A married father of two in Germany was ordained as a Catholic priest on Tuesday, a rare move by the church, which typically requires priests to be single and to take a vow of chastity.
Harm Klueting, 61, a professor of theology at universities in Cologne and Switzerland, and his wife served as clerics in the Lutheran church before they converted to Catholicism several years ago.
Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust is a book well worth reading. I’ve read it and I think highly of the book.
I don’ t have time to write a review right now, but here’s the PW writeup:
Goldhagen’s gripping and shocking landmark study transforms our understanding of the Holocaust. Refuting the widespread notion that those who carried out the genocide of Jews were primarily SS men or Nazi party members, he demonstrates that the perpetrators?those who staffed and oversaw the concentration camps, slave labor camps, genocidal army units, police battalions, ghettos, death marches?were, for the most part, ordinary German men and women: merchants, civil servants, academics, farmers, students, managers, skilled and unskilled workers. Rejecting the conventional view that the killers were slavishly carrying out orders under coercion, Goldhagen, assistant professor of government at Harvard, uses hitherto untapped primary sources, including the testimonies of the perpetrators themselves, to show that they killed Jews willingly, approvingly, even zealously. Hitler’s genocidal program of a “Final Solution” found ready accomplices in these ordinary Germans who, as Goldhagen persuasively argues, had absorbed a virulent, “eliminationist” anti-Semitism, prevalent as far back as the 18th century, which demonized the Jews and called for their expulsion or physical annihilation. Furthermore, his research reveals that a large proportion of the killers were told by their commanders that they could disobey orders to kill, without fear of retribution?yet they slaughtered Jews anyway. By his careful estimate, hundreds of thousands of Germans were directly involved in the mass murder, and millions more knew of the ongoing genocide. Among the 30 photographs are snapshots taken by the murderers of themselves and their victims.
1I am a german and for me this sounds like it could have been that way. The nazi regime was very good at propaganda. It should be a warning for the civilized world that even a well educated first world country can be victim to a radical ideology. The time after world war I was of course a very hard time in germany and people are more likely to follow false prophets in such times.
Posted by: Arnd | September 17, 2010 3:11 AM
I wish you would cease calling these people Christians. Like
the creationists, Hitler’s willing followers were people who
perverted everything that Christianity stands for.
Posted by: William O. Romine Jr. | September 17, 2010 9:16 AM
I’m three-quarters German. I had relatives here in the US who went to German school, read German newspapers, sang German patriotic songs, and joined the Bund, remaining loyal to Germany even after the declaration of war. All those men went into the Army, serving in the Pacific Theater.
After the collapse of the Third Reich, many of them were still proud of Germany’s accomplishments during the war. It seems to be part of a cultural mindset that can be hard to fathom.
Posted by: 6EQUJ5 | September 17, 2010 9:28 AM
William, sorry, just being real. The anti-semitism of Europe was largely a Christian phenomenon, and it was going for a long time before the Nazi’s, who were nominally Christian and often more than nominally Christian, put a fine edge on it while the German Church sat by and watched or even participated. For me to ignore that would be dishonest. For you to ignore it would also be dishonest. As an Atheist, I can’t really find a way to be dishonest like that. As a Christian, perhaps you don’t find it so difficult. Just sayin’
- Hitler’s Willing (Christian) Executioners [Greg Laden’s Blog] (scienceblogs.com)
- Hitler’s (Christian) Pope [Greg Laden’s Blog] (scienceblogs.com)
- German Women’s Involvement In The Holocaust (oliverwillis.com)
- Death Marches and Extermination Camps (socyberty.com)
In pictures: secrets of the Vatican archives | Books | guardian.co.uk.The Grand Vizir of the Ottoman Empire, Karà Mustafà, attacked Vienna with an army of 160,000 men in 1683. Appointed as head of the Christian army by the intervention of Pope Innocent XI, the King of Poland, John Sobieski, led an army of 70,000 men to the walls, and broke the siege on 11 September after eight hours of combat. CLICK LINK FOR PHOTOS.
- Vatican library reopens after 3-year restoration – Yahoo! News (news.yahoo.com)
- Hitler’s (Christian) Pope [Greg Laden’s Blog] (scienceblogs.com)
Tuesday marks the 1,600th anniversary of one of the turning points of European history – the first sack of Imperial Rome by an army of Visigoths, northern European barbarian tribesmen, led by a general called Alaric.
It was the first time in 800 years that Rome had been successfully invaded. The event had reverberations around the Mediterranean.
Jerome, an early Christian Church Father, in a letter to a friend from Bethlehem – where he happened to be living – wrote that he burst into tears upon hearing the news.
“My voice sticks in my throat, and, as I dictate, sobs choke me. The city which had taken the whole world was itself taken,” he said.
Although Alaric was a Christian ransacking a Christian city, there was an ominous feeling that the world structure built by pagan Rome was disintegrating.
The Roman Empire survived for a few more decades, and later other armies sacked the city again, but this was the date which marked the beginning of the end of Rome’s grandeur.
Centuries later, the city which had at the height of its power boasted a population of more than a million people, was reduced to a lawless, ruined village of no more than 30,000 residents.
Marching in unopposed
Pagans claimed that Christians had destroyed the greatest human achievement ever contrived.
And Christians themselves, who had boasted that they had saved whatever was good in ancient civilisation, lifting it to new heights, suffered a crisis of confidence.
Although the now-Christian Roman Empire was divided between an Emperor of the West, ruling with his court from the city of Ravenna in Northern Italy and a rival Emperor of the East, ruling from Constantinople, there was a feeling that there had been a breakdown at the centre of things, in fabled Rome.
Continue reading the main story
“The moment the Roman Emperor did not pay any more they changed sides and sacked the town”
Philipp Von Rummel
German Archaeological Centre, Rome
Historians and archaeologists from Germany, Switzerland, Britain and the United States specialising in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire have decided to meet in Rome in October and November to pool their latest research about this first Sack of Rome.
One of the organisers of the conference is Philipp Von Rummel of the German Archaeological Centre in Rome.
I asked him if 24 August 410 might be considered the 9/11 of the ancient world.
“Probably even more so,” he replied. “I don’t know if people will still be talking about 9/11 in 2,000 years time, but the events of that August day still influence our contemporary view of history.”
Who exactly were the Visigoths, the barbarians from the North who marched unopposed into Rome?
Mr Von Rummel says the latest research reveals a very different picture from that held as recently as 50 years ago.
“Today we know the group consisted of different people, it was mainly an army with a successful leader. People joined this group inside the Roman Empire. They sacked a lot of towns but they acted in different ways, they also were a sometime partner of the Romans,” he said.
“The moment the Roman emperor did not pay any more they changed sides and sacked the town just to tell the emperor: ‘You should pay us’.”
Looting and pillaging
I went to look for evidence at the northern walls of Rome, still almost intact for long stretches after nearly two millennia.
There is a gap marking the site of the former Salarian Gate just across the road from a modern department store. Alaric’s army took the Via Salaria – the so-called salt road – linking the city to the Adriatic Sea.
When the city gates were opened by slaves, Alaric’s ragtag army rushed inside to loot and pillage. The sack lasted for only three days, after which Alaric withdrew and marched south to set sail for North Africa, an important and wealthy Roman province.
But Alaric never made it. His ships were destroyed in a storm and he died shortly afterwards.
Many Romans fled to North Africa for safety. There, in Hippo, an important coastal town in what is now Algeria, the local bishop, Saint Augustine, was inspired to write one of his seminal works, The City of God.
Augustine, just like Jerome, felt he had lost his bearings with news of the collapse of Rome. Once Rome had gone, what sense was to be made of the world?
SAN DIEGO, July 25, 2010 (SixMillionCrucifixions.com) – When thinking of the reason why the German Catholic Church thought it proper to lift the ban on membership in the Nazi Party in 1933 one needs to think of what the church stands for. If the church felt that the Nazi ideals were not compatible with Catholic ideals, as was the stated reason for the ban, then one needs to think of what changed that prompted the lift of the ban. I don’t think that the church was simply lifting the ban to protect democracy, as some church apologists claim. The church was never interested in protecting democracy. Cardinal Pacelli, then the Vatican Secretary of State and later Pope Pius XII, had no qualms in prompting the disbanding of the powerful Catholic Center Party in Germany, who could have stood up and made a difference against the Nazis. But even if the church cared about democracy, it would not have lifted the ban unless it thought that it was the right thing to do. Imagine today that the Ku Klux Klan became an official political party in the United States, and began to have traction on a platform based on discrimination against Jews, blacks, gays, or anything else. What would the church advise the faithful to do? Would they support the KKK for the sake of supporting democracy and freedom of speech? The Kulturkampf, the cultural struggle between Otto von Bismarck and the Catholic Church in the 1870s is a perfect example of what the church should have done vis-à-vis the Nazis as well. The Church opposed Bismarck, and the church eventually won, despite the many setbacks on the way. The church stood for what they believed was right in 1870. They could and should have kept the moral high ground and done the same thing against Hitler in 1933, even if that meant another struggle. The difference is that in 1870 Bismarck opposed the Catholic Church, while in 1933 Hitler opposed the Jews. On the second round the Church was not on the receiving end. Even though the Concordat was not intended to mean an endorsement or support of Nazi policies, that was actually the way the German Church and German Catholics widely perceived it to mean. The reason why they joined the Nazi party in droves was not just because the party was successful. They joined because they agreed with its ideals, and because once the Vatican signed the Concordat and the church lifted the ban German Catholics assumed that meant it was then all right to join, and that is precisely what they did.
Apologists for the church justify Vatican support for Nazi Germany in 1933 by claiming that in 1933 the majority of Germans supported the Nazis, and that fighting the Nazis would have been tantamount to suicide. Neither claim is true. The Catholic Center Party was very strong and in a coalition would have actually defeated the Nazis. We have Cardinal Pacelli to thank for the dissolution of the Catholic Center Party and for making Hitler’s absolute takeover of power possible. Even after Hitler came to power the strength and potential of the Church cannot and should not be underestimated. The Catholic Church prospered greatly under the Weimar Republic, increasing the number of priests to over 20,000 for 20 million Catholics, as opposed to sixteen thousand pastors for 40 million Protestants. Catholic organizations of every kind multiplied; new monasteries were built, new religious orders were founded, new schools were established. As the historian Karl Bachem said in 1931, “Never yet has a Catholic country possessed such a developed system of all conceivable Catholic associations as today’s Catholic Germany.” Some apologists for the church claim that the Concordat was signed not to protect church interests, but instead and in particular to protect the Jews. This is a preposterous claim. The Concordat was meant to protect church interests, not Jews.
Just as the Catholic Germans were supportive of the Church’s admonition to stay away from the Nazis before the ban was lifted, they would have remained that way if the Church had continued to keep the ban in place or at the very least advised the faithful clearly, repeatedly and in no uncertain terms that the Nazi ideology was evil and incompatible with Catholic teachings. By failing to do this the Church tacitly approved what was being done to the Jews.
It’s true that neither Cardinal Pacelli nor Pope Pius XI could have known what was coming, that they were making a pact with the devil (although they must have known Hitler and Nazi ideology were evil), that it would protect the church from the forthcoming Nazi terror (which in any case it didn’t and even then the church did not repudiate the pact), and even less, that it would help them protect all in need, especially the Jews. The latter claim never crossed their minds.
Cardinal Pacelli might have been concerned about excesses against Jews in Germany, and even discussed it. But actions speak louder than words, and he said very few words and acted even less. Pope Pius XI might have warned Mussolini that the racial laws might make him angry, perhaps even violently so. Yet, the racial laws stood, the pope never got past that and didn’t do anything about it other than complain about the treatment of Jews who had converted to Catholicism. The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano may have declared that the church would defend the Jews, which of course surely looked good as it was later reported on the New York Times, but they had also declared at about the same time (June 1938) that the Jews “usurp the best positions in every field, and not always by legitimate means,” cause “the suffering of the immense majority of the native populations,” hate and struggle against the Christian religion, and favor Freemasons and other subversive groups. Father Rosa in the L’Osservatore Romano article called for “an equable and lasting solution to the formidable Jewish problem,” but counseled to do so through legal means. But this was no fluke, as there was a long history of antisemitism in this publication. Previously they had declared that “Antisemitism ought to be the natural, sober, thoughtful, Christian reaction against Jewish predominance” and, according to the paper, true antisemitism “is and can be in substance nothing other than Christianity, completed and perfected in Catholicism.”
A spotlight illuminates the icon of the apostle John discovered with other paintings in the St Tecla catacomb in Rome. Photograph: Pier Paolo Cito/AP
Archaeologists exploring a Christian catacomb under a residential Roman street have unearthed the earliest known images of the apostles Andrew and John.
Using a newly developed laser to burn away centuries of calcium deposits without damaging the paintings beneath, the team found the late 4th-century images in the richly decorated tomb of a Roman noblewoman.
“John’s young face is familiar, but this is the most youthful portrayal of Andrew ever seen, very different from the old man with grey hair and wrinkles we know from medieval painting,” said project leader Barbara Mazzei.
Discovered in the 1950s and as yet unseen by the public, the St Tecla catacomb is accessed through the unmarked basement door of a drab office building, beyond which dim corridors packed with burial spots wind off through damp tufa stone.
The catacomb is close to the basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls, where bones discovered in a sarcophagus have been dated to the first or second century and attributed to St Paul.