Thursday, March 01, 2007

Further Thoughts From Karla Poewe

Dr. Karla Poewe responded to my request for clarification on her interview that touched on National Socialism and various influences, particularly Paganism. She sent me the following reply:

To begin with, while Anti-Semitism has unfortunately always been around, the version of Anti-Semitism that was sanctioned and developed after 1918 was of a different nature. It was not the usual Christian Anti-Judaism; rather it hardened with notions of race and Social Darwinism. The book shows how the development of the National Socialist worldview based on concepts of Volk, Volksgemeinschaft, and its embodiment in the notion of F├╝hrer sanctioned turning Jews from citizen to stranger, eventually leading to, or being indifferent about what became, the Holocaust.

In fact, I mention German Christians as one of the secular religions that helped support National Socialism. It would help if people read the book carefully instead of voicing opinions that are not connected to the archival research on which the book sits. German Christians politicized, that is national socialized, Christianity beyond recognition. Furthermore, the book shows, giving examples, how people cynically used Christian symbols to refer to clear National Socialist ideas and practices. It was an effective way of undermining, especially, the already wobbly Protestant Church. I suggest your readers read the books by Emilio Gentile who distinguishes the sacralization of politics (turning the latter into the secular religion that became National Socialism, specifically, and fascism generally) and the politicization of the Church for reasons of a dangerous opportunism especially in matters pertaining to morality and institutional change.

What some claim to be an agenda are rather the author's surprise at what was uncovered in the archived materials--the letters, notes, brochures, lectures and so forth of intellectuals who turned themselves into religious leaders and led their followers to National Socialism. Again, letters by students, including especially students of theology, to Hauer who co-founded the German Faith Movement are most revealing.

Since my book ends in 1936, some years before the actual perpetration of crimes in the concentration camps, my book nowhere makes a direct link between ideas developed after 1918 and the killings between 1941-1944.

That the churches failed in many ways is made extremely clear in especially Chapter eight of the book. The material is seen through the correspondence centered on Hauer, but one has to be blind not to understand just where and how the churches failed.

Finally, it seems as if Pagans are the only religious grouping among whom are still found some, I repeat some, individuals who believe in a pristine innocence, "eine Ur-Unschuld, " pertaining to things human. No religion, certainly not Christianity, is above criticism and self-criticism if for no other reason than that criticism provides the opportunity to know our faults, to know the history of our faith, and with some luck to improve it. Most people today do not even know what fascism is, one reason why my book, or if you prefer the books of Gentile or Griffin and many others should actually be read. At any rate, the link between the likes of Hauer through Hunke to the self-described Pagan European New Right is real.

Karla Poewe

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