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Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich

Ernst Piper
Journal of Contemporary History
Vol. 42, No. 1 (Jan., 2007), pp. 47-57
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30036428
Page Count: 11
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Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich
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Abstract

Steigmann-Gall confronts us with the provocative thesis that National Socialism was in reality a Christian movement. He wishes to correct the 'mistaken belief of the last 50 years' that the nazi movement was stamped by a basic hostility to Christianity. Steigmann-Gall's thesis is original. But it does not convince. The list of crown prosecution witnesses he calls to the bar has no consistency and lacks the necessary weight. Steigmann-Gall mistakes the ideological nature of nazism, which in reality did not want to tolerate any kind of religion in the long run, since every religion would inevitably represent competition with it and thus question the claim of the ideological dictatorship of National Socialism to a monopoly over people's beliefs. In the 1990s there was a lively debate about the idea of nazism as a political religion, a debate unfortunately largely ignored in Steigmann-Gall's book. This debate took as its starting point the thesis that nazism intended to be a secular religion. But one has to ask in this context whether the concept of political religion is based on a meaningful concept of religion per se. Whatever the case may be, there was certainly one thing that nazism did not want to be: Christian.

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