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Puritans, and convinced of his own depravity.

Andrews, who would not cavil to see a Catholic priest hung or a Puritan divine exiled under unspeakable conditions, spent five hours every morning in prayer so emotional that he often wept when he considered his sins. Andrews and others among the translators, notably Laurence Chaderton, the first master of Emmanuel College, were great preachers and held congregations spellbound for hours. God's word was so important that attendance at the Sunday sermon was compulsory, and many families attended two and three sermons, consuming the entire day baptized in the language of Scripture. The tenor of our own day is to view the scholar translator through a romantic prism, working as a solitary grappling with the intricacies of the ancient text. Nicolson introduces us to men from a different world, some worldly, some saintly, but all practitioners of a muscular Christianity that has all but disappeared. They inhabit these pages in all their delightful eccentricities. The personalities of the translators are memorable, and their collective cooperation on a work that continues to inspire after 400 years is a sure testament to their abilities. I highly recommend this most readable work.

churches in Germany and the Nazi regime. In his book, an adaptation of his doctoral dissertation at the University of Toronto, R i c h a r d Steigmann-Gall, who currently serves as an assistant professor of history at Kent State University in Ohio, seeks to break new scholarly ground and explore the religious beliefs of the Nazi leaders themselves. Much of the previous scholarship portrayed Nazism as a pagan and antiChristian movement that brutally persecuted both the Catholic and various Protestant churches. Political and practical considerations, however, made the immediate extermination of Christianity impossible. As part of their strategy to win support from German Protestants and even Catholics, the Nazis publicly affirmed their commitment to Christian values under the guise of "positive Christianity." Once they were firmly in power and presumably after their victory in World War II, the Nazis would have

Despite the persecution of the churches and the growing contempt for Christianity by top Nazi leaders, Steigmann-Gall concludes that Christianity would still have had some place in the Third Reich.
sought to exterminate Christianity. Drawing on a wide range of primary and secondary sources, SteigmannGall offers a different perspective, writing, "I suggest that, for many of its leaders, Nazism was not the result of

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Were the Nazis Christians?

Dimitri Cavalli
The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945
Richard Steigmann-Gall, Cambridge University Press, 310 pages, $30 n the last several decades, many books and articles have been published about the relationship between the individual Christian

DIMITRI CAVALLI writes biographies for the H. W. Wilson Company, a reference publisher in the Bronx, New York. He is planning books on both Pope Pius XII and Joe McCarthy, the late manager of the New York Yankees.




the 'Death of God' in secularized society, but rather a radicalized and singularly horrific attempt to preserve God against secularized society." Far from being pagan or antiChristian, the Nazi Party's political platform, which was adopted in 1920, supported freedom of religion for all Christian denominations, but as long "as they do not endanger [the German state's] existence or conflict with the customs and moral sentiments of the Germanic race." Although the Nazis refused to embrace any particular denomination, the party affirmed its commitment to "positive Christianity," a religious philosophy that was deliberately short on concrete details. "Positive Christianity was not an attempt to make a complete religious system with dogma or ritual of its own," Steigmann-Gall writes. "It was never formalized into a faith to which anyone could convert. Rather, this was primarily a social and politi-

cal worldview meant to emphasize those qualities in Christianity that could end sectarianism." Surveying the early Nazi movement during the 1920s, SteigmannGall finds that Dietrich Eckart, one of the party's ideologues whom Adolf Hitler credited as his mentor, wrote, "In Christ, the embodiment of all manliness, we find all that [Germany needs]." In a speech delivered in 1922, Hitler hailed Christ as "our greatest Aryan leader." Four years later, Hitler declared that the Nazi Party would complete "the work which Christ had begun but could not finish." Steigmann-Gall, however, ignores the fact that Hitler chose a swastika, a variation of a pagan symbol that dates back thousands of years, instead of a Christian cross as the Nazi Party's symbol. When the Nazis took power in 1933, they established an official "Reich Church," which attempted to

bring the different Protestant churches under state control. Hitler appointed Ludwig Miiller, a military chaplain and anti-Semite, as the Reich bishop. Opposition by Protestant pastors and ministers such as Martin Niemoller successfully frustrated the Nazis' attempts to unify the Protestant churches. The plan was subsequently abandoned in 1937. As for Miiller, he remained a marginal figure who committed suicide at the end of the war. Steigmann-Gall writes that the Nazis' hostility to the churches intensified by the end of the 1930s. The persecution of the churches, which reached its climax during World War II, included the closing of religious schools, the confiscation of church property, the suppression of church periodicals, and the imprisonment and murder of the clergy. For the author, these acts do not establish that the Nazis were "anti-Christian" but rather anti-clerical. Indeed, Hitler

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distinguished between Christianity as a religion and the Church as an institution. The author reports that Nazi officials such as Erich Koch, the Gauleiter of East Prussia and later the Reich commissioner for the Ukraine; Hanns Kerrl, the Reich church minister; and Bernhard Rust, the Reich education minister, all identified themselves as Christians. By contrast, the well-known Nazi leaders such as Alfred Rosenberg, Heinrich Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich, and Martin Bormann were fanatical anti-Christians. "National Socialism and Christian conceptions are incompatible," Bormann wrote to the Nazi Gauleiters in 1941. "The Christian churches build on peoples' uncertainty and attempt to maintain this fear in the widest possible section of the population, since only in this way can the Christian churches

keep their power. By contrast, National Socialism rests on scientific foundations." Despite his earlier statements, Hitler seemed to turn completely against Christianity during the war. "The Fiihrer is deeply religious, though completely anti-Christian," Joseph Goebbels, the minister of propaganda, wrote in his diary on December 28,1939. "He views Christianity as a symptom of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race." In 1941 Hitler told his top aides that "Christianity is the prototype of Bolshevism: the mobilisation by the Jew of the masses of slaves with the object of undermining society." Despite the persecution of the churches and the growing contempt for Christianity by top Nazi leaders, Steigmann-Gall concludes that Christianity would still have had some place in the Third Reich. But what kind

of Christianity would it have been? Would most Catholics and Protestants in countries occupied by Germany have been comfortable withor even recognizedthis brand of Christianity, whose basic doctrines were ignored or radically altered by the Nazis to conform to their racist and totalitarian ideology? Despite a few reservations, students of the period will benefit from reading The Holy Reich, which is rich in detail and provides many interesting insights into the religious views of the Nazis. Like Steigmann-Gall, we should all be troubled by the fact that many rankand-file Nazis considered themselves "good" Christians. But we also should keep in mind that many "Christian" Nazis were able to alleviate their consciences by allowing their religious faith to be subordinated to a destructive political ideology that ran contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. 4-

ALTAR BOY The child was wondering, where do fathers come from? For as he watched his own, striding beside him, He seemed so large, so other, that a birthday Was an impossibility. The eons Moved at his height; the strength of suns surrounded The head that bowed toward him as he was hurried Along the wide walk; mystical assurance Of all things right, and deep, was in the earnest Resonance of his voice. This chilly morning Renewed conviction in the wonderer That when they would descend the echoing staircase; While Father vested in the paneled chamber Beneath the chancel; when they would rise up Again into the nave, and at an altar Together move in patterns he had mastered; When he would serve, in humbleness, this power Intimate with holy mystery; He would be in the presence of a being Beyond mere flesh and blood, not born to time. Thomas Carper