Germany and Atheism

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See also Religion and Wars

The German word for Nazi literally translates as National Socialist Party, and the party is based around the concepts of socialism, eugenics, and Social Darwinism, all of which are decidedly left-wing principles. Germany was always the center of liberalism, and where many of the most famous atheists and their doctrines originated. Early criticism of the Bible was largely founded in Germany as well. The attempt to disclaim Nazi Germany as anything but left-wing in origin is extremely dishonest by the left.

Modern socialism found its birthplace in Germany with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and Herbert Marcuse, considered the father of the 'New Left' is also from Germany. Julius Welhausen, originator of the Documentary Hypothesis, is just one of the many German Bible critics that have sought to minimalize Christianity over the past two centuries. Even as the left would like to write off Nazi Germany as right-wing rather than left-wing, many of the left's heroes and originators ironically began in Germany. Much of modern liberal theory and philosophy originated in Germany.

Nazi Persecution of Christians

In Germany alone over 800 Protestant pastors were arrested by the Nazi Party under Hitler's reign, and outside of Germany French pastor Andres Trocme led the town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon to save thousands of Jews from the Nazis before they imprisoned him, and his second cousin, Daniel Trocme, was martyred by the Nazis for protecting Jews. Other examples of Christians persecuted by the Nazis for protecting Jews and honored accordingly by Israel's Yad Vashem include Geertruida Wijsmuller-Meijer, Cornelia ten Boom, Sister Anna Borkowska, Clement Sheptytsky, Ona Šimaitė, the Skobtsova family, Irena Sendler, Józef and Wiktoria Ulma, and Maria Kotarba, among many others.

Hitler at times made overtly religious statements for political advantage, similar to the way Barack Obama said he supported marriage between a man and a woman before Rick Warren, and that abortion was above his pay grade, before flipping on those positions once elected. However, Hitler's primary influence appears to have been the secular, liberal atheists who, like Nietzsche, Marx, and Haeckel, had dominated Germany the prior century.

German Atheists

  • Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860): Argued that humans are motivated only by base desires, he was a fierce critic of Christianity and Judaism, and supported eugenics to stop certain people from breeding. Despite being an atheist he was also heavily influenced by Buddhism.
  • Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872): An early critic of Christianity who influenced Marx and Engels.
  • Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919): Darwinist who spread the theory of Evolution to Germany and expanded on Darwinism with phylogenetic trees.
  • Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920): The father of Experimental Psychology and critic of Christianity.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900): The most well-known atheist of all-time, he famously declared "God is dead" and authored works attacking Jesus and the Bible at the end of his life before going insane and prophesying the coming of WWII (see Nietzsche madness writings).
  • Karl Lowith (1897-1973): Argued against Christian influence in history.

German Bible Critics

  • Baron d'Holbach (1723-1789): Attacked Christianity and religion as impeding human progress.
  • Johann Gottfried Eichhorn (1753-1827): Known as the founder of modern Old Testament criticism, he attacked the authority of the Old Testament.
  • Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834): The founder of Modern Liberal Theology, he attacked Christianity, advocated universalism, and argued against the Biblical concept of Hell.
  • Wilhelm Martin Leberecht de Wette (1780-1849): Attempted to undermine the Bible's authority, he influenced Wellhausen.
  • David Friedrich Strauss (1808-1874): Attacked the New Testament as mythical.
  • Bruno Bauer (1809-1882): Student of Hegel, associate of Marx and Nietzsche, who attempted to link Christianity to Greek mythology.
  • Julius Welhausen (1844-1918): Founder of the Documentary Hypothesis, one of the best-known attacks on the authority of the Bible.
  • Hermann Gunkel (1862-1932): Originator of Form Criticism, the modern attack on preservation of the Bible.
  • Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965): Attacked Christianity as having prophecies that should have been fulfilled in the first century A.D.
  • Rudolf Karl Bultmann (1884-1976): Advocate of Form Criticism who argued Jesus' teachings were myths.
  • Erich Fromm (1900-1980): Claimed the story of Adam and Eve was allegorical, he advocated Marxism and Democratic Socialism.
  • Niels Peter Lemche (1945-Present): Critic of Biblical archaeological evidence.
  • Bart D. Ehrman (1955-Present): Leading critic of Christianity today.

German Socialists

  • G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831): Originated some of the ideas on which Marxism/Communism was based.
  • Karl Marx (1818-83) and Friedrich Engels (1820-95): Co-founders of Marxism, they authored "The Communist Manifesto."
  • Rudolf von Bennigsen (1824-1902): Founder of the National Liberal Party of Germany.
  • August Bebel (1840-1913): Founder of the Social Democratic Workers' Party of Germany and chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, an early leader of socialism.
  • Eduard Bernstein (1850-1932): The founder of Evolutionary Socialism and Revisionism, he is also notable as being one of the first socialists to support homosexuality.
  • Karl Kautsky (1854-1938): Known as the Pope of Marxism, he was a famous German socialist and member of the Social Democratic Party of Austria that was a leader of Marxist thought.
  • Alfred Hugenberg (1865-1951): Member of Germany's National Liberal Party and leader of the German National People's Party who used his considerable wealth to finance the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler.
  • Luise Kahler (1869-1955): Leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and a leading feminist of her day, she was also a leader of trade unions.
  • Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979): Considered the father of the "New Left", he is a socialist/Marxist, critic of capitalism, and originated the idea of tolerance that is intolerant of right-wing politics, stating "Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left".
  • Petra Kelly (1947-92): Founder of the German Green Party, the first Green Party to become globally prominent, she campaigned in the U.S. for Robert F. Kennedy.
  • Gregor Gysi (1948-Present): Leader of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany responsible for changing it into the Party of Democratic Socialism.

Nazism and German Academia

It is a little-known fact that Nazism was comprised heavily of teachers, particularly elementary-school teachers.


  1. Gerth, H. (1940). "The Nazi Party: Its Leadership and Composition." American Journal of Sociology, 45(4): 525. University of Chicago Press Journals.