiful down to the useful, appear to grade themselves naturally in that the inner life unconditionally takes the highest place, the sensual the lowest, and that everywhere the sensual is kept in control by the spirit and reduced to its right measure. This attitude preserves man forthwith from every kind of excess in the sensual life, indeed from every “revaluation of all values” whereby the Christian grading of values professed by National-Socialism is reversed. In this sense our Programme declares: “We combat the Jewish materialistic spirit within and without us”. Corresponding to this is the well-known principle: “To abolish the thralldom of interest” included in another part of the Programme. This demand fits perfectly into the grading of values which conforms to the Christian attitude of mind. Indeed we are reminded of the words of the New Testament: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon”, which, applied to the situation under discussion means: The domination of the goods of this world including money and borrowed capital ceases for those who are impelled by the Divine Spirit, and consequently look upon material life not as the highest but as the lowest sphere of life.
Free-thinkers and the advocates of free-religious movements however, who look upon the individual, or the community, mankind or the People as the Supreme Being, and in deifying these refuse to recognize surrender to a superhuman Spirit, possess no ultimate standard for the grading of values. Thus great divergency is noticeable in the philosophical systems and trends of thought from the 18th to the 20th century in their determining of what is the highest value. Humanitarians there are who would glorify the social life of mankind as such, intelligentsia who consider thought to be the culmination of human life, aesthetes who regard art as the sublime in life, and there are also very doubtful revaluations such as the practical materialism of the Marxians or the naturalism of Nietzsche, all being philosophies of life that may be either included in the “Jewish-materialistic spirit” rejected by our Programme, or else are dangerously near to it. For the more mankind and the physical phenomena of Nature surrounding us are regarded as divine, the more quickly does the spirit of naturalism and materialism gain ground, and the more rapidly does the importance of spiritual values vanish, and the sensual spreads like rank growth and the animal in man clamours for its rights. In other words: the deification of mankind quickly degenerates into a deification of subhuman nature as has been proved by numerous instances where Marxism holds sway, but it is also to be found in other trends of thought as well.
A word now remains to be said concerning Christian character in relation to the heroism demanded in Germany of every loyal German in these days of national resurgence.
The standpoint to be expressed is perfectly clear. The knowledge of having dominion over the world which is part of the Christian Faith, creates strong characters that cannot be shaken. It gives men a feeling of great stability in the vicissitudes of life, a steady purpose in all the activities of this world, an unconditional reliability and ﬁdelity in all the changes of time, an untiring diligence in everything that has to be accomplished.
When the nucleus of a nation is composed of men of this stamp, or when a spirit such as this dominates a people, a wonderful source of strength thus exists for them. For men of this kind guarantee invincible calm, endurance, equability and steadfastness of soul in the spirit of the nation. This spirit can moreover, preserve a nation from inner disintegration and dissolution, and can guide it from an era of destruction into an age of reconstruction, of unity and solidarity. Consequently the permanent recovery of our German Volk also comes “from within”, that is to say from the sources of holy life dwelling in the depths of the soul by virtue of kinship with God. And precisely in the heroic fight to be won before our Volk can hope to recover from its collapse, there can be no better source of strength than the life-giving streams that flow from the depths of the Godhead into the soul of the nation open to receive them. For the consciousness of having dominion over the world gives God’s children strength to overcome all difficulties, to become indomitable fighters, to ward off every danger in a cheerful spirit, to break down all obstacles boldly and courageously, and form a brave knighthood scorning death and the devil.
There are however, free-thinkers and supporters of free religions including the representatives of a new religion that claims to conform to German type, who now come forward and preach a philosophy at variance with what has just been said about the relations between Christian sentiments and human development of strength. In such circles whether they represent liberal or social views, or uphold national or international sentiments, the conviction is widespread that to men, man is the supreme being, and besides him only Nature exists. And it is irrational to believe in the superhuman, living God just as it is irrational in daily life to put one’s trust in the supreme power of a divine being. A religion such as Christians profess with its teaching on humility makes man delight in slavery of mind, makes him cowardly and obsequious, and prevents the manly development of his powers. As a contrast to this they call upon man to develop by himself and boldly defy all such powers from above that seek to subdue him, and in accordance with one’s private sentiments this standpoint is proclaimed as a form of godlessness, or as a new substitute for religion, according as there is a lack of religious feeling or an enthusiastic reverence for man and Nature.
As we have already shown man can develop his human powers more easily when they are rooted in the superhuman and he is thus accustomed to deal with things of this life from above as it were, and not from below. And when in Christian Faith humility ﬁnds a place which is the afﬁrmation of the limits of human nature, this does not mean it is a contrast to heroism. Rather does it belong to the substance of the really true, heroic spirit. For the real hero who has to assert himself in danger and distress with all the high values he defends, knows better than anyone else the limitations of his powers. The profound thoughts contained in the stories of Achilles’ heel and Siegfried’s vulnerable spot express this unequivocally. And the qualities of the real hero must include modesty one of the most important of all the virtues. Judged by moral standards the man who praises his own heroic deeds is not highly respected. Rather is it a proof of noblest heroism when he refrains from mentioning his victorious deeds, or at the most speaks of them in all modesty as but the fulﬁllment of his duty. Well may the real hero bend his will to God who is the source of his strength and sets the limits to his actions. In this way it is impossible to look upon humility as an obstacle to heroic sentiments.
2. God and Volk
We must now investigate the question as to how the Christian’s belief in God harmonizes with belief in the German Volk, one of the basic principles of the National resurgence. There are certain people, those to whom the Führer alludes as “men in bear-skins”, who would appear desirous of establishing a new Germanic “Folk-religion”. Our standpoint with regard to this matter is as follows:
Since in religion man rises to the superhuman, which means he advances beyond human limitations and communes with the Power recognized by him to be the Ruler of the world, so is the horizon of the world which man conceives in experiencing God of great vastness at every stage of religion. It is always identical with the end of the world known to him. Is his clan his world, then the spirits of his clan are to him supreme beings. Are the bounds of the world to him the boundaries of his Volk then the deities or the one deity of his Volk are to him absolutely the supreme godhead. Should his vision extend beyond the boundaries of his own nation to the nations surrounding his, even to the nations of the earth, then the many deities of the other nations form together the conception of the divine, or the one godhead ruling over all is worshipped as the supreme being. Should religion however, notwithstanding the widened horizon confine itself to a limited sphere on earth, it is but a survival of past ages, or, if such limits are artiﬁcially constructed it is a reversion to an ancient stage in the history of mankind, having nothing to do with a higher culture or even with higher religion. Religions of this kind found on paper, may well serve to elevate the mind in small literary circles, but in the spiritual life of a great nation they are but curious phenomena, and one cannot expect them to become a source of strength for a whole Nation, least of all for one that would work its way up from the depths of bitter need to a new life. We National-Socialists assuredly think with reverence of the religion of our forefathers. We reject however, all attempts to resuscitate the dim shapes of pre-historic days, or to create a new “folk-religion” by adopting a modern deiﬁcation of man and Nature, and limiting it to our own Volk and land. For we take our stand with our Führer upon the basis of Positive Christianity.
Christianity is a world-religion. It comprises and unites many peoples. It is predominant among the Indo-Germanic peoples of the earth who by reason of their culture and their politics rule the greater part of the world. The God Whom Christians worship is the God of the whole world and the God of all nations. But amongst the various nations in the world the Christian religion which in the Gospel is represented as one only, has to a certain extent mingled with the characters of nations, and consequently without any artificial means but solely through the growth of history, has absorbed in many inward and outward things the spirit of the people that adopted it – Greek, Roman, German and English – and confronts us now, a unity in multiformity and a multiformity in unity*. And so the German spirit has become fused with the spirit of the Christian religion at various stages, such as in the German mysticism of mediaeval days, then again in Luther and the Reformation as well as in religious and secular movements of more modern times – all this in its rich fulness of historical happenings but which we may not follow up here in detail since we are not discussing past history but are dealing with the living present. One fact however, stands out clearly: we as Germans of German type are at the same time Christians, and as Christians are at the same time Germans of German type. Hence to us Christianity means no eradication of folk-characteristics but rather an experiencing of the supreme Divine Power behind the outward wrappings that go to make up our racial characteristics.
* For details respecting the various kinds of Confessions vid. my other publications: Ecumenical Handbook of the Churches of Christ (English translation Berlin, Evang. Pressverband für Deutschland, 1927); Corpus Confessionum (Berlin, Walter de Gruyter & Co., 1928 ff.); Types of Religion (Article in the Dictionary: Religion in History and the Present Day, Vol. IV (Religion II) Tübingen, J. C. B. Mohr, 1930).
Accordingly therefore, our Volk too, has a place in our Christian Faith. To us God is no dim conception indifferent to things of the world and its multiplicity, but the Father reveals Himself to His children through the Holy Ghost who dwells in them in bountiful fullness of life. We belong to Him and see the world in Him and Him in the world. We believe that Nature and the nations of the world are His creation and under His fatherly care. This is the essence of our trust in God, and consequently a most important factor in the lives of the children of God. In the Divine ordering of the world however, everything in Nature, the smallest as well as the largest, all living things, every individual, every nation has its place and its meaning in all the characteristics peculiar to its being and vitality, which precludes any obliteration or denial of distinguishing features. But within this world our German Volk is a part of the Aryan race; German blood courses through our veins, and we live on German soil. We love this Volk with all the surrender we are capable of, and we love precisely this people of ours today, raised as it has been from out the depths of direst need by an overwhelming act of Divine Providence. And in this great happening we look upon the fact that the Führer, Adolf Hitler has been given to us as a very special mark of God’s mercy towards us. We shall never be weary of thanking God for this special ordering of our history in the great happenings of the world. But as National-Socialists who take their stand upon the basis of Positive Christianity we do not intend for a moment to deify the Führer, the Volk, the Race, Blood or Soil. When the expression “eternal” Germany is occasionally used, no idolatry is implied. For “eternal” in the language of the Volk, particularly in expressing enthusiasm, simply means “an indeﬁnite time”. Thus no one practises idolatry in calling something “eternal”. Or is it idolatry when two lovers make vows of eternal ﬁdelity, or if two countries on the signing of a treaty shall henceforth remain “undivided for ever”, or if the mathematician reckons with the number “infinite”? Neither is it idolatry to speak of “sacred” Germany. For to Christians living in the Holy Spirit of kinship with God it is assuredly an indisputable truth that everything that is under the protection of God and blessed by Him is accordingly sacred. In the New Testament the body is spoken of as the temple of the Holy Ghost and is therefore sacred. Luther also declared that secular work performed by believers to the glory of God even if only the most ordinary and simplest of household duties, is sacred work. As a Christian people, we Germans have also learned in child-like trust to place everything under God’s Providence. We are even told in Luther’s Catechism to take clothes and shoes, food and drink, house and homestead, wife and child, fields, cattle and all our goods straight from the Father’s hand as gifts. For this reason we take it for granted that ourVolk and country are guided and governed by Divine Providence. And when today, our country has been visibly blessed by God, it is quite natural for Christian Germans to speak of “sacred Germany” without entertaining idolatrous thoughts of any kind whatsoever. There are it is true, as remarked before, a few isolated groups of anti-Christian free-thinkers and supporters of free religions who may use similar expressions in an idolatrous sense. They must not however, be included amongst those who understand the full meaning of National-Socialism, but are to be classed with those upon whom we have frequently passed judgment as being advocates of free-thought and free-religion.
As we now in all reverence consider our Volk to be under God’s protection, but only as one nation amongst many, and under the protection of God who rules all nations and the whole world, the question in concluding arises as to whether this Faith does not weaken our strength for our earthly tasks, and the development of our Volk in particular. The answer is that the strength of a nation is strengthened most of all when its soul constantly ascends to the exalted heights of the Godhead, far beyond itself, above all nations and all things to where God is, and on its returning from this ﬂight it descends to the world, to the nations and to itself imbued with new strength and with new love. Assuredly it is ﬁtting for a nation to remember itself, its dignity and honour. But this national attitude draws its final support and inner strength again and again from the depths of the truly Divine. A super-national religion therefore cannot be considered as weakening but must rather be regarded as the source of a nation’s strength. A significant historical instance of this may be given here. Simultaneously with England’s development into the greatest Empire of the world a great religious revival developed about the middle of the 18th century when tremendous national strength was displayed. This movement started by the Methodists was not actuated by national motives but was purely super-national having only one aim in view that of spreading “holiness over the land”, or in other words to instill godly strength into men’s minds. This powerful religious movement was no obstacle to England’s national development of strength, on the contrary, it has been said that with a piety making men calm and strong, Methodism preserved the English people from the disorders of a Revolution similar to that connected with the Free-thought Movement in France. Thus the German Volk in so far as it is Christian, will not weaken the strength of the Third Reich, but the more Christian it is, the more will it in its earnest piety form the noblest and most vigorous kernel of the nation, when in years to come Germany will have to maintain her position, not like England it is true, by developing into a World-Reich, but in strengthening the place she has won in the council of the nations.
ll. LOVE FOR ONE’S NEIGHBOUR
1. Love, Justice, Honour
Out of kinship with God arises love for one’s neighbour. The children of the Father are united in brotherly love in one great, holy family. The one Holy Spirit streaming from the superhuman life of the Godhead into their hearts, creates a common spirit of unity and makes them one, so that finally the many are as of one heart and one soul. Thus love for one’s neighbour is an indispensable feature of the real Christian mind. In dominion over the world which, as was said before, is the immediate effect of kinship with God, love for one’s neighbour comes first as the greatest of all virtues. In it the working of the Divine Spirit is made manifest in secular life.
On asking ourselves the question: What is love for one’s neighbour, we shall find that in substance it is the community-spirit, the devotion of the one to the other and to society. In this way are united sympathy, friendliness, warm-heartedness and deep joy in sharing life in common. In this connection too, we find a feeling of spontaneous goodwill – the urge of inner conviction without any outward pressure of the ego – towards the common spirit and fellow-creatures for the promotion of the welfare of the community and all within it. And to this must be added the trust one has in the other, and which the individual has in the community, and the community in the individual. This creates the firm conviction of being able to hold fast together at all costs even if the one knows but little about the others. And then there is fidelity which through all the changes of time binds the one closely to the other. This universal conception of love for one’s neighbour assumes at the same time the character of service in the Christian community, as we are told in the New Testament: he will be the chief who is servant to all. Hence all these forged together – sympathy, good-will, trust, service – form the substance of love for one’s neighbour. This however, does not exhaust itself in merely adopting a friendly frame of mind, it expresses itself in kind words, and above all in helpful acts. But neither is help only extended to the inner life, it comprises everything that is human, most particularly however, is it directed to the physical needs of those bound by the ties of brotherhood. Ever since Early Christian days, it has been customary amongst Christians to regard it as a sacred duty, indeed as a service to God, to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick, to go to the prisoners, to shelter the stranger.
As the queen of all virtues which go to form the life of a community, love for one’s neighbour holds a higher place than the two other basic principles which together with it make the foundations of human society, namely, honour and justice. Honour, wherein is expressed the importance of the individual in his individuality for society, and justice, wherein is emphasized the equality of all individuals in the community-spirit, are assumed beforehand and recognized to be elementary principles in Christian community-life. But both are surpassed by the love that encircles the individually different, as well as the universally similar, and which gives the individual his honour and all the others justice, but which at the same time is higher than honour and justice. For to take honour for himself isolates the individual and makes him harsh towards the community-spirit. Justice taken by itself despises the individual and absorbs him in the common spirit. But love sets the individual within his proper limits by taking his place and serving the community with his own special powers, and gives the principle of justice too, a subordinate position by not merely acting on the principle of requital – “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”, and in repaying good with good and evil with evil, but it bestows the good from its divine heights without expecting anything in return, forgiving even the evil it has suffered in order that injustice may not disturb or even destroy brotherly unity.
National-Socialism, a movement in substance and name with its centre of gravity in society, finds itself precisely at this point in close contact with the Christian religion. Not only may we speak of an inner connection, there is more than that, for in this sphere National-Socialism actually coincides with Christianity. It is itself practical Christianity, a national realization of love for one’s neighbour: “The common interest before self interest”, as it is called in Point 24 of the Party Programme; and in the speeches of the Führer and his coadjutors as well as in the innumerable pronouncements of the Party, not only do these words echo forth, but there is a call for devotion to the national community, for comradeship, for sacrifice, for trust and fidelity and above all for service. Expressions such as these are not vain words, they are backed by deeds and by deeds of a greatness never before experienced in such a manner in the history of nations, or indeed in the history of brotherly love. The National-Socialistic Movement has succeeded in restoring to order and discipline a People standing on the brink of universal deterioration and divided into hostile classes by a wild and lawless propaganda of hate. It has transformed moreover, deep-seated distrust into unconditional trust, infidelity into fidelity, discord into concord, strife into peace, and after an era in which each wished to be master and assert his own rights. And more, National-Socialism has once again made service, obedience and submission honourable things. In effecting this legal measures have been extensively employed and appeal made to the honour of the whole Volk without however, detracting in any way from the devoted surrender of the individual to the whole as a ruling power.
Thus Christianity and National-Socialism are one and the same in love for one’s neighbour in that they are insolubly united for all time and can never be parted. The Christian Message, as the Führer has expressly stated, has the special task of making the Churches use their moral powers to inﬂuence theVolk, which means that from the Gospel Message there springs the delicate and spiritual growth of brotherly love, namely, the life of kinship with God, and spreads all its spiritual riches over the life of the Volk. National-Socialism again, as a folk-movement has the task of making this inner growth a vigorous influence in the life of the nation. Of a character different to that of Christian love which is realized in National-Socialism are various theories and practices that have come down to us from the Ages of Reason, Romanticism and Technics, also such that emphasize their wish to be “Germanic” and offer their theories to the German Volk as something of particular value. There are, it is true, among modern theoreticians and practicians of social life, particularly some years ago, those who recommend Christian love for one’s neighbour as the greatest of all virtues for curing the ills of society. But since the liberalism of the Age of Reason repeated objections have been raised against the love for one’s neighbour. “Free” modern man thinks that the service and devotion which Christian love entails – similar to humility in piety – is something degrading, undignified, insulting, something injurious to man’s pride and reducing him to the status of a slave. And to strengthen the argument reference is preferably made to the well-known words of the Sermon on the Mount, according to which he who is smitten on the one cheek ought to turn the other also. Marxism is enthusiastic in denouncing Christian love as “slavish happiness” and preaches hatred of the capitalistic class because it robs the proletarian of his honour and freedom. Similarly too, some of those proclaiming national honour and liberty may occasionally be heard opposing the misunderstood love for one’s neighbour. But such a comparison does not conform to our Christian and at the same time National-Socialistic point of view. Most assuredly are liberty and honour high values in our eyes, and it is our firm conviction that a People in days of degradation and oppression must never tire of fighting for its honour and liberty, just as it is a duty to challenge any interference with honour and freedom in the life of every free and honourable person. But we know on the other hand, that service and devotion to the community do not exclude liberty and honour, but include them, and we know too, the meaning of the words, whosoever smiteth thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. According to the context of the Sermon on the Mount, it simply means that the love which gives and forgives, not the justice which repays, is the mainstay of moral life. For this love as the Sermon on the Mount shows is no “slavish happiness” but is a victorious virtue dominating the world. For it belongs to the perfection which makes the children of God like their Father, the Lord of the world Who maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. That through forgiving love the children of God do not degrade themselves but are raised instead to God on high, is seen in the prayer uttered by all Christians: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us.”
2. Help in Word and Deed
Thus is love for one’s neighbour in its full extent common to both Christianity and National-Socialism. This also applies to the method by which brotherly love is realized in order to promote peace inwardly amongst men, and externally to further their welfare by alleviating distress. After the first impression, it is true, there would appear to be a wide gulf between Christians and National-Socialists in the method of loving one’s neighbour. Generally speaking we are wont to ﬁnd Christian love working very quietly with tenderness and the use of spiritual means. National-Socialism on the other hand, has been most vigorous in order to reconstruct the unity of the nation. Where necessary it used its fists against Communism in the streets. After the Party came into power strict laws forbade the continuance of all political parties that had formerly caused disruption and hatred in the People. This however, is only an apparent contrast to the usual Christian method. Even Christian love must where necessary employs vigorous methods when it comes into contact with dissolute elements and criminals, and must needs make use of severe discipline as soon as gentler methods fail. National-Socialism found itself in the same position when attempting to help the German People. It was confronted with the most appalling degradation and dissolution, and had perforce to resort to very strong measures in order to snatch the whole of the great nation from the very brink of an abyss, and set about constructing its internal peace. But at the same time National-Socialism applied more gentle and more spiritual methods to win compatriots for the new community of the Volk. In stimulating speeches and writings, indeed it might be said by political preaching on a large scale, the Führer was able in the early days of his campaign to win German hearts for the future comradeship, and his inﬂuence was of that deep and spiritual nature only possible in a Christian sermon on brotherly love. Then too, on the assumption of power, when it meant shouldering responsibility for the whole nation, the same noble means were employed to alleviate the distress that prevailed everywhere. With a care only to be found in Christian philanthropy, ways and means have been found to relieve the want and suffering of all the poor and needy. A gigantic programme of methods for creating employment was drawn up, and already millions have been rescued from the misery of unemployment. And even more has been accomplished, particularly in winter when provision is made for all those suffering from hunger and from cold, and in a manner conforming absolutely to Christian methods. National-Socialism has continued the work begun before its assumption of power, by the Christian Churches in conjunction with secular societies. but with far greater success than could possibly have been achieved by anyone in the years of internal discord in the nation. The method employed in this work of relief is, as the Führer has expressly put it, that of voluntary giving. This corresponds to the ancient and well-tried custom of appealing for contributions and of receiving ready offerings.
Totally opposed to this Christian and National-Socialistic method of proffering relief is Marxism both in theory and practice. It directs men to start with their own interests and claim privileges from the community. It indignantly rejects all giving and receiving as something derogatory both to the giver and recipient. The Marxian idea of people’s welfare corresponds more or less to the institutions of today – taxation and State insurance. These institutions which we too, make use of, are doubtless most important factors placing as they do people’s welfare on an assured material basis. Since however, their functions are merely mechanical and purely financial, both Christianity and National-Socialism do not consider them the sole means or noblest form of eradicating social evils, but give them a secondary place. The voluntary surrender of the personality to the whole and the unselﬁsh sharing of one’s own possessions with the needy are for us today as in the past the noblest form of showing love for one’s neighbour.
3. Family, Nation, Mankind
The question now remains to be answered respecting the attitude of Christianity and National-Socialism towards the various social circles which have arisen in the human race, and are due partly to its nature and partly to its historical development. Such communities formed by man are to be found in plenty and either include or intersect each other. Three of these are of fundamental importance, namely, the family, the nation and mankind.
At this point there would appear to be an important difference between the attitude of Christianity and that of National-Socialism, so that the question might well be asked whether a certain amount of opposition might not even exist between them, or, at any rate if it is at all possible at this important point to speak of Christianity as the basis of National-Socialism. The difference which appears to be here might be expressed somewhat as follows: The Christian standpoint is international, that of National-Socialism national. This manner of contrasting the two however, is based on a serious confusion of ideas. Assuredly there is an internationalism and a nationalism sharply opposed to each other. Philosophy has long put forward the indistinct conception of mind in which not only all the differences between human individuals disappear but also the differences between communities. This idea about mind which has developed new power since the Age of Reason, and has formed since the Age of Technics a substantial foundation through world-intercourse, dominates Marxism and is the aim of Bolshevism whose wish is the dissolution of the family and the nations through a world-revolution in which mankind in general shall flourish. On the other hand, there is a view of Nationalism narrow in its outlook, not so prevalent in Germany as in other lands. Men holding this point of view consider their own nation to be the best amongst the nations of the earth, and with smiling superiority look down on all others. It even happens that a nation regards itself as the chosen people called upon to rule the others, or to be the most important in this world. A sharp distinction therefore, must be made between these two very limited points of view and Christianity and National-Socialism. The situation is rather this: From what we have already discussed it is obvious that neither the Christian religion nor National-Socialism exists on mere conceptions or is governed by one-sided theories. Rather do both rely upon the living fullness of reality. For this reason both respect the graded circles in the life of the human community with all their multiformity. And moreover, brotherly love does in no way abolish any one of these social circles, but expands rather within all the spheres of human community-life, and indeed a special power of love makes itself so strongly felt therein, that it not only brings into harmony the wishes of individuals, but also the opposing claims of the various social circles.
This may be observed most clearly in the Christian and National-Socialistic views on and treatment of the family. If the Christian point of view were strictly international, it would perforce deny and forbid the family as being a barrier to universal human contacts. National-Socialism too, would have to attempt to abolish family life were it to afﬁrm the standpoint of a limited view of Nationalism. For it would in that case look upon family life as a hindrance to national unity. Neither is correct. In reality, the sanctity of marriage and family life has always been preached in Christian religion, and it is precisely the Christian Message that has in this very point had an extraordinarily powerful inﬂuence on the moral education of the nations. National-Socialism follows the same path in its message. And since the assumption of power, new work has been done in this direction which must certainly be called practical Christianity. In the preceding years there had been a serious increase in the country of shattered marriages and ruined family lives. National-Socialism however, now makes vigorous and successful efforts to enable marriages to take place notwithstanding the outward poverty that still exists, and strives to build up large families as living cells of the organism of the Volk.
And just as the family would never be abolished for the sake of other social circles, so would Christianity never deny the Volk for the sake of mankind, nor would National-Socialism deny mankind for the sake of the Volk. In the days of the Early Christians as has been proved by the New Testament, the national circumstances of the age were not overlooked or even rejected, but were recognized as permanent, and Christians were exhorted to submit to civil authority. To this very day the principle is to be found in the Christian Confessions of Faith that for Christians in civil life the laws of State are authoritative. And the practice of Christian brotherly love that on principle is bound to no particular social circle, has naturally not been chiefly international in its activities, but has concerned itself more especially with those living beside us, that is to say with the members of the family and our fellow- countrymen.
National-Socialism for its part does not think for one moment of denying the existence of mankind in general for the sake of its own nation, or to accord to other nations a lesser right to exist than it itself possesses. True, a conception of mankind is rejected in which national differences are no longer deﬁnable, and most of all are rejected the international machinations of those elements without home or country who make it their business to disintegrate nations in order to prepare the way for the world-revolution. In the same way every kind of world-policy is rejected that does not do justice to the characteristics and the sound life-interests of individual nations. But a peaceful building up of international relations is being striven after so as to promote peace, and allow great nations to exchange their best goods both spiritual and material, without any traces of jealousy. This would be in perfect and complete harmony with the idea of Christian love, indeed the world-peace which the Christian Churches are striving after will perhaps be furthered more by the world-policy of our Führer, Adolf Hitler than has hitherto been done by the numerous international conferences held in the name of mankind.
That life in all its fullness and depth which Christians as God’s children carry within them and continually strive to make more perfect and complete, exists in them through Christ, the Son of God. Real Christians have become such through the real Christ. Without Him, they simply would not exist. Hence the reality of Christ is the indispensable pro-supposition for the Christian life, and everything we have hitherto dealt with was, without making mention of His name, a description of the reality of Christ. We must now treat of this point in more detail. It is however, neither possible nor permissible to do so here, in the exhaustive manner of a detailed doctrinal system, and we must perforce conﬁne ourselves to the few important points concerned with our special enquiry into the relationship between Christianity and National-Socialism. In the following exposition therefore, I must leave some important points untouched which personally, are close to my heart. The main consideration at the moment is to give a simple and clear outline intelligible to all, including those who are not yet capable of grasping the subtle distinctions in Christian life and thought.
The fact that the reality of life in the relationship of God as a Father to His children rests on the reality of Christ, is explained as follows in the Christian Faith: Man as a creature born into the world is not already a child of God in the full sense of the word, he can only become one by undergoing re-creation or re-generation, while in his natural state he is full of faults and failings, or, as we say, he is sinful. Re-generation or re-creation however, takes place through God’s operative power particularly in His educating mankind in history, and the individual in the course of his life. In the midst of this divine operative power, however, stands Jesus Christ, the Redeemer. Thus the closer consideration of redemption through Christ may best be divided into a threefold enquiry. We must think of in turn, the fact of sin, regeneration, and ﬁnally of Jesus Christ Himself, and in each case ask ourselves the question: what does this mean to National-Socialism?
l. Sin and the National Corruption
When seriously-minded people hold fast to a high standard of life, every deviation from the path leading towards the goal they are striving to reach, creates in them a feeling of acute tension. The more such people gaze with clear vision at the reality surrounding them and at the true state of their interior lives, the more plainly do they see how far they fall short of perfection, and so they feel their own shortcomings all the more keenly as being the opposite to all they ought and desire to be.
Thus do all earnest Christians whose relationship to God is that of children to a Father, and who have gained a victory over the world, feel that something is lacking in their lives in as much as they are not perfect children of God and have not yet overcome the world. And the more serious they are, and the more calmly they consider their real estate, the more convinced are they of their sinfulness which means living at enmity with God and in subjection to the world. They may perhaps, have something in their hearts that is of the peace of God, of voluntary obedience to God, and of humility, in short, of thoughts inherent in all those, who, in very truth are God’s children. But at the same time they experience again and again unrest and conflict in their own hearts, are resentful and disobedient to the Divine Will, discouraged too, and desperate even, and arrogantly claim the right to be masters of their own lives. But when the children of God have gained a victory over the world evidenced by their vigorously emphasizing and appreciating all that is sacred and good, as well as all the other inestimable values in this life, they will, on the other hand, always feel the most keen distress, and regard as sinful all attempts to give preference to what is sacrilegious, evil and mean. And if of the temporal virtues the generous and forgiving love for one’s neighbour prevails, and ungrudging loving-kindness as evidenced in conﬁdence and service, takes a foremost place, then hatred in all its various forms and effects, discord and envy, distrust and arrogance will be looked upon as sin. All this is clearly realized by Christian minds as the bare truth, no attempts being made to hide or excuse anything either in regard to one’s self or to anyone else. It may therefore be universally said: the higher a man’s aspirations are, the more seriously does he regard sin, and the greater and more momentous does its magnitude appear in his eyes. Conversely the less noble his point of view, the more lightly does he look upon sin, and is all the more readily prepared to minimize its importance, or even perhaps to deny it altogether.
The extreme seriousness with which the question of sin is met, has always been a special characteristic of the Christian mind, more particularly in Christian Germany. Never has one of the great Churches taught that everything man does is sin. Such a view is only entertained by a few pessimistic philosophers and theologians. Rather do the Churches emphasize that in spite of sin the creative goodness of nature has not disappeared. But the consciousness of existing sin plays an important part in the depths of the interior life, and in the popular sermon. Indeed many congregations feel a sense of well-being in hearing the preacher continually rouse men’s consciousness by references to sin, shaking them out of the lethargy of their souls.
The very opposite is the view of the free-thinkers and adherents of free religions both national and international. Ever since the Age of Liberalism there has prevailed amongst philosophers and the intellectual movements following in their train, the universal conviction that good predominates in human nature, and that man must certainly be able to attain perfection by himself, were he not prevented from doing so either by others or by unfavourable conditions in his environment. Severe criticism is therefore meted out to those clergy who preach on sin and repentance in the Churches, and a demand is made rather to help men by continually emphasizing the good that is in them, and for the rest to create more favourable surroundings. Many theories and practical experiments based on this shallow optimism have marked the work of the last few centuries. The biggest attempt of all is Marxism the results of which system may be studied in Russia today, where the would-be “good” nature of Youth freed from all family ties, riots at will in every conceivable kind of excess and crime. Germany too, was not spared similar experiments if only to a small extent, particularly for instance, after November 1918 when the Marxists opened the prisons, broke the canes in the schools, turned the reformatories into holiday-homes and reaped thereby an increase in dissolution and crime.
Where now does National-Socialism stand? The answer is perfectly obvious. It is not on the side of free-thinkers and their school, but it supports Christianity. Even in the early days of the National-Socialistic struggle for existence, it called with unerring truth, the good good, evil evil, the noble noble and what is mean, mean.
And now that the reins of power have passed into the hands of the National-Socialistic Movement, this moral attitude has been emphasized and upheld afresh in the words and deeds of the Party, as well as in the decrees and acts of the State. Once again Youth has been brought under control, a vigorous war is being waged against evil, crime receives its just punishment, and sentences are once more executed in the manner justifying their purpose.
Since the Party afﬁrms this moral attitude, it is but reasonable that the National-Socialistic State welcomes the Church as its ally, just because the latter severely condemns sin and keeps the conscience of the nation alive to its danger. The Church has a very special mission in regard to the moral training of the nation, namely, to stir up the hearts of men to their inmost depths, and to bring to light with absolute directness the most subtle and most secret faults, and by this means carefully instruct men as to what is good and what is evil.
Thus does the Church perform its stupendous task of safe-guarding the souls of men by forestalling evil. Many a man has been deterred from committing crime and from suffering punishment at the hands of the State.
Conversely it is but right, for the National-Socialistic Movement and the State it afﬁrms to turn against all religions that menace this strictly moral attitude. Point 24 of our Party Programme is invincible on this point. It refuses liberty of religious practice to all religious denominations which militate against the morality of the Germanic race. These include not only such religions wherein gross crimes and blasphemy occur, ritual murder and religious unchastity, but also the expressly rejected spirit of Jewish materialism, and all the closely allied “reversals of values” that call good, evil and evil good, and are especially dangerous when they recommend themselves to the Third Reich as new religions desirous of serving the German Volk.
Particular emphasis must again be laid on the fact that the conception of the seriousness of sin common to National-Socialism and the Christian religion alike and forming a tie between them, is by no means contradictory to the heroic character which we assume or at least hope every German to have in the struggle for liberty today. A philosophy little suited to the heroic spirit is the shallow optimism found in free-thinkers. This has not grown out of the heroic battle of life, but has had its being in the quiet rooms of learned men, and is suited to contented, comfortable citizens who perform their daily round of duties, and move along in the old rut without any great exertion on their part. The heroic man, on the other hand, who has to dare something and ﬁght hard risking his very life for great things plunging boldly again and again into dangerous uncertainties, knows full well what is meant by imperfection, error and wickedness. It is no mere pet theme of poets when they make their tragic heroes sinful; life itself has taught them that it must be so. For it is just when on the heights in heroic life that backslidings occur, but again the consciousness of imperfection in this case forms a foundation on which heroism may be built. The deeds of almost superhuman heroism performed by the sons of our Volkas soldiers on the battlefield may be largely accounted for by the fact that at the beginning of their military training these same soldiers were told day after day in the most emphatic manner possible how inferior, inadequate and faulty their efforts were. Here again, at this most important point the Christian spirit and National-Socialism are united against pagan free-thought. This also applies in no less degree to the views on the growth of the new man.
2. Regeneration and the National Uprising
According to Christian conviction the higher life takes possession of man through the tremendous educative power of the Divine Spirit operating within us, and which must be considered as a new creation that reaches its culminating point in what is known as regeneration, because it forms the beginning of our relationship to God as Father, just as physical birth has made us human children. This regeneration has been experienced by countless Christians and by whole Christian nations. It has taken place as one great event or as a gradual growth in the lives of individuals, and has also swept over nations, either in one great awakening, or has come to them and remained as perpetual inspiration. The meaning is always the same – the old man dies and the new man comes to life, or as Luther has put it in his well-known catechism: “that the old Adam is to be drowned with all his sins and evil lusts, and that the new man should come forth who shall live in the presence of God in righteousness and purity for ever”, that is to say, he is snatched from a life in which hostility to God and subservience to the world predominate, to a life in which we stand as children of God and victors over the world.
In this upward growth of the new life however, ﬁlled as it is with a bountiful plenitude of single experiences, two things stand out in sharp prominence; the experience of the Divine forgiveness of sins and the attainment of strength to overcome sin. The repentant sinner is received into the House of God the Father just as he is, burdened with all his sins without having to climb step by step, the weary path of gradual release from sin. This is forgiveness of sins. But here where his soul breathes the Divine essence he feels the impulse to begin a new life in the strength of God. This leads to a steadily increasing progressiveness in overcoming sin. Everywhere in the great Christian Churches, and in the smallest of Christian communities where the Gospel Message is rightly understood, those two things are taught and experienced. It shows a misunderstanding of the Christian religion when the assertion is made that Christian salvation ends with the knowledge that sins are forgiven whereby man still remains on the same level of proneness to miserable sin. There may be it is true, many a superﬁcial Christian whose interior life is dull and who is content with a casual cognizance of the Divine forgiveness of sin. Christians of this type are still half outside, but not within the Father’s House. And still less does Christian salvation end with man’s believing himself able to fight against sin, and having no need for the forgiveness of sin. There are assuredly seriously minded Christians honestly struggling to live a sinless life. But these lack insight into their human weakness. Both are essential, life in the fellowship of the Father, and the working of the power of God within us form the perfect being of the new man.
Those supporters of free-thought and free religions who preach the natural goodness of man know no regeneration. In their opinion man was perfect from the very beginning, and in such a measure that there is no need to speak of an inward conversion, or even of a new creation. True, a higher life is dimly imagined at this point, but in so far as it is striven after, it does not occur in the experience of an overwhelming regeneration, but in a process of “self-perfection”, that is to say in a gradual uplifting by means of one’s natural strength, whereby the petty weaknesses and mistakes noticeable to one’s self at times, disappear and are ousted by more valuable achievements.
The National-Socialistic Programme however, mentions in our Point 24 the “permanent health of our nation from within”. It presupposes a spiritual and moral sickness of the Volk that requires treatment, and thinks of inner forces which will make this healing effectual. And so it was never thought that the German nation could never be self-perfecting when the Programme was issued in 1920. The actual experiences in the history of the period between 1920 and 1933 far exceeded in their catastrophical character the slight references to sickness and permanent health in the Party Programme. The sickVolk became a Volk doomed to die, and the Movement too, realized in the national uprising, did not develop smoothly and quickly in spite of the enormous expenditure of energy but was sorely tried and disciplined by the great Guide of human history, and had perforce to endure on its weary way disappointments and reversals of fortune, even imprisonment, bloodshed and death. And even after assuming power, the Movement had to fight against misunderstanding and obstinacy, and years will have to elapse before the difﬁcult task of enlightening the nation is accomplished, hostile elements subordinated and all misunderstandings respecting the basic principles of National-Socialism including all religious errors swept away.
This however, is not the self-perfection of a healthy race but rather its rescue from perilous danger necessitating painful operations and bitter remedies. It is a new creation, a regeneration. Here again, we ﬁnd National-Socialism in these its experiences and in its manner of experiencing them, standing side by side with Christianity against the advocates of free-thought. True, the uprising of the German Volk is not a religious revival but a national and moral regeneration. All Christian Germans however, endowed with clear vision and living in this great era see in the regeneration of the Volk a new creative act of God’s that stirs up their hearts to the very depths. And it may be that the national awakening will lead to a real religious awakening as has already been the case so many times in history when political revolutions have been accompanied by earnest religious revivals. Perhaps we too, may now experience an awakening to a new holiness of life.
3. The Redeemer and the Führer
The growth of new life that rises from the Christian attitude of mind, is, like the whole of life in its relationship to God, made real through the life of Jesus Christ alone. If Jesus had not come into the world as the Christ, that is to say as One anointed with the Spirit of God, then we should not exist as Christians, that is as those anointed with the Spirit of God. Our regeneration and new creation take place only through the strength of Jesus Christ. Death and resurrection of our inner life is death and resurrection with Jesus Christ. And the reality of our new life does not merely rest upon the fact that a general “Christ principle” or a Divine redeeming Power exists in the world, but only because Jesus appeared as Man amongst men in human abasement, and, within the narrow limits of this earthly life made real the fullness of the Divine life, are we participators in the Divine Spirit and are thus able to call God our Father in this Spirit. It is true that Christendom is not of opinion there is no other Divine revelation except through Jesus Christ. On the contrary we know that God’s hand is to be traced in history and in Nature. We are convinced however, that the revelation of God was made complete in Jesus Christ, and that from Him for the first time full light was shed upon the meaning of history, nature and one s own life.
It is not our task in these pages to solve the mystery of the person of Christ nor to enlarge on the profound thoughts concerning Him that have occupied men’s minds for nearly two thousand years. We simply wish to show that everything we have already said respecting kinship with God, dominion over the world, loving one’s neighbour, forgiveness of sin and overcoming sin is but a cursory description of the fullness of life emanating from Jesus Christ, from Him Who by His work, teaching, death and resurrection was at the same time for us, in us and over us, and will be so to all eternity.
Free-thinkers and the supporters of free religions object to the Christians’ belief in Christ. They do so because it is in no way compatible with their mode of thought that the power of God could possibly be revealed in one human individual. To them the Divine is generally some indistinct conception of “being”, or of Nature or of mankind, and they fail to understand the creative power of that which happens only once and as such is incomprehensible. It is most difﬁcult to convince them that a Redeemer lived in all humility on earth, suffering even on the Cross and dying there. At the most they can conceive the Divine as gloriﬁed and exalted, but not in the poverty, narrowness and distress of earthly life. And when free-thinkers emphasize the goodness, the perfection and godliness of the natural powers of man, it appears to them a contradiction of terms to speak of a Redeemer Who came to save sinners and gave His life for them.
Again, in this important point National-Socialists as is compatible with their whole attitude of mind, are on the side of Christianity and not of free-thought. For like Christians they have not gained their views of life from any systems of philosophy, but from the stern realities of life. One fact in this struggle for existence has become to them an overpowering reality: the Führer. In him they have experienced the incontestable fact that all great happenings in history do not originate in the universal but in the particular, not in crowds but in some great personality. In him too, they have experienced that great historical deeds are not only planned in the magniﬁcence of royal palaces, or at the ofﬁcial boards of parliaments and ministries, or even in the buildings of large banking-houses, but may have their source in one simple life that started in modest circumstances, having to struggle onward through poverty and privation, and after much hard ﬁghting ﬁnally reaches the height, and even on the height thinks only of self-denial and sacriﬁce.
But never do National-Socialists think of confusing the Führer with the Redeemer. Our Führer himself would utterly condemn the mere suggestion of any such idea. The political Führer who sets his people free is not the Saviour of the world Who calls them to repentance. But in the fact that something stupendously great has manifested itself in a single personality, in circumstances which might appear to be akin, Christians ought all the more readily grasp the fact of the Führer, and National-Socialists more easily that of the Redeemer; where both Christianity and National-Socialism unite perfect harmony must necessarily exist.
But there is more. Inner connections also exist. The Führer himself belongs to those who fulﬁll the will of God and realize the life of Christ in this life in an extraordinary degree. The Führer in uniting the nation and helping it to rise from the laxity and neglect into which it had fallen, to a sense of moral discipline, fulﬁlls the law of Christ respecting love in a way few mortals could ever hope to emulate. By defending with a strong hand the spiritual heritage of the German nation against the powers of darkness, he also protects our most sacred possession, the Gospel, guaranteeing moreover, the further spread of its power. And when he himself in the strength of his trust in God places the destiny of the whole nation in the hands of the Father, he manifests the Spirit which through the coming of Christ has become a living power in the world.
The results of our investigations have produced conclusions so simple and clear that they might well be spoken of as a matter of course. This must also be said of the religious policy of the Third Reich. But it is extremely difﬁcult to put what is taken for granted into practice. For nowhere is our German nation so difﬁcult to govern as in the domain of spiritual things and especially with respect to religion. Here individual opinions abound and assert themselves to such an extent that unanimity can only be achieved with very real difﬁculty. Moreover, the changing inﬂuences that marked the last epochs of intellectual life, could not fail to create a feeling of bewilderiment in men’s minds which of necessity placed great obstacles in the way of all attempts to enlighten and unite those at variance with each other.
And yet the solution of the religious question is of paramount importance today, indeed it is perhaps the most urgent and imperative of all questions. At a time when as now the ﬁrm spiritual foundations are being laid for life in a great nation, order must be created in the innermost sphere of all.
But the energy and great wisdom of our Führer will assuredly ﬁnd the proper way out of all difﬁculties, and we as Christian National-Socialists firmly believe that the Guide of the history of nations will direct this most sacred cause of the German People to a glorious end.