‘Wherever you find them, beat up the Fascists!’
The name derived from the palmy days of ancient Rome. The fasces, a bundle of scourging rods, had served the guards appointed to elected magistrates as emblems of their authority. Not every magistrate in Roman history, though, had necessarily been elected. Times of crisis had demanded exceptional measures. Julius Caesar, following his defeat of Pompey, had been appointed dictator: an office that had permitted him to take sole control of the state. Each of his guards had carried on their shoulders, bundled up with the scourging rods, an axe. Nietzsche, predicting that a great convulsion was approaching, a repudiation of the pusillanimous Christian doctrines of equality and compassion, had foretold as well that those who led the revolution would ‘become devisers of emblems and phantoms in their enmity’. Time had proven him right. The fasces had become the badge of a brilliantly successful movement. By 1930, Italy was ruled—as it had been two millennia previously—by a dictator. Benito Mussolini, an erstwhile socialist whose reading of Nietzsche had led him, by the end of the Great War, to dream of forming a new breed of man, an elite worthy of a fascist state, cast himself both as Caesar and as the face of a gleaming future. From the fusion of ancient and modern, melded by the white-hot genius of his leadership, there was to emerge a new Italy. Whether greeting the massed ranks of his followers with a Roman salute or piloting an aircraft, Mussolini posed in ways that consciously sought to erase the entire span of Christian history. Although, in a country as profoundly Catholic as Italy, he had little choice but to cede a measure of autonomy to the Church, his ultimate aim was to subordinate it utterly, to render it the handmaid of the fascist state. Mussolini’s more strident followers exulted nakedly in this goal. ‘Yes indeed, we are totalitarians! We want to be from morning to evening, without distracting thoughts.’
In Berlin too there were such men. The storm troopers of a movement that believed simultaneously in racism and in the subordination of all personal interests to a common good, they called themselves Nationalsozialisten: ‘National Socialists’. Their opponents, in mockery of their pretensions, called them Nazis. But this only betrayed fear. The National Socialists courted the hatred of their foes. An enemy’s loathing was something to be welcomed. It was the anvil on which a new Germany was to be be forged. ‘It is not compassion but courage and toughness that save life, because war is life’s eternal disposition.’ As in Italy, so in Germany, fascism worked to combine the glamour and the violence of antiquity with that of the modern world. There was no place in this vision of the future for the mewling feebleness of Christianity. The blond beast was to be liberated from his monastery. A new age had dawned. Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Nazis, was not, as Mussolini could claim to be, an intellectual; but he did not need to be.
I don’t know if it is appropriate to call the young Adolf, as in this portrait, an ‘intellectual’ (a word widely used in Europe and Latin America for the thinking classes, but not in the US). But the mature Hitler, the Hitler of the after-dinner talks, was certainly an intellectual compared to any head of state of his time.
Over the course of a life that had embraced living in a dosshouse, injury at the Somme, and imprisonment for an attempted putsch, he had come to feel himself summoned by a mysterious providence to transform the world. Patchily read in philosophy and science he might be, but of one thing he was viscerally certain: destiny was written in a people’s blood. There was no universal morality. A Russian was not a German. Every nation was different, and a people that refused to listen to the dictates of its soul was a people doomed to extinction. ‘All who are not of good race in this world,’ Hitler warned, ‘are chaff.’
Once, in the happy days of their infancy, the German people had been at one with the forests in which they lived. They had existed as a tree might: not just as the sum of its branches, its twigs and its leaves, but as a living, organic whole. But then the soil from which the Nordic race were sprung had been polluted. Their sap had been poisoned. Their limbs had been cut back. Only surgery could save them now. Hitler’s policies, although rooted in a sense of race as something primordially ancient, were rooted as well in the clinical formulations of evolutionary theory. The measures that would restore purity to the German people were prescribed equally by ancient chronicles and by Darwinist textbooks. To eliminate those who stood in the way of fulfilling such a programme was not a crime, but a responsibility. ‘Apes massacre all fringe elements as alien to their community.’ Hitler did not hesitate to draw the logical conclusion. ‘What is valid for monkeys must be all the more valid for humans.’ Man was as subject to the struggle for life, and to the need to preserve the purity of his race, as any other species. To put this into practice was not cruelty. It was simply the way of the world…
In 1933, the year that Hitler was appointed chancellor, Protestant churches across Germany marked the annual celebration of the Reformation by singing Wessel’s battle hymn. In Berlin Cathedral, a pastor shamelessly aped Goebbels. Wessel, he preached, had died just as Jesus had died. Then, just for good measure, he added that Hitler was ‘a man sent by God’.
Horst Wessel (1907-1930) was a Berlin leader of the NSDAP’s SA, killed by Communists and became a National Socialist martyr. A march he had written the lyrics to was renamed the Horst Wessel Lied and became the co-national anthem of NS Germany. After WWII, the lyrics and tune of his song were made illegal in Germany, his memorial vandalised and his gravestone and remains destroyed. Holland continues:
Yet Christians, if they thought this would curry favour with the Nazi leadership, let alone influence it, were deluding themselves. To parody Christianity was not to show it respect, but to cannibalise it. Out in the woods, eager young National Socialists would burn copies of the Bible on great fires, and then—‘to prove how we despise all the cults of the world except the ideology of Hitler’—sing the Horst Wessel Lied. On the Rhine, in the amphitheatres of what had once been Roman cities, girls might gather by night to celebrate Wessel’s birthday with dances and prayers to his spirit, ‘to make them good bearers of children’.
I was saying recently that white nationalists don’t visit this site—or at least don’t link to the articles posted here—because mine represents a brutal paradigm shift: from blaming Judaism to blaming Judeo-Christianity. We can already imagine members of the American racial right wing burning Bibles in the streets of Charlottesville!
Boniface, travelling across the Rhine twelve hundred years before, had witnessed very similar things. Dismay at the spectacle of pagan practices in a supposedly Christian land had led him to devote much of his life to combating them. Now, though, his heirs faced an even more grievous threat. Missionaries to Germany in the eighth century had been able to count on the support of the Frankish monarchy in their labours. No such backing was forthcoming from the Nazis. Hitler, who in 1928 had loudly proclaimed his movement to be Christian, had come to regard Christianity with active hostility. Its morality, its concern for the weak, he had always viewed as cowardly and shameful.
Now that he was in power, he recognised in the claim of the Church to a sphere distinct from the state—that venerable inheritance from the Gregorian revolution—a direct challenge to the totalitarian mission of National Socialism. Although, like Mussolini, Hitler was willing to tread carefully at first—and even, in 1933, to sign a concordat with the papacy—he had no intention of holding to it for long. Christian morality had resulted in any number of grotesque excrescences: alcoholics breeding promiscuously while upstanding national comrades struggled to put food on the table for their families; mental patients enjoying clean sheets while healthy children were obliged to sleep three or four to a bed; cripples having money and attention lavished on them that should properly be devoted to the fit. Idiocies such as these were precisely what National Socialism existed to terminate. The churches had had their day. The new order, if it were to endure for a millennium, would require a new order of man. It would require Übermenschen.
By 1937, then, Hitler had begun to envisage the elimination of Christianity once and for all. The objections of church leaders to the state’s ongoing sterilisation of idiots and cripples infuriated him. His own preference—one that he fully intended to act upon in the event of war—was for euthanasia to be applied in a comprehensive manner. This, a policy that was sanctioned both by ancient example and by the most advanced scientific thinking, was something that the German people needed urgently to be brought to accept. Clearly, there was no prospect of them fulfilling their racial destiny while they were still cancerous with compassion. Among the Schutzstaffel, the elite paramilitary organisation that served as the most efficient instrument of Hitler’s will, the destruction of Christianity came to be regarded as a particular vocation.
Heinrich Himmler, the commander of the SS, plotted a fifty-year programme that he trusted would see the religion utterly erased. Otherwise, Christianity might once again prove the bane of the blond beast.
For the Germans to continue in their opposition to policies so transparently vital for their own racial health was insanity. ‘Harping on and on that God died on the cross out of pity for the weak, the sick, and the sinners, they then demand that the genetically diseased be kept alive in the name of a doctrine of pity that goes against nature, and of a misconceived notion of humanity.’ The strong, as science had conclusively demonstrated, had both a duty and an obligation to eliminate the weak.
Yet if Christianity—as Hitler had come to believe—was ‘the heaviest blow that ever struck humanity’, then it was not enough merely to eradicate it. A religion so pernicious that it had succeeded both in destroying the Roman Empire and in spawning Bolshevism could hardly have emerged from nowhere. What source of infection could possibly have bred such a plague? Clearly, there was no more pressing question for a National Socialist to answer. Whatever the bacillus, it needed to be identified fast, and—if the future of the German people were to be set on stable foundations, enduring enough to last for a thousand years—destroyed. [pages 471-476]
Anyone who doubts the Führer’s anti-Christianity should read Richard Weikart’s Hitler’s Religion.
‘What source of infection could possibly have bred such a plague?’ Answer: St Paul and his minions. Those of you who haven’t read the master essay of our Daybreak Press’s first book, The Fair Race’s Darkest Hour, the lengthy Judea vs. Rome article, should read it now.