Many people have argued about Hitler’s religious background and whether or not he was in fact a Catholic. While it cannot be proven conclusively one way or the other in the case of Hitler, it is known that his father, Alois, was Catholic and many other members of his family also professed the faith. However, the Nazi Party’s racist ideology was something completely separate from the tenets of any known faith, and there is good evidence to suggest that Hitler himself was intended to be worshipped as part of a new civic religion for the German people.
As the Nazis came to power, one of the first acts that the Party undertook was to take complete control over the various organs of the media. In Nazi Germany of the time, the radio was a very powerful tool for stifling dissent and disseminating propaganda. However, all other areas of the arts were also brought completely under the control of one man, the Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. As part of his evil work, Goebbels undertook to ensure that the legend around Hitler, the Fuhrer (“Supreme Leader”) of Germany would only grow.
Goebbels was behind propaganda that led Germans to believe that Hitler was a military and administrative genius whose works had singlehandedly caused the economy to recover. However, much of this “recovery” was created by forced labor as munitions plants and military vehicle plants were opened.
Goebbels was assisted in his work by other Nazis, such as Albert Speer. Speer built many large monuments to both Hitler and the Nazi Party all throughout Germany. One of the purposes of these monuments was to provide “ruin value”: In other words, the Nazis envisioned that future people would look with awe on what was left of these monuments in hundreds or even thousands of years.
Both of these Nazis were very effective at stage managing and “framing” Hitler so that he would appear to be larger than life. For example, in one speech, they used spotlights to create what they called a “Cathedral of Light” to surround Hitler during his speeches. In concert with their work to oppress the religious communities in Germany, including Jewish communities as well as Catholics and others, they also placed icons of Hitler in places of worship.
It is reasonable to suspect, as many historians now do, that Hitler intended to make the “Fuhrer” a sort of living saint. Thankfully, his ambitions came to an end in April, 1945.
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