How Hitler Saved Capitalism and Won the War: The Barmen Declaration


This is the first in a series on the parallels between Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s and the path to market totalitarianism which I ‘m convinced the United States is following in this second decade of the 21st century. In fact, it is my view that the U.S. has been on this path since the end of the Second Inter-capitalist War (1939-1945), and especially over the last thirty-five years.

The series represents the back story for an appeal I’ve been making to my friends in our Ecumenical Table Fellowship (an inter-denominational worship group formed over the last year in Madison County, Kentucky). There I’ve been urging that we explore the possibilities and procedures for becoming a “Confessing Church” of resistance like the church formed by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth, Martin Niemoller, and their allies in Hitlerian Germany. In 1934 that church published “The Barmen Declaration” whose intention was to rescue the Judeo-Christian tradition from nationalistic interpretations which supported the Third Reich.

A similarly nationalistic interpretation, I fear, has characterized “Christianity” over the last quarter century plus ten in the United States. There, under the influence of Christian fundamentalists, “Christianity” has become virtually synonymous with the extreme right-wing politics that Hitler championed. Like Hitler, that form of Christianity idealizes white Anglo-Saxon culture above all others. Like der fuhrer, it manipulates the Judeo-Christian tradition to support racism and white privilege.

Let me begin the series by reprinting the Barmen Declaration along with parenthetical “translations” and a brief commentary. Subsequent Monday blog entries will trace Hitler’s rise to power, his program of saving capitalism, and how the U.S. adopted Hitlerism without Hitler following der Fuhrer’s demise.

Please begin by considering the Barmen Declaration as translated (in bold) immediately below:

“We, the representatives of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Churches, of free synods, Church assemblies, and parish organizations united in the Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church, declare that we stand together on the ground of the German Evangelical Church as a federation of German Confessional Churches. We are bound together by the confession of the one Lord of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. (THE BARMEN COMMUNITY ASSERTS ITS FOUNDATION: JESUS ALONE IS ULTIMATE AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH.)

8.07 We publicly declare before all evangelical Churches in Germany that what they hold in common in this Confession is grievously imperiled, and with it the unity of the German Evangelical Church. It is threatened by the teaching methods and actions of the ruling Church party of the “German Christians” and of the Church administration carried on by them. These have become more and more apparent during the first year of the existence of the German Evangelical Church. This threat consists in the fact that the theological basis, in which the German Evangelical Church is united, has been continually and systematically thwarted and rendered ineffective by alien principles, on the part of the leaders and spokesmen of the “German Christians” as well as on the part of the Church administration. When these principles are held to be valid, then, according to all the Confessions in force among us, the Church ceases to be the Church and th German Evangelical Church, as a federation of Confessional Churches, becomes intrinsically impossible. (NEVERTHELESS THE “GERMAN EVANGELICAL CHURCH” HAS ACCEPTED AUTHORITY OTHER THAN JESUS, NAMELY, THE AUTHORITY OF THE THIRD REICH.)

8.08 As members of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Churches we may and must speak with one voice in this matter today. Precisely because we want to be and to remain faithful to our various Confessions, we may not keep silent, since we believe that we have been given a common message to utter in a time of common need and temptation. We commend to God what this may mean for the interrelations of the Confessional Churches. (THOSE WHO RECOGNIZE THIS CONTRADICTION ARE CONVINCED THEY MUST SPEAK IN OPPOSITION TO THIS OBVIOUS CONTRADICTION.)

8.09 In view of the errors of the “German Christians” of the present Reich Church government which are devastating the Church and also therefore breaking up the unity of the German Evangelical Church, we confess the following evangelical truths: (THEY THEREFORE FEEL COMPELLED TO CONFESS THE FOLLOWING EVANGELICAL TRUTHS.)

8.10 – 1. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14.6). “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. . . . I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved.” (John 10:1, 9.)
8.11 Jesus Christ, as he is attested for us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God which we have to hear and which we have to trust and obey in life and in death. (WE MUST OBEY JESUS AND NO OTHER.)

8.12 We reject the false doctrine, as though the church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God’s revelation.
8.13 – 2. “Christ Jesus, whom God has made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Cor. 1:30.)
8.14 As Jesus Christ is God’s assurance of the forgiveness of all our sins, so, in the same way and with the same seriousness he is also God’s mighty claim upon our whole life. Through him befalls us a joyful deliverance from the godless fetters of this world for a free, grateful service to his creatures.
8.15 We reiect the false doctrine, as though there were areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ, but to other lords–areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him. (IN ALL AREAS OF OUR LIVES WITHOUT EXCEPTION.)

8.16 – 3. “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body [is] joined and knit together.” (Eph. 4:15,16.)
8.17 The Christian Church is the congregation of the brethren in which Jesus Christ acts presently as the Lord in Word and sacrament through the Holy Spirit. As the Church of pardoned sinners, it has to testify in the midst of a sinful world, with its faith as with its obedience, with its message as with its order, that it is solely his property, and that it lives and wants to live solely from his comfort and from his direction in the expectation of his appearance.
8.18 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church were permitted to abandon the form of its message and order to its own pleasure or to changes in prevailing ideological and political convictions. (DESPITE CLAIMS AND PRESSURES ISSUING FROM POLITICAL OR OTHER WOULD-BE AUTHORITIES)

8.19 – 4. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” (Matt. 20:25,26.)
8.20 The various offices in the Church do not establish a dominion of some over the others; on the contrary, they are for the exercise of the ministry entrusted to and enjoined upon the whole congregation.
8.21 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church, apart from this ministry, could and were permitted to give itself, or allow to be given to it, special leaders vested with ruling powers. (THAT WOULD HAVE US BELIEVE THAT JESUS’ POWER IS ‘POWER OVER’ RATHER THAN HUMBLE SERVICE OF OTHERS.)

8.22 – 5. “Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17.)
Scripture tells us that, in the as yet unredeemed world in which the Church also exists, the State has by divine appointment the task of providing for justice and peace. [It fulfills this task] by means of the threat and exercise of force, according to the measure of human judgment and human ability. The Church acknowledges the benefit of this divine appointment in gratitude and reverence before him. It calls to mind the Kingdom of God, God’s commandment and righteousness, and thereby the responsibility both of rulers and of the ruled. It trusts and obeys the power of the Word by which God upholds all things.
8.23 We reject the false doctrine, as though the State, over and beyond its special commission, should and could become the single and totalitarian order of human life, thus fulfilling the Church’s vocation as well.
8.24 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church, over and beyond its special commission, should and could appropriate the characteristics, the tasks, and the dignity of the State, thus itself becoming an organ of the State. (OR THAT THE CHURCH SHOULD BECOME AN OPPRESSIVE INSTRUMENT OF THE STATE.)

8.25 – 6. “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matt. 28:20.) “The word of God is not fettered.” (2 Tim. 2:9.)
8.26 The Church’s commission, upon which its freedom is founded, consists in delivering the message of the free grace of God to all people in Christ’s stead, and therefore in the ministry of his own Word and work through sermon and sacrament.
8.27 We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church in human arrogance could place the Word and work of the Lord in the service of any arbitrarily chosen desires, purposes, and plans.

8.28 The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church declares that it sees in the acknowledgment of these truths and in the rejection of these errors the indispensable theological basis of the German Evangelical Church as a federation of Confessional Churches. It invites all who are able to accept its declaration to be mindful of these theological principles in their decisions in Church politics. It entreats all whom it concerns to return to the unity of faith, love, and hope.” (IN VIEW OF THESE CONVICTIONS THE “CONFESSION CHURCH” INVITES ALL CHRISTIANS TO RECOGNIZE THE PRIMACY OF GOD’S WORD OVER THE AUTHORITY FALSELY CLAIMED BY THE RIVAL POWERS OF THE STATE.)

Obviously, the Barmen Declaration is cautious, muted and politically astute in its opposition to the hijacking of the Christian message by the Third Reich and the mainline German churches. Nevertheless, the Hitlerian message is clear. Hitler’s ecclesial accomplices have indeed tried to co-opt the Christian message, and have largely been successful in doing so. Nevertheless the Barmen community recognizes that Jesus “WAY” is contradictory to the project of Hitler and his cohorts. The Hitlerian faction aspires to use Christianity as a weapon of power over their opponents. By way of contrast, the authentic Barmen Christianity exercises “power” through humble service and non-violence towards the very groups oppressed by the Hitlerians.

Once again, this blog series on Hitler will explore his parallels with the 21st century “New World Order” that appears to mimic his rise to power while attempting to avoid the errors which inevitably doomed his insidious project. Unlike their opponents, the Hitlerians have learned from the past and are determined not to re-commit the errors that frustrated the success of their totalitarian project.

Opponents of Hitlerianism are not nearly as wise.

(Next Monday: Cheney and Bush as Hitler’s disciples)

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Mike Rivage-Seul's Blog

Emeritus professor of Peace & Social Justice Studies. Liberation theologian. Activist. Former R.C. priest. Married for 45 years. Three grown children. Six grandchildren.

6 thoughts on “How Hitler Saved Capitalism and Won the War: The Barmen Declaration”

  1. Mike
    I think this is excellent.
    I would like to cc yours to the whole US group created by Jim Belzer….is this okay?
    If you would prefer me to send the article only as as a separate attachment let me know,
    BTW I personally feel the US is gone too far down the road and another war is inevitable. A mighty tsunami of manufactured media content and criminal advertising has gone on for too long.
    I wish you every success in your effort.
    As some one said when the 4th Reich comes to the US it will be in the form of a cross wrapped in the stars and stripes.


    1. Your quote sounded so familiar to me. I have another very similiar quote in my Resource Files that I’ve had for years:

      “When fascism comes to America It will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
      – Sinclair Lewis


  2. “We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions.” –Adolf Hitler

    (Speech of May 1, 1927. Quoted by Toland, 1976, p. 306)

    Nazi 25 Point Political Platform
    Most items 1-10 dealt with German Specific issues revolving around Versailles

    7. We demand that the State shall make it its primary duty to provide a livelihood for its citizens. (In other words, the State shall PROVIDE a livelihood – FACT – Pre-ww2 Germany had the LARGEST WELFARE STATE in all of Europe)

    11. That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished. (banking, rent, sale of property, inheritance, etc)

    12. Since every war imposes on the people fearful sacrifices in blood and treasure, all personal profit arising from the war must be regarded as treason to the people. We therefore demand the total confiscation of all war profits.

    13. We demand the nationalization of all trusts.

    14. We demand profit-sharing in large industries.

    15. We demand a generous increase in old-age pensions.

    16. We demand the immediate communalization of large stores (the “Anti-Walmart clause”) which will be rented cheaply to small tradespeople, and the strongest consideration must be given to ensure that small traders shall deliver the supplies needed by the State, the provinces and municipalities.

    17. We demand an agrarian reform in accordance with our national requirements, and the enactment of a law to expropriate the owners without compensation of any land needed for the common purpose. The abolition of ground rents, and the prohibition of all speculation in land.

    18. We demand that ruthless war be waged against those who work to the injury of the common welfare. Traitors, USURERS (i.e. – people who charge interest on loans), PROFITEERS (i.e. “Capitalists”), etc., are to be punished with death, regardless of creed or race.

    19. We demand that Roman law (Right to PROPERTY), which serves a materialist ordering of the world, be replaced by German common law.

    20. The State must assume the responsibility of organizing thoroughly the entire cultural system of the people (a.k.a. – “Common Core” / Agenda 21). The curricula of all educational establishments shall be adapted to practical life. The conception of the State Idea (science of citizenship) must be taught in the schools from the very beginning. We demand that specially talented children of poor parents, whatever their station or occupation, be educated at the expense of the State.

    21. The State has the duty to help raise the standard of national health by providing maternity welfare centers, by prohibiting juvenile labor, by increasing physical fitness through the introduction of compulsory games and gymnastics, and by the greatest possible encouragement of associations concerned with the physical education of the young. (today this symbolism is too obvious so the focus is on “food deserts” and school lunches)

    22. We demand the abolition of the regular army and the creation of a national (folk) army.

    23. We demand that there be a legal campaign against those who propagate deliberate political lies and disseminate them through the press. In order to make possible the creation of a German press, we demand:

    (a) All editors and their assistants on newspapers published in the German language shall be German citizens.

    (b) Non-German newspapers shall only be published with the express permission of the State. They must not be published in the German language.

    (c) All financial interests in or in any way affecting German newspapers shall be forbidden to non-Germans by law, and we demand that the punishment for transgressing this law be the immediate suppression of the newspaper and the expulsion of the non-Germans from the Reich.

    Newspapers transgressing against the common welfare shall be suppressed. We demand legal action against those tendencies in art and literature that have a disruptive influence upon the life of our folk, and that any organizations that offend against the foregoing demands shall be dissolved.

    24. We demand freedom for all religious faiths in the state, insofar as they do not endanger its existence or offend the moral and ethical sense of the Germanic race.

    The party as such represents the point of view of a “POSITIVE” Christianity without binding itself to any one particular confession. It fights AGAINST THE JEWISH MATERIALIST SPIRIT (i.e. Capitalism) within and without, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our folk can only come about from within on the pinciple:

    COMMON GOOD BEFORE INDIVIDUAL GOOD (I didn’t add this – it stands out in bold in the original document)

    25. In order to carry out this program we demand: the creation of a strong central authority in the State, the unconditional authority by the political central parliament of the whole State and all its organizations.

    The formation of professional committees and of committees representing the several estates of the realm, to ensure that the laws promulgated by the central authority shall be carried out by the federal states.

    The leaders of the party undertake to promote the execution of the foregoing points at all costs, if necessary at the sacrifice of their own lives.

    Now some details on “POSITIVE CHRISTIANITY”..

    In Nazi Germany, Hitler forbid school prayers, took religious instruction out of all school curriculum, He outlawed nativity scenes and Christmas carols, and he even changed the date of Christmas to December 21st – the Winter solstice. The Nazis even re-wrote “Silent Night” to remove all reference to God, Christ, and religion conspicuously expunged.

    What’s even MORE TELLING is that, Hitler’s “Aryans” WEREN’T Germans! Look the word “Aryan” up. The “Aryans” were Indian Tibetan Buddhists (which – not coincidentally as many claim – is exactly WHY the Nazis used the Swastika as his symbol – Swastika = “Evolution” / Hindu/Buddhist path of “Mystical Enlightenment” and “Spiritual” Psychic Power). So where did Hitler GET such strange ideas?? Hmmm.

    That whole “Aryan” mess came directly from the New Age Occultism of Helena Blavatsky and her NWO religion called “Theosophy”. This was the SOURCE of Hitler’s ideology – Ahnenerbe, Shambala, the Aryan race, Race Struggle etc – ALL of that came from ANTI-Christian Occultism. And if you read ANY book on Theosophy you can see that for yourself.

    So in other words, Hitler was a “Lucis Trust” New Age “Aquarian” Occultist from the very beginning – and it was THAT which formed the CORE of his philosophy. Look up Astara, Thule Society, Vril Society, Gerdjeff, etc. It all focused on nature worshiping occultism. Hitler actually believed that his “master race” would have psychic powers and he went straight to Buddhist Tibet where Blavatsky told him was the ROOT of the Aryan – an area KNOWN for magical practices and “New Age” enlightenment – which is exactly why his Nazi’s roots were “Aryan” = INDIAN, not GERMAN.

    Again the whole Nazi ideology came from Blavatsky, a filthy fat dirty hairy garden variety anti-Christian “New Age” “Aquarian” Occultist.

    So, in reality the ONLY thing that EVER was actually Christian was GERMANY / AUSTRIA – traditionally 50% Catholic (i.e. Roman Mystery School Paganism) and 50% Lutheran (i.e. Essentially recovering Catholicism). And that was an obstacle to Hitler.

    What’s further, Nazism was based on DARWINISM and “Evolution” (a.k.a. – the “Progress” of “Progressivism”) – which is ANTI-Christian at it’s core. NOW Read the FULL original title of Darwin’s “Origin of Species”

    So it looks like “scientific racism” wasn’t just an accident – like Darwin’s non-existent “simple cell” theory – but that nihilistic racism was the entire point!

    “The Fuhrer is deeply religous, though completely anti-Christian. He views Christianity as a symptom of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race… Both [Judaism and Christianity] have no point of contact to the animal element, and thus, in the end, they will be destroyed.” – Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda

    Christianity has restrained the world for 2000 years now in her natural development – Adolf Hitler (Source A. Zoller “Twelve Years With Hitler – Confidentials of a Secretary)

    The reason the antique world was so pure, light, and serene, was that it had not experienced the two huge plagues: Smallpox and Christianity. – Adolf Hitler (Source – Farrar, Straus, and Young “Hitler’s Table Talk 1941-1944)

    We are the joyous Hitler Youth! We do not need any Christian Virtue! Our Leader is our Savior! The Pope and Rabbi shall both be gone! We want to be pagans once again! – Hitler Youth Marching Song

    The Ten Commandments have lost their validity. Conscience is a Jewish Invention, it is a Blemish like Circumcision – Adolf Hitler (Source – Rauschning “Hitler Speaks” Page 220)

    The Law of Natural Selection Justifies this incessant struggle, by allowing the survival of the fittest. Christianity is a rebellion against Natural Law, a protest against nature. Taken to it’s natural extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of human failure – Adolf Hitler (Source – Farrar, Straus, and Young “Hitler’s Table Talk 1941-1944)

    I regard Christianity as the most fatal seductive lie that ever existed because Christianity teaches that all men are of ONE blood. – Adolf Hitler (Source – Azar “Twentieth Century in Crisis” page 180)


    1. Such valuable information. Thanks. It shows the depth of disrepute into which capitalism had fallen with the onset of the Great Depression — that an anti-socialist like Hitler had to distance himself from capitalism and call his reactionary system “socialism.” All the while he was sending socialists, union organizers and communists to his death camps, while enjoying support from bankers and industrialists. As I said, nobody wanted to identify with capitalism after 1929. So there emerged many types of “socialism,” on both the left and right. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” might have called itself National Socialism — but that was politically impossible in the United States. Similarly, Hitler was ambiguous enough about Christianity to secure support from the mainline Christian churches. The whole situation reminds me so much of what’s emerging in the contemporary U.S.


  3. Fake kosher quote. You took it out of context and made him say the reverse of what he was saying. He said Germany is secular.



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