Hitler was a cruel dictator, a proponent of genocide, and a mass murderer. He also liked to plan ahead - when Hitler committed suicide in his bunker under Berlin, he left detailed plans for Germany's future, including the role religion would play in the Third Reich. Hitler's plans for post-war Germany contained shocking details about his religious views.
Similar to how the Nazis removed Christ from Christmas, Hitler intended to tear down Christianity to establish his reputation as "Germany's Jesus Christ." He would start with replacing crucifixes with portraits of himself, followed by throwing religious dissidents in concentration camps. Hitler's plot also included the staged assassination of the pope and an alliance with Middle Eastern Muslims against Jewish people and the British.
To Hitler, religion was a thorn in his side threatening to pull people's loyalty from the state.
According To Hitler's Foreign Policy, The Nazis Would Continue Depopulating To The East After They Won The War
Though raised as a Catholic, attended Catholic school, and served as a choirboy, Hitler held profound beliefs rejecting much of Christianity. Privately, Hitler made alleged financial contributions to the Catholic Church, despite refusing to attend mass or receive the sacraments. However, he complained about how Christianity was "a Jewish plot to undermine the heroic ideals of the Aryan-dominated Roman Empire." According to this logic, Jesus Christ was a known Jew.
Hitler's antisemitism - which drove his "Final Solution" to destroy Europe's Jewish population - meant he would have continued the Holocaust if he had won the war. As part of the Generalplan Ost, Hitler's foreign policy plan, Nazi Germany intended to depopulate the conquered territories to Germany's east, slaughtering religious "enemies," such as Jewish people, via mass murder.
Developed in 1941 and based on Hitler's Mein Kampf, the plan involved shutting out religious and ethnic undesirables by constructing a fortified border, which would have stretched from the Arctic to the Caucasus mountains.
The Attack On Christianity Would Help Hitler Conquer The World
After the fall of Nazi Germany and during the Nuremberg Trials, investigators uncovered Hitler's post-war plans to destroy German Christianity. The 108-page outline, created by investigators and titled "The Persecution of the Christian Churches," claims attacking Christianity was ''an integral part of the National Socialist scheme of world conquest.''
For Hitler, conquest included a "domestic policy involving the complete subservience of Church to State," according to the investigators. In the 1930s, Nazi Germany took control of regional branches of the largest Protestant church, turning them over to government agencies. A state church served the needs of Hitler's party, as did creating an alliance with the Roman Catholic Church in 1933.
This concordat required the church to "pledge of loyalty by the clergy to the Reich government and [make] a promise that Catholic religious instruction would emphasize the patriotic duties of the Christian citizen.''
Hitler Planned To Replace Christianity With Nazism
Hitler eventually wanted to replace Christianity with Nazism, according to historian Richard Weikart. The Third Reich's massive propaganda machine appropriated religious symbols to build a new faith around Hitler and Nazism. Hitler believed a religion centered on a Middle Eastern Jew failed to serve the Third Reich's needs.
However, while building his power, Hitler promoted a blend of Nazism and Christianity which was known as the "German Christian" movement. In 1934, German Christian proponent Gerhard Hahn declared the two symbols had to stand together.
In The Cross of Christ and the Swastika, Hahn argued, "Church and people - they should stand together inseparably in joy and sorrow, in death and need! The cross of Christ and the swastika - they should and must stand alongside each other!"
As Weikart argued, Nazi propaganda advocated Hitler as a messiah, a savior blessed by God and on a divine mission to liberate Germany. Appointed by Hitler, Hanns Kerrl the Minister for Church Affairs publicly called the dictator "Germany's Jesus Christ."
As An Initial Step, Hitler Replaced Crucifixes In Catholic Schools With His Portrait
Hitler demanded loyalty from religious organizations. When the Jehovah's Witnesses refused to perform the Nazi salute, Hitler sent most of them to concentration camps. He also used the threat of public disgrace to stop Catholic opposition. He ordered Catholic schools to take down their crucifixes and replace them with portraits of himself. One Catholic vicar declared, "Every attack on the crucifix, the symbol of our salvation, is an attack on Christianity."
Hitler rebuffed any dissent from organized religions - he considered an attack on his plan a sign of treason. Consequently, when Catholics in Oldenburg and East Prussia protested in 1936 and 1937, Hitler declared all schools were to become "German community schools," destroying religious education. The dictator demanded that they replace images of German hero and Reformation leader Martin Luther with portraits of himself. With these enforcements, Protestants practically had to worship Hitler.