Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Lie that Nazism Was an Atheistic Movement VI

I have written several posts on this particular lie that has become so popular among the religious in recent years.  In my very first post on this topic, I mentioned the fact that some of the countries within the sphere of Nazi influence did much more to resist the implementation of the holocaust than others.  I mentioned that Norway, Denmark, and Bulgaria with their non-Catholic churches refused to go along and effectively prevented the extermination of most of the Jews living in those countries.

I would like to add Greece to this list of places that resisted.  Although the government of Greece was complicit in the Holocaust, the Greek Orthodox Church resisted. 

When the Nazis began trying to round up Greece's Jews, Archbishop Damaskinos Papandreou of Athens formally protested in a letter sent to both the Nazis and the leaders of Greece's wartime collaborationist government.

According to The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, Damaskinos' letter is unique.  No similar document protesting against the Nazis during World War II has come to light in any other European country.

The letter reads, in part:

The Greek Orthodox Church and the Academic World of Greek People Protest against the Persecution... The Greek people were... deeply grieved to learn that the German Occupation Authorities have already started to put into effect a program of gradual deportation of the Greek Jewish community... and that the first groups of deportees are already on their way to Poland... According to the terms of the armistice, all Greek citizens, without distinction of race or religion, were to be treated equally by the Occupation Authorities. The Greek Jews have proven themselves... valuable contributors to the economic growth of the country [and] law-abiding citizens who fully understand their duties as Greeks. They have made sacrifices for the Greek country, and were always on the front lines of the struggle of the Greek nation to defend its inalienable historical rights...
In our national consciousness, all the children of Mother Greece are an inseparable unity: they are equal members of the national body irrespective of religion... Our holy religion does not recognize superior or inferior qualities based on race or religion, as it is stated: 'There is neither Jew nor Greek' and thus condemns any attempt to discriminate or create racial or religious differences. Our common fate both in days of glory and in periods of national misfortune forged inseparable bonds between all Greek citizens, without exemption, irrespective of race...
Today we are... deeply concerned with the fate of 60,000 of our fellow citizens who are Jews... we have lived together in both slavery and freedom, and we have come to appreciate their feelings, their brotherly attitude, their economic activity, and most important, their indefectible patriotism...

Damaskinos went on to publish the letter, even though the local Schutzstaffel commander, Jürgen Stroop, threatened to execute him by firing squad. Damaskinos's famous response to him was:

According to the traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church, our prelates are hanged, not shot.  Please respect our traditions!
The Archbishop's brazen reply was sarcasm.  He was referring to the hanging of Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople by a Turkish mob in 1821, the point being made that the SS commander would act in a similarly barbaric fashion if he were to carry out his threat.

Even more revealing than Damaskinos' formal and public protests were the orders given to the priests under his jurisdiction.  They were quietly told by Damaskinos to distribute Christian baptismal certificates to Jews fleeing the Nazis, thus saving thousands of Jews in and around Athens.  Fortunately, the Jewish community in Greece was so ancient and well-integrated that it was impossible to discern them from Greeks of other religions.  Baptismal certificates were usually sufficient to save them.

Thanks in no small part to Damaskinos' actions, only a very small number of Greek Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

One has to wonder why comparable actions were not taken by the Pope and other religious leaders in Europe at that time.

I find these facts particularly damning in light of the recent efforts by the Catholic Church to re-write history and claim that Hitler was an atheist when, in fact, he was a Catholic--as were huge numbers of those who carried out the Holocaust.  Fully 50% of the Waffen SS were confessing Catholics.  Many, if not most, of the collaborators who did the actual killing were from Poland, Ukraine, and Lithuania, all of which are heavily Catholic.  (Not to mention the horrors perpetrated by the ultra-Catholic regime in Croatia during the war.)  In addition, unlike the Greek Orthodox priests under Damaskinos' jurisdiction, the Catholic priests inside the German Reich did not provide false baptism records to Jews in their communities.  Instead, they actually opened their records to the Nazis so that they could discover which of the baptized Catholics had Jewish ancestry.

In light of all these facts, it is nothing short of appalling for the church to try to paint the Nazis as atheists.  To do so is comparable to blaming the Holocaust on the Jews--especially when one considers that atheists were among the very first of the Nazis' victims.

Just a few years ago, Pope Benedict XVI, who was himself a member of the Hitler Youth, repeated this outrageous, slanderous calumny.  I would like to reproduce here a letter to the editor of a newspaper.  The letter was written by a contemporary of the Pope soon after this despicable incident.  The author of the letter was himself a German who had been a member of the Hitler Youth during the war:

"According to Reuters, Benedict XVI recently claimed that 'the brutal extermination of Jews by the 'godless' Nazi regime would never be forgotten or denied.' This statement is a blatant falsehood.
As a former member of the Hitler Youth organization, the Pope must have been aware that Hitler considered himself a messenger of God who was sent to rid the world of the "Christ killer" Jews and that Pius XII signed a Concordat with the Nazi regime that gave the Roman Catholic church special rights and privileges. He also must be aware that in religion classes in German schools, Roman Catholic priests told pupils not to feel sorry for the Jews since they deserved what they were getting because "they killed our Lord Jesus."
To now call the Nazi regime "godless" is dishonest and disappointing, coming from a Pope who is expected to tell only the truth."
Hitler was not an atheist, and the Nazis were not godless.  The Pope knows this, as does everyone who knows the facts concerning this period in history.  Furthermore, the Pope's personal history makes this knowledge undeniable and proves quite clearly that he is a manipulative liar and a shameless propagandist and scapegoater. 

In fact, his attempt to rewrite history and use atheists as scapegoats is so completely contrary to the facts that it can only be seen as an implicit admission of the Church's guilt.  After all, the innocent don't need to tell outrageous lies and pin the blame on innocent parties.

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