From Publishers Weekly
A number of studies have examined the relationship between Nazism and the German Christian churches (most notably Klaus Scholder's well-known The Churches and the Third Reich). There are, of course, also studies of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth and others that explore the relationship between the Reich and the church in terms of the Christian protest against Nazism. Steigmann-Gall, a history professor at Kent State, adds a new chapter to the story by investigating the way that Christianity functioned within the Nazi party itself. Using party pamphlets and writings of key members, he demonstrates that as early as 1920 the group declared that it represented the standpoint of a positive Christianity, which provided the tenets of its anti-Semitic and antimaterialist stance. Many of the Nazi elite believed that their own party doctrine and Christianity shared common themes such as the opposition of good against evil, God against the devil and the struggle for national salvation from the Jews and Marxism. This positive Christianity enfolded both Catholicism and Protestantism, for the Nazis believed that confessional disunity presented the greatest challenge to national unity. Steigmann-Gall examines the leaders of the party and shows how many of them contributed to the view of an intimate relationship between Nazism and Christianity. He also explores how the Nazis identified the Jews with the Devil and believed that God would liberate them from this evil. Although this revised dissertation plods along in workmanlike fashion, Steigmann-Gall uncovers new information and helpful insights about the period.
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"Uncovers new information and helpful insights..." Publishers Weekly
"In the crowded field of Third Reich History, The Holy Reich really does have something original to say...The Holy Reich should prompt a critical re-evaluation of the nature of Nazi ideology...an uncomfortably thought-provoking work of admirable scholarship." Times Higher Education Supplement
"The Holy Reich is a brilliant and provocative work that will recast the whole debate on Christianity and Nazism. We have come to realize that Christianity embraced Nazism more than we used to believe. Now, in a work of deep revisionist import, Richard Steigmann-Gall shows us that the embrace was more than reciprocated." Helmut Walser Smith, author of The Butcher's Tale: Murder and Anti-Semitism in a German Town
"The Holy Reich is both deeply researched and thoughtfully argued. It is the first comparative analysis of the religious beliefs of leading Nazis and a timely reminder of the intimate relations between liberal Protestantism and National Socialism. This is an important and original book by a talented young scholar that deserves as wide a readership as possible." Michael Burleigh, William Rand Kenan Professor of History at Washington & Lee University and author of The Third Reich: A New History
"There has been a huge amount of research on the attitude of the Christian Churches to the Nazis and their policies, but astonishingly until now there has been no thorough study of the Nazis' own religious beliefs. Richard Steigmann-Gall has now provided it. He has trawled through a lot of very turgid literature to show that active Nazis from the leadership down to the lower levels of the party were bitterly opposed to the Catholic Church, but had a much more ambivalent attitude to Protestantism and to Christianity in a wider sense...Far from being uniformly anti-Christian, Nazism contained a wide variety of religious beliefs, and Steigmann-Gall has performed a valuable service in providing a meticulously documented account of them in all their bizarre variety." Richard J. Evans, Professor of Modern History, University of Cambridge
"The Holy Reich is both deeply researched and thoughtfully argued. It is the first comparative analysis of the religious beliefs of leading Nazis and a timely reminder of the intimate relations between liberal Protestantism and National Socialism. This is an important and original book by a talented young scholar that deserves as wide a readership as possible." Michael Burleigh, William Rand Kenan Professor of History at Washington & Lee University and author of The Third Reich: A New History, winner of Britain's Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction in 2001
"A vast and important subject has finally received the comprehensive analysis it deserves. Steigman-Gall's fundamental argument--that the Nazi movement was both intimately and intricately, positively and negatively related to Christianity--will hearten those who see Nazi Germany not as an efficient totalitarian system, but as a nonsystem of constant institutional and personal conflicts.... Highly recommended." Choice
"Steigmann-Gall makes an important argument and supports it energetically and resourcefully" The Catholic Historical Review - Doris I. Bergen, University of Notre Dame