The ChurchinHistory Information Centre
The Nazi party was founded in Munich, the capital of Bavaria, which was the most Catholic area of Germany. It has been insinuated that its Catholic culture was the seed-bed for this evil creed. From a distance this insinuation may seem credible, but closer examination disproves it.
The defeat of the Soviet Bavarian revolution in May 1919 revived the spirits of the extreme conservatives and nationalists. Munich provided them with a rallying point. ‘. . . now the Bavarian capital became a magnet for all those forces in Germany which were determined to overthrow the Republic, and set up an authoritarian regime and repudiate the Dictat of Versailles . . . Here General Ludendorff settled along with a host of other disgruntled, discharged Army officers.’ ((WS 34)). It also became a centre for Russian refugees from Communism, who included many occultists convinced of a Jewish conspiracy ((JW 175)).
Also, following the assassination of Walter Rathenau in 1922, when extremist parties were outlawed in Prussia, both right-wing and left-wing extremists fled to Munich. These are the reasons Hitler found so many able and dedicated followers in Munich to assist him to establish his party.
Few of those involved with the founding of the Nazi party, or preparing its ideological roots, were Bavarians. Darwin, Galton, Spencer, Chamberlain and Besant were English. Gobineau was French, while Blavatsky came from Russia. List, Lanz and Hitler were Austrians. Rosenberg came from Estonia. Sebottendorff and Ludendorff were born In Prussia. Goebbels was a Rheinlander and Eckart a Wurtenburger. Hess, Hitler’s deputy, was born and educated in Egypt.
Four early Nazi leaders were Bavarians: Goering, Rohm, Streicher and Strasser. Goering, to become Hitler's third in command, was from a Protestant family, Rohm was an anti-Catholic homosexual ((WS 26 and 39)). Streicher taught in Protestant Nuremburg so as to avoid the opposition of the Catholic clergy. ((See: “Hitler's Rise to Power” on this web site)). Only Gregor Strasser, despite repeated condemnations of Nazism by the bishops, claimed he could be both a Nazi party member and remain a Catholic. Even so, he was very anti-Rome, opposed the Catholic parties, fought against the signing of Concordats between the Church and local states and helped the neo-pagan elements within the Protestant Church ((PDS 59)). In 1932 he led 60 moderate Nazi Reichstag members in a revolt against Hitler ((PDS 111)). Having failed, he resigned from office ((PDS 122)) and the next year called the Nazi leaders: ‘criminals’ ((PDS 121)). Hitler had him murdered in 1934 ((WLS 222)).
As most Bavarians were baptised Catholic, it is not surprising that the Nazi party was able to attract the electoral support of some who had rejected, or drifted from, their religious upbringing. But it was in the Protestant districts of Bavaria that the early Nazi party recruited the bulk of its members and electoral support ((See “Hitler’s Rise to Power’’ on this web site)).
Hitler's economic successes gained him considerable admiration in many countries, but some people went further and were in sympathy with the basic principles of Nazism. It is very noticeable that these people were also in the forefront of attacks on Catholic teachings. It is relevant to recall a few examples.
It is widely known that Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) fought bitterly against Catholics in her position as leader, both in America and internationally, of the Birth-Control Movement. It is less well known that her motivation was not one of love and compassion for the poor, but to promote a form of eugenics similar to that of Nazism. In early life she did engage in social work but was converted to eugenics by Havelock Ellis during 1914 ((ED 17)), and devoted the rest of her life to its promotion. During 1919 she coined the slogan: ‘more children from the fit, less from the unfit — that is the chief aim of Birth-Control', and in 1921, ‘Birth-Control: to create a race of thoroughbreds.’ ((ED 12)).
In 1923 Sanger called for the poor to be sterilised, the issuing of licences to those permitted to ‘breed’, and for the encouragement of ‘successful types’ to have children ((ED 10)). The following year Hitler called for the sick and those with hereditary disease to be prevented from having children, the limiting of ‘settlement certificates’ (for those moving to new territories) to the racially pure, and financial assistance to ‘healthy women’ so as to encourage them to have children ((AH 367-8)). Hitler's attitude to the ‘mentally unhealthy and unworthy’ was kinder than that of Sanger. He wrote that education must teach ‘that it is no disgrace, but only a misfortune deserving of pity to be sick and weakly, . . .’ ((AH 368)). But Sanger taught that Eugenicists must steel themselves against feelings of pity and sentimentality ((ED 42, 62 and 64)). She labelled the poor as: ‘human weeds’ ((ED 15)).
In 1932, the year previous to Germany opening its first ‘Concentration Labour Camp’ for reforming ‘undesirable’ individuals, Sanger published her ‘Peace Plan’ for America. This called for:
1. A stop to the immigration of all Catholics, Jews and other ‘feebleminded‘ people.
2. The segregation, for the rest of their lives on farms under work instructors, of all ‘feebleminded’ Americans who refused to be sterilised.
3. The keeping of other ‘anti-social groups’ on these farms until they had been ‘reformed’ ((ED 21-2)).
As Sanger classified 70% of Americans as feebleminded ((ED 20)), her plan was of massive proportions. It was to be administered by the Anglo-Saxon elite, so as to prevent the numerical superiority of ‘Slavs, Latins and Hebrews’ ((ED 17 and 19)). She opposed Democracy ((ED 26 and 56)) and Trade Unions ((ED 84)), because they gave power to low class ‘morons’. The most ‘insidiously injurious philanthropy’ of all was, in Sanger's view:
“To supply free medical and nursing facilities to slum mothers; that such women are visited by nurses and receive instruction in the hygiene of pregnancy; that these women would be guided in making arrangements for their confinements; and that slum mothers would be able to see a doctor to make their childbearing safe”. ((ED 44)).
With the aid of money provided by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1925 ((ED 111)), she organised the first world population conference ((ED 109)), entertaining the leading American anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic and anti-Black racists ((ED 109 and 111)). Regarding the British factory worker, she believed that ‘Compared with the African negro the British sub-man is in several respects markedly inferior’ ((ED 47)).
In 1921 an American immigration act was passed which discriminated very heavily in favour of ‘northern’ Europeans and completely excluded Asians. Calvin Coolidge, the American President who quickly signed this Act, had earlier publicly declared, “America must be kept American. Biological laws show . . . that Nordics deteriorate when mixed with other races.” ((DJK 97)). The Act was widely acclaimed by eugenicists in America ((DJK 97)), and by Hitler in 'Mein Kampf' ((AH 400)).
In April 1933, the month following Hitler obtaining power, Sanger published a special issue of her ‘Birth Control Review’ devoted to eugenic sterilisation. Prof. Ernst Rudin, who was to become the Nazi specialist in Human Genetics, contributed an article urging quick action to prevent the multiplication of bad stocks ((ED 22)). In the same issue, Paul Popenoe, who was deeply involved In Sanger's Birth Control League, praised the Nazis and called for the sterilisation of one million Americans ((ED 22)). Another member, Leon Whitney, defended and welcomed the forthcoming German law and called for the restriction of the propagation of those physically, mentally and socially inadequate ((ED 23)).
Harry Laughlin, a pantheist member of the League who believed ‘god’ was some sort of ‘universal ether’, also contributed to the special issue. He composed the ‘Model Eugenic Sterilisation Law’, which was used by the Nazis as the basis for framing their own law. In recognition of his work, Heidelberg University, the Nazi centre for discussing racial problems, presented him with an honorary doctorate of medicine in 1936 ((DJK 118 and ED 24)). When Hitler's law was passed, the American Eugenics Society said it showed great courage and statesmanship ((DJK 118)).
Lothrop Stoddard, on Sanger's Board of Directors for years, wrote ‘The Rising Tide Of Color Against White Supremacy’, which was reviewed favourably in Sanger's ‘Birth-Control Review’ ((ED 109)). Later he was permitted to sit-in on the Nazi Eugenic Supreme Court. He reported ‘The Sterilisation Law is weeding out the worst strains in the German stock . . . ’ ((ED 13)). He was honoured by being granted a personal interview with Hitler ((ED 109)).
Henry Fairchild, head of Sanger's ‘Population Association Of America’, asserted in ‘The Melting Pot Mistake’ that Jews were a threat to the Nordic stock ((ED 109)). In 1937 he joined Eugen Fischer to write a foreword for a German racist book ((ED 111)). Fischer was Hitler's advisor on race hygiene and Sanger invited him to America ((ED 111)). The front page of Sanger's main publication sported the slogan ‘A Sure Light In Our Racial Darkness’ ((ED 40)). Sanger believed in astrology and numerology, and had a strong affinity to Indian mysticism. She was a member of the Rosicrucians ((ED 19)), and the symbols of this occult sect were printed on the front of her ‘The New Generation’ ((ED 38)).
Following its foundation in New York, the Theosophical Society soon spread to Britain. The Idea of studying eastern religions appealed to those who had rejected Christianity but found atheistic materialism unfulfilling.
Annie Besant, born in 1847 and brought up by an anti-religious father, left her husband and became an atheist in 1873. Four years later she became known for advocating contraception and opposing Catholicism. In May 1889, after a short period with the Fabian Socialists, Besant joined the Theosophists. On Blavatsky's death in 1891 she became President of the Theosophical Society moving to India. Many Americans refused to recognise her position and formed a separate organisation ((NCE Vol. 14 page 74)). In this same year she ended her advocacy of contraception ((CCM 28)) but remained very anti-Catholic.
Marie Stopes established the first contraceptive clinic in England. She is often presented as a warm-hearted humanitarian at the forefront of ‘progress’, fighting against an old fashioned Catholic morality. She was born in 1880, and by 1899 was ‘addicted to theosophical speculation’ ((RH 37)). She studied for a doctorate at Munich University and while there developed a passion for Wagnerian drama ((RH 42)). Returning home she married in 1911, but five years later obtained a decree of nullity on the ground of non-consummation ((RH 93-5)). By then she had absorbed the eugenic racialist teachings of Francis Galton ((RH 112-3)). In 1918 Marie Stopes expressed her views in her play, ‘Lace’. In this composition, she deplored the racial effect of the best men volunteering to fight in the war and being killed, while cowards stayed alive to have children ((RH 111-2)). Hitler expressed the same anguish ((AH 472-4)). The play advocated unmarried ‘fine, clean strong men’, siring children, before they went to fight so as to preserve the best of the country's racial strains ((RH 111-2)). The Nazi state in 1939 urged the same `racial morality` on unmarried soldiers, with financial incentives for the unmarried mother. ((CBC 467-469)).
In 1918 she also published ‘Married Love’ which revolutionised the British public's attitude to contraception. She was a virgin of 38 at the time, so based her teachings on the theories of Edward Carpenter, Olive Schreiber and Havelock Ellis ((RH 127)). Carpenter was a Marxist homosexual ((RF 294)), and Schreiber a freethinker with a mystical pantheist belief in ‘nature’. ((RF 54 and 96)). Shreiber had rejected Christianity when ten years of age ((ACM 93)), had sex at 16 ((ACM 93)), enthused over Schopenhauer's philosophy ((RF 294)), enjoyed masochism ((ACM 91)) and proclaimed an unmarried woman's right to be a mother ((RF 27)).
Ellis was impotent and married to a lesbian ((RF 294)). He was the pioneer of the views upon which much modern non-Christian teaching regarding sex, marriage and human relationships are based. Addicted to hallucinatory drugs and a pantheist ((ED 18)), he was also anti-Catholic.
Ellis's book ‘The Problems of Race Regeneration’ of 1911, called for the end of ‘Poor Law Relief’ unless paupers were sterilised ((ED 18)). He approved of the American ‘Nelda Community’ that aimed to replace the ‘random procreation’ in marriage, with breeding from those considered able to produce superior children. This was similar to the ‘Lebensborn’ breeding houses later established by the Nazis ((ED 18)). In: ‘The Task of Social Hygiene’ (1912), he urged that Socialism would require the purification of the racial stock ((GW 132)).
The use of the title ‘Doctor’ helped to win Marie Stopes the confidence of poorly educated women, but of medicine she was ignorant. Her doctorate had been obtained in botany, following a specialist study of the reproductive habits of primitive seed bearing plants ((RH 45)). In 1920 her ‘Radiant Motherhood’ deplored society allowing ‘the diseased, the racially negligent, the thriftless, the careless, the feeble-minded, the very lowest and worst members of the community to produce . . . stunted, warped and inferior infants’ ((RF 180)).
The ‘better classes’, she wrote, should be freed from the burden of supporting prisons, hospitals and institutions, principally filled by ‘inferior stock’. They would then be able to increase their own families ((RH 181)). The Nazis later used the same argument. She wrote that a few Acts of Parliament could achieve ‘a new and irradiated race’ ((RH 181)), or in Hitler's words ‘a highly bred racial stock’ ((AH 368)). Bills should be passed ‘to ensure the sterility of the hopelessly rotten and racially diseased’. She wanted to protect the ‘racial stream’ from being poisoned ((RH 180)). Hitler also wanted to protect the ‘creative races’ dying out ‘from blood poisoning’ ((AH 262)). A comparison of ‘Radiant Motherhood’ with ‘Mein Kampf’ is very instructive.
Marie Stopes condemned blind people for having children, strongly disapproved of inter-racial marriages and praised the ‘. . . pristine purity of a girl of our northern race.’ ((RH 129)). In August 1921, she founded the ‘Society for Constructive Birth Control and Racial Progress’ ((RH 199)). In 1934 she publicly stated that all half-castes should be sterilised at birth ((RH 182)). This was the year following Hitler's introduction of compulsory sterilisation into Germany. For some years she had been interested in Theosophy ((RH 281)) and believed in reincarnation ((RH 322)). In 1925 she made her position clear: ‘I am out for a much greater thing than birth-control. I am out to smash the tradition of organised Christianity’. ((RH 260)).
In 1921, she advocated the use of armed force to put down the miner`s strike. ((RH 190)), and during the second world war was depressed by her fear that the Labour Party would destroy the old social hierarchy, and thereby defeat her plans of perfecting the human race by encouraging the ‘better’ stocks ((RH 298)). Becoming terrified of being ‘swamped by hordes of Indians and Chinese’, she campaigned fiercely to spread birth-control in India ((RH 291)). During 1942 when the Jewish ‘Holocaust’ was at its peak, she expressed her hates in verse:
Catholics and Prussians, The Jews and the Russians,
In 1947, two years after Hitler's eugenic empire had been destroyed, Stopes did everything possible to prevent her son Harry marrying Mary Wallis because she wore glasses. Stopes cried out that it would be “a crime against his country which increasingly needs fine and perfect people. . . Mary has an inherited physical defect and morally should never bear children . . . both his father's line and mine are free from all defect. It is awful to both my husband and me that he should contaminate his splendid inheritance and make a mock of our life's work for eugenic breeding and the race . . . it is cruel to burden children with defective sight and the handicap of goggles . . . I will not in any way take part in or condone the planning of these crimes”. When Harry went ahead and married Mary, he was cut out of her will ((RH 300-3)). Mary Wallis was not unattractive and her glasses were perfectly ordinary ((RH 303)). Dr. Haire, a homosexual preoccupied with the idea of selective breeding, opened the second contraceptive clinic in England ((PG 377)).
Carl Pearson succeeded Francis Galton as the leading advocate of Genetics. He refused to attend Divinity lectures while at University and went to Germany to study philosophy at Heidelberg University. Under Hitler this University became the centre for racist studies. At the time he arrived in Germany, Chamberlain's racist book was the topic of interest. Pearson's ideas were greatly influenced by Heidelberg's ‘blend of idealism and economic historicism’. ((DJK 22-23)), and he so loved Germany that he changed his name from Carl to Karl ((DJK 22)). He accepted the German variety of rationalism, and on his return to England wrote a ‘Passion Play’ in which to attack Christianity ((DJK 22)). Pearson believed an imperial nation like Britain needed numbers ‘substantially recruited from the better stocks.’ ((DJK 32)). He ‘. . . saw no point in expanding schools as intelligence was bred not taught’. ((DJK 33)), which echoed Hitler's words in Mein Kampf, ‘True genius is always inborn and never cultivated, let alone learned.’ ((AH 266)).
Pearson considered charities for children of the ‘incapable’ were a national curse not a blessing’ ((DJK 33)). He opposed the minimum wage, the eight-hour day, free medical advice and a reduction of infant mortality, as these measures replaced ‘reproductive selection’ ((DJK 34)). If child allowances were paid, they should favour the eugenically desirable ((DJK 34)). Although he concentrated on study rather than political action, in 1922 he opposed Jewish immigration on eugenic grounds ((CH 216-7)) because he didn't want Britain to be: ‘swamped by the influx of immigrants of an inferior race’. ((CH 216)).
The Eugenic Society of England, formed in 1908 ((RH 176)), campaigned prior to the First World War for the compulsory sterilisation of stocks with ‘bad hereditary and inferior capacity’ ((JW 87)). Throughout the 1920s its Review published articles extolling the virtues of the ‘Nordic Races’ ((ST 82)). In 1925 it opposed the immigration of aliens, particularly Negroes, who would ‘produce a half-caste progeny’ ((ST 140-1)). But during the 1930s the Society made efforts to avoid identification with Nazi Nordic racialism and anti-Semitism ((DJK 172)), which were becoming unpopular. Marie Stopes bequeathed her clinic to this Society ((RH 326)).
In the January and February 1849 issues of his journal ‘Neue Rheinische Zeitung’, Karl Marx published articles calling for the extermination of whole races in Europe. These articles were included in a book of the teachings of Marx, Engels and Lenin published in Germany during 1902 and again in 1913 ((GWE 20)). It is most likely that Engels wrote them ((GW 129)). This socialist programme considered the Slav nations to be ‘counter-revolutionary’. The Germans, Poles and Magyars (Hungarians) were considered to be ‘the bearers of progress’. The rest must go:
“ The chief mission of all other races and peoples,
It was explained that the Slavs had failed to pursue essential historic evolution, so were therefore counter-revolutionary. All European countries contain ‘left-overs of earlier inhabitants’, now rightly brought into subjugation by more advanced peoples. Amongst such ‘racial trash’ (Voekerabfall) were listed Scottish Highlanders, Bretons, Basques, South Slavs (Slovenes, Croats, Serbs) and Czechs. ((GWE 20)).
“Until its complete extermination or loss of national status, this racial trash always becomes the most fanatical bearer there is of counter-revolution, and it remains that. That is because its entire existence is nothing more than a protest against a great historical revolution. … The next world war will cause not only reactionary classes and dynasties, but also entire reactionary peoples, to disappear from the earth. And that too is progress”. ((GWE 20)).
As Marx and Engels aged, they took greater interest in Eugenics and Social Darwinism suggesting that progress was interpretable in racial terms ((GW130)).
COMMENT AND CONCLUSION
In recalling the movements which contributed to the birth of Nazism, it is necessary to observe that not all those involved in these movements were sympathetic to Nazism itself. A person may have supported eugenics, yet not have been a racist; enjoyed Wagnerian drama, yet not have accepted pagan gods; followed occult Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, yet not have adopted the Aryan race myth; supported voluntary contraception yet rejected compulsory sterilisation; have hated Jews and Catholics, yet not wished for their deaths.
What the evidence does show however, is that the ideologies, philosophies and movements from which Nazism took its ideas, were fundamentally and actively anti-Catholic. This is confirmed by noting that those living outside Germany, who applauded much of the Nazi philosophy and practice, were also implacable opponents of Catholic belief and morality, especially with regard to Christian family life and the right to bodily integrity.
It is clear that Nazism was not a natural growth from Christian soil, its origins being neither Protestant nor Catholic. It was an upsurge of paganism in the heart of Europe, led by people who wished to see the destruction of the near 2000 year old Christian civilisation of Europe. ‘Pagan’ is a term often used by Christians in a loose and emotive manner to denote immoral practices. But to label Nazism as ‘pagan’ is to use this word with its precise meaning:
A religious belief which,
(page numbers in main text)
ACM Havelock Ellis, by A. Calder-Marshall, 1959.
AH Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler, translated by Ralph Manheim, 1974.
AHDW The introduction to the above by D.C.Watt.
BM Wagner, by Barry Millington, 1984.
CBC Persecution of the Catholic Church in the Third Reich, 1942.
CCM Theosophy, by C.C.Martindale (CTS), 1913.
CH Anti-Semitism in British Society, by Colin Holmes, 1979.
DJK In the Name of Eugenics, by Daniel J. Kevles, 1985.
DLN The Jews In Weimar Germany, by Donald L. Niewyk, 1980.
DO The History of the Nazi Party, vol. 1, by Dietrich Orlow, 1971.
EBR Encyclopedia Britannia, 1990.
ED Margaret Sanger, by Elasah Drogin, 1980.
EJ Encyclopedia Judaica, 1973.
GP The Rise of Hitler to Power, by Geoffrey Pridham, 1973.
GRM Cosia Wagner, by George R. Marek, 1981.
GW Politics and Literature in Modern Britain, by G. Watson, 1977.
GWE Artical by George Watson in Encounter, Dec. 1984.
HB The Truth About the Protocols of Zion, by H. Bernstein, 1971.
HSW The Pattern of Communist Revolution, by Hugh S. Watson, 1960.
JC Wagner, by John Chancellor, 1978.
JW The Occult Establishment, by James Webb, 1976.
LP The History of Anti-Semitism Vol. IV, by Leon Poliakov, 1977.
MDB Gobineau - Selected Writings, by Michael D. Biddiss, 1970.
MH Nationalism & Society Germany 1800-1945 by M. Hughes 1988.
MK The Nazi Party, by Michael Kater, 1983.
NCE New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1966.
NGC The Occult Roots of Nazism, by N. Goodrick-Clark, 1985.
PDS Gregor Strasser, by Peter D. Stachura, 1983.
PG Havelock Ellis, by Phyllis Grosskurth, 1980.
POD Pocket English Dictionary, 1969.
R The Hindu View of Life, by Radhakrishnan, ISBN 0 04 294045 1.
RCZ Living Faiths, by R.C.Zachner, 1959, 1971.
RF Oliver Schreiner, by Ruth First, 1980.
RH Marie Stopes, by Ruth Hall, 1977.
RLB Julius Stretcher, by Randall L. Bytwerk, 1983.
ST The Right to Reproduce, by Stephen Trombley, 1988.
WLS The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer, 1972.