The atheist Left in America considers itself the polar opposite of the Nazis of Hitler’s Germany, but the Nazis were viciously radical Leftists who hated any belief system that preached the existence of a loving Creator who enjoined his creatures to love one another.
It should not surprise us, then, to learn that the Nazis seventy-five years ago waged an unrelenting and ruthless war against Christianity in schools. I deal with the whole subject at length in my new book, The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity. What follows is a sample of the historical record.
Only clergymen were allowed to teach religious classes, and those clergymen were forced to teach according to the anti-Christian instructions of the Nazi Ministry of Education. When in Wurrtemberg, clergymen refused to follow Nazi teachings on religion, seven hundred were banned from the classroom. The Nazis did not stop there: Christian prayers were banned from the public classroom and crucifixes were physically removed as well (just as the ACLU would have wished.)
By 1935, the virulently anti-Christian leader of the Hitler Youth, Baldur von Shirach issued a regulation that prohibited any child from belonging simultaneously to a church youth group and the Hitler Youth, and gradually membership in the Hitler Youth became almost obligatory – parents were told that their children would not get jobs in the civil service unless they belonged to the Hitler Youth and employers were told not to hire children who did not belong to the Hitler Youth. Christian schoolchildren who did not belong to the Hitler Youth or its female counterpart were routinely beaten up by young Nazi thugs.
Boys inducted into the Hitler Youth were required to explicitly reject Christianity by oaths like this: “German blood and Christian baptismal water are completely incompatible.” At Hitler Youth center at Halle, was the following prominent statement: “The Faith fanatics, who still to-day slide down on their knees with faces uplifted to heaven, waste their time in churchgoing and prayers, and have not yet understood that they are living on the earth and that therefore their task is of a thoroughly earthly kind. All we Hitler people can still only look with the greatest contempt on those young people who still run to their silly Evangelical or Catholic Churches in order to vent their quite superstitious religious feelings.” Or consider these quotations out of Hitler Youth training manuals: “Christianity is a religion of slaves and fools.” “How did Christ die? Whining at the Cross!” “The Ten Commandments represent the lowest instincts of man.” and “Christianity is merely a cloak for Judaism.”
As William Harman Black, one of the most outspoken American opponents of Nazi anti-Semitism wrote in 1938: “The initial battle is for control of the youth of the country. The Christian Church, on the one hand, desires to maintain its parochial schools, where the young people may grow up with an education based on the morals and the manners of the Christian religion; on the other hand, the German State wants to divorce all religion from the education of its youth. As Hitler himself announced ‘The State must control all attitude, shaping influences finally, completely and irrevocably.’”
Who began the “War on Christmas” so infamous in America today? When German youths were evacuated by the government, parents were concerned that this would be a subtrafugre to wean children away from Christianity. It was. Nazi instructors told these children not to say their prayers or ask to go to the local church. When Christmas came, parents were horrified to learn that the children’s festivities, while elaborate, were shorn of every Christian symbol. In one camp, homesick gathered in one room the day after Christmas began to sing ‘Silent Night’ and some other carols. The children were severely reprimanded.
Parents who resisted Nazi anti-Christian indoctrination too strongly simply had their children taken away from them. The Nazis even forbade parents to give their children Christian names and ordered babies instead to be given names like Dietrich, Otto or Siegfried. The home teaching of Christianity by parents in the home was forbidden. Not content with simply driving Christianity out of public schools, Himmler banned all Confessing Church seminaries and instruction in 1937 and he closed all private religious schools two years later.
What was the ultimate Nazi goal? It sounds chillingly close to the ultimate goal of their fellow Leftists in America. The Nazi tract Gott und Volk was distributed in 1941, and it describes the life cycle of German youth in the future, who would: “With parties and gifts the youth will be led painlessly from one faith to the other and will grow up without ever having heard of the Sermon on the Mount or the Golden Rule, to say nothing of the Ten Commandments… The education of the youth is to be confined primarily by the teacher, the officer, and the leaders of the party. The priests will die out. They have estranged the youth from the Volk. Into their places will step the leaders. Not deputies of God. But anyway the best Germans. And how shall we train our children? Thus, as though they had never heard of Christianity!”
Christianity, like the Jewish people, is an infallible canary in the mineshaft: Those who try to drive Christianity by pogroms and propaganda out of the lives of children are like those who try to destroy the Jewish people. Those who do these things are deliberate enemies of God. One great measure of the diabolical nature of Nazism is that it tried to do both, and America today, in some ways, seems like Germany in 1932.
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