Dietrich von Hildebrand’s War Against Hitler

What does one do when faced with obvious and widespread wickedness? Are there protocols to consult that enable one precisely to know what ethical course of action to take? And how do these protocols work when so many of one’s own countrymen seem not to have noticed, or particularly to care, that awful things are happening on a grand scale, especially to the innocent?

There was nothing subtle about the threat posed by Adolph Hitler amid the rise of National Socialism and the terrors unleashed by the Third Reich.  But because so few were willing to mobilize against it, the pathology was allowed to fester, so that by the time it had fully metastasized most of Europe had gone up in flames, leaving death and destruction in its wake.

However, there were those who, at the threatened nightfall, simply would not give in to the forces of darkness, even as they appeared to be everywhere on the march. Particularly not if the triumph of evil took place at the expense of good people doing nothing. Which is what usually accounts for the successes of the wicked. Still, there were, as I say, some few souls who would not acquiesce in the face of far-reaching evil. Not only had they seen enough of the nihilism and violence to know that great wickedness was in the saddle; they were resolute in their determination to try and put a stop to it. Diagnostic skills were not enough, in other words. What really needed to be done was to disabuse people of the illusion that accommodation was possible with Hitler and the fascist ideals of National Socialism, and so to prepare them to go out and fight the enemy.

Hildebrand CoverOf these brave and noble souls, none was braver or nobler than Dietrich von Hildebrand, a fearless philosopher of Roman Catholic persuasion, who put his life at risk, along with all that was most dear to him, in the struggle against state-sponsored barbarism. My Battle Against Hitler is the story he tells, beginning as far back as 1921 when, at a peace conference in Paris, he openly denounced his own country’s invasion of neutral Belgium at the start of the Great War in 1914. For this effrontery he was not only vilified by the German press, but at once became a target for Nazi assassins, who would soon force him to flee his native city when, in 1923, Hitler attempted to seize power in Munich, the place where both he and the Nazi party were born.

It is a thrilling account of one man’s effort to defend the inherited values of the Christian West, at a time when the lights seemed to have gone out all over the world. Who was this remarkable man, Dietrich von Hildebrand, and how, in the crucible of mortal combat, did he manage to survive? These are fascinating questions that, thanks to a very able and enterprising young man, John Henry Crosby (along with John Crosby, his esteemed father, and a distinguished philosopher in his own right), we are now in a position to answer. Because, as founder and director of the Hildebrand Project, young Mr. Crosby has undertaken both the translation and editing of the entire record regarding Hildebrand’s heroic stance against Adolph Hitler and the twisted ideas that possessed him and so many others across Europe.

It is a rich compilation, consisting of a series of memoirs written between the years 1921 and 1937, when Hildebrand finally made his escape from Vienna, agents of the Gestapo not far behind, followed by a dozen or more essays, in which he exposes the evils of Nazi ideology, giving detailed reasons why it had become necessary to oppose it with the truth about God and the human person.

If there is one lesson to be learned from reading this book, and the evidence for it appears on every page, it is the fact of Hildebrand’s total commitment to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. After all, both he and his first wife, Gretchen, were ardent converts, their devotion having first crystallized back in 1914 when the philosopher Max Scheler told them that, “The Catholic Church is the true Church because she produces saints.” Only the grace of God, he explained, could account for the radiant beauty and heroism of someone like Francis of Assisi. Where is the earthly virtue that alone may succeed in animating a life so singularly and selflessly generous as that of the holy man of Assisi?

And so—the implication here is unmistakable—if Dietrich von Hildebrand had not been so fiercely committed to the Catholic Thing, had not accepted her protocols as his own in the solemn discharge of his moral obligations, all serious opposition to Hitler and the policies of the Third Reich would have simply melted away. His disapproval would hardly have amounted to anything more than that of the merest velleity of disapproval and regret. Indeed, not unlike that brooding Germanic genius of the Black Forest, Martin Heidegger, who never repented of his Nazi associations, Hildebrand might even have allowed himself to be co-opted by some of the same Nordic nonsense of blood and soil, of vendettas against Versailles, not to mention an ugly anti-Semitism manifest among even the most educated and refined of the German-speaking peoples. But his faith just kept getting in the way.

How it must have infuriated his enemies! Certainly it galled those powerful and virulent voices on the side of the German Reich, who obviously found intolerable his continued opposition to the Nazi regime.   Ambassador Franz von Papen, for example, Hitler’s official stooge in Austria, where Hildebrand first sought refuge from those bent on killing him (as it wasn’t possible to silence him otherwise). Hildebrand has aptly described him as “a Trojan horse … sent to throw sand into the eyes of Catholics in Vienna.” Poor Papen, how often he must have found himself reduced to sheer sputtering rage on the subject of his nemesis. “That damned Hildebrand,” he said most undiplomatically, “is the greatest obstacle for National Socialism in Austria. No one causes more harm.”   Indeed, in private conversations with Hitler, he would refer to him as “the architect of the intellectual resistance in Austria.” Who must, of course, at all cost be stopped.

But also among a great number of fellow travelers as well, who seemed to think that in order to get along with the New Germany they had better trim their sails and just go along. What a thorn in their side he must have been. Especially when it came to the Jews, for whom they had very little sympathy.   And, really, wasn’t it all rather too much asking Austrians and Germans to suffer the uppity Jew, who had no business being in either country anyway?

But, again, Hildebrand wasn’t buying any of it.   How could he? Had he not already seen in Adolph Hitler and National Socialism the face of the Antichrist?   That everything about the Nazis—the racism, the nationalism, the militarism—it all reeked of the spirit of the Antichrist, and must therefore be wholly resisted and rejected. Nothing good would ever come of Hitler; and as for those bewitched by his “gruesome speeches,” they were, he suggested, like victims of a viper, whose gaze left them prostrate with fear and paralysis.

“God is offended,” he declared, “regardless of whether the victim of a murder is a Jew, a Socialist, or a bishop. Innocent blood cries out to heaven.” And it is from that perspective, surely, that one approaches the life and witness of this remarkable man. Who seemed to possess such a confidence and serenity about doing the will of God that even in the face dangers both constant and terrible he felt himself somehow delivered from fear. “I had the consciousness that what I was doing was right before God,” he later confessed, “and this gave me such inner freedom that I was not afraid.”

There appears a quote, just inside the front cover of this wonderful book, from a student of von Hildebrand, Paul Stocklein, that sums up the character and the impact of this extraordinary human being. It is a lovely tribute he pays and it is worth quoting in full:

He immunized and protected us from the philosophical waves that swept across Germany in those days. Heidegger’s melodies no longer had the power to seduce us, for our ears had become more discerning. Whoever understood von Hildebrand was saved. Despite the many factors at work, I think one can rightly say that history might have been quite different had there been more professors like him.

Regis Martin

By

Regis Martin is Professor of Theology and Faculty Associate with the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He earned a licentiate and a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Martin is the author of a number of books, including Still Point: Loss, Longing, and Our Search for God (2012) and The Beggar's Banquet (Emmaus Road). His most recent book, also published by Emmaus Road, is called Witness to Wonder: The World of Catholic Sacrament. He resides in Steubenville, Ohio, with his wife and ten children.

  • Nel

    I’m just finishing this book, and certainly can recommend it, with reservations, to many readers.

    I would first say not to take the word ‘thrilling’ in this review at face value. If you are expecting a ‘thrilling story’ of someone hiding from the Nazis, giving fiery speeches, cloak-and-dagger escapades, with high-speed chases and hair’s-breadth escapes – this book is not it.

    Also, it would help the reader greatly to have some idea of the history of the Second World War in Europe (a map of where the countries involved are, if, like most Americans, you could not locate Austria immediately on a map, for example). Plenty of references are made to important philosophical and political figures of the time (if you don’t know who Dollfuss was, you need to do some reading). In short, this book assumes familiarity with the situation in World War II in Germany and Austria at the very least. Sadly, I think most Americans that I know (who are not university educated or particularly good at geography or history, especially outside the US) will not be able to follow the significance of Hildebrand’s struggle.

    I would recommend that people get and read first The Soul of a Lion: Dietrich von Hildebrand, a Biography by Alice von Hildebrand. That’s the really ‘thrilling’ account, as well as a terrific introduction to this most remarkable of Christian men and Catholic philosophers. His upbringing in a former Franciscan (probably) cloister outside of Florence; his family life, surrounded by artistic and musical family members; the visits from virtually anyone who was anyone in the fields of arts and letters during his formative years – all of that will prepare you for the intellectual and aesthetic revulsion with which von Hildebrand looked at National Socialism. Once you’ve read Soul of a Lion, you will understand why the words ‘beauty’ and ‘beautiful’ recur so often in von Hildebrand’s writings (in this book, it is striking), and you’ll also have the ‘set up’ for this close look at von Hildebrand’s philosophical battle against National Socialism.

    The second section of the book – after the narrative part – consists of von Hildebrand’s writings against the Nazi ideology during the period covered in the book (some excerpts, some complete essays). Since the publicity for the book (‘thrilling’) made me expect a pure narrative, I was ambivalent about reading these more philosophical texts (just say ‘German philosophy’ to someone and watch their eyes glaze). But I’m struck by the surprising freshness – the currency – of some of these essays. ‘The Danger of Quietism’, for example, is a timeless essay aimed at the problem of the Catholic who just wants to be Catholic in church, who doesn’t want to get involved at a time (such as ours) when the Antichrist is making an obvious appearance on the world stage. ‘The Jews and the Christian West’ was written at a time (1937) when the Jews were under vigorous attack in Europe and elsewhere, as we know. Reading it now – as I’m teaching a course on Old Testament covenants – I find it a fascinating way of seeing the very particular position of the Chosen People as von Hildebrand says, as ‘Representative People of Humanity.’ I wish I had read the essay before beginning the class: I would have assigned it to be read by people approaching reading the Old Testament for the first time. It’s definitely worthwhile for students of scripture; I know I will re-read it and incorporate its ideas in my teaching.

    My Battle Against Hitler picks up where The Soul of a Lion leaves off (with some overlap; Soul of a Lion takes us further in giving us more about von Hildebrand’s flight from Europe). But My Battle Against Hitler goes deeper, gives us almost the day-to-day struggle of von Hildebrand and colleagues to publish an opposing voice both to the rise of Nazism and the increasing ‘quietism’, accommodation and appeasement of the masses of Europeans threatened by the Nazi terror (including an alarming number of priests and religious). As such, it will deepen your understanding of the urgency of people of good will who were ‘on the ground’ in Germany and Austria in the 1930s, watching with increasing anxiety as the region fell under the spell of Hitler.

    It’s not a light read. It is good, deep and worthy reading. I highly recommend it, but not as an introduction to von Hildebrand’s writing or life; nor would I recommend it to someone who ‘knows nothing’ about the Second World War apart from ‘something about Hitler and Jews in camps and we won.’

    A final word – read anything by Dr Alice von Hildebrand. OK, one more word: a public ‘thank-you’ to Alice von Hildebrand for her own works and for her tireless efforts to bring attention to her husband’s work. Dietrich von Hildebrand is, in my book, a modern-day Doctor of the Church.

    • Michael S.

      Thank you for your commentary. I would, however, argue that even if you have not read “Soul of a Lion” (I have read it twice), this should not deter one from reading this new book. Books like these that are recommended by those who are worthy of trust are intellectual mines of gold in that any reference that one is not familiar with can be researched via the internet within seconds. The explosive richness of reading such a book with the availability of the internet exposes one to such wide ranging knowledge within such a short period of time and virtually little effort. Being born in this period of history is like no other. I find it an utter waste of time watching a movie for ninety minutes when, within the same time frame I can read a few pages of this new book, familiarize myself with references not known to me and come to realize such historical depth giving the average person access to history, philosophy, literature and religion that was available to only the highly educated or fortunate few. Especially in this time of increasing ignorance of history ironically in the light of unimaginable technology, one must be responsible to God and man to make the effort to understand history in depth. This allows us to separate real science and faith from falsehoods that exist in both realms. Again, thanks for you succinct comment that will be copy and pasted. God bless you.

      • Nel

        My warning was written with my acquaintances in mind. And my family in mind (Americans). I can only imagine two people I know reading this book and really appreciating it. The rest of the people I know are too intellectually unformed to ‘get it’ (students); don’t have enough historical background to stick with it (various American family and friends) or so far away from and hostile to the notion of ‘absolute truth’ (still less truth found in Christ and his Church) that they would probably not get through 20 pages without giving up. Then there’s my relative who ‘can’t get into a book unless there’s a car crash or a chase or something really exciting in the first couple of pages.’ When he reads that this is a ‘thrilling’ story about a man’s battle with Hitler, he expects gunfire and squealing tires on the first page. He ain’t gonna get it.

        The book is not what it appears to be. It’s better. But that won’t necessarily make it accessible to people who don’t want to work when they read.

        By ‘appears’ I’m referring to the obligatory black-and-red cover (any book about Hitler has a black-and-red cover) and it’s not really ‘thrilling.’ (In fact, I think some of the depth and timelessness of von Hildebrand’s story comes from the fact that the story is a somewhat ‘work-a-day’ account of setting up and running an opposition newspaper, for example: the difficulties of dealing with political ‘creatures,’ the broken promises of financial backing; the sensitive egos that had to be treated very carefully to keep them friendly. His ‘battle with Hitler’ could easily have relevance to a parent’s ‘battle’ with a child’s drug addiction; a spouse’s ‘battle’ to save a miserable and dysfunctional marriage; a lay person’s ‘battle’ to stick to chastity and purity in a sex-saturated, morally debased world.) I think the marketing is trying to attract people who want WWII ‘thrillers’ and that such a marketing ploy will attract what CS Lewis referred to as the kind of reader who reads merely to pass the time or to satisfy the desire for a particular genre (‘I only read science-fiction’ for example). The kind of reader who is looking to be entertained by a thrilling story about one man’s ‘battle with Hitler’ is going to be disappointed. That’s on the one hand.

        On the other hand, von Hildebrand was a brilliant, civilized, cultured man, and his work is not immediately accessible to a great many people – Joe Catholic and Joe Sixpack and even my friend who is a devout, beautiful, home-schooling Catholic mother of four, a well-educated, historically informed European, but who confesses that her mind just isn’t up to serious reading while mothering and home-schooling four children under age 8. Most people don’t WANT to interrupt their reading to go online and ‘find out who these people are’ or look up the history of Poland or the borders of Germany or whatever is missing in their knowledge of the world. Most people just want to READ THE BOOK.

        I agree that the book is rich and profound: I’ve yet to read anything by DvH that was not rich and profound. But that’s why I issued a caveat: not everyone will find it easy or even possible to ‘get through’ this book.

        You have an admirable approach to reading (I say so as a college literature instructor with 23 years’ experience). But I assure you that not everyone approaches books the way you do. (Try CS Lewis’s An Experiment in Criticism to see how he differentiates between types of readers.) I do have an issue with how this book is being marketed and reviewed: it looks like and is described as if it’s ‘all about’ DvH trying to dodge Hitler’s bullet, like you’ll be holding your breath on every page as the Evil Hitler tries to silence the Good Professor, etc. It’s being marketed to sound too much – in my view – like the Next Hollywood Blockbuster.

        And then you get it and read it and realize that you’ve got pure gold.

        Now you and I don’t mind getting gold when we might have thought we were getting chips and beer. But there’s a whole lot of people who will be annoyed to get gold – philosophical, theological and cultural gold – when all they wanted was a burger and fries.

  • Samuel63

    I am surprised this sort of rubbish is still being propagated. Do some real digging and fact checking. The truth is available today thanks to the real heroes of our time.

    • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

      I know I’ll be sorry I asked, but who did you have in mind?

      • Dick Prudlo

        I would like to know, as well. And I will not be sorry I asked.

  • GaudeteMan

    “…one man’s effort to defend the inherited values of the Christian West, at a time when the lights seemed to have gone out all over the world.” The parallels between our current state of affairs and Nazi Germany are striking. Probably the most poignant truth is that the masses are in denial about the horrors that are taking place around them. By the time the lukewarm and indifferent snap out of their warm and fuzzy dream state it will be too late. Does anyone dare to call out our true enemies? Radical Islam? The politicized homosexual movement? Bishops and priests who defiantly ignore life issues and play footsie with the Left? Et al?

    • Nestorian

      How about criminal bankers on Wall Street and their corrupt enablers in government;
      a rogue military regime in the US committing war crimes in pursuit of global domination;
      corrupt and out-of-control corporate rackets in pharmaceuticals, industrial food production, energy, and other important industries;
      local police forces that increasingly behave like third-world death squads (which, by the way, are also historically US sponsored);
      and so on and so forth?

      I will be impressed with those who invoke the example of von Hildebrand’s courageous stand for truth as something worth emulating only when they denounce these evils as well. Until then, invoking his name to justify the narrow ideological interests of the religious and well-to-do is nothing but a hypocritical charade.

      It is the Christianity of the Laodicians in Revelation 3, of the self-satisfied and luke-warm whom Our Lord will “spew out of his mouth.”

      • GaudeteMan

        Yawn.

      • Michael S.

        Again, you and another poster are being unfair to Mr. Martin. He can only put forth a small amount of information in an essay of such an important and complex reality and evil. But here is something that is a response to your implicit request:
        “The thing to be done is nothing more or less than the distribution of the great fortunes and the great estates. We can now only avoid Socialism by a change as vast as Socialism. If we are to save property, we must distribute property, almost as sternly and sweepingly as did the French Revolution.”
        G. K. Chesterton 1910, What’s Wrong with the World.
        As an aside: I wonder if people like President Obama who wants also to redistribute wealth would be open to redistribute all the Federal lands which takes up 1/4 of the land mass of the U.S?

    • Nel

      As I’ve been reading the essays at the end of the book (part 2), I often find myself replacing ‘National Socialism’ with ‘The Homosexual Agenda’ and finding that they can both be condemned on the same grounds.

      Von Hildebrand doesn’t (so far, I still have some essays to read) say that people were so much ‘in denial’ about what was going on around them as they ‘got used to it’ (the way we’ve got so used to gay, gay, everywhere), believed the rhetoric and dismissed the actions, or thought that they could somehow ‘harmonize’ National Socialism with the Gospel (a sad number of priests, bishops, seminarians and religious are mentioned in the book as doing just that).

      As I read the essays, I sometimes feel like I’m reading the answer to that perpetual question that always seems to come up when people confront the Holocaust or the rise of National Socialism and ask, ‘But how could people of good will/ good sense/ Christians not have seen that this was evil and opposed it?’

      Von Hildebrand was there; he was watching and listening and engaging in discussion and debate with some of the finest minds (or most educated people – not always the same thing) and I believe that anyone who wants an answer to the question, ‘How could people have let this happen?’ will find the answers in this book.

      Indeed, you can exchange ‘National Socialism’ for ‘Homosexual Agenda’ and ‘Radical Islam’ (‘We are a religion of peace; just ignore our actions) in many of these essays and you’ll see very clearly exactly how people ‘allowed’ Nazism and the Holocaust to happen, because you’ll see exactly how WE are allowing the Homosexual Agenda and Radical Islam and a culture of death to gain a stranglehold on what’s left of Christian civilization.

      I am sure I remember listening to a speech by Alice von Hildebrand many years ago, in which she said that her husband once commented that ‘Hitler won the war.’ He meant that the pernicious ideology at the bottom of National Socialism ‘won’ because we are living the consequences now. Hitler’s materialistic racism is our abortion and euthanasia movement; his appropriation of marriage to the purposes of the state is our ‘homosexual marriage’ movement.

      I highly recommend this book to you, GaudeteMan, because I think you will find both confirmation of some of your intuitions, and a very clear-eyed and deeper understanding of ‘how we let these things happen.’

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    What an honor that Von Hildebrand is one of the very first names on Hitler’s ‘death list’ (1923).

    V.H. taught me to fill my head and heart with the gorgeous acts of.saints. I asked my priest if my communion is the exact same as the viaticum carried 300 miles by a humble Alaskan priest in the early 1900’s to a dying old Aleut woman. A journey that (though he arrived just in time) left the priest half dead with cold and hunger. It is the same, he said, not the same like two things are of the same type but it is THE same.

  • Trazymarch

    Article is too one-sided and thus not thought provoking.
    “That everything about the Nazis—the racism, the nationalism, the
    militarism—it all reeked of the spirit of the Antichrist, and must
    therefore be wholly resisted and rejected.”

    You are pretty much copying New Left narration on National Socialism mr Martin. No word on Social Darwinism, atheism with occult influences, no word on Hegel. Also not even word about communist spectre which pretty much was visible in whole Europe. Vide communist revolution attempt in Germany in 1918-1919. And if you say that everything about Nazis must be rejected… do you mean that anti-communism should be rejected too?

    Also:
    1. Racism. 2. Nationalism. 3.Militarism
    Do you know mr Regis who are you critising? Israel.

    • Michael S.

      Articles like these are unable to comprehensively cover all aspects of the topic. It is unfair to ask Mr. Martin to cover the complex evil in such a short period that is more of a book review that suggests the importance of the topic and not an all-encompassing essay. My suggestion above referring to John Coates article is more to your liking. God Bless. Also, one must remember that Mr. Martin has many irons in the fire and my guess is that he is already spreading himself thin as it is…

      • Trazymarch

        “Articles like these are unable to comprehensively cover all aspects of the topic. ”
        It comprehensively covers uptake on the Third Reich by New Left. So….

        • Nel

          The author is writing a BOOK REVIEW! It’s not SUPPOSED to be an article that comprehensively covers anything; it’s only supposed to tell you generally what a book is about and why you might find it valuable to read it.

          Read the book. Read any book. Just don’t attack a BOOK REVIEW for not being the political discussion you want it to be.

    • Augustus

      This is a modest book review of one man’s opposition to Nazi terror and his flight from the Gestapo. It is not a history of the war or of modern ideologies. Just because the author chose not to echo your view of the world does not mean it is invaluable for what it attempts to do. Nazism was an evil socialist totalitarian system that persecuted millions–a left-wing rival to Soviet Communism. You don’t have to be a “New Leftist” to recognize that. Nor do you have to give equal time to other oppressive regimes in order to be “fair.” From a Catholic perspective, they are all evil. Period. Your attempt to whitewash Nazism is grotesque.

      • Trazymarch

        No need to cry. I had written about flaws in mr Regis Martin review. And that’s all.

        • Augustus

          And my point is that they are not flaws. You can be a critic of the Nazis, like Hildebrand, and not be on the political left. The Nazis were socialists. They murdered their opponents on the right as well as the left. By claiming that criticism of the Nazis is a leftwing view, you play into the hands of the left who put Nazism on the right of the political spectrum. This is historically false. If you knew your history, you would know this.

          • Trazymarch

            Read again my criticism. You didn’t do it….. right?

          • The Nazis were socialists.

            Yep. Right in the name. National SOCIALISTS. Creatures of the left.

        • Nel

          Have you actually READ THE BOOK? Point out the flaws in a review OF THE BOOK if Mr Martin’s review OF THE BOOK is flawed. I have only a few more pages of the book to read, and I cannot find anything in this article that makes it a ‘flawed’ review except, perhaps, the potentially misleading term ‘thrilling.’ The book is not ‘thrilling’ in any way that I can perceive.

    • GaudeteMan

      You write the book and I will read it.

      • Trazymarch

        You wouldn’t anyway.

      • Trazymarch

        Do you agree with what did I write or not?

    • Nick_from_Detroit

      Neither Hegel, nor the communists, were trying to kill Dietrich von Hildebrand, were they? Regis Martin’s essay was about this new book, remember?

      • Trazymarch

        Of course. Racism, nationalism, militarism killed Dietrich von Hildebrand.

        • Trazymarch

          “Regis Martin’s essay was about this new book, remember?”
          Yep. And my comment was about mr Regis Martin essay. remember?

        • Nick_from_Detroit

          Straw man, Trazymarch. I never claimed any such thing.

          • Trazymarch

            Yep. And my criticism wasn’t about who killed who. So what’s your problem?

            • Nick_from_Detroit

              Your criticism had nothing to do with the subject of the book, or Regis Martin’s review. That was my point.

              • Trazymarch

                So what Am I exactly allowed to criticise? Is there a list somewhere?

                • Nick_from_Detroit

                  Another straw man. I can’t prohibit you from posting. I’m criticizing your comments. Am I not allowed to criticize?
                  Again, my point is that your criticisms should be about the subject of Professor Martin’s essay. Not random issues and subjects NOT so related. This is called common courtesy, and remaining relevant. I hope you see the difference, now. God Bless!

                  • Trazymarch

                    Origins of national socialism is NOT related to the subject of the article? There are other commentators who also had written about it. Why won’t you “criticise” them?
                    “I’m criticizing your comments.”
                    Nah. You are trying to control what can be discussed and what doesnt

                    • Nick_from_Detroit

                      I apologize, to a point, Trazymarch. I mis-read your original comment. I thought you were criticizing Professor Martin for not mentioning the origins of marxism/communism, not National Socialism. The origins of the NSDAP are certainly relevant to this discussion. Again, my apologies.
                      But, since, Prof. Martin’s review states that this book “is a rich compilation, consisting of a series of memoirs written between the years 1921 and 1937,” I would assume Dr. von Hildebrand deals with the party’s origins, in the book. Again, the book is the subject of the essay, not the ideological genus of National Socialism. You made it sound like Prof. Martin was hiding something, or, more uncharitably, spewing New Left propaganda.

                      I still don’t understand this criticism, I’m sorry.

                    • Trazymarch

                      No problem. Maybe I got too hot-headed too. Sorry

                      “You made it sound like Prof. Martin was hiding something, or, more uncharitably, spewing New Left propaganda.”
                      That’s exactly my point. Mr Regis Martin rather than hiding ( and I am nearly certain it wasn’t his intention) pretty much copied New Left or some of the lefts narration. This fragment is a problem:
                      “That everything about the Nazis—the racism, the nationalism, the militarism—it all reeked of the spirit of the Antichrist, and must therefore be wholly resisted and rejected.”
                      What exactly Mr Regis meant? While I only saw one interpretation before I see another possibility
                      1. Pretty much EVERYTHING about Nazis must be rejected. That means anti-communism too. In current Germany that’s official …. idea? ideology?axiom? Communist “martylogy” is allowed and not even in slightest punished. Maybe even encouraged? And there is pretty much no political party who ISN’T social democratic. Total negation of everything about National Socialist is exactly the premise of the current Germany.

                      2. Only Nationalism, Militarism, Racism must be rejected. But it also has it problems too especially for the “neoconservatives”. Exactly on this premise leftists reject the right to exist of the state Israel. It is strongly nationalistic, militaristic with widespread racism existing right? But also if Nationalism, Militarism, Racism is such great evil that means there is need to fight it. So in USA its: fighting with Independence Day, cause nationalism, supporting Fergusson protests cause racism, and no wars cause being militaristic is bad. Do you see now?

                    • Nick_from_Detroit

                      Just because leftwingers attack Israel for being militaristic, nationalistic, and racist, doesn’t mean that Prof. Martin was using code words to attack Israel when he listed well-known and well-accepted tenets of nazi ideology. The nazis attacked communists because they were competing with them for the average Joe-sixpack, unemployed German. And, because many communists were Jews. They were both ideologies of the left, as has been well established.
                      I think that you are seeing things that Prof. Martin didn’t write. God Bless!

                    • Trazymarch

                      Is Israel Nationalistic, Racist, Militaristic? If it is why double standards?

                    • Nick_from_Detroit

                      No, she is not. But, Israel is a socialist state. Self-defense and -preservation is not nationalistic, nor, militaristic. I’m sure some Israelis are racist, but Arabs fair much better in Israel than they do in the Moslem countries that surround her.
                      Are you anti-Israel, Trazymarch?

                    • Trazymarch

                      “No, she is not.”
                      Of course Israel IS embodiment of these words: It is probably most militarised country in the world. Very nationalistic and of course its racist.
                      ” but Arabs fair much better in Israel than they do in the Moslem countries that surround her.”
                      No idea if they really fair much better. Even if they do how does it change my remarks?”Are you anti-Israel, Trazymarch?” Oh. Here it comes: Ideological check question. I am neither pro or anti Israel. It’s a matter of quite small importance for me. Hopefully neutrality/dissinteresemnt is allowed and there won’t be cry from resident neoconservatives.

                    • Nick_from_Detroit

                      Of course Israel IS [sic] embodiment of these words: It is probably most militarised country in the world. Very nationalistic and of course its racist.

                      Now that is leftwing agitprop, right there! Ward Churchill or Micheal Moore couldn’t have said it better themselves. By your criteria, this would apply to the U.S., too, no? We defend ourselves when attacked, and we have the biggest military in the world, and we still have racists among us.

                      Even if they do how does it change my remarks?

                      Because, it shows that Israel is not a racist nation, that’s how.

                      Oh. Here it comes: Ideological check question.

                      No, not at all. I’ve dealt with enough paleo-cons to know that they will deny that they are anti-Semetic while admitting that they are anti-Israel. And, some will even argue that Hitler did not want to commit genocide, he wanted to move the Jews to Madagascar. So, I just wanted to know which side, if any, you came down on, Trazymarch.
                      Also, “neoconservative” is code language for the Joooooozzzzzzz, in case you didn’t know. Israel has every right to defend herself against all unjust aggression, and, she is our best ally in the region.

                    • Trazymarch

                      “Now that is leftwing agitprop, right there! Ward Churchill or Micheal
                      Moore couldn’t have said it better themselves. By your criteria, this
                      would apply to the U.S., too, no?”
                      Militaristic and Nationalistic yes. Racist? “Racist” is pretty much only a empty word nowadays. So no idea what it really means.
                      ” And, some will even argue that Hitler did not want to commit genocide, he wanted to move the Jews to Madagascar”
                      Oh really! Told you it’s ideological check question. You already bring out big guns.

                      ” So, I just wanted to know which side, if any, you came down on, Trazymarch.”
                      In case of Israel I already said my opinion. I wonder if I am antisemitic? I don’t care that much about Israel after all. Or at least it’s hardly something I consider among most important issues/problems.

                      “that they will deny that they are anti-Semetic while admitting that they are anti-Israel.”
                      anti-semetic is yet another empty word very similar to “misoginistic”, “fascist”, “nazi”, “racist”, “xenophobe”, “homophobe”. Not sure if there is point denying it?
                      “Also, “neoconservative” is code language for the Joooooozzzzzzz, in case you didn’t know.”
                      Who? Also It seems you aren’t interested in rest of my post. Maybe because it wasn’t about Israel? Not sure.

                    • Nick_from_Detroit

                      “Racist” is pretty much only a empty word nowadays. So no idea what it really means.

                      Yet, you had no problem accusing Israel of being racist. Do you see the cognitive dissonance?

                      You already bring out big guns.

                      No, I actually argued with a couple of paleo-cons who asserted that claptrap. Proudly, in fact. But, they weren’t anti-Semitic, no, not at all.

                      You were the one who brought up, Israel. No one else did. I gave my objections to your original comment. Then I admitted my partial mistake. Israel has nothing to do with Prof. Martin’s book review or Dr. von Hildebran’s book. You have attempted, with a little success, to high-jack this thread. Your original criticism was off the mark, vis-a-vis Prof. Martin not dealing with the origins of National Socialism. You refuse to deal with this fact.

                    • Trazymarch

                      Also: Did you read my whole comment or all you care about is Israel?

                    • Nick_from_Detroit

                      You brought up Israel, not me. Or, Prof. Martin.

                    • Trazymarch

                      My comment was mostly about Germany. With a few words about Israel…..

                    • Nel

                      No, you are wrong when you say that “pretty much everything about Nazis must be rejected. that means anti-communism, too.’ No. Read the BOOK. Von Hildebrand says that nazism must be rejected totally (NOT ‘pretty much’) because it is false and fundamentally in its principles anti-Christian. He also says that communism must be rejected totally because in ITS principles, it is fundamentally anti-Christian.

                      If you would READ THE BOOK, you’d understand that von Hildebrand rejects ANY ‘ism’ that is anti-Christ. His simple way of determining this is to hold up any man-made ‘ism’ to the scrutiny of the Gospel, of revealed truth about man and God and to see if they conform. He very clearly sees that NEITHER national socialism NOR communism fundamentally – in their basic precepts – can ever be considered to have anything in common with Christ; nor can either one ever be ‘developed’ into something that will somehow harmonize with Christianity. They must be rejected root and branch – period.

                      You’re asking a whole lot of silly questions about what Mr Martin is or isn’t saying, and you’re missing the whole point of the article: He’s trying to give us a sense of what von Hildebrand wrote about. If you think that von Hildebrand ‘missed’ something or didn’t reason well – then READ THE BOOK and see if Mr Martin misrepresented him.

                      The more I read your comments, the more I think you desperately need the smoke blown out of your eyes and your reasoning cleared up with some clear thinking. So READ THE BOOK, because it will (one hopes) resolve some of your very confused thinking and put matters in quite clear terms: a thing is either true or false; it is true if it conforms to the principles of Christ; it is false if it has as its basis opposition to Christ.

                      One point that von Hildebrand makes VERY clear is that NO Christian can ever ‘place his trust in kings.’ In other words, the Christian who is seeking a political party to right all the wrongs in the world is seeking outside of Christ, and has not been transformed into Christ. It is such Christians who – unlike von Hildebrand – when put in a situation where it looks like you ‘have to’ choose between one false ideology (Nazism) and another (communism), will choose one of those, and will deny Christ (as sadly many priests and religious did: he even reports a priest teaching that the reason for sexual purity before marriage is so that within marriage, couples can create racially pure children and grandchildren. The beauty and virtue of purity as such is completely subjugated to Nazi racist ideology – and that by a Catholic priest, receiving the sacraments every day.)

                      Read the book and lay off Mr Martin’s review. You really, really need this book. You are way too immersed in political ideas and not enough immersed in Gospel truth.

                • Nel

                  Yeah, the thing you are allowed to criticize is a BOOK REVIEW about a REAL BOOK, when you’ve READ THE BOOK and the BOOK REVIEW is not saying true or helpful things about THE BOOK.

                  The purpose of a BOOK REVIEW is to help people who might be interested in the book decide whether to buy or read THE BOOK. Mr Martin thinks people will be interested in THE BOOK, clearly, since he praises it.

                  I’ve read the review and the book and I find that the publisher seems to have fallen into a kind of ‘sensational’ marketing strategy. Anything marketed as a thrilling account of someone Hitler personally wanted dead – decorated with the obligatory black-and-red cover art, sigh – is clearly trying to reach the ‘Hitler/ WWII’-fascinated reader. They will pick it up expecting an action-packed or tense ‘thriller’, a game of cat-and-mouse with Hitler, and they will find instead a Catholic theologian of great culture and intellect trying to get people to wake up to the evil in their midst through clear and well-argued philosophical essays.

                  That, I think, is a weakness in the review: that it doesn’t tell you that this is not the typical ‘war-movie/ Nazi menace/ good-versus-evil thriller that the reviews and descriptions imply and that the cover art is designed to make you think it is.

                  But then who would read a book about a Catholic theologian’s arguments against the twin falsehoods of National Socialism and communism? It doesn’t have the marketing appeal of ‘My Battle Against Hitler’ with the black-and-red cover.

                  It’s a serious book, with serious ideas, telling about the life and thought of a brilliant and highly civilized and cultivated man. It is much more worth reading than any ten ‘WWII thrillers,’ and while I understand the marketing ploy, I’m not sure that it does the depth and value of this book a service.

                  See, THAT’S how you respond to a BOOK REVIEW in a discussion among people who may or may not be interested in reading THE BOOK.

                  If what I wrote helps people decide to read the book (or not), spend their money (or not), then it’s an appropriate addition to the discussion.

                  Read the book, then come back and say that the book review is either true and accurate or false and inaccurate. Let is know whether the BOOK is more or less worth reading than Mr Martin says. That’s when you’ll be making a useful contribution.

                  Or as my lit-crit professor used to put it: Nobody cares what you think about the book except your mother and your wife (before you marry her). We care about whether the book is good enough to read.

        • Nel

          If you would READ THE BOOK, you would know that von Hildebrand died many decades after the war, of heart failure.

          Von Hildebrand fought mightily against the Nazi menace in Germany and then in Austria NOT because Hitler was trying to kill him (that’s one of those false leads about this book; it’s not about someone desperately trying to dodge a Nazi bullet). In fact, people around him found him constantly HAPPY and were surprised at how easily and peacefully he could enjoy an evening with friends the night before he was due to flee Austria. He was happy because he had an inner freedom based on his faith. So this is by no means a book ‘about’ someone trying to escape death from the Nazis, though in the end he did leave and preserve his own life and the lives of his wife and child. It’s about a man who saw that TRUTH was being threatened, that a whole civilization based on the Truth of Christ was being threatened with destruction. In fact, while the cover says it’s a battle against Hitler, you will find that his essays in the newspaper he was producing condemn communism as being equally false as nazism (though in different ways, with different emphases). He demolishes them both as ‘Anti-Christ,’ not just Nazism.

          This book is called ‘My Battle Against Hitler’ but it would be more aptly called something like, ‘My Battle-Cry for Truth,’ because that’s what von Hildebrand held as the highest value. In his precise time and place, the biggest threat to Truth among Catholics and non-Catholics and non-believing people of goodwill was National Socialism.

          If you read the book, you’ll find that he doesn’t talk about left-wing this and right-wing that. He defends TRUTH, and insists that a Catholic must not be one of those Catholics whose faith is so skin-deep that he hasn’t had a personal encounter and been transformed by Christ. Such a Christian will easily be swayed by various ‘natural’ ideologies (arising from man, not from God), because he has never really encountered the TRUTH.

          Von Hildebrand is less about Nazism (that was just the ‘occasion’ of his argument) and more an ardent defender of TRUTH. He would probably dismiss you as someone who has so much political smoke in his eyes that he can’t see Christ – and he would pity that and lament it.

          Honestly, you haven’t read the book; you clearly aren’t even interested in the book, so why are you here? Troll much?

    • Nel

      I think you should read the book, especially the essay ‘False Fronts’ beginning on p. 292. In it, von Hildebrand explains that two false ideas (or any number of false ideas) can’t and don’t cancel each other out (so it’s not either Nazism OR communism). They only represent different falsehoods. ‘Only the one truth opposes all errors, whatever their nature, both in their most decisive point and in their specific disvalue. One error [for example Nazism] can never be overcome by another, opposite error [for example, communism, though it might not be as ‘opposite’ as it was presented to people]; the devil cannot be cast out with the help of Beelzebub’ (p. 293).

      Von Hildebrand doesn’t use the phrase, but while I was reading that essay, I had the strong feeling that there was a ‘divide and conquer’ policy – almost – going on (and indeed, there was, if one considers both nazism and communism to be anti-Christian, which von Hildebrand categorically does). At the time, people were given the idea that you are either/or: either on the side of National Socialism or you are on the side of Communism. Von Hildebrand was trying to get people to see that you need to be on the side of TRUTH, and that the truth can be found in Christ and his Church, not in any man-made ‘ism’ raging in the world at any given time.

      Not sure why Israel is being brought into this, but if someone has an issue with the Jews, and still calls himself Catholic, that person definitely should read the book, rather than tearing up this article and avoiding the deep truths and beauty of what von Hildebrand wrote.

      After all, this is a book review. Go read the book.

  • Michael S.

    Mr. Martin’s article describes rightly as “nonsense” the Nazi movement. But one must remember that this nonsense was labeled as “science” (the racialist theories dominating in Europe and originating in America) just as so much of Communism was considered “scientific socialism”. And he has indirectly, by appealing to Heidigger, revealed the philosophical underpinning behind the National Socialist movement. This dual intellectual ground is why so many accepted the movement and ridiculed V. H., the Catholic Church and others as backward, bigoted etc. and appealed to the Galileo incident as an example of the Catholic Church’s backwardness and obscurantist tendencies (sound familiar?). Having been on a personal intellectual quest for the last 30 years in order to understand why Nazism and Communism became worldwide phenomena, I have come to the conclusion that the appeal to science and philosophy was the one of the primary culprits. This is why so many accepted the Nazi and Communist movements in toto. One of the best and most succinct articles I have ever come across articulating a comprehensive summary of my conclusions is John Coates article in “Chesterton & The Modernist Crisis” title “Chesterton and the Modernist Cultural Context” published in 1989.
    May God bless you Mr. Martin.

    • Jdonnell

      Pseudo-science and false “laws” of science need to be exposed as such, as you say. This should include claims about economics and capitalism, as well as communism.

  • BillinJax

    Mr. Martin, let me say..

    On behalf of all who read and appreciate your effort here to simply
    illuminate truth and light in the midst of so much confusion and corruption in
    our western societies today mirroring the past mistakes of good willed people
    doing nothing in the face of eminent and obvious evil overtaking leadership of their
    nation clouded in darkness created by selfish intellectual elitists with no
    regard for those they see as an embarrassment to their hybrid ruling class…..Thank
    you so much for this humble and honest attempt at making the connection between ones loss of love for all of our fellow man and the desire to equate ones elevated ego to godlike status within a benevolent totally secular government as long as you pledge your allegiance to its agenda and condemn all opposition.

    God Bless

  • Trazymarch

    So annoying. Are GaudeteMan, Augustus, DE-173, NickFromDetroit finally going to stop beating around the bush and clearly, straightforwardly write what is their problem with my criticism of essay made by mr Regis Martin or should I stop pretending that I don’t know what their problem is and just spell it out to them?

    • Nick_from_Detroit

      I’ve beat no bush, Trazymarch. Yes, please, spell it out for me?

      • Trazymarch

        The problem is this line
        “Also:1. Racism. 2. Nationalism. 3.Militarism
        Do you know mr Regis who are you critising? Israel.”

        • Nick_from_Detroit

          That is your inference, Trazymarch. Prof. Martin never mentioned Israel.

          • Trazymarch

            Indirectly he does that. Yes? No?

            • Nick_from_Detroit

              Umm…No. See my reply, below.

    • All I wrote with regard to this was this:

      “The Nazis were socialists.

      Yep. Right in the name. National SOCIALISTS. Creatures of the left.”

      I can’t tell you what my problem with your criticism is because I have no idea what your criticism is-it seems to be some inchoate visceral reaction.

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