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The Holy Reich : Nazi conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945 / Richard Steigmann-Gall.

By: Steigmann-Gall, Richard.
Material type: TextTextPublisher: New York : Cambridge University Press, 2003Description: xvi, 294 p. : ports. ; 24 cm.ISBN: 0521823714; 9780521823715.Subject(s): Germany -- Politics and government -- 1933-1945 | National socialism and religion | Christianity and antisemitism | Germany -- Church history -- 20th centuryDDC classification: 943.086 Other classification: 15.70 | 8,1 | NQ 1090 | NQ 2120 | NQ 2310 | e 64 | o 44
Contents:
Positive Christianity: the doctrine of the time of struggle -- Above the confessions: bridging the religious divide -- Blood and soil: the paganist ambivalence -- National renewal: religion and the new Germany -- Completing the Reformation: the Protestant Reich Church -- Public need before private greed: building the people's community -- Gottgläubig: assent of the anti-Christians? -- The holy Reich: conclusion.
Summary: To what extent is Christian doctrine accountable for Nazism and its historical legacy? In The Holy Reich, esteemed historian Richard Steigmann-Gall grapples with this question, and forces us to confront new and disturbing answers. Despite the popular belief that Nazi ideology rejected Christianity, many members of the Nazi elite - including SS Obergruppenfuehrer Dietrich Klagges, the prime minister of Brunswick, who made Hitler a German citizen - viewed themselves as good Christians. At the same time, prominent pastors praised the Nazi program, especially its antisemitism, but also its anti-marxism and anti-liberalism. In this penetrating argument, Steigmann-Gall demonstrates ideological bonds between Nazism and Christianity by exploring the political and religious views of key players on both sides. He delves deeply into the original sources to chart the personal religious feelings of Nazi leaders - including Goebbels, Goering and Hitler - and their supporters. Rejecting the common misconception that the Nazi elite suppressed Protestantism and Catholicism, he cites numerous cases in which Nazi party members enthusiastically embraced Christianity and often the clergy as well. A strong case is made throughout: instead of representing an assault on Christianity as such, he reveals how the Nazis' ideology fit within a Christian framework. The Christian God provided Hitler's henchmen with an understanding of Germany's "ills" and their "cure."
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Includes bibliographical references (p. 268-284) and index.

Positive Christianity: the doctrine of the time of struggle -- Above the confessions: bridging the religious divide -- Blood and soil: the paganist ambivalence -- National renewal: religion and the new Germany -- Completing the Reformation: the Protestant Reich Church -- Public need before private greed: building the people's community -- Gottgläubig: assent of the anti-Christians? -- The holy Reich: conclusion.

To what extent is Christian doctrine accountable for Nazism and its historical legacy? In The Holy Reich, esteemed historian Richard Steigmann-Gall grapples with this question, and forces us to confront new and disturbing answers. Despite the popular belief that Nazi ideology rejected Christianity, many members of the Nazi elite - including SS Obergruppenfuehrer Dietrich Klagges, the prime minister of Brunswick, who made Hitler a German citizen - viewed themselves as good Christians. At the same time, prominent pastors praised the Nazi program, especially its antisemitism, but also its anti-marxism and anti-liberalism. In this penetrating argument, Steigmann-Gall demonstrates ideological bonds between Nazism and Christianity by exploring the political and religious views of key players on both sides. He delves deeply into the original sources to chart the personal religious feelings of Nazi leaders - including Goebbels, Goering and Hitler - and their supporters. Rejecting the common misconception that the Nazi elite suppressed Protestantism and Catholicism, he cites numerous cases in which Nazi party members enthusiastically embraced Christianity and often the clergy as well. A strong case is made throughout: instead of representing an assault on Christianity as such, he reveals how the Nazis' ideology fit within a Christian framework. The Christian God provided Hitler's henchmen with an understanding of Germany's "ills" and their "cure."

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CHOICE Review

A vast and important subject has finally received the comprehensive analysis it deserves. Steigmann-Gall's fundamental argument--that the Nazi movement was both intimately and intricately, positively and negatively related to Christianity--will hearten those who see Nazi Germany not as an efficient totalitarian system, but as a nonsystem of constant institutional and personal conflicts. Up until 1937, Hitler appears to have hoped that he could create a state-and-party true national church out of Protestantism, one that would reflect the "positive Christianity" to which many leading Nazis, as well as many not so high in the hierarchy, adhered. In essence, "positive Christians" argued that the goals of Nazi ideology and Christian theology were essentially identical in opposing communists, liberals, and Jews. Steigmann-Gall (Kent State Univ.) shows that "positive Christianity" was in fact a logical child of trends in 19th- and early-20th-century German Protestant theology. But there were other leading Nazis, such as Martin Bormann, whose ideology led them to paganism. Steigmann-Gall does not speculate on what might have been the Nazi position on religion if the government and churches had not already been so intertwined. Hitler eventually concluded that separation of church and state was preferable, but he did not put that conclusion into effect. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All libraries. H. D. Andrews emeritus, Towson University

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