Robert Michael, "Christian Theology and the Holocaust," Midstream 30:4 (April 1984) 6-9

Abstract by Jerry Darring


Antisemitism is essentially a religious issue. Christian antisemitic myths began with the Christian Scriptures and developed during the period of the Fathers. In the Middle Ages anti-Jewish myths reached an acme in the writings of Luther, so that the Protestant Reformation did not change the mythological image of the Jew.

Theological myths stood as the fundamental basis on which both Nazis and Christian ideas and behavior were grounded. The Nazis understood the religious foundation of their antisemitism, and they were not the only antisemites: "the Vatican, Catholic prelates, Protestant anti-Nazis, and Allied officials seemed unable to shake the diabolic image of the Jew created and nurtured for two millennia by Christian theology" (8). Both the Nazis and some Christians hated the Jews as demonic rivals for men's souls, but the Nazis went farther: they tried to kill all Jews on the basis of racial criteria. "And so the Jews have died, whether by Christian or Nazi fire, because of deadly myths sanctioned by the Church and religion, that taught murderers that their actions were just. Perhaps this is what Hitler meant when he claimed to be doing the Lord's work" (9).