Political Religion in Modern Germany: Reflections on Nationalism, Socialism, and National Socialism

  • Wolfgang Hardtwig

    The question of whether it makes sense to view National Socialism as a "political religion" - in addition to rather than instead of other interpretive approaches - is based on a simple fact of electoral history: Hitler was particularly successful in Protestant areas. All Reichstag elections from 1928 onward showed a significant statistical correlation between the proportion of Protestant voters and the success of the NSDAP.1 Various explanations have been offered for this phenomenon. I would like here to concentrate on the question of whether the situation of Christianity - and of Protestantism in particular - at the beginning of the twentieth century contributed to this susceptability to the National Socialist message. This question cannot be separated from the further question of whether the Nazi message itself exhibited quasi-religious traits, both in its content and in the way it was conveyed. Clearly, the extreme irrationality of the Nazi regime and its crimes, as well as the ongoing search for a satisfactory explanation for genocide and the Holocaust, force us to consider religious concepts and interpretations. Saul Friedländer, for instance, has described the anti-Jewish attitudes that culminated in the Holocaust as "redemptive anti-Semitism," and Ian Kershaw has raised the question of how it was possible for an "unbalanced, paranoid hatred and a chiliastic vision" to become "reality and a gruesome form of government practice."2 Such terminology opens up wide-ranging perspectives in our search for an explanation, but one's initial reaction is one of profound astonishment: How was such a destructive connection between religion and politics possible in the middle of the twentieth century? How can we speak of chiliastic and apocalyptic contents and motives of political behavior in a supposedly highly secular world? What were the forms and characteristics of the "cult" that first led contemporaries to speak of National Socialism as quasi-religious, pseudoreligious, or a kind of substitute religion? Is it possible to describe with greater precision the processes by which the nation, the Volksgemeinschaft (national ethnic community) or Blutsgemeinschaft (community of common blood) became endowed with a sacred character? If one speaks of endowing political, social, or philosophical contents with a religious dimension, the question then arises: What does religion actually mean in this context? Although this question is ultimately unanswerable, it still must be asked.

    I will not examine the potential connections between religious or quasi-religious motives and aims, and the radicalization of the Nazi regime that culminated in the Holocaust. Instead, I focus on the period leading up to the Nazi "seizure of power," with some reflections on the consolidation of power up to the start of World War II. I begin with some observations about a "phenomenology" of Nazi political religion and then move on to an analysis of the political language and historical-political patterns of interpretation that existed in Germany before 1933. I then describe in greater detail the situation of Protestantism since about 1900, and finally I return to the meaning of the terms political religion and religion.

    Contemporaries found the "quasi-religious" features of National Socialism most noticeable in its political rituals. In 1937 the French ambassador, André François-Poncet, noted the "romantic excitement, mystical ecstasy, a kind of holy mania" that had taken hold of the "hundreds of thousands" of men and women who participated in the Nuremberg party rally.3 His observation confirms that National Socialist forms of celebration did indeed achieve quasi-religious effects. The Nazis had very quickly developed a comprehensive political cult.4 Its stylistic roots were already obvious in the rallies staged by the NSDAP during the so-called Kampfzeit, the years of the party's political marginalization in the 1920s. Between 1933 and 1936 the Nazis developed a regular calendar of festivities that was intended to pervade all areas of life and to affect people's day-to-day lives. In part, it was based on Christian or historical celebrations, such as the Erntedankfest (Harvest Celebration)) at the beginning of October, the Volkstrauertag (Day of Mourning) in memory of the fallen soldiers of World War I, and the Tag der Arbeit (Day of Labor) on May 1. Mainly, however, this calendar of festivities sought to transfigure the historical dates of the Nazi movement through excessive yet meticulously organized celebrations. These included the Nazi seizure of power on January 30, the announcement of the party program on February 24, Verpflichtung der Jugend (Youth Commitment Day) on the last Sunday in March, and Hitler's birthday on April 20. Other important dates were: Mother's Day on a Sunday in May; the summer solstice on June 21; the Reichsparteitag, the Nazi Party's national convention in the first half of September; and the remembrance day on November 9 honoring those who died for the Nazi movement. By 1939 the celebrations at the national level were thoroughly organized and virtually fixed in form, created and carefully shaped by Joseph Goebbels and even more by Hitler himself. By contrast, celebrations taking place at the middle level of party activity or after the outbreak of the war were primarily the work of the party's paladins and zealots. Some elements of the cult were fused together syncretically from disparate sources, including the nationalistic celebrations of the nineteenth century, Italian fascist rituals, and the amateur theater movement (Laienspielbewegung). Despite this eclecticism, the ritualized marching of uniformed ranks, ceremonies focusing on "sacred symbols," the flags, and the obligatory speech by the Führer gave the major Nazi celebrations a unified, cohesive character.5

    In the first years after the seizure of power even those who cobbled the ceremonies together frequently described them as "cult rituals" (Kultrituale) or "consecrations" (Weihehandlungen). Even Goebbels's official "Suggestions of the Reich Propaganda Office for the Design of National Socialist Celebrations" made reference to "ritual" or "cult-like" acts (kultische Handlungen).6 Confronting the widespread use of such sacral terminology, Hitler explicitly rejected the term cult at the cultural section of the 1938 party conference because such things were best left to the churches. Despite the new rules regarding the terminology to be used, the expansion of the Nazis' ideological cult continued.7 This development as well as the meticulous planning of the celebrations by the Ministry for Propaganda (and the "Rosenberg Office") raise the question to what extent these quasi-religious rituals were actually expressions of a "religion"? And: Were the creators of the cult, including Hitler, Goebbels, and Rosenberg, "religious" in the usual sense of the word or was their ritualized cult nothing but an arbitrary, interchangeable technique for political rule?

    In a recent study Ekkehard Bärsch examined the religiosity of leading National Socialists and reached conclusions that will disturb readers who subscribe to a more-or-less secularized, enlightened, moral-humanitarian version of the Christian tradition.8 "In the German soul Christ is a guest/That is why the Antichrist hates it (Im deutschen Wesen ist Christ zu Gast/ Drum ist es dem Antichrist verhaßt)." Thus ran the lines of a poem written in 1919 by Dietrich Eckart, who strongly influenced Hitler's ideas.9 Eckart contrasted German Christianity and Jewish beliefs. According to Eckart, the Germans were experiencing God's kingdom on earth, the "Third Reich," whereas the Jews, and only the Jews, were completely caught up in earthly pursuits. At the core of the Jewish religion, Eckart argued, was a "complete lack of the concept of immortality." Out of this contrast Eckart developed the polarity of godly/Christian/German on the one hand and satanic/Jewish/anti-German on the other. He thus subsumed the relationship of Germans to Jews under the polarity of "Christ" as opposed to "Antichrist."

    Even more disturbing than the research findings regarding Eckart are those regarding Goebbels. The young Goebbels, not yet a member of the NSDAP, began his diary entry for June 27, 1924, under the influence of a personal and historical experience of catastrophe, which he articulated prepolitically in the language of Christianity as a yearning for the return to the spirit of original Christianity.10 Goebbels's politicization in the months that followed did not undo his Christian patterns of thought. Instead, he transposed the Christian hope for deliverance in the hereafter onto the earthly sphere of politics. As he was drafting his first articles for the journal Völkische Freiheit he wrote in his diary that they were the declaration of someone searching for the völkisch faith rather than the confession of a völkisch believer ("noch mehr das Bekenntnis eines völkisch-Suchenden denn eines völkisch-Glaubenden"; entry dated August 21, 1924). Shortly thereafter, Goebbels replaced the term New World (neue Welt) with the term new kingdom (neues Reich): "I am searching for the new kingdom and the new man. I find them only in my belief. The belief in our mission will lead us to final victory. Heil!" The politicization of the hope for salvation went along with a charismatic expectation of deliverance that had not yet found its target a few months earlier: "Germany is yearning for the One, the Man, just as in summer the soil yearns for rain. The only thing that can save us now is a final gathering of energy, enthusiasm, and absolute devotion. These are all miraculous things. But only a miracle can save us! Lord, show the German people a miracle! A miracle!" Just as in Eckart's case, the dualism of good and evil was then connected to the idea of a German world mission in the fight against the Jews: "The Jew is the Antichrist of world history."11

    Whereas Goebbels particularly in his early days formulated his political beliefs explicitly on the basis of Christianity - however he might have misunderstood it - Hitler's political philosophy reflected a radical rejection of Christianity from the very beginning; a rejection that was quite explicit in Mein Kampf but not, of course, in his public appearances. Like Eckart and Goebbels, Hitler, too, based his diagnosis of the present situation on an unprecedented historical catastrophe, a break in world history wherein everything was at stake. For Hitler, however, the emergence of National Socialism coincided with the incipient and definitive collapse of Christianity. In Mein Kampf Hitler described the dominance of Christianity that began in late antiquity and extended over centuries as the biggest step backward in the history of mankind.12 Hitler claimed that National Socialism was breaking with Christian tradition, abandoning the disastrous, mistaken path of Christianity and steering history into an entirely new and correct direction. As is well known, he regarded the Christian churches as powerful institutions that threatened his claim to power and therefore had to be carefully and ruthlessly eliminated. Whereas Eckart and Goebbels appear to have combined Christian elements with non- or even anti-Christian elements into a kind of muddy amalgam, Hitler consciously contrasted Christianity and National Socialism as mutually exclusive alternatives.

    At the same time, however, Hitler clearly conceived National Socialist ideology as a "political belief." The final section in the chapter titled "Ideology and Party" in Mein Kampf is called "Creation of a Political Creed" (Glaubensbekenntnis) and closes with the following words: "The German National Socialist Worker's Party adopts the essential principles of the völkisch conception of the world and forms them into a political creed that takes into account practical realities, the nature of the times, and the available human material and its deficiencies." In addition to political belief, however, Hitler also referred to the need for religious belief: "If one deprives humanity as it exists today of its religious principles . . . by eliminating religious education without replacing it with anything of equal value, the foundations of human existence would be seriously shaken."13

    These formulations from Mein Kampf strongly suggest a functionalist use of religion, treating it as a kind of social cement in the tradition of Christian-conservative social thought. Yet there are numerous passages indicating that Hitler did have a personal belief in God. Thus he urged "Aryan humanity" to fulfill a "mission entrusted to it by the creator of the universe," frequently described his conception of the natural order as God-given, and claimed to be "fighting for the work of the Lord,"14 which for Hitler meant above all opposing the "satanic work of the Jews," who for him were the "personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil."15

    The "religioid" motif of Hitler and many of his top men - with its fanatical dualism of good and evil, German-religious versus Jewish-antireligious - points to a dominant organizing pattern in their thought, namely, thinking in apocalyptic categories. This allows us to turn from the leading figures who invented the Nazi cult to its followers and audience. This apocalyptic way of thinking assumed a life-threatening dualism of good and evil, truth and lies, and light and darkness, but transformed this symbolic structure into a dualism of Before and After, a catastrophic present and a reconciled or "redeemed" future. In this vision of history the present and the immediate future are the "decisive hour" when all forces have to be mustered. In this apocalyptic vision of history the experience of the collapse of all order - political, social, intellectual, and religious - is, despite the attendant suffering, understood to serve the positive purpose of providing the resources of strength that are needed to reach a new state beyond all suffering.

    During the 1920s and early 1930s this apocalyptic pattern of thought, the meaning and tradition of which have been examined by Klaus Vondung and Saul Friedländer, appeared within many different religious, political, literary, and scholarly contexts.16 Reviews of Ernst Bloch's Spirit of Utopia (Geist der Utopie) and his book on Thomas Münzer spoke of a general chiliastic mood that had affected Bloch.17 Expressionist dramas as well as the new or rediscovered literary genres of the Laienspiel and the Weihespiel offered apocalyptic interpretations of the present. The Protestant political theology of Paul Althaus, Friedrich Gogarten, and Emanuel Hirsch was completely in tune with this apocalyptic keynote.18 "We are living in a time of unprecedented darkness. Dark powers are everywhere at work bringing about the collapse of all human and divine order" - thus ran a common refrain in the sermons of Protestant clergy around 1930.19 In his recently published memoirs Sebastian Haffner wrote about the month of August in the catastrophic year 1923: "Gradually, the mood had even become apocalyptic. Hundreds of saviors were running around Berlin, people with long hair, wearing hairshirts, claiming that they had been sent by God to save the world . . . . The most successful of them was a certain Häusser, who advertised on advertising pillars (Litfassäulen) and staged mass gatherings and had many followers. According to the newspapers, his Munich counterpart was a certain Hitler. . . . Whereas Hitler wanted to bring about the thousand-year Reich by the mass murder of all Jews, in Thuringia a certain Lamberty wanted to bring it about by having everyone do folk dancing, singing, and leaping about."20

    After the end of hyperinflation, the conflict over the occupation of the Ruhr, and the consolidation of the Weimar Republic after the winter of 1923, the apocalyptic hysteria and the "inflation saints" disappeared.21 But there can be no doubt that the apocalyptic pattern of thought once again gained considerable momentum during the world economic crisis, especially in the Protestant middle class and the national political press, and provided an interpretive framework for understanding the singular crisis that had seized state and society. This apocalyptic thinking could gain a secure foothold all the more easily because it was connected to the hope for a charismatic savior who would break out of the normality of political life in Weimar Germany and show the way out of the seemingly hopeless situation by virtue of his extraordinary talents.

    "Extraordinary powers": this was the core of the characteristics that Max Weber summarized in the concept of "charisma."22 Weber drew a close connection between charisma and religion, which derived from one of the constitutive features of religion, namely, the experience of the difference between the "ordinary" and the "extraordinary." I do not seek to interpret the established Nazi regime, with its contradictory and self-destructive radicalization processes up to 1945, as a form of "charismatic authority." Rather, I would like to discuss the extent to which Hitler operated as a charismatic figure who benefited from the hope for a charismatic savior from his early career up until his consolidation of power. This should help us answer the question to what extent one can speak of National Socialism as a "political religion" in the phase during which it became established. The quasi-religious nature of the National Socialist appeal is quite noticeable in two of the characteristics that Rainer Lepsius developed for "charismatic rule" in Max Weber's sense: the devotion inside and outside the party to the revelations offered by the Führer, and the emotional experience of community.23

    In the cases of many of Hitler's paladins, such as Eckart, Rudolf Heß, Julius Streicher, Baldur von Schirach, Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Göring, and Goebbels, belief in the Führer's extraordinary abilities and special aura is obvious.24 Heß regarded Hitler as a deeply religious person, Streicher believed Hitler had God's blessing, Himmler compared Hitler to Christ, and Göring declared publicly that Hitler was sent by God to lead Germany's resurrection.25 Bärsch's detailed textual analyses suggest that such formulations cannot be interpreted as conscious attempts to use religious terminology in a purely instrumental and manipulative way. The linguistic and spiritual contexts in which the terminology was embedded, and the frequency with which this figure of thought appeared in German public political life attest to the subjective sincerity of the convictions expressed.

    Verses by German poets using religious language to sing the praises of Hitler's uniqueness as the "Chosen One" and of his unity with the Volk could be quoted in abundance.26 Representatives of Protestant political theology as well as ordinary pastors made Hitler's charisma doubly important because they demanded not only a Führer but also a "Führer with religious faith" or, as was the case with Emanuel Hirsch, they expressly described Hitler as "homo religiosus."27 Klaus Schreiner has uncovered considerable evidence of an expectation that the arrival of a charismatic leader was imminent among Protestant theologians, in the arts and social sciences, and in the literature of the 1920s. He even found that Catholic theologians and writers connected the semantics of "Führer" and "Reich" to the idea of a "savior sent by God."28 Where such expectations had been expressed before January l, 1933, they were initially confirmed after the seizure of power - before more perceptive contemporaries realized what was going on during the first attacks on the churches.

    The National Socialist cult, then, brought this charismatic quality of the man with extraordinary powers to center stage in a systematic way and with great technical precision. The major celebrations at Reich level were closely tailored to Hitler's person. To name but a few examples: The "Day of Potsdam" on March 31, 1933, in the Potsdam garrison church evoked the myths of Frederick the Great and of the victor at Tannenberg, Reich President Paul von Hindenburg, and sought to transfer the Prussian heritage, which the speeches endowed with a sacred character, to the new Reich chancellor.29 Likewise, the memorial meetings for the "martyrs of the movement" that took place at Munich's Feldherrnhalle and later on the Königsplatz used a full array of religious symbolism. Contrasting displays of light and darkness, the use of fire to represent eternity, and ritual, rhythmic movement to music or drumbeats were designed to make Hitler's actions appear similar to those of a high priest consecrating coffins with sacral solemnity. The Nuremberg party rallies (Reichsparteitage) presented the Führer as both a figure close to his followers and a figure symbolically standing in an aura of loneliness, far removed the Volk.30

    Although these rituals demonstrated the symbolic self-affirmation of charismatic power, Hitler's role as a speaker at such mass gatherings revealed the need he had to prove himself. His success as a speaker no doubt was partly due to the ritualistic staging of rallies and to the style he used to proclaim his message. It seems appropriate to describe the crowds at these rallies - to use Durkheim's terminology - as a kind of "Pentecostal congregation" that was receiving enlightenment. It is impossible to provide extensive evidence for this assertion within the confines of this essay, but descriptions of Hitler's speeches very much followed this pattern. According to Heß, "[Hitler's] speeches were thrilling and usually lasted half an hour, although he wanted to keep them to ten minutes. In one hall he was suddenly possessed again by something indescribable - it gripped me so that I had to clench my teeth. On that occasion he spoke over three quarters of an hour. There were many clever and critical minds in the hall; by the end they were all beside themselves with enthusiasm."31

    Undoubtedly, another important factor was that Hitler's rhetoric could build on a semantics that had, over several decades, erased the boundaries between religious and political statements. This process had taken hold in the Weimar Republic and then spread after 1930. Here, too, the language of Protestantism proved particularly persuasive, although Catholics tended to follow suit, particularly after the seizure of power. Among the endlessly repeated terms that easily crossed the boundaries between theological and political statements were "destiny" (Schicksal) and "struggle" (Kampf), indicating that religious language was becoming militarized, and the word "revolutionary." Hitler's verbal excesses were mirrored in Protestant sermons, where Christ was now described as the "great arsonist of the history of mankind."32 Even Catholic priests and writers were not immune to this language of battles and heroes, and began celebrating their own martyrs as "heroes." I can only remark in passing that the term Reich (realm, empire, kingdom) carried a downright magical power. In both of the major religious denominations, its meaning fluctuated between the "German Reich" and "God's Reich"; among Catholics it had medieval connotations as well.33

    In sum, Hitler himself regularly made use of terms that carried religious connotations. But, more generally, the German historico-political language had become religious in tone. Thus the Prussian heritage was "holy," embodied in the person of Hindenburg;34 for the völkisch movement, blood was "holy."35 Even the left-liberal-republican branch of the German youth movement used the word "holy" in 1921 to describe the country's flag.36 A part represents the whole, a basic characteristic of religious thinking according to Durkheim: "When a holy being divides itself, it remains absolutely the same in each of its parts."37 The "holy being" here was the German Volk. When Hitler proclaimed that the German Volk had been "assigned a mission by the creator of the universe"38 he was only picking up on a common theme in Protestant German nationalism, although he gave it a twist that went far beyond any tradition of bourgeois nationalism.

    There can be no doubt that the German language and the German conceptual world became radicalized after the defeat of World War I and the revolution of 1918-19. But already from the beginning of the 1860s a belligerent national collective ideal had been developing in the emerging mass political associations of singers, marksmen, and gymnasts and was further reinforced by the many war veterans' associations in Imperial Germany.39 This militarist-national ideal was fused with the general national-religious orientation of the Bürgertum apparent since the end of the eighteenth century. Already in 1813-14 the rhetoric of the Wars of Liberation had transformed the nation into something sacred and had nationalized religion, especially Protestantism. On Reformation Day in 1817 the student demonstrators at the Wartburg festival commemorated Martin Luther's posting of his theses and the reformation as both religious and national events. On the basis of the Borussian "small German" (kleindeutsch) Protestant picture of history, Germany's Protestant educated middle classes (Bildungsbürgertum) interpreted the German victory over France in 1871 as the realization of the "Holy Protestant Empire of the German Nation," as Court Chaplain Adolf Stoecker put it. These interpreters of history did not find it difficult to recognize "the hand of God from 1517 to 1871" in the history of Germany and thus to endow the founding of the new Reich with an eschatological quality.40 This equation of being German with being Christian - especially Protestant - reached new heights in World War I, when German theologians declared "our battles" to be "God's battles." Even critical, liberal theologians such as Ernst Troeltsch preached a "German faith" for a while.41 After the decline of the Kulturkampf in the 1890s this national religious consciousness even carried over to Catholic interpreters of the past and present.

    Against this background, it is easy to understand that in the extreme crisis of German identity after 1918 interpreters of German history who were in any way religious tended to equate national and religious crises with national and religious hopes for revival. This interpretive pattern took hold in the nationalism found among average pastors (the importance of which Fritz Stern has noted),42 in political theology, among the German-Christian and new-pagan sectarians, and in the end also in Catholicism. Here German religion was more-or-less openly referred to as a "German weapon." From 1919 the religious concept of "reincarnation" was popularly seen as "Germany's reincarnation." Radical-nationalist founders of religious movements such as Artur Dinter spoke of the "completion of the Reformation" or of a "second" and "new Reformation,"43 and they began to claim that the moral task of the church included "maintaining the purity of race and blood."44 Since the mid-1920s and even more strongly from the early 1930s some theologians believed that a new receptiveness to religion could be detected among the German people.45 It therefore was only logical that - just before and after the Nazi seizure of power - the "national revolution" of the National Socialists and the movement for religious renewal were often equated. If the term political religion makes sense, then it applies to the political religion of Germany, mainly Protestant nationalism. From January 30, 1933, onward Hitler appealed to this religious-national orientation by systematically portraying himself as a deeply religious German, a champion of the faith fighting against Jewish and Bolshevist enemies of the faith, and a defender of Christianity against the anti-Christian threats coming from all sides.46

    Not only was Hitler able to appeal to deeply rooted national-religious convictions in the Protestant middle classes, he also succeeded in using the visual and verbal symbolism of Nazi rituals to activate the cultural memory of parts of the political left for his own purposes. Unfortunately, we still know too little about the way large parts of the German working class adapted to National Socialism after the labor organizations were banned. No doubt the success of the new masters was due to the fact that they were able to meet the demands of the left to a certain extent materially, but also symbolically. The symbolic achievements included the supposed equality of all members of the Nazi Volksgemeinschaft; the removal of class barriers, at least in Nazi rhetoric;47 the lip service paid to the dignity of "National labor"; the numerous organized events in workplaces and for local groups; and the massive celebrations held on the First of May.

    The political liturgy of twentieth-century totalitarian regimes integrated several very different traditions. The rituals and "political hagiography" of the labor movement should not be overlooked in this context. Here the political cults of the Soviet Union and Fascist Italy may have been more important than specifically German traditions.48 However, religious and church-like elements also existed in the conceptual world and the political practices of German Social Democrats.49 The clearest example of such practices was the cult of Ferdinand Lassalle, which unmistakably borrowed from the Catholic veneration of saints. Pictures of Lassalle decorated the homes of workers, the song of the Lassalleans studied by Vernon Lidtke incorporated many passages from church hymns verbatim, and the Lassallean "profession of faith" adopted the formulations of the Christian catechism:

    I believe in Ferdinand Lassalle,
    The Messiah of the nineteenth century,
    In the social-political rebirth
    of my destitute people
    In the indisputable dogmas of the working class
    preached by Ferdinand Lassalle, etc. . . .50

    As is well known, the Lassalle cult came under attack from the August Bebel-Wilhelm Liebknecht wing of the workers' movement; but in later years Bebel himself came to be idolized, and his picture was carried in many processions.51 In their quest for self-affirmation, socialist workers at party gatherings adopted many of the features of Christian congregations, and they inserted elements of church rites into the staging of the Labor Day celebration on May 1. Research in the history of ideas has shown how similar the Christian-eschatological notion of the "Last Judgment" and the socialist idea of "world revolution" were at times, although the 1890s gave the Social Democratic Party (SPD) a major dose of realism.52 From the 1880s onward, criticism of religion but also criticism of the quasi-religious elements within the SPD frequently reflected the influence of the free-thinker movement and the Monist League. The Monist League itself, however, claimed - as its prophet, Ernst Haeckel, put it - to replace Christianity with a "true religion" of science and reason.53

    Yet we need to take care when looking back on the traditions of nationalism and socialism, for similar or even identical ritual forms can serve quite different political and social aims. The contemporary use of the term religion covers such a wide spectrum of meanings that the term itself indicates very little. Furthermore, sociopolitical and cultural-religious views have been subject to sudden shifts, particularly during the radical cultural, political, and social changes of the early twentieth century. My goal here is not to trace direct lines of continuity, an undertaking that would pose almost insurmountable methodological obstacles in any event. Rather, I wish to identify the mental and intellectual dispositions that allowed the type of sociopolitical claims of deliverance made by Hitler to find widespread resonance. In addition, my purpose is to historicize the concept of "political religion." Even today this concept is still closely linked to Eric Voegelin's theory of 1938. For Voegelin, a devout Catholic, a political community always had to be a religious order at the same time. Using a very broad theory of secularization, Voegelin held the modern separation of church and state responsible for the establishment of a purely secular symbolic system around a sacred center of Volksgeist (Volk spirit) and "blood" that had become imbued with "religious fervor."54

    This wide-reaching theory of general secularization was questioned in a broad sociological discussion of culture and religion in the Anglo-European world since the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1980s historians working on Germany showed new interest in the role of religion in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The picture of a closed, church-centered form of life in the premodern world has largely proven to be an artificial construct.55 Likewise, the history of religion in Germany in the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has revealed a revitalization of church and faith in the context of renewed confessional conflict between Protestants and Catholics, rather than the relentless secularization supposedly produced by social modernization.56 David Blackbourn and Helmut Walser Smith have made important contributions to this field.57

    Four interconnected processes deserve special attention. First, the attraction of the great churches did begin to decline; a variety of alternative religious offerings began cropping up, particularly on the periphery of the established Protestant churches in some German states. Second, new religions were gaining in popularity at the same time. Third, around 1900 religion became one of the major and perhaps even the dominant topic of public discussions in cultural theory. The question of the future of religion was accorded the highest priority not only because of its spiritual significance but because of its implications for the "normative foundations of culture" as a whole. Instead of proposing a scenario of the continuous forward march of dechristianization or secularization - with losers and winners of modernization - it may be better to speak of transformations, or a reformulation or new formulation of religious offerings.

    Fourth, I do not propose jettisoning the concept of "secularization" completely. It serves a good purpose, particularly if understood to refer to the transformation of the function of religion since the beginning of modernity. The wars of religion in the early seventeenth century led to a concept of civil peace in which the political order increasingly separated itself from the religious and confessional identity of its members. Two aspects are important in this increasing separation of state and church: On the one hand, this separation contributed to the process by which, as Max Weber famously put it, the "external things of this world became more important and eventually gained inescapable power over people, as never before in history."58 But even this comprehensive process of a new and increasing orientation toward worldly matters should not be described simply as a loss of faith. Although the secular society gave up some parts of the old belief, it did not give up belief itself. As Friedrich Tenbruck wrote, "[The secular society] grew up and triumphed under the influence of a new form of belief. This is why secular society has its own history of belief" (Glaubensgeschichte).59 This specifically modern belief usually contains a promise of salvation and redemption that is often not spiritual but secular and is organized in terms of a sociopolitical or racial utopia that is to be realized by political means.

    On the other hand, religious belief and the position of the church are also subject to the differentiating processes of modern society. Functional systems and ordering principles - state, economy, and culture - become more independent and form "special spheres" that develop their own specific character and rationality. As examples we may refer to the introduction of civil marriage in Germany during the Kulturkampf, the far-reaching legal separation of church and state in the Weimar Constitution, and finally, the logic of a competitive capitalist economy that shows no consideration for Christian customs and values. Paradoxically, the decline of the role of the churches in society coincided with a new denominational focus on the church, for faced with a world that was becoming increasingly distant, the churches drew back within the boundaries of their own denominational milieus or reinforced these boundaries.60

    What did all this mean for Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s? First, after about 1900 there was a vibrant array of religious options offered by many competitors. Culturally Protestant Bildungsbürger favored an individualized religiosity that kept a critical distance from the established regional Protestant churches. Various movements gained a foothold among the lower-middle classes, including Protestant sects, the Salvation Army, Methodists, apostolic groups, and new-revivalist movements. The latter practiced eclectic and lively forms of religious worship, which the established Protestant churches regarded as an "invasion by . . . Anglo-American dissenters" and a "disintegration" of religion, which provoked assertions that a particularly "German" style of religiosity existed.61 Parts of the educated stratum and the working class turned to the free-thinker movement or to the Monist League and thus toward a "scientific" belief in progress. At the opposite end of the spectrum fundamental fears of progress led to alternative blueprints for modernity that took the form of new-pagan or German-Christian sects. The fight for "market share" became so intense that Klaus Scholder interpreted the political theology of the 1920s, which was still connected to the established Protestant churches, as a response to pressures from the new völkisch, right-wing brand of Christianity.62 The separation of church and state in the Weimar Constitution of 1919 was a deep shock to Protestant conservatives, who were suddenly deprived of their previous position as a seemingly indispensable political and cultural elite and who saw themselves as being ruled by a coalition of socialists and Catholics. The extremely dramatic experience of the revolution of 1918 convinced large parts of the Protestant middle class that they were left not only in a world of eroding Christianity but in an un-Christian, indeed anti-Christian world.63

    Thus it is all the more understandable that in the 1920s and early 1930s one regularly encounters the lament that it was a time "devoid of religion."64 One small church reform movement, the dialectic theology of Karl Barth, responded to this situation by breaking with Protestant attempts to adapt to bourgeois national culture and emphasizing the spiritual demands of the Protestant faith, thus becoming the most important core of the Confessing Church after 1933. The mainstream of German Protestantism, by contrast, succumbed to the temptations of political religion that Hitler and his associates offered. Hitler seemed to be the "Christian statesman" who would destroy the "forces of dechristianization in our people."65 Many nationalistic Protestants believed that their desire for a national church that would bridge the denominational gap in Germany would at last be fulfilled - on a Protestant basis, naturally - for it was clear that Hitler was propagating a national belief for all Germans that would transcend the different confessions. The political religion of National Socialism adopted the popular belief in a sacred nation and reinforced it. Many deeply religious people believed that the worst aspects of religious institutionalization would be overcome and that the previous retreat of faith into narrow corridors would thus be reversed. Reinhold Schneider, a "religious virtuoso" in Max Weber's sense and later an important Catholic author, wrote in his diary on April 22, 1933: "We have no myth, no religion that forcefully pervades all aspects of life; indeed we can hardly be said to have religious feeling anymore . . . the national is the first, most obvious manifestation of destiny." He thus demanded that "the destiny of the hero should become one with the destiny of the Volk that looks on." He ended: "The goal lies in unification, in heroic religion."66 This unification seemed not only to halt the retreat of religion into isolated milieus but also to overcome the modern differentiation process by which reality was divided into separate autonomous spheres.67 This differentiation process seemed to have been reversed by an integrative political religion, and thus the longstanding problem of German political culture, its segmentation into different social and moral milieus, appeared to have been overcome as well. From the national Protestant point of view, Catholics and workers finally had to give up their special role and their more-or-less open hostility toward the state that would be governed by a bourgeois Protestant elite. After January 31, 1933, there was great rejoicing that German disunity had been overcome. "A people that has experienced confusion and separation is now reunited and mourns for its dead heroes," preached a pastor on the People's Day of Mourning in 1934, who went on to describe how the different groups in German society had remained passive and isolated from one other in the years of the Republic: "[B]ut today," he insisted, "the whole people is in mourning . . . suddenly in agreement about the meaning of heroic death for German honor."68

    In summary, the susceptibility of large segments of German Protestantism - as well as Catholicism after 1933 - to the appeals of Nazism can be explained by the segmentation of German society, but also by the historical situation of Christianity in Germany after the turn of the century. Although some theologians' or journalists' remarks and some election results in Protestant regions may now appear a bit more plausible than before, the expressions of faith issued by Hitler and his followers and their staging of a political religion designed to mobilize the masses remain extremely offensive.

    At the end of this lecture many questions remain open: To what extent, for instance, did the apocalyptic understanding of history actually influence the more sober-minded representatives of the Nazi ideological elite, such as the pragmatic jurist Werner Best, and the mass of ordinary party members?69 From the perspective of social history, one would have to examine the materials that the party used to win new members, including portraits of Hitler resembling the pictures of saints and framed with the obligatory uplifting slogans.70 The reaction of the workers to the political-religious appeal of the Nazis would also warrant further research.

    As is always the case with an intellectual history approach, those who were experts in deciphering and conveying meaning - journalists and philosophers - have claimed more space here than those who were the main target audiences and potential recipients, the faithful church-goers, "routine" Christians or the no-longer-Christians, and the mass of voters. It would also be exciting to carry out gender-specific research into this phenomenon, but this would require new sources. All this could not be provided here. What I would like to do in closing is to attempt to clarify the concept of "religion," the definition of which I have deliberately left open up to now.

    It is, of course, impossible to discuss here the wealth of definitions of religion that theology, religious studies, and the sociology of religion offer us. I will therefore draw on a suggestion made by Charles Glock and Rodney Stark in their 1965 work, Religion and Society in Tension. Their approach has the advantage of not seeking to determine the "essence," "truth," or "origin" of religion in general; instead, it defines religion in five dimensions, each of which can be described in a historically precise way.71 These include the "ideological" dimension, that is, the recognition of certain beliefs; the ritualistic dimension, that is, participation in ceremonies; the dimension of subjective religious experience; the intellectual dimension, that is, the knowledge of dogma and scripture; and finally, the dimension of practical actions that result from the other dimensions. As I tried earlier to indicate, all these dimensions can be found in the thinking and behavior of Hitler and his closest supporters, no doubt also among sections of his wider following. Nevertheless, I am extremely hesitant to use the term "religion" here without putting it between quotation marks. Put in religious-sociological terms, in what way does the inhumane belief system of the Nazis differ from even the highly politicized forms of Christian faith?

    All sociologists of religion, regardless of whether they take a functionalist or substantialist approach to the concept of religion, agree that religion involves coping with contingency. The experience of contingency is the experience of the uncertainties of life, the insecurity of being, and the impossibility of living life exactly as one might like. In the experience of contingency the individual experiences a certain distance from reality that allows him or her to ask "whether this reality could not also be quite different, and why it is not different."72 The extent, content, and interpretation of contingency are historically variable. But it is clear that contingency - and therefore also religious ideas and practices - reflect biographical, cultural, and social disruptions, when the experience of the unexpected and feelings of fear or hope are particularly strong.73 This need for meaning can be dealt with in a variety of ways: by seizing on rational explanations for the appearance of contingency, by changing one's assessment of reality, or by applying philosophical or political interpretations of the world. What differentiates these forms from a religious approach to coping with contingency? The sociology of religion offers a widely accepted answer that seems quite plausible to me: It is characteristic of religion to go beyond the tangible world of humans, which is just another way of expressing what religious terminology calls "transcendence."

    All those things that we humans can achieve through our own devices are vulnerable to skepticism, can easily be shaken up, relativized, and disputed. Only those areas that are not accessible to us can provide us with final certainty. Yet for religious persons this inaccessible domain must be sufficiently clear and close to their lives and must therefore be made real through concrete, ritual practices so that the connection is not lost. Thus the ties between the certain and the uncertain, between the accessible and the inaccessible, and between the immanent and the transcendent form the fundamental structure of religion.

    If one applies these reflections to the typical experiences and interpretive frameworks of Germans during the time period under discussion, it is clear that they faced an unprecedented challenge of contingency after 1914, even more so after 1918. The metanarrative dominant since 1871, the story of Germany's unstoppable rise despite considerable obstacles, was suddenly interrupted and gave way to the experience of what most regarded as an undeserved catastrophe. The defeat in war, a revolution that produced a shock effect on the middle classes despite the reformist turn it took, the humiliation of Versailles, the "pandemonium" (or Hexensabbat, as Thomas Mann called it) of hyperinflation, and, finally, the widespread deprivation and lack of prospects for the individual during the worldwide economic crisis all added up to a heavy dose of contingency, and - as it turned out - too much for the mental reserves of German Protestantism. Because its resistance to nationalization had long disappeared, Protestantism increasingly endorsed secular, political strategies of coping with contingency and therefore had virtually nothing with which to counter the comprehensive spiritual offerings of the National Socialist political religion, which offered a quick-fix, all-encompassing solution to all problems through consent to the will of the Führer.

    But why refer to the belief system of Hitler and his henchmen as a "Nazi political religion" instead of calling it simply a highly political form of Christianity? The distinction is slippery, and the more the German Volk and Blut acquired a sacred character, the more the Christian element disappeared. The crucial dividing line seems to lie in the activist claim of National Socialist apocalyptic thought that one could "win salvation through one's own deeds." This self-empowerment eliminates the need for what I described as "transcendence," namely, the recognition of a domain that is inaccessible to humans and that therefore helps religious people to bear the experience of contingency. Those who are religious know that they have no power over this contingency; the uncertainty of being may be reduced here and there, but it cannot be removed entirely. But this is exactly what the political religion of National Socialism was trying to do. It transformed the experience of contingency into an essential and final battle against the enemies of the German people or so-called "Aryan humanity;" a battle that Nazi racial ideology cast in a pseudoscientific and pseudomoralistic way as the fight of good against evil. By securing the supposed health of the people through the destruction of all supposed enemies, all problems would finally be "solved." Whereas religion assumes the existence of something absolutely inaccessible and bases its "contingency management" (Hermann Lübbe) on this assumption, secular belief systems dispute the inevitability of contingency. But because contingency is in fact constantly experienced - including by Hitler and Goebbels themselves - the desire to eliminate it results in a belief in the inevitability of a permanent battle, a battle of life and death.

    Because a "political religion" believes that it can eliminate contingency and thus liberate or "deliver" people from all their shortcomings through political, that is, controllable means, it is a secular belief system, not a religion. Although the foundation was laid by the Christian sacralization of the nation, Nazi "political religion" went much further: It retreated from the highly developed rationalism of Christian theology, from the differentiating processes associated with modernity, and initially from the taboo against violence that had once been a core value of Christianity but had been weakened by the nationalization of religion.

  • Notes

    Translated by Gilian Woodman, Jan Lambertz, and Richard F. Wetzell.

    1 Jürgen Falter, Hitlers Wähler (Munich, 1991), 175-6.

    2 Saul Friedlander, Das Dritte Reich und die Juden (Munich, 1998), 1:73ff; Ian Kershaw, Der NS-Staat: Geschichtsinterpretationen und Kontroversen im Überblick, new ed. (Reinbek, 1999), 163.

    3 Cited in Hans-Ulrich Thamer, "Faszination und Manipulation: Die Nürnberger Reichsparteitage der NSDAP," in Uwe Schultz, ed., Das Fest: Eine Kulturgeschichte von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart (Munich, 1988), 353.

    4 On political rituals in Nazi Germany, see George L. Mosse, The Nationalization of the Masses (New York, 1975).

    5 Klaus Vondung, Magie und Manipulation: Ideologischer Kult und politische Religion des Nationalsozialismus (Göttingen, 1971); Peter Reichel, Der schöne Schein des Dritten Reiches: Faszination und Gewalt des Faschismus (Munich, 1991); Hans-Ulrich Thamer, "Politische Rituale und politische Kultur im Europa des 20. Jahrhunderts," Jahrbuch für Europäische Geschichte 1 (2000): 79-98.

    6 Vondung, Magie und Manipulation, 43.

    7 Ibid., 44.

    8 Calus-Ekkehard Bärsch, Die politische Religion des Nationalsozialismus: Die religiöse Dimension der NS-Ideologie in den Schriften von Dietrich Eckart, Joseph Goebbels, Alfred Rosenberg und Adolf Hitler (Munich, 1998).

    9 Ibid., 68; cf. 52-90.

    10 Ibid., 96; cf. 91-130.

    11 Ibid., 106.

    12 Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 60th ed. (Munich, 1933), 507; Bärsch, Die politische Religion des Nationalsozialismus, 267-324; Frank-Lothar Kroll, Utopie als Ideologie: Geschichtsdenken und politisches Handeln im Dritten Reich (Paderborn, 1998), 39-40.

    13 Hitler, Mein Kampf, 416-17.

    14 Cited in Bärsch, Die politische Religion des Nationalsozialismus, 289.

    15 Ibid., 321.

    16 Saul Friedländer, Kitsch und Tod: Der Widerschein des Nazismus (Munich, 1984), 118-19; Klaus Vondung, Die Apokalypse in Deutschland (Munich, 1988).

    17 Rüdiger C. Graf, "Die Entstehung eines sozialwissenschaftlichen Utopiediskurses in Deutschland vom Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts bis 1933," M.A. thesis, Humboldt University of Berlin, 2000, 45ff.

    18 Holger Germann, Die politische Religion des Nationalsozialistischen Dietrich Klagges: Ein Beitrag zur Phänomenologie der NS-Ideologie (Frankfurt am Main, 1991), 74-81.

    19 "Protestantische Predigt im Bayerischen Rundfunk am 5.1.1930," cited in Rolf Schieder, Religion im Radio: Protestantische Rundfunkarbeit in der Weimarer Republik und im Dritten Reich (Stuttgart, 1995), 177.

    20 Sebastian Haffner, Geschichte eines jungen Deutschen: Die Erinnerungen 1918-1933 (Stuttgart, 2000), 64-5.

    21 Ulrich Linse, Barfüßige Propheten: Erlöser der zwanziger Jahre (Berlin, 1983), 235.

    22 Hartmann Tyrell, "Das Religiöse in Max Webers Religionssoziologie," Saeculum 43 (1992): 197.

    23 Rainer M. Lepsius, "Das Modell der charismatischen Herrschaft und seine Anwendbarkeit auf den 'Führerstaat Adolf Hitlers,'" in Rainer M. Lepsius, ed., Demokratie in Deutschland (Göttingen, 1993), 95-118.

    24 Bärsch, Die politische Religion des Nationalsozialismus, 136-78.

    25 Ibid., 330-3.

    26 Ibid., 178-87.

    27 Germann, Die politische Religion, 79.

    28 Klaus Schreiner, "'Wann kommt der Retter Deutschlands?' Formen und Funktionen von politischem Messianismus in der Weimarer Republik," Saeculum 49 (1998): 107-60.

    29 Werner Freitag, "Nationale Mythen und kirchliches Heil: Der 'Tag von Potsdam,'" Westfälische Forschungen 41 (1991): 379-430.

    30 Yasmin Doosry, "Die sakrale Dimension des Reichsparteitagsgeländes in Nürnberg," in Richard Ferber, ed., Politische Religion, religiöse Politik (Würzburg, 1997), 205-24.

    31 Rudolf Heß, Briefe 1908-1933, ed. Wolf Rüdiger Heß (Munich, 1987), 304. Year cited: 1923.

    32 "Predigt im Bayerischen Rundfunk, 6.3.1932," cited in Schieder, Religion im Radio, 175.

    33 Klaus Breuning, Die Vision des Reiches: Deutscher Katholizismus zwischen Demokratie und Diktatur (1929-1934) (Munich, 1934).

    34 Freitag, "Nationale Mythen und kirchliches Heil."

    35 Vondung, Magie und Manipulation, 27.

    36 Walter Hammer, "Vom beseelenden Grundgedanken," Junge Menschen: Blatt der deutschen Jugend 2, no. 1 (June 1921): 163-4; see also Bruno Eckardt, Schwarz-Rot-Gold, 164-5.

    37 Emile Durkheim, Die elementare Formen des religiösen Lebens (Frankfurt am Main, 1994), 314.

    38 Hitler, Mein Kampf, 234.

    39 Dietmar Klenke, "Nationalkriegerisches Gemeinschaftsideal als politische Religion: Zum Vereinsnationalismus der Sänger, Schützen und Turner am Vorabend der Einigungskriege," Historische Zeitschrift 260 (1995): 395-448; Thomas Rohkrämer, Der Militarismus der "kleinen Leute": Die Kriegervereine im Deutschen Kaiserreich 1871-1914 (Munich, 1990), 203ff.

    40 For an overview, see Peter Walkenhorst, "Nationalismus als 'politische Religion'? Zur religiösen Dimension nationalistischer Ideologie im Kaiserreich," in Olad Blaschke and Frank-Michael Kuhlemann, eds., Religion im Kaiserreich: Milieus, Mentalitäten, Krisen (Gütersloh, 1996).

    41 See Karl Hammer's overview, "Der deutsche Protestantismus und der Erste Weltkrieg," Francia 2 (1974): 398-410.

    42 Fritz Stern, Der Traum vom Frieden und die Versuchung der Macht: Deutsche Geschichte im 20. Jahrhundert (Berlin, 1988), 115ff.

    43 Justus H. Ulbricht, "'Veni Creator Spiritus' oder 'Wann kehrt Baldur heim?' Deutsche Wiedergeburt als völkisch-religiöses Projekt," in Ferber, Politische Religion, religiöse Politik, 165.

    44 Friedrich Gogarten, cited in Germann, Die politische Religion des Nationalsozialistischen Dietrich Klagges, 78.

    45 Schieder, Religion im Radio, passim; Robert Stupperich, with Martin Stupperich and Otto Dibelius, Ein evangelischer Bishof im Umbruch der Zeiten (Göttingen, 1989), 143ff.

    46 Günter Brakelmann, "Nationalprotestantismus und Nationalsozialismus," in Christian Jansen, Lutz Niethammer, and Bernd Weisbrod, eds., Von der Aufgabe der Freiheit: Politische Verantwortung und bürgerliche Gesellschaft im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert: Festschrift für Hans Mommsen (Berlin, 1995), 337-50. More generally, see Klaus Scholder, Die Kirchen und das Dritte Reich, vol. 1: Vorgeschichte und Zeit der Illusion (Frankfurt am Main, 1977), 93ff., 124ff., 239ff.

    47 Hans-Ulrich Thamer, "Volksgemeinschaft, Mensch und Masse," in Richard van Dülmen, ed., Erfindung des Menschen, Schöpfungsträume und Körperbilder 1500-2000 (Vienna, 1998), 375ff.

    48 Thamer, "Politische Rituale und politische Kultur."

    49 See all of the essays in Berthold Unfried and Christine Schindler, eds., Riten, Mythen und Symbole: Die Arbeiterbewegung zwischen "Zivilreligion" und Volkskultur (Vienna, 1999).

    50 Cited in Gottfried Korff, "Politischer 'Heiligenkult' im 19. Jahrhundert," Zeitschrift für Volkskunde 71 (1975): 212; Heiner Grote, Sozialdemokratie und Religion: Eine Dokumentation für die Jahre 1863 bis 1875 (Tübingen, 1968).

    51 Korff, "Politischer 'Heiligenkult' im 19. Jahrhundert," 203ff., 211ff. See also Vernon L. Lidtke, "August Bebel and the German Social Democratic Relation to the Christian Churches," Journal of the History of Ideas 27 (1966): 245-64.

    52 Lucian Hölscher, "Säkularisierungsprozesse im deutschen Protestantismus im 19. Jahrhundert," in Hans-Jürgen Puhle, ed., Bürger in der Gesellschaft der Neuzeit: Wirtschaft - Politik - Kultur (Göttingen, 1991), 238-58; Lucian Hölscher, Weltgericht oder Revolution: Protestantische und sozialistische Zukunftsvorstellungen im deutschen Kaiserreich (Stuttgart, 1989); Gangolf Hübinger, "Protestantische Kultur im wilhelminischen Deutschland," Internationales Archiv für Sozialgeschichte der deutschen Literatur 16 (1991): 182ff.

    53 Cited in Volker Drehsen and Helmut Zander, "Rationale Weltänderung durch 'naturwissenschaftliche' Weltbildinterpretation? Der Monistenbund - eine Religion der Fortschrittsgläubigkeit," in Volker Drehsen and Walter Sparn, eds., Vom Weltbildwandel zur Weltanschauungsanalyse, Krisenwahrnehmung und Krisenbewältigung um 1900 (Berlin, 1996), 231; see also, especially, Andreas W. Daum, Wissenschaftspopularisierung im 19. Jahrhundert: Bürgerliche Kultur, naturwissenschaftliche Bildung und die deutsche Öffentlichkeit 1848-1914 (Munich, 1998), 195-219.

    54 Eric Voegelin, Die politischen Religionen (1938), ed. Peter J. Opitz, 2d ed. (Munich, 1996), 17; and Hans Maier, Politische Religionen: Die totalitären Regime und das Christentum (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1995); Hans Maier and Michael Schäfer, eds., Totalitarismus und politische Religion: Konzepte des Diktaturvergleichs, 2 vols. (Paderborn, 1996-7), vol. 2; see also Michael Ley and Julius H. Schoeps, eds., Der Nationalsozialismus als politische Religion (Bodenheim bei Mainz, 1997).

    55 For a general overview of the literature, see Hartmut Lehmann, ed., Säkularisierung, Dechristianisierung, Rechristianisierung im neuzeitlichen Europa: Bilanz und Perspektiven der Forschung (Göttingen, 1987), esp. Friedrich Wilhelm Graf, "Dechristianisierung! Zur Problemgeschichte eines kulturpolitischen Topos," 32-61; Heinz-Horst Schrey, ed., Säkularisierung (Darmstadt, 1981); Peter Koslowski, ed., Die religiöse Dimension der Gesellschaft: Religion und ihre Theorien (Tübingen, 1985); Hans May and Karin Lorenz, ed., Moderne und Religion: Geistliche und strukturelle Folgen der Säkularisierung der Kirche (Rehburg-Loccum, 1986); Jörg Bergmann, Alois Hahn, and Thomas Luckmann, eds., Religion und Kultur, special issue of Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 33 (1993).

    56 See Ulrich Linse, "Säkularisierung oder neue Religiosität? Zur religiösen Situation in Deutschland um 1900," Recherches Germaniques 27 (1997): 117-41; see also Olaf Blaschke, "Das 19. Jahrhundert: Ein zweites konfessionelles Zeitalter?" Geschichte und Gesellschaft 26 (2000): 38-75; Olaf Blaschke and Frank-Michael Kuhlemann, eds., Religion im Kaiserreich: Milieus - Mentalitäten - Krisen (Gütersloh, 1996).

    57 David Blackbourn, Marpingen: Apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Bismarckian Germany (Oxford, 1993); Helmut Walser Smith, German Nationalism and Religious Conflict: Culture, Ideology, Politics, 1870-1914 (Princeton, N.J., 1995).

    58 Max Weber, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie (1920) (Tübingen, 1972), 1:203-4.

    59 Friedrich Tenbruck, "Die Glaubensgeschichte der Moderne," Zeitschrift für Politik 23 (1976): 6; cf. Gottfried Künzlen, Der Neue Mensch (Frankfurt am Main, 1997), 63ff.

    60 See title name in note 55.

    61 Christoph Ribbat, Protestantische Schwärmer im Kaiserreich (Frankfurt am Main, 1996), 225ff.

    62 Scholder, Die Kirchen und das Dritte Reich, 133; Rodney Stark and James C. McCann, "Market Forces and Catholic Commitment: Exploring the New Paradigm," Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 32 (1993): 111-23; Stephen R. Warner, "Work in Progress Toward a New Paradigm for the Sociological Study of Religion in the United States," American Journal of Sociology 98 (1993): 1044-93.

    63 Scholder, Die Kirchen und das Dritte Reich, 3-46, 65-92; see also Kurt Nowack, Geschichte des Christentums in Deutschland: Religion, Politik und Gesellschaft vom Ende der Aufklärung bis zur Mitte des 20 Jahrhunderts (Munich, 1995).

    64 Vondung, Magie und Manipulation, 21; Schieder, Religion im Radio, 177.

    65 Emmanuel Hirsch, May 1933, cited in Germann, Die politische Religion des Nationalsozialistischen Dietrich Klagges, 79.

    66 Reinhold Schneider, Tagebuch 1930-1935 (Frankfurt am Main, 1983), 667-8, 670.

    67 Scholder, Die Kirchen und das Dritte Reich, 43; Stupperich, Ein evangelischer Bishof, 92-161.

    68 Cited in Schieder, Religion im Radio, 185.

    69 There is no mention of political religion in Ulrich Herbert, Best: Biographische Studien über Radikalismus, Weltanschauung und Vernunft 1903-1989, 3d ed. (Bonn, 1996).

    70 As reported in Martin Walser's autobiography: Ein springender Brunnen (Frankfurt am Main, 1998), 90.

    71 Charles Y. Clock and Rodney Stark, Religion and Society in Tension (Chicago, 1965); see the excellent study by Detlef Pollack, "Was ist Religion? Versuch einer Definition," in Waltraud Schreiber, eds., Die religiöse Dimension im Geschichtsunterricht an Europas Schulen: Ein interdisziplinäres Forschungsprojekt (Neuried, 2000), 55-84.

    72 Detlef Pollack, "Wirklichkeitsflucht oder Wirklichkeitsbewältigung - Was ist Religion?" Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 38 (1990): 667.

    73 Pollack, "Was ist Religion?" 75.