Hitler was not a Christian
In the late nineteenth century, Guido von List adopted the swastika as an emblem for the Neo-Pagan movement in Germany. The Germans did not use the Sanskrit word swastika, however, but called it instead “Hakenkreutz,” meaning “hooked cross.” It would defeat and replace the cross, just as Neo-Paganism would defeat and replace Christianity.
Sharing the anti-Christian sentiment of the Neo-Pagan movement, the Thule Society also adopted the Hakenkreuz as part of its emblem, placing it in a circle with a vertical German dagger superimposed on it. In 1920, at the suggestion of Dr. Friedrich Krohn of the Thule Society, Hitler adopted the Hakenkreuz in a white circle for the central design of the Nazi Party flag. Hitler chose red for the background color to compete against the red flag of the rival Communist Party.
The French researchers Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, in Le Matin des Magiciens (The Morning of the Magicians) (1962), wrote that Haushofer convinced Hitler to use the Hakenkreuz as the symbol for the Nazi Party. They postulate that this was due to Haushofer’s interest in Indian and Tibetan culture. This conclusion is highly unlikely, since Haushofer did not meet Hitler until 1923, whereas the Nazi flag first appeared in 1920. It is more likely that Haushofer used the widespread presence of the swastika in India and Tibet as evidence to convince Hitler of this region as the location of the forefathers of the Aryan race.
During the first half of the 1920s, a violent rivalry took place among the Occult Societies and Secret Lodges in Germany. In 1925, for example, Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the Anthroposophical movement, was found murdered. Many suspected that the Thule Society had ordered his assassination. In later years, Hitler continued the persecution of Anthroposophists, Theosophists, Freemasons, and Rosicrucians. Various scholars ascribe this policy to Hitler’s wish to eliminate any occult rivals to his rule.
Influenced by Nietszche’s writings and Thule Society creeds, Hitler believed that Christianity was a defective religion, infected by its roots in Jewish thinking. He viewed its teachings of forgiveness, the triumph of the weak, and self-abnegation as anti-evolutionary and saw himself as a messiah replacing God and Christ. Steiner had used the image of the Antichrist and Lucifer as future spiritual leaders who would regenerate Christianity in a new pure form. Hitler went much further. He saw himself as ridding the world of a degenerate system and bringing about a new step in evolution with the Aryan master race. He could tolerate no rival Antichrists, either now or in the future. He was tolerant, however, of Buddhism.
In 1924, Paul Dahlke founded the Buddhistisches Haus (House for Buddhists) in Frohnau, Berlin. It was open to members of all Buddhist traditions, but primarily catered to the Theravada and Japanese forms, since they were the most widely known in the West at that time. In 1933, it hosted the First European Buddhist Congress. The Nazis allowed the House for Buddhists to remain open throughout the war, but tightly controlled it. As some members knew Chinese and Japanese, they acted as translators for the government in return for tolerance of Buddhism.
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