Both William Shirer and Hitler think the Obama administration is making a mistake with its attack on the Catholic Church

No, William Shirer and Hitler have not really addressed current political issues, because (of course) both are dead.  And no, I’m most certainly not comparing Obama or anyone in his administration to Hitler.  But yes, they both did in the past offer advice about direct government attacks on the Catholic Church, and Obama would be wise to heed that advice.

Now that it’s available in sleek Kindle form, so that I no longer have to lug around a 1,200 page book, I’m finally reading William Shirer’s masterful The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.  As I just started reading it yesterday, I’ve only gotten as far as Hitler’s 1909-1913 sojourn in Vienna, the time during which he formulated his philosophies, both racial and political.  Vienna, the capital of a rapidly disintegrating polyglot nation that saw the Germanic minority holding political power over the Slavs, allowed Hitler to witness the rise and fall of several political movements, and to draw his own conclusions about what contributed to their success or failure.

Hitler was a man of unparalleled evil.  He was also an exceptionally astute observer of human nature and politics, who put his insights into the service of his evil agenda.  That the agenda was wrong does not mean that the insights lack validity.  One of the insights that Shirer points out would not have struck me so strongly had it not been for the events of the past week.  Georg Ritter von Schoenerer’s Pan-German Nationalist Party was one of the political movements that did not succeed during Hitler’s Vienna years, but that certainly gave him food for thought.  I’ll now cede the floor to quotations from Shirer and Hitler (at location 640 of 35703, emphasis mine):

The Pan-Germans at that time were engaged in a last-ditch struggle for German supremacy in the multinational empire.  And though Hitler thought that Schoenerer was a “profound thinker” and enthusiastically embraced his basic program of violent nationalism, anti-Semitism, anti-socialism, union with Germany and opposition to the Hapsburgs and the Holy See, he quickly sized up the causes for the party’s failure:

This movement’s inadequate appreciation of the importance of the social problem cost it the truly militant mass of the people; its entry into Parliament took away its might impetus and burdened it with all the weaknesses peculiar to this institution; the struggle against the Catholic Church . . . robbed it of countless of the best elements that the nation can call its own.

Though Hitler was to forget it when he came to power in Germany, one of the lessons of his Vienna years which he stresses at great length in Mein Kampf is the futility of a political party’s trying to oppose the churches.  “Regardless of how much room for criticism there was in any religious denomination,” he says, in explaining why Schoenerer’s Los-vonRom (Away from Rome) movement was a tactical error, “a political party must never for a moment lose sight of the fact that in all previous historical experience a purely political party has never succeeded in producing a religious reformation.”

The Catholic Church has changed because it wanted to.  In the last 50 or 60 years, it has changed, at least at the grass-roots level, because Leftists have infiltrated it.  But the Catholic Church does not change when a political movement attacks it from the front, which is what the Leftists in America have suddenly decided to do.

Incidentally, I’m not the only one seeing that, without in any way calling today’s Leftist’s Nazis, all of us can learn by examining the mistakes of the past.

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  • Oldflyer

    I repeat myself, but it will be interesting to see how the Laity respond to the Leadership.  I know many fervent Catholics; and I know many Catholics of convenience.  The latter being those who lean on the comforting aspects of  Church liturgy, while ignoring the more stringent dictates of doctrine.  It will be fascinating to see how the internal tug of war plays out.
    Although non-Catholic, I am rooting for the Church.  Raised a Baptist, I do not agree with much of its doctrine, but recognize that the Church can be a strong counter to governmental power; and, in today’s environment I do not view the Church as threatening force, even though it has not always been a benign one.  I would not wager on the outcome.

  • jj

    I repeat myself too, but briefly: this one’s “top-down,” and the laity doesn’t much matter.
    Shirer – good book.  He’s fair enough minded to notice that Hitler was very astute, quite bright, and a precise observer – and give him his due for it.  The man was, like most of us, not simply one thing.  (Though the argument could be made that Mao, Lenin, Stalin, and Ho Chi Minh – all of whom murdered more people than Hitler did – were far simpler characters, and far closer to being only one thing.)
    Another good one – but you’ll probably have to go to the library for it, if you have a good library available – is Howard K. Smith’s Last Train From Berlin.  He went to Germany as a lad just out of school in 1936 to see the Olympics, and stayed because it was the cheapest place in Europe to live.  Fascinating story of what it looked like from the inside, told by someone in the process of discovering he could write.  (It was published in 1942, very much in the thick of what was still going on.)

    • Bookworm

      Oldflyer: I too am rooting for the Church. Thought it was not a friend of the Jews for many centuries, nowadays, it’s seems to be only the Leftist and fringe Catholics who are anti-Semites. Otherwise, around the world, the Catholic Church is a bulwark of civilization in a rapidly de-civilizing world.

      jj: Does top down matter for the November 2012 elections if the “Catholics of convenience,” as Oldflyer nicely calls them, peel away from the Church in great numbers?

  • jj

    To the Church?  No.  That will count in the US election, certainly, but even if everybody peels away – which they won’t – it won’t change the view from St. Peter’s.
    I communicate pretty regularly with Rome, and – perhaps – have a little bit of advance warning on the thinking now and then.   (Only because I hail from a mob-scene of a family on the far side of the pond, and have ended up with three relatives who work in the Vatican, two of whom live there and are citizens thereof.  I am actually related to about six priests, a monsignor, and a bishop.  Weird, eh?)  I hear that this is pretty serious.  This is line-in-the-sand time, and it’s unexplored territory for this generation.  Benedict is a lovely fellow, but he’s as hard and doctrinally inflexible as it gets.  He spent a lot of time formulating policy while working at, then running, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which, though no longer referred to by the rather more simple and straightforward name of the Inquisition, remains the home office of those who are not kidding.
    It seems he’s not kidding.  And he does not spend two seconds a year worrying about ‘Catholics of convenience.’  I think he regards a pretty fair proportion of America’s Catholics as not Catholic, and while he’d be pleased if they get with the program – they aren’t with it now anyway, so there’s little cost to alienating (though I suspect he doesn’t see it as ‘alienating,’ more like presenting them with an opportunity to be declarative) them, and it isn’t something he worries about.  He believes being Catholic means something – maybe ‘stands for something’ is a better locution – and if you don’t mean it or don’t stand for it, then you aren’t.  Losing you therefore doesn’t represent a loss.
    One of the Roman cousins opines that the only reasons America hasn’t already been given the heave-ho are (A) the dwindling number of genuine Catholics, and (B) the fact that America provides a lot of money to Rome every year.  Reason B is the one everybody hangs their hat on, and it makes them quite secure in going their own way.  So far, so good.  But Ratzinger may present a somewhat different dynamic.  He’s just the guy who may decide that what the church has tried to stand for is more important than the dough, so ciao, Americani.  Impossible?  We may find out. 

  • Ymarsakar

    Hitler’s solution was to turn fascism into a religion, which he did.

    And Obama will make the seas rise, and a light will shine upon him…. 

  • Charles Martel

    I wrote a letter Friday to Archbishop George Niederauer imploring him for the umpteenth time to publicly rein in Nancy Pelosi, the pseudo-Catholic harridan who routinely lifts her leg and pisses on Catholic doctrine with, apparently, no fear of censure. I have absolutely no expectation that George will lift his be-ringed finger and do his duty.
    jj is right: Benedict will cast off the phony Catholics that constitute what many of us call “Amchurch,” the grotesque simulacrum of Catholicism that doddering old bureaucratic chickenshits like Niederauer tolerate and abet. I was expecting to go through my dotage not having to contemplate a martyr church. My mistake.

  • Danny Lemieux

    JJ, I understand that the realities of the electronic age demand a certain level of discretion, but I would eat shoe leather to see your full bio. What fascinating perspectives you bring to Bookworm’s salon. 

  • Ymarsakar

    Things are progressing at an advanced clip. Something I could have forseen with the rise of Obama, except it was something I had already calculated for the Left. They weren’t just going to sit down and be quiet with all their agents in the Catholic Church, feminism, PP, education, and the cess snake pit of corrupt idiots in DC.

    So if Martel thought he was going to go beyond the twilight of his day before seeing the most “interesting events”, there was a very good chance he would turn out to be wrong. Now all that remains to be seen is whether the US will go down like Carthage or the 300 Spartans. Let us see, shall we, how fate and the Divine will of God will present “American providence” for a people that have turned their backs on both the Divine and inner truth.


  • Ymarsakar

    Btw, file sharing services and businesses in other countries are blocking American IPs. It’s like we’re terrorists now. Japan already blocked our IPs from their various websites because of other “lovely American” intervention policies.

    There’s a reason why the world hates and despises America. And it only peripherally has to do with your military conquests and economic domination of the trade lanes. The rest of the reason… well just look to who you got sitting at the throne of Washington DC.

     They hate “you” because “you” are screwing up the world in your little democracy of “everyone is equal”. Well if everyone is equal, then YOU are equally to blame for America’s destruction of world liberty.

     People also might have noticed that I haven’t been paying attention to certain political issues for the past 3 years of Obama’s totalitarian run. That’s because I already told people what would happen. After every event, my response was something like “you ain’t seen nothing yet, if you think this is bad from Obama…”

    People thought Obama bowing was bad. People thought Obama ignoring Iranian protesters getting gunned down by the Iranian special forces who also coincidentally set bombs that killed US soldiers in Iraq, was bad. People thought Obama supporting a manufactured war in Libya for oil and his own personal kicks was bad. People thought…

    well I’ll tell you people this. People don’t have a clue as to the True Extent of evil. That’s why they get surprised and keep thinking all this is “bad”. You think this is bad? Really. You haven’t seen anything yet. 

  • Oldflyer

    JJ, Obama does not care what Benedict and the Bishops do.  That is why the Laity matter.  If they do not unite behind the leadership, then Obama and his successors can brush them aside–and they will.  The Leadership of the Church have few votes, and fewer weapons.  Their strength is in the number of their followers. Their weakness would be lack of true commitment among the flock when  confrontation becomes reality.
    That is why I say the Laity matter; and they matter a great deal.
    Book, I know and I couched my statement with a bit of care, and after some thought.  Many organizations would not wish to be judged solely on their past.  I would say that overall, the whole Judeo-Christian world has evolved for the better. 

  • Danny Lemieux

    One of the points I make to people (those who ask, anyway) about Christianity is that being a Christian doesn’t make you “good”, it just makes you “better”. A church is not a meeting place for saints, rather it is a healing place for sinners.

    Thus, to Oldflyer’s and Book’s points – sure, the Church has done bad things and will continue to do bad things. it is, after all, made up of very fallible human beings who are also products of their times. However, on balance, it has been a great force for good. 

  • Ymarsakar

    Several of the things the Church have done in the past were due to socialist and fascist type influences. The Spanish Inquisition was primarily about fettering about enemies of the state and liquidating their assets (ala Soros) to the coffers. And the recent Catholic priest molestation scandals were primarily planned out and incubated by original Communist agents decades before.

    Like always, accepting America’s sins or anyone else’s sins, due to Leftist accusation, is primarily about accepting the blame for their actions with none of their benefits. 

  • jj

    Danny – big Irish family, man!  Brief bio: Paternal great-grandparents had eleven kids, two of whom came to this country.  (And my father’s grandmother on the maternal side was a lovely girl from Wicklow who worked as a housekeeper for the Anglican bishop based at Southwark Cathedral – and married his son.  Many people in his position would have gone up in smoke, but he bish was good about it.  The problem was, Anglican bishop was a social as much as religious position in those days, and his son marrying a Catholic – though a genteel, educated, and pretty well off one who was actually only in London to further her education – just wasn’t in the cards.  So he shipped his errant son and spouse off to America with a nice stipend, showed up now and then to visit his grandchildren, and stayed in touch.  He just couldn’t have her right there, under his – and everybody else’s – nose.  But contact was maintained, and my father’s grand-parents and parents knew where everyone still in the old countries were.  My father himself had a pile of cousins over there (and three brothers and two sisters right here) and popped back and forth pretty regularly, particularly when he got involved with what we might refer to as ‘world affairs,’ so contact was always regular.  Even back then there were a couple of cousins in rectories. 
    Then along comes this little English/Scottish/Welsh/with-a-bit-of-French-from-Mary-Stuart kid, my mother.  ‘Kid’ is apt, Dad was 28 years older than Mom; 48 years old when I was born.  (They married in November, she turned 20 in July, I was born in September.)  On one side of the family, since the death of my brother, I’m the youngest member of my generation; on the other I’m the oldest.  Which is, some people seem to think, strange.  Her family stepped off the Mayflower into this country.  (They weren’t escaping anything, or looking for religious freedom, either: they were younger sons prospecting to make a killing.)  She brought along a whole new batch, many of them with ‘Duke,’ ‘Count,” ‘Earl’ – and even in one case ‘Comte,’ in front of their names.  My cousin Bruno is the current Comte de Raismes, though he’s smart about it and lives in the Bahamas, not drafty old Paris.  (That’s the French touch I’ve mentioned in passing before, other than that I’m pure islander: Irish, Scottish, Welsh, British.)
    But here’s the thing.  They’ve always been educated to a degree, they could all write, even two hundred and fifty years ago.  They understood the concept of mail, and they stayed in pretty close touch.  I guess that’s what may be ‘different,’ if not approaching ‘unique.’  (Or,  at times, ‘insane.’)  I know pretty much where everybody is, who they are, and what they’re up to – and I had that information for their parents and grand-parents, too.  And they of course know the same about all of us over here.  That’s, I think, the only difference.  You probably have cousins who are up to splendid and interesting things – you just don’t know it; you don’t know – and never heard of – them.  I do know it, my bunch has never stopped communicating.  Nobody ever got lost.  (My parents were making me write letters to Europe when I was ten years old.  Now I’m glad they did, it’s a joy.)  And today of course it’s easy, a lot of them are on Facebook, all of them have email.
    So yeah: Bobby, David, Sean, Chris, Patrick, Rory, and Cam are in the service of the Lord.  In the service of the same lord, but approached from a somewhat different direction are Bruce and Geoffrey.  Adele is a nun.  You probably have a similar situation, but you’re unaware of it.  The difference is, my bunch never let the ocean separate them, so everybody knows what everybody’s up to.
    (We won’t even get into my wife, a blue-eyed blonde northern Italian, with family all over Tuscany – though, oddly, none in the Church.  Her green-eyed, red-haired grandmother from Luca, not far from Florence, died not long ago, leaving her with monthly phone calls.  I don’t know if speaking Italian makes you deaf, or if it’s just lousy phone lines; but generally these conversations are conducted with sufficient brio that any Italian-speaking neighbors could easily participate.  From the other side of the pasture.)

  • Danny Lemieux

    A great narrative, JJ.

    As Book and Charles M know, my family also straddles the Atlantic – half German/Dane – half French (my mother is French) and all-American. My kids have quite a bit of Dutch thrown in, from their mother’s side. We, too, burnish our ties to our French family “over there”. I spent my youth growing up over there.

    Your family story makes me reflect on James Webb’s excellent book on the Scotch-Irish influence in America ( It certainly has helped me to appreciate the “Jacksonian Tradition”. It also helps to explain why your family is so well lettered.

  • jj

    Probably more than anybody wants to know…  The big trick is, you just have to stay in touch and blather a lot.  Somehow or other we’ve just always done that.  I’ve known two 0ofthe three living and working at the Vatican for pretty much all my life, and the third for pretty much all of his – he’s younger.  (Why is everybody getting younger…?) 

  • Earl

    jj: Cheapest copy of Smith’s book on Amazon (used) is $85.00….but if you go to, there are LOTS available from stores in the U.S. for less than $10.00 plus shipping.  And one store in Spain has it for $1.35…I have no idea what shipping from there would be, but you can investigate at their site.  Point is – if you want your own copy, you can afford it!
    And I LOVED your story….it reminded me of my wife, who has a lot of relatives and keeps them all straight.  Although I don’t think they communicate as well as you do.  And none of them live in the Vatican — all in Texas and Oklahoma, except for the ones here in Chico.  :-)
    Danny:  my Danish grandfather would not have been amused at the “half German/Dane” part of your family….he had a long memory and did not forgive. He died before I was born, but I’ve heard the stories.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Hi Earl – My father’s family came from Hamburg, which used to be part of Denmark before it became the German state of Holstein. So, my father’s ancestors were German nationals when they arrived in America. Ethnically, they are a mix of Angles, Saxons, Franks, Jutes and Vikings.

  • jj

    $85.00?  Really?  Hell, I’ll sell you mine for $50.00!  I think it cost me under $5.00 at some used book store, twenty years ago or so.  I guess I have to start looking at some of these things as investments!

  • Earl

    jj: Yep…some books are worth a lot.  But, if you read all that I wrote, you’ll see that LOTS of that particular title can be had for as little as $3.00 or $4.00 at
    I’m “weeding” my collection (it’s hard) and checking every one on Bookfinder.  Anything with a low price of $5.00 or more (I’ve got a few with a low of $100.00), I’m taking to The Little Red Hen, who will do everything necessary to put it on e-Bay and sell it, in exchange for 25% of the selling price.  At the end of the year, I get a receipt for their share as a charitable contribution to the work they’re doing with developmentally disabled people.  Very nice.  I think I’m $100.00 ahead by now, and they still have LOTS of books to sell.

    • Bookworm

      jj: Yours is quite an amazing story, precisely because you all have kept in touch for so long. I know a lot of my Mom’s family history (and I’ve blogged about it), but it’s a linear history. I don’t have any connections to the people I write about, barring my Mom and Dad. There are no sisters and cousins and aunts. I think your family connections are more rare than you realize.

      Earl: What a wonderful way to dispose of old books. I simply take mine to Goodwill or the Friends of the Library. Since I usually bring home more books than I drop off, though, I’m not sure it’s a very efficient system.

      By the way, regarding jj’s and Danny’s history, those stories are a wonderful reminder of why America was so strong for so long. We are mutts. It’s a virtue not, as the Europeans used to believe, a failing. My sister sent me a great Teddy Roosevelt quotation, when that his “Progressive” political descendents would surely disavow:

      In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American.There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language… and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.

      President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907.

  • Earl

    I wonder if Obama knew what a bitter and hateful man TR was when he aligned himself so closely with the former President last year……

  • Danny Lemieux

    It’s interesting, though, that each of the groups that came to America brought their culture with them and that, as a result, we aren’t just ethnic mutts, we’re cultural mutts. The American identity and cultural overlay is the “one ring that binds them all” without suppressing the unique aspects of many cultures that make up our nation. 

    I revel in all the cultural influences that people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds bring to our country. It makes for a very rich soup. It’s all so interesting.

  • Earl

    I don’t know what TR was thinking of….and as a progressive, he was probably a LOT more willing to force people to do (or not do) “this and that” than I am.
    What *I* see as the essential feature in the “American identity and cultural overlay” is an unswerving commitment to Constitutional liberty and the rule of law.
    The tragedy is that for 40+ years we haven’t been teaching this to our young people, so we have (pretty much) two generations of citizens for whom America is all “get” and no “give”.  The government exists to satisfy their “felt needs”, or to impose their view of a “good society”. 
    Once that’s the case, it’s pretty easy for an ideologue like the President to get in there and do what he’s doing – because the general attitude in much of the electorate is something like “Well, that’s not exactly what *I* would do in the same position, but who am I to judge?”, rather than “That’s outrageous!  The government has no warrant to interfere with a free people in that way!”
    If this is even mostly correct, then we have a LONG row to hoe to get back to something that has the resilience to withstand future attacks.  Which is why, on a bad day, I feel pretty discouraged about the America my grandkids are going to grow up in.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Someone once said that the true defining point that makes us Americans is our allegiance to the Constitution. I agree with that.

    Those that would spit on the Constitution, well…they should just leave (hello, paging Justice Bader-Ginsburg!). There’s plenty of low-cost real estate available in Greenland, I hear.