Background: The Nazis presented themselves not as a political party, but as a movement with a worldview that claimed every aspect of life. In this, they made essentially religious claims. This article outlines the Nazi argument for the centrality of faith. It comes from Der Schulungsbrief, a monthly published by the party that had a circulation of several million in 1939. Nazi Party block wardens encouraged every household to subscribe. 30 January was the anniversary of the Nazi takeover in 1933.
The source: H. Mehringer, “Sieg des Glaubens. Zum 30. Januar,” Der Schulungsbrief, (January 1939), pp. 2-4
The briefest way to describe the misery of the German people before the comprehensive and direction-giving uprising of 1933 is this: the German people no longer had a worldview. A worldview is not a subjective standpoint, a personal opinion of what is true, but rather a force that shapes an era, a firm will, “a view that binds together all deep aspects of life” (as Rosenberg said at the culture rally of the Reich Party Rally of Honor ). Germany had fallen into worldview chaos, from which followed political, economic, cultural, and moral decay, since a standard of measurement failed that would have enabled a valid judgment about the value or lack of value of a particular phenomenon. Every viewpoint had its proponents, but none was taken to heart, none was taken seriously. Each group, each opinion had its own standards, which destroyed the binding power and moral strength of any genuine worldview. The dying liberal-democratic system had opinions that were changeable, relative, and not binding, but it did not have an absolute worldview in which people could put their faith. It had a panopticum, but no picture of the world. It collected every possible opinion, standpoint, and value from every time and people, rather like exhibits in a museum, but had no dominant standpoint, no real values. The result was chaos, sterility, and relativism. The most wretched viewpoint could take center stage because sure faith was lacking, from which alone comes strength of judgment. The era had lost a central worldview, and thus the measure of character, of style. The chaos of worldviews resulted in chaos in science, education, and all other areas of life. People staggered before the abyss, unsteady, irresolute.
The most vivid summary of the spirit of the age was Spengler’s thesis of “the decline of the West.” It is a better summary of the age than long discussions, for this thesis was eagerly taken up as a general description of the era, and was believed by people who had lost all sense of direction! The “decline of the West” became an article of faith for broad circles of the dying liberal age. Even if one no longer believed in life, in the future, at least one could believe in decline! The necessity of faith was evident in that peculiar way in the last gasps of an era that had lost its faith! In accepting Spengler’s thesis, an entire era denied itself. In making Spengler a prophet, it gave up its remaining powers of resistance, falling into chaos, giving approaching nihilism its most decisive weapon, the feeling that resistance was futile. Spengler took up Nietzsche’s thesis of an approaching “European Nihilism” and took it to its logical conclusion, without including his saving idea of “education and correction (Zucht und Züchtung).” He became the final figure in an age that had lost all faith and direction.
The fact that The Decline of the West was written, read, and believed is clear proof that Germany, and with it Europe, was in deadly danger, heading for destruction. Spengler pinpointed the worldview situation of the declining liberal age. Former values and principles had collapsed, having lost all their strength. The meaning of the universe no longer mattered, questions of the content and tasks of life went unanswered. In the chaos of world views, every conceivable opinion found its proponents, but none had greater weight or force than any other.
The National Socialist revolution ended this situation in Germany. Against The Decline of the West, Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf gave symbolic expression to a rising age. Faith and the longing for a new age led the National Socialist movement to its political goal. The NSDAP has become solely and exclusively responsible for the worldview and political structure of the Reich.
The National Socialist revolution ended the German people’s life-threatening illness and its political goals have laid the foundation of a new people’s order. Like any genuine, forward-thinking, future-shaping revolution, the German rising of 1933 in the end was the salvation of our national life. It organized all available powers of resistance against decline and the attitude of decline of a dying age. It overcame the splintering of forces and the anarchy of opinions, giving to the present a binding law and a worthy goal. That made life and a future possible once more, for life requires a goal and the future a wide-reaching will. The worldview decision that came through the creative act of the National Socialist revolution ended a dying and weak age, bringing instead a new era. A new idea joined the historic march to self-realization, forming people’s attitudes and characters, as well as the style of their lives. A central worldview once more permitted internal unity and thereby the creative strength of a new era.
Thus the revolution receives its full historical significance and sanctity: It is the midwife to the saving and guiding idea, without which life would fall into the abyss. No people’s revolution lacks a foundation. All the reactionaries cannot hinder a revolution that springs from the deep necessities of life, or the fact that it will find its justification in enabling the live of coming generations and centuries. As long as a people has the strength for a revolution, for a change in worldview and a reordering of its life, it remains capable of making history. If it loses the will and the strength for national renewal, it sinks into the mists of history and perishes.
Oswald Spengler’s gloomy picture of “the decline of the West” is refuted by the concept of revolution and its importance for a people. With penetrating sharpness, he saw the tendency to decay and the anarchy of the age. He saw decline as an inescapable fate. But history thought differently. It proved Spengler’s teaching to be a phantom and revealed his key error: equating Europe with the dying liberal-democratic era. It is declining, but West is not. In National Socialism, Germany has found a constructive principle, an ordering thought, that is called to end chaos by forcing a common direction to all the various aspects of life and putting everything in the service of an absolute idea. National Socialism is a defining hour in history. Its revolution gave new form and content for a long time to the German future. It established values that will bring unity and greatness over the centuries. It has set goals that will bind the will of generations. It has established laws that will bind the most distant future to the worldview decision of the present.
Historic and worldview battles always are about the victory of an idea that seeks to become absolute, that takes upon itself the transformation of the world. If a victorious revolution has won freedom of action, it cannot be distracted or stopped by complaints about intolerance. They come either from adherents of past structures, structures against which the revolution fought and displaced, or from those who as Nihilists oppose any order because they want chaos and anarchy. Against such people, the rule of an idea must be hard and unforgiving. He who wants to build must push aside and fight everything that stands in the way. The greatness of an era depends on bringing all thoughts and all forms of life under a unified worldview, a unified faith.
Any worldview seeks to rule alone, and must seek that. It must believe in its sole right, which is the foundation of its effectiveness. In battling other worldviews, it must maintain its good conscience. If it loses that, it loses its self-confidence, the feeling of superiority, and thereby its power over people. Where each can do what he wants, there is no whole. Eras without unity lack compelling power. Only where a will to life dominates, only where all strengths are moving in the same direction, does greatness follow.
National Socialism has taken upon itself the creation of a new and binding life order for Germany. Yesterday’s opponents, removed from their worldview leadership positions and condemned to historic insignificance, reach into the deepest depths of their wisdom to find reasons for National Socialism’s claims to sole authority, to complete control, and expect that the NSDAP will be ready to discuss this with them. However, the National Socialist worldview is justified not by the force of some professorial proof of its correctness, but rather by its fruitfulness, its fullness of life, its power over souls and its courage. These are what gives it the strength to take Germany in its hands. Powers that have an impact, that form life rather than only discussing it, values that bind and enable great things, these things are “true.” “Only that is true that is fruitful.” Each revolution comes because previous principles have proven themselves unable to master life, because people’s old picture of the world no longer guides and binds. Its only purpose is to put new and creative forces in leadership positions and introduce a new worldview that has power over people and the future. Each revolution is a door to tomorrow from a meaningless and aimless present. A true worldview brings values, style, a moral law. It takes fate in its hands. Everything else is theory, a matter for discussion.
The result of any fruitful worldview is a firm, self-confident life order that is perceived as necessary, as a reality, about which there is nothing uncertain or disputable. A revolutionary worldview must therefore be ruthless and fanatic in representing its exclusive principles until they have become taken for granted, dominating the life of a people as a tradition does. Any era, any worldview, needs firm foundations. When these are open to discussion, the idea is already questionable and has lost its finding force and strength. An age that discusses its foundations is sawing off the branch on which it sits. It loses its good conscience, its self-confidence — and perishes. The cathedrals of the Middle Age would never have been built if Christianity had asked itself why it had the right to claim exclusive truth for its faith by eternalizing it in stone. The idea justifies itself through its fruitfulness. It rules the consciousness of those people who set the direction of their age. It is seen as foundational, formative, the bringer of the future. And throughout history it leaves creative ideas and deeds on the altar of immortality.
This demonstrates the deepest roots from which a worldview draws its strengths: from faith. Great times rest on a great, absolute faith. Only those with faith, with mountain-moving strength and joy in action can fulfill an historic mission. Values that are truly believed, not merely recognized and discussed, are the foundation of creative strength. In era of decline, however, everything is open to discussion and therefore to denial. When God is a question, one no longer builds cathedrals. Where people have no living faith, they do nothing great, nothing that lasts.
Faith is the will to exist, to maintain oneself and one’s future. Where there is no faith because life no longer has meaning, life itself is at its end. The mood of decline characteristic of weary, worn-out times enters.
A people finds strength for renewal only in strong faith. Adolf Hitler believed. That was his starting point. His historic achievement is that he made his faith the faith of a whole people and an entire age, his worldview accomplishment. Bismarck put it this way: “It is as true in politics as in any other area: Faith moves mountains. Courage and victory do not have a causal relationship; they are one and the same. The Führer at the Party Rally of Honor spoke of the “miracle of faith” that had “saved Germany.” “Woe to him who does not believe. He sins against the very meaning of life. He is of no value to anyone. His very existence is a burden to his people. During my political struggle, as I unfortunately must constantly repeat, I always encountered these sad pessimists, especially in bourgeois circles, whose miserable minds hold no faith and therefore are capable of no redeeming action.” This bourgeois lack of faith is understandable given its historic role. The bourgeois was after all the bearer of liberalism, whose foundations increasingly failed over the past decades, leading to worldview chaos. The bourgeois way of thinking collapsed, leaving its adherents without faith and self-confidence.
The National Socialist movement is a movement of faith in the deepest sense of the word. The strength of its faith brought it from humble beginnings to the dominant force in the Reich. There was good reason to name the first party rally after the takeover of power the “victory of faith.” Behind every flag, every badge, every symbol of the movement is the faith of him who bears it, who first had to bear the flag, the badge or the symbol through historic struggle to victory. In this holy worldview, which anchors the flags, badges and symbols in the depths of the soul and in their connection to the experience of battle, is the best guarantee for the worldview force and existence of the movement.
To summarize: the National Socialist idea is today binding for German life because it proved itself the strongest in the battle of worldviews. It has become the faith of a new Reich. It finds its justification in the strength with which it takes the things of Germany in its hands, and in its achievements and deeds that it presents as visible signs of its creativity, and which it will leave as an inheritance to the future.
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