Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. David Shneer

Second Advisor

Dr. Saskia Hintz

Third Advisor

Dr. Matthew Gerber

Abstract

This paper argues during the Third Reich, an Aryanization of Christianity took place, one that emerged into a distinct Nazi theology which emphasized the implementation of “Germanic customs” in place of the perceived Jewish aspects into religion and religious holidays, most notably in Christmas. This replacement of perceived Jewish aspects of Christianity was part of a larger millennial attempt to create the Nazis' ideal thousand-year empire. In examining how the Nazis did so, this paper will begin with an analysis of the relationship between the DC religious movement and the Nazis in the first years of the Third Reich. I argue that the Nazis initially saw the movement as a way to spread their ideas among the German population, but as the DC struggled to gain hegemony over the Protestant churches, the Nazis distanced themselves from the DC. After their break, the Nazi Party realized that a better strategy would be to include Christianity itself into that which needed to be Aryanized. The party utilized other tools, like film, to propagate their ideas of Germanic rituals being incorporated into Christian holidays like Christmas, which is the focus of the next section. Finally, the paper examines how the Nazis portrayed Christmas through World War II. Largely, Nazi theology continued to emphasis “Germanic” themes in their idealized celebration of Christmas, but the party also began to emphasize a support for the ongoing war effort, the battle echoing Armageddon from the Book of Revelations. In this support of the war effort, the Nazis alluded to a “joyful peace,” or the imminent manifestation of their millennial paradise.

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