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Martin Luther and|
the Jewish Holocaust
–“The church that preaches the gospel in all of its fullness, except as it applies to the great social ills of the day, is failing to preach the gospel.”
–“War is the greatest plague that can afflict humanity; it destroys religions, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge is preferable to it.” –And then this profoundly important exchange, in which Luther taught one of his followers to trust the ethics of the gospel rather than the threats from his war-making government and courageously become a selective conscientious objector to war.
The questioner asked: “Suppose my lord was wrong in going to war?”
Luther: “If you know for sure that he is wrong, then you should fear God rather than men (Acts 5:29), and you should neither fight nor serve. For you cannot have a good conscience before God.”
Questioner: “Oh, no, you say, my lord would force me to do it; he would take away my fief and would not give me my money, pay and wages. Besides I would be despised and put to shame as a coward, even worse as a man who did not keep his word and deserted his lord in time of need.”
Luther: “I answer: You must take that risk and, with God’s help, let whatever happens, happen. He can restore you a hundred fold as he promises in the gospel”
"In the years immediately prior to 1525, the peasants, inspired by Luther’s anti-church/anti-establishment revolutionary teachings, were finally rising up against their perennial oppressors: the ruling elite, the wealthy landowners and the authoritarian Catholic Church.
Initially the peasants protested nonviolently. They submitted written demands that they be granted their human rights.
Luther shocked the peasants when he betrayed them and sided with the one percent ruling elite, whose well-armed soldiers slaughtered them in that brief war. Luther forever lost the support of the peasantry when he actually called for their annihilation.”
The reality that the briefly optimistic peasants hadn’t comprehended was that their oppressors were the very ones that had protected Luther from being hunted down and killed by the soldiers of the pope."
[ from http://consortiumnews.com/2013/09/25/christianitys-contradictions-on-war/ ]
Is there no clearer blueprint for the Final Solution than the works of one of christianity's greatest reformers and moralists?
Luther now thought what he had accused Catholics of thinking in 1523: Jews were dogs. "We are at fault for not slaying them!" he fumed shortly before his death.
While my argument does not rely solely on demonstrating that the writings of Luther inspired the holocaust, it implicates Hitler's use of christianity's long history of Christian persecution of Jews). The following passages from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_and_the_Jews help demonstrate Luther's role in the holocaust.
British historian Paul Johnson has called On the Jews and their Lies the "first work of modern anti-Semitism, and a giant step forward on the road to the Holocaust." (Johnson, A History of the Jews, p. 242.)
While some Lutherans deny the charge, the Nazis did cite Luther's treatise to justify the Final Solution (Egil Grislis, "Martin Luther and the Jews," Consensus 27 (2001) No. 1:64.).
The line of "anti-Semitic descent" from Luther to Hitler is "easy to draw," according to American historian Lucy Dawidowicz. In her "The War Against the Jews, 1933-1945", she writes that both Luther and Hitler were obsessed by the "demonologized universe" inhabited by Jews, with Hitler asserting that the later Luther, the author of On the Jews and Their Lies was the 'real Luther'.
Professor Robert Michael, Professor Emeritus of European History at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, has argued that Luther scholars who try to tone down Luther's views on the Jews ignore the murderous implications of his antisemitism. Michael argues that there is a "strong parallel" between Luther's ideas and the anti-Semitism of most German Lutherans throughout the Holocaust. Like the Nazis, Luther mythologized the Jews as evil, he writes. They could be saved only if they converted to Christianity, but their hostility to the idea made it inconceivable (Robert Michael, "Luther, Luther Scholars, and the Jews," Encounter 46:4 (Autumn 1985), pp. 339-56.).
Luther's sentiments were widely echoed in the Germany of the 1930s, particularly within the Nazi party. Hitler's Education Minister, Bernhard Rust, was quoted by the Völkischer Beobachter as saying that: "Since Martin Luther closed his eyes, no such son of our people has appeared again ... I think the time is past when one may not say the names of Hitler and Luther in the same breath. They belong together; they are of the same old stamp [Schrot und Korn]" (Volkischer Beobachter, August 25, 1933 cited in Steigmann-Gall, Richard. The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1991-1945. Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 136-7.).
According to Daniel Goldhagen, Bishop Martin Sasse, a leading Protestant churchman, published a compendium Luther's writings shortly after Kristallnacht in which Sasse "applauded the burning of the synagogues and the coincidence of the day, writing in the introduction, "On November 10, 1938, on Luther's birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany." The German people, he urged, ought to heed these words "of the greatest antisemite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews." (Bernd Nellessen, "Die schweigende Kirche: Katholiken und Judenverfolgung," in Büttner (ed), Die Deutchschen und die Jugendverfolg im Dritten Reich, p. 265, cited in Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners (Vintage, 1997)).
William Nichols, Professor of Religious Studies, recounts, "At his trial in Nuremberg after the Second World War, Julius Streicher, the notorious Nazi propagandist, editor of the scurrilous antisemitic weekly, Der Stürmer, argued that if he should be standing there arraigned on such charges, so should Martin Luther. Reading such passages, it is hard not to agree with him. Luther's proposals read like a program for the Nazis." (William Nichols, Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1995), p. 271).
At the time that Germany attempted to remove the entire Jewish race from the face of the earth, 98% of the population of that country professed themselves to be "Christians", one third Roman Catholics, and most of the remainder Lutherans. Although the German Catholics were out-numbered two to one by their Protestant compatriots, as I explain at my R C Church Scandal, I have spent most of my time and effort to expose the moral failings of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holocaust because I believe that church bears much more moral culpability for that horrendous crime against humanity.