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View Full Version : Did Nazis kill "10 million Christians"?


Sailboat
04-02-2007, 03:56 PM
This is quite possibly the wrong forum to post this question...please move it as appropriate.

My wife received a combination glurge/revisionist history/hate mail in her e-mail. Here it is in all its gloriously bad linebreaking:

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe
ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the
six
million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900
Catholic
priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and
humiliated
with the German and Russia peoples looking the other way!

Now, more than ever, with Iran , among others, claiming the
Holocaust
to be "a myth," it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets,
because the Islamo-Facists want to do it again.

This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide!

Join us and be a link in the memorial chain and help us distribute
it
around the world.

Please send this e-mail to 10 people you know and ask them to
continue
the memorial chain.

Please don't just delete it. It will only take you a minute to
pass
this along - Thanks

Leaving aside the fact that it's a stupid chain letter...leaving aside the attempt to whip up religious hatred...

What do they mean by asserting the Nazis killed "10 million Christians"?

As far as I know, and I have some background reading about WWII history, the Nazis didn't specifically single out Christians as holoocaust targets.

If they're talking about "people the Nazis killed in battle and conquest other than Russians," such as British and American soldiers, how do they know all those folks were Christian (by the narrow definition of American evangelicals, such as the person sending this item)?

Isn't it pure spin to imply that the Nazis persecuted Christians with the same vigor they went after Jews?

It's no accident the number comes up higher than the mere six million Jews killed, I'd guess. This smells of a revisionist attempt to paint Christians as bigger victims of Hitler than Jews. Sure, lots of those killed in WWII were Christians, I'm not denying that. But to say "6 M Jews and 10M Christians murdered" sounds different.

How do these worthies know how many of the 20 million Russians were Christian? Surely the communist soldiers for Stalin weren't all party-line atheist s...surely a country with Russia's religious traditions had a few Christians in her foxholes. Don't they count?

Am I overlooking anything? I'd like to rebut the several implications of this item, specifically:

1) That Christians were singled out and persecuted by Nazi Germany like the Jews, Slavs, homosexuals, and Romany;

2) That more Christians than Jews died as a result of said persecution (admittedly more died in the war, but I'd argue the Germans shot at them because they were soldiers shooting back, etc.)

3) That "Russians" is a bloc similar to and separate from Christians and Jews

And what does that part where the "Germans and Russians looked the other way" imply? One can impute serious evil to Stalin's Russia...but the 20 million Russians who died in the war weren't exactly ignored by Russia, and I just don't think you can pin the Holocaust of the Jews on Russians "look<ing> the other way."

All in all, it seems to me to be bad history, slanderous assertion, and consicious, revisionist, sinister spin with evil intent. But I lack firm cites -- it's not on Snopes for example. And it's vaguely possible I've misunderstood some aspect of what the e-mail is really getting at...if so, please clue me in before I make a fool of myself "calling" the sender on it.

Sailboat

CalMeacham
04-02-2007, 04:12 PM
I suspect the e-mail says "Christians" to emphasize that the Nazis killed other groups besides the Jews. I don't think they're saying the Nazis were going after Christians (weren't most Germans Christians?), but that the Slavs, Romany, and others they killed were non-Jewish. It's often forgotten that the Nazis did kill millions of such non-Jewish "undesirables". I don't recall the numbers, but I didn't think they were as high as 10 million. Maybe the're counting combat deaths.

Lemur866
04-02-2007, 04:16 PM
Well, some Christian denominations WERE targeted by the Nazis. Jehovah's Witnesses for instance. But that wasn't persecution because they were Christians, it was persecution because they refused to swear oaths, which meant they were treated as traitors.

But it seems to me the glurge is using "Christian" to mean "People who weren't Jews or Russians". I guess that includes the gays, gypsies, handicapped, political prisoners, and so forth all rolled into one group.

I suppose the "20 million Russians" are separated out because they weren't killed in the camps but rather during the ordinary prosecution of the war.

Colibri
04-02-2007, 04:18 PM
Here's a table (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties) listing WWII deaths by country, which may be useful. I note that it says in a footnote

Civilian Deaths - Includes civilian losses from military action and war related deaths caused by famine and disease; deaths due to the Nazi Holocaust which totaled 12.1 million, plus 5.7 million Jewish Holocaust victims that are listed separately

I'm not sure what they mean here either by "deaths due to the Nazi Holocaust" aside from the Jewish ones.

Of course these kinds of spam can't be expected to make any kind of logical sense. However, the way I read it it doesn't seem to be intended to minimize Jewish deaths relative to Christian ones, but rather to emphasize that the "Islamo-Facists" (whatever they are) also killed a lot of Christians. The intended target here is Muslims. By linking them with Nazis and also detailing the non-Jewish deaths the intent is to make them out to be the enemies of Christians and Jews alike.

The Hamster King
04-02-2007, 04:23 PM
Since the email seems to have been prompted by Holocaust denial in the Islamic world, it's kind of disingenuous to include combat deaths in the totals. It sounds to me like the author is trying to avoid coming off as too "pro Jew", which is an odd position to take if your starting point is the anger over Holocaust denial.

FWIW the "Islamo-Fascists" don't want to "do it again". There's no ideological continuity between the original Fascists and what some people today call "Islamo-Fascists". In fact, "Islamo-Fascists" aren't properly fascists at all.

Raguleader
04-02-2007, 04:23 PM
Of course these kinds of spam can't be expected to make any kind of logical sense. However, the way I read it it doesn't seem to be intended to minimize Jewish deaths relative to Christian ones, but rather to emphasize that the "Islamo-Facists" (whatever they are) also killed a lot of Christians. The intended target here is Muslims. By linking them with Nazis and also detailing the non-Jewish deaths the intent is to make them out to be the enemies of Christians and Jews alike.

In short, the OP is under no obligation to forward the chain letter because the previous sender invoked Godwin, thus ending the entire conversation. :cool:

Thudlow Boink
04-02-2007, 04:56 PM
It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe
ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the
six
million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900
Catholic
priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and
humiliated
with the German and Russia peoples looking the other way!Does this mean that 10 million Christians were killed by the Nazis, or that 10 million Christians were killed in World War II (altogether)?

Or does the 10 million figure include those who were humiliated but not killed? Are we counting those who were humiliated by the Nazis in a Hogan's Heroes-type situation?

t-bonham@scc.net
04-02-2007, 05:27 PM
I think you misread the original

Since the email in the OP says "with the German and Russia peoples looking the other way", they may be referring to both the total killed by the Nazi Holocaust (about 12-13 million, roughly half Jews, as I recall) plus the total killed in Stalin's Soviet Gulag camps (about 20-24 million, I think). That total (32-37 million) is near the 36 million that this email glurge gives, so it's probably roughly accurate (within a million or two).

I don't see the logic relating this to the action that they are requesting, however. But then, such glurge generally doesn't make much sense, logically. Personally, anything that says "please pass this on ..." I delete immediately.

jjimm
04-02-2007, 05:48 PM
Since the first paragraph clearly deals with combat deaths, the statement "the German and Russia [sic] peoples looking the other way" is utter, utter bollocks, because by the time the Russians were being killed, the Russian people were certainly not looking the other way, they were fighting or starving, and the German people were fighting or being bombed.

"The Holocaust" in the second paragraph refers specifically to the genocide - excluding combat troops and civilian victims of conflict - but including gays, Roma, physically and mentally ill people, many of whom would be Christian, as well as the overwhelming majority of Jews, but certainly not ten million Christians.

Twaddle. Delete. And if you feel like it, deconstruct and "reply all".

Tapioca Dextrin
04-02-2007, 06:01 PM
Anyone have a clue why the 1,900 Catholics are separated from the 10 million Christians? :dubious:

straight man
04-02-2007, 06:01 PM
I sincerely doubt that the Nazis killed ten million Christians simply because they were Christians. That said, they did go after Christians who would not submit to full control by the Nazi party (especially the Underground Church, which wished to maintain its doctrinal integrity). Martin Niemöller (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Niemöller), for example, spent the war in a concentration camp, while Dietrich Bonhoeffer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonhoeffer%2C_Dietrich) was garreted. To be fair, Bonhoeffer was involved in an assassination attempt on Hitler.

So, to answer your question, no, but Christians weren't exactly being given cookies in the streets, either.

Diogenes the Cynic
04-02-2007, 06:17 PM
The glurge seems designed to deceive the reader into thinking that Christians were not only responsible for the Holocaust,* but that they were even bigger victims than the Jews. I doubt the 10 million number is anywhere near accurate, and none of them were targeted because they Christian. This is really a vile little piece of revisionism which I think subtly intends to belittle what was done to Jews by making it seem smaller than whatever was done to people who were incidentally Christians. The more I think about it, the more insulting I find it.



*They were. Hitler did not invent anti-semitism, he just exploited what had already been there for hundreds of years. Christian pogroms against Jews were a long standing tradition for centuries before Hitler. The holocaust was just the inevitable culmintation of that particular social pathology.

jimmmy
04-02-2007, 06:18 PM
As far as I know, and I have some background reading about WWII history, the Nazis didn't specifically single out Christians as holoocaust targets.
[snip]

Am I overlooking anything? I'd like to rebut the several implications of this item, specifically:

1) That Christians were singled out and persecuted by Nazi Germany like the Jews, Slavs, homosexuals, and Romany;

Sailboat

I think this email is total BS and close to reductio ad Hitlerium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum) agruement as you can get but to state flatly that no “Christian” died in the Holocaust does a disservice to those that probably from their view did die for being Christian. I am talking about people who would say "I am here in this Camp because I said Mass or Witnessed or passed out Bibles or celebrated St. Diogenes day" and the Nazis would say: “That pastor was arrested because of anti-Government political activity” – and both would be telling the truth from their perspective.

The Nazi's had a special barracks at Dachau for non-Jewish Clergymen. Only a relatively few (probably under 5,000 (http://www.catholicleague.org/piusxii_and_the_holocaust/append_a.htm) ) clergymen died as a result of being a Christian Clergyman in Nazi controlled territory. Now, to echo straightman's point, by and large they were killed not really because the Nazi’s targeted them as Christians per se, but for the same reasons non-Jewish Polish Intellectuals were killed -- they were community leaders and were seen as a threat to the new Nazi order. But I think flat out stating that no Christian was killed in the holocaust for being a Christian probably pushes the point too far, and does a disservice to these folks. (~5000ish? Maybe out of 11 million – but I think that dismisses 5,000 brave people out of hand – and after all worship would be an easy enough thing to cut the hell out in the face of the SS)

Inside Germany very early there were Clergy who were targets of the Nazi's William L. Shirer, in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
"Not many Germans lost sleep over the arrests of a few thousand pastors and priests or over the quarreling of the various Protestant sects.”

Bottom-line: There was no where close to 1/2 of 1% of 10,000,000 Evangelical/ hard-core Catholic/Protestant Christians killed simply for being Christians by any sane measure - Just be careful how you phrase that rebuttal.

.

Diogenes the Cynic
04-02-2007, 06:20 PM
Anyone have a clue why the 1,900 Catholics are separated from the 10 million Christians? :dubious:
Good point. That only underlines my suspicions about the real motivations of this thing. It's disgusting that they're trying to co-opt the holocaust in this way.

Polycarp
04-02-2007, 06:46 PM
I would run rapidly from the implication of even thinking of saying anything in support of this bit of glurge, but before someone draws the wrong conclusions, what is distinguished from the "10 million Christians" is not "1,900 Catholics" but "1,900 Catholic priests." Why they in particular are set apart is up for WAGination, but it's not the old evangelical Catholic vs. Christian meme that would be invoked by the misreading of 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholics.

Colibri
04-02-2007, 06:51 PM
The glurge seems designed to deceive the reader into thinking that Christians were not only responsible for the Holocaust,* but that they were even bigger victims than the Jews. I doubt the 10 million number is anywhere near accurate, and none of them were targeted because they Christian. This is really a vile little piece of revisionism which I think subtly intends to belittle what was done to Jews by making it seem smaller than whatever was done to people who were incidentally Christians. The more I think about it, the more insulting I find it.

Since the message is directed largely against Iranian Holocaust deniers, I really don't think that is its main intent:

Now, more than ever, with Iran, among others, claiming the Holocaust to be "a myth," it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets, because the Islamo-Facists want to do it again.

wendigo1974
04-02-2007, 06:52 PM
Good point. That only underlines my suspicions about the real motivations of this thing. It's disgusting that they're trying to co-opt the holocaust in this way.

It reads 1,900 Catholic Priests ;)
A carriage return spoils the party.

Diogenes the Cynic
04-02-2007, 06:56 PM
Since the message is directed largely against Iranian Holocaust deniers, I really don't think that is its main intent:
They're still trying to piggyback themselves onto the holocaust and diminish the distinction of the death camps.

RedRosesForMe
04-02-2007, 07:06 PM
I have no cite, but I can look one up if need be. The total number cited for Holocaust deaths is usually 11 million, though this is debated by historians, because so many were machine gunned in front of mass graves and didn't have the paper trail the camp victims often did.

That 11 million includes 6 million Jews, plus Poles, Roma (gypsies), homosexuals, political prisoners, Jehovah's Witnesses (for refusing to renounce their beliefs and pledge allegiance to Hitler- of all the concentration camp prisoners, JW's were the only ones with the option of leaving, if they signed a document renouncing their faith) and.... that's all I can think of?

jjimm
04-02-2007, 07:11 PM
The holocaust was just the inevitable culmintation of that particular social pathology.My bold. I disagree. I believe most social pathologies do in fact remain thus without turning into genocide. They take a "special" kind of catalyst to promulgate.

RedRosesForMe
04-02-2007, 07:13 PM
missed the edit window- just wanted to add:

But Jehovah's Witnesses are Christians, so yes, they did specifically target certain Christian groups.

there's also the catch-all "career criminal." And I can tell ya which color patch they wore in the camps, to indicate their category of prisoner.

Gee, sometimes I wish I could forget all the things I learned while working at the Holocaust Museum.

Diogenes the Cynic
04-02-2007, 07:26 PM
My bold. I disagree. I believe most social pathologies do in fact remain thus without turning into genocide. They take a "special" kind of catalyst to promulgate.
Maybe, but in this case, I think the catalyst was aftermath of WWI in Germany, not the Nazis per se. The anti-semitism that was already present in the culture created Hitler rather than the other way around.

Diogenes the Cynic
04-02-2007, 07:28 PM
missed the edit window- just wanted to add:

But Jehovah's Witnesses are Christians, so yes, they did specifically target certain Christian groups.
Still not because they were Christians in a generic sense but because they weren't the right sort of Christians. And there weren't 10 million of them in the camps.

Colibri
04-02-2007, 07:34 PM
They're still trying to piggyback themselves onto the holocaust and diminish the distinction of the death camps.

They aren't diminishing the death camps - they give the widely quoted figure of 6 million for this. They are objecting to denial of the Holocaust. This message is anti-Muslim, which is why they mention the Christian deaths as well. They are not trying to minimize the crimes of the Nazis in any way, they are emphasizing their scope.

Diogenes the Cynic
04-02-2007, 07:47 PM
They aren't diminishing the death camps - they give the widely quoted figure of 6 million for this. They are objecting to denial of the Holocaust. This message is anti-Muslim, which is why they mention the Christian deaths as well. They are not trying to minimize the crimes of the Nazis in any way, they are emphasizing their scope.
I think they're minimizing it by not aknowledging any distinction between the deliberate targeting and genocide of Jews (and Gypsies and JW's and homosexuals and handicapped, etc.) and the incidental violence to everyone else. It may be anti-Muslim in its overreaching intent but I still think they're tring to "us too" what happened to the death camp victims in a deceptive and unjustified way.

Colibri
04-02-2007, 11:39 PM
I think they're minimizing it by not aknowledging any distinction between the deliberate targeting and genocide of Jews (and Gypsies and JW's and homosexuals and handicapped, etc.) and the incidental violence to everyone else. It may be anti-Muslim in its overreaching intent but I still think they're tring to "us too" what happened to the death camp victims in a deceptive and unjustified way.

The whole thing is so badly phrased I think it is a real stretch to project that intent on it.

The second paragraph goes out of its way to emphasize the Holocaust deniers as being the villains here, so I don't can't see the intent being to minimize crimes against Jews.

straight man
04-03-2007, 12:43 AM
A couple points:
1) The Nazi takeover and transition of the church went far beyond doctrinal quibbles -- eliminating the Old Testament, just to start. As Wikipedia noted, Bonhoeffer is considered a martyr by several churches. I think Niemoeller would argue that the Nazi state did specifically target Christianity, but it was a sufficiently large group that it had to be targeted less directly than by genocide.
2) Ten million? No. Just no.
3) Niemoeller admits he was antisemitic before his internment in concentration camps, which he claims changed his mind (I could see why it would). Yet he protected Jewish Christians, which was part of why he was imprisoned. Ultimately, Dio, I really want to see your explanation why Christianity caused the genocide in Germany yet has failed to cause genocides in other situations where it took a racist stance.

Little Nemo
04-03-2007, 01:12 AM
If I were guessing, I'd say this letter was originally written by somebody of Polish ancestry. Most non-Jewish Poles were Catholic. The Germans did kill a lot of Poles, including targeting people who were felt to be leaders in Polish society. Catholic Priests were one of the targeted groups. And the Soviet Union, while not as bad as the Reich, was pretty complicit in the occupation of Poland.

David Simmons
04-03-2007, 02:16 AM
The Nazis did probably kill more non-jews in their efforts so put down sabotage, make room for Gemans and the like. However, the massacre of Jews was intended to kill an entire group of people (i.e. the Final Solution to the Jewish "problem") which I don't think was the case with any other group, with the possible exception of the Romany (Gypsies).

DrDeth
04-03-2007, 03:35 AM
"The Holocaust" in the second paragraph refers specifically to the genocide - excluding combat troops and civilian victims of conflict - but including gays, Roma, physically and mentally ill people, many of whom would be Christian, as well as the overwhelming majority of Jews, but certainly not ten million Christians.

.

The Nazis killed millions of Slavs in the Concentration/slave labor camps. I have seen estimates ranging from 5 mil to 10 mil. One can assume that they were mostly Christian, mostly Orthodox. This pretty well matches with Colibri's cite of "deaths due to the Nazi Holocaust which totaled 12.1 million, plus 5.7 million Jewish Holocaust victims that are listed separately". Wiki sez "Taking into account all of the victims of Nazi persecution, the death toll rises considerably: estimates generally place the total number of victims at 9 to 11 million.... Donald Niewyk suggests that the broadest definition would produce a death toll of 17 million.A figure of 26 million is given in Service d'Information des Crimes de Guerre: Crimes contre la Personne Humain, Camps de Concentration (Paris, 1946), 197."

Thus, 10 Million Christians is not impossible.

straight man
04-03-2007, 04:23 AM
Thus, 10 Million Christians is not impossible.
In fact, it is quite likely. But the disclaimer is still worthwhile: the vast majority of them were not killed on account of being Christian. (But, a disclaimer to the disclaimer: some where, and the Nazi party certainly made a concerted effort to subvert the church and eliminate Christian doctrine; it was in no way above killing or imprisoning those who objected.)

Nava
04-03-2007, 05:40 AM
Anyone have a clue why the 1,900 Catholics are separated from the 10 million Christians? :dubious:

Because you forgot the word "Priests."

Themenin
04-03-2007, 06:44 AM
I think they're minimizing it by not aknowledging any distinction between the deliberate targeting and genocide of Jews (and Gypsies and JW's and homosexuals and handicapped, etc.) and the incidental violence to everyone else. I think I understand your intent with this post, but you're running the risk of an alternative form of atrocity denial.

Qualifying the 'violence to everyone one else' as 'incidental' is as outrageous as 'holocaust denial'. One of the explicit goals of Operation Barbarossa was to clear away the 'inferior' peoples from Ukraine and Belarus in order to instore the German 'New Order'. The massive scale massacres of Slavs were in no way incidental to a more conventional military engagement, but rather one of the major stated goals of the campaign. Poland was also targeted, with non-Jewish Poles accounting for similar numbers of victims as Jewish Poles. There were also genocide campaigns in other occupied territories - the Jasenovac camp in Yugoslavia is one example of a death camp which specifically targeted Serbs.

While it's true that the Second World War has been revised and recuperated beyond recognition by just about everybody, and there was a time when it seemed politically judicious to 'overlook' much of what took place, I believe that denial of the genocide against Ukrainians, Poles, Serbs etc is just as dangerous as denial of the Jewish Holocaust. Recent Balkan history may be a case in point.

Diogenes the Cynic
04-03-2007, 10:21 AM
Ultimately, Dio, I really want to see your explanation why Christianity caused the genocide in Germany yet has failed to cause genocides in other situations where it took a racist stance.
I guess the economic and social circumstances weren't dire enough. Nevertheless, anti-semitism was preached from pulpits and pogroms were a longstanding tradition in Europe for centuries before Hitler. It used to be common for Christians to go into Jewish ghettos and kill Jews as a way to celebrate Easter (they'd get worked up by overtly anti-semitic Passion plays). There was also this little thing called the Inquisition.

The Jews were scapegoated for a lot of social ills. After WWI, Germany went into a deep depression and cultural crisis. Hitler used anti-semitism to inspire them but he didn't create it. If the Church hadn't been portraying Jews as Christ killers for all those centuries, Hitler couldn't have succeeded.

Cervaise
04-03-2007, 10:27 AM
The whole thing is so badly phrased I think it is a real stretch to project that intent on it.It's a floor wax, and a dessert topping.

Seriously, I think you're both right. I think the overt intent of the piece is to bash Muslims, but I also think the underlying biases are peeking through a bit. While the Jew-baiting and Jesus-martyr-wailing business doesn't seem to me to be the primary purpose of the glurge, I agree with DtC that it's there, but more out of reflex than due to some sort of camoflaged agenda.

Diogenes the Cynic
04-03-2007, 10:30 AM
While it's true that the Second World War has been revised and recuperated beyond recognition by just about everybody, and there was a time when it seemed politically judicious to 'overlook' much of what took place, I believe that denial of the genocide against Ukrainians, Poles, Serbs etc is just as dangerous as denial of the Jewish Holocaust. Recent Balkan history may be a case in point.
They still weren't killed because they were Christian. I still think the authors of the glurge in question are trying to piggyback onto the victimhood of those (all of those) who suffered or were killed by the Nazis. Under the guise of protesting holocaust denial, they're trying to insert themselves as even greater victims than the Jews, which is bullshit. It's just part of the recent trend for some Evangelicals to portray themselves as persecuted when they are not and never have been any such thing. They just can't stand to admit that maybe some other groups have had it just a little bit tougher than they have (and usually at their own hands).

Sailboat
04-03-2007, 10:56 AM
The Germans did kill a lot of Poles, including targeting people who were felt to be leaders in Polish society. Catholic Priests were one of the targeted groups. And the Soviet Union, while not as bad as the Reich, was pretty complicit in the occupation of Poland.

In some ways the Soviets were just as bad: the Katyn Massacre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyn) specifically targeted the leadership and future leadershp of Poland to enhance Soviet control, and serious attempts were made to pin it on the Nazis.

Not that I'm letting the Nazis off the hook, of course.

Sailboat