Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ratzinger is a self-serving hypocrite and the press is too brow-beaten to tell the truth

In the May 12th Austin American Statesman, there is an article from the Los Angeles Times concerning the Pope's visit to the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. (Unfortunately, I can't find a link to the story that was printed.)

Ordinarily, I try very hard to ignore the ridiculous antics of the Pope and the Vatican. Maybe I secretly believe that if we don't give them any attention, they'll just crawl back under their rocks and leave the world alone. It's not true, unfortunately. So many papers and TV stations seem to use any excuse at all to write some fawning piece on Ratzinger's latest pontification or self-serving act of "reconciliation".

What never fails to piss me off is that the news rarely covers the skeptical position on the issue. Supposedly, the "big controversy" of the Pope's visit is how the Vatican is dealing with some idiot Bishop that denied the Holocaust. That's just a minor side show compared to the issues the article failed to mention at all.

The article failed to mention that as a lad, Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth. No redeeming tale of heroism or defiance of a great evil excuses his actions, just a lame half-assed apology to the effect that everybody joined up, therefore he should get a moral "passs". When this issue is brought up in the news, it's quickly pointed out that he defected from the Hitler Youth. They fail to mention that his defection only happened when the winds changed and Germany was facing collapse. Remember that Ratzinger is supposedly the world's best Christian. Maybe he is.

It's rarely mentioned how the Catholic church was embedded in German culture and that the Church never spoke up against the atrocities of the Holocaust. Yes, there were a few exceptions among individuals. The Church had a millennium plus history of persecution of Jews and I honestly believe that the church was happy to have some godly people take care of those evil Jesus killers. It was only later, after the failure of Nazi Germany that the Catholic church felt any embarrassment about what they had done. This whole bullshit propaganda phrase "Judeo-Christian" was coined to attempt to spin clean the blood on the hands of both Catholics and followers of Martin Luther, perhaps Hitler's only rival for the title of anti-Semite extraordinaire. (Fun fact: Hitler thought that Martin Luther was so wonderful that he chose Martin Luther's birthday to launch Kristallnacht. The Holocaust was an ecumenical undertaking.)

I don't think I've ever seen it mentioned in the press that Hitler was a Catholic. He was never excommunicated by the Catholic church. God is on his side. Presumably, if you go to heaven, you'll get to have lunch with the guy.

So when I read about Ratzinger visiting the Holocaust memorial and claiming that the event should "never be denied, belittled, or forgotten," I get a little pissed off at the jaw-dropping show of self-serving hypocrisy. And the fact that most Americans are completely ignorant of the back story. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. The sad irony is that the few papers that would print this information would be beaten into submission by loyal Christian thugs who would claim persecution of their cherished religious beliefs (for printing facts about the real persectuion done because of those beliefs).


  1. As someone who'd just as soon base his religious practices on the rites of Cthulhu as the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, I feel decidedly odd defending its leader.

    That said... we need to be clear about the historical context of Joseph Ratzinger's membership in the Hitler Youth during his boyhood in WW2-era Germany. Is it some kind on window into his very soul... or something sadly typical of those times having not much to do with him personally?

    In Gesetz über die Hitlerjugend (1936), the Reich government made membership in the Hitler Youth mandatory for German males over 14 years old. This was later reinforced with the Jugenddienstpflicht in 1939.

    Ratzinger turned 14 in 1941 and was enrolled in the Hitler Youth accordingly; he didn't choose it.

    When he turned 16 in 1943, he was drafted into military service as an anti-aircraft crewman. As with the Hitler Youth, this was not a choice.

    In November 1944, his "FLAK" unit left active service and he went home, only to be re-drafted into the German Army along with every German male who could hold a rifle at that point. Ratzinger then deserted, ultimately becoming a POW until released in June, 1945.

    So, in review:

    1941 (age 14): Required by law to join the Hitler Youth.

    1943 (age 16): Drafted into German Army anti-aircraft service.

    1944 (age 17): Re-drafted into the German Army, this time in infantry service. Deserts the army this time and becomes a POW until the war ends.

    Not exactly hardcore National Socialism, was it? Are we to conclude from this resume that the boy was a regular Horst Wessel?

    "Boy" is the word here, since Ratzinger was all of FOURTEEN when the Nazis came knocking. What real options did he have?

    Resistance? Yeah, ok. How many of us would have been up for that? How many 14 year olds - raised under a totalitarian personality cult and living in a brutal wartime dictatorship - would have had the strength of will, or sheer recklessness, to tell the Party where they could stick those armbands - knowing the likely consequences? Would you or I have dared such a thing?

    There are plenty of reasons to oppose and criticize Pope B16 - we could probably crash describing them all at length.

    But he gets a pass on the "Nazi thing" unless we expect him - as a 14 yr old kid, remember - to have met a standard of vision and virtue as surreal and irrational as the teachings of his church.

  2. I agree with Brain. Aside from the fact that he was required to join the Hitler Youth by law, I'm not sure I'd be able to resist the brainwashing they put those kids through. In his position I'd likely have done roughly the same thing. He gets a pass on that in my book.

  3. Hitler Youth notwithstanding, his adult actions easily qualify him for the title Darth Ratz.

  4. My family's from the former Soviet Union. When this pope was first elected and the Hitler Youth thing was in the news I said to my parents that it wasn't such a big deal since it was like being in the Pioneers (the communist youth organisation) that my parents were forced to be a part of -- they tended to agree.

    However his behaviour after he became an adult and after WWII ended definitely leaves "a bit" to be desired (all the way up to the recent controversies). But not the fact that he joined the Hitler Youth (or from another perspective, the fact that he was enrolled in it by the state).

  5. The point I think was more that the story of Ratzinger being forced into the Youth and resisting it deecting is a press spin. It's painted like he hated the Youth and got out at the first chance when it looks more likely that he wasn't exactly in Le Resistance.

  6. Though you die, La Resistance lives ooooooooooon!

  7. Right, but I think it's dangerous to start speculating on the motivations on public figures when the action itself (joining the Hitler Youth) is not enough to infer a particular motivation one way or the other.

    But we can do this for his future actions when he was free, and we can even infer a possible attitude from his actions today back to his Hitler Youth days, but it's still a bit tentative.

  8. So while doctors were excommunicated for saving a raped 9-year old girl's life by providing an abortion, Hitler was not. Nor was the rapist. Killing off a clump of cells to save a child's life is a high crime, but the systematic murder of 12 million people is not.

    I mean really, do you think there would be an uproar for excommunicating Hitler? Do you think it would in some way harm their PR? Or simply bring attention to their culpability.

  9. I don't normally post on this blog, despite agreeing with almost all of what is said. I certainly don't have to deal with the level of craziness that you in the US have to deal with - Australia is mostly normal by comparison so often I simply look in here amazed at what your religious whackos believe.

    I've often heard disparaging remarks made about the current pope on his Hitler Youth membership, and I've always felt uncomfortable about them.

    I agree with all that BrainFromArous has written. Having read a lot about Soviet Russia, and Hitler's Germany it's quite clear that in a totalitarian regime you really have very little choice about what you can do and how you express yourself.
    As a 14 year old, there is even less.

    There is more than enough to slam B16 on (complicit/organising the coverup of paedophilia, discouraging the use of condoms, hell - just being a top religious idiot) without resorting to aspects of his life when he was a minor.

  10. Actually Brain it wasn't exactly required. There were conscientious objectors in Germany. From Ratzinger's own village, Traunstein, Elizabeth Lohner, 84, whose brother-in-law was sent to Dachau as a conscientious objector, dismiss such suggestions Ratzingers war-time story. “It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others,” she said. “The Ratzingers were young and had made a different choice.”

    The Vatican is attempting to rewrite history to make it look like Ratzinger had nothing to do with the Nazis.

    This blog, , has done a couple of posts and research on it.

  11. @Beamstalk:

    Did you not see the part where the objectors were sent to Dachau? Yes, that does constitute "resistance", but I think it'd be way too easy for me to judge Ratzinger for not resisting joining the Hitler Youth. Yes, it was "possible to resist", but there's a big difference between an adult male choosing to set a noble example by sacrificing himself to make a statement...and a 14 year old kid who is scared to go to a concentration camp. I think it's important to remember that, "nazi" issues aside, there are PLENTY of more valid, concrete things this guy has done as an ADULT to go after him for.

    On another note, my jaw hit my lap in the car this morning when I heard the Pope quoted by an NPR announcer as having referred to the Nazis as "godless". I really hope that wasn't some veiled attempt at equating nazi-ism with atheism...stupid pope.

  12. Blah I see my links just go back to this article for some reason, but copy paste works.

    I didn't say it was an easy choice and yes the alternative was a concentration camp, but there was a choice. If he felt so strongly back then as he claims, then why join? Yes, at 14 it is hard to say what any of us would do, honestly I don't know what I would have done in that situation myself. But there were several resistance fighters near where he lived at the time.

  13. Ok. Maybe I made too much of Ratzinger's stint as a follower of Hitler.

    Be aware that there is a double standard with regard to this fact. Catholics are happy to have the Pope judged by secular standards when they claim that the lad was too young and naive to make the right decision. The same people will then go on to say that God chose the Ratzinger as his earthly spokesman and that God speaks through Ratzinger. They claim divine influence in one case, but completely reject the possibility in the other.

    Which is it?

  14. Don,

    Hello again! (This is GeorgeNY, btw)

    It's a stunning double-standard. The RCC wants to eat their cake (wafer?) and have it, too.

    The official RCC answer is that B16 was born and grew up as a mortal, fallible human and made the kinds of mistakes people make.

    They also point out that in this case, we're talking about a boy growing up under a dictator's personality cult in a society gripped by a kind of mass psychosis. Young Ratzinger viewed the Nazis as a normal part of his world because, well, they were.

    So far, so good.

    Then the magic-talk begins.

    So this all-powerful, benevolent, conscious, purposeful "God" - having spent the entire period of the Third Reich (and the Armenian Genocide, Stalin and Mao, African slavery, Pol Pot, Rwanda, and... and... and...) watching and munching celestial popcorn, decides to check back in with humanity by choosing a deputy from among the denizens of that horrid regime. Hey, why not? Last one was Polish. A little symmetry, eh?

    We must heed the words of this special man, because he speaks with the moral, ecclesiastical and spiritual authority of a god who yawned his way through the unimaginable horrors of the man's childhood?

    You're right, this "divine influence" thing seems to wax and wane as needed for apologetic efficacy. SHOCKER!

    As far as B16 is a party to this screaming nonsense - and he's about as deep into in as you can get - he is absolutely culpable and blameworthy.

    I have this mad (Mad, I say!) dream wherein B16 or some other Pope publicly announces that yes, he believes in God and yes, he believes God has chosen him as the successor of St Peter...

    ... and then resigns because he cannot in good conscience be part of God's management of the world.

    *Fun Fact*

    The term "flack" actually comes from the German military acronym FLAK (FLugAbwehrKanone; anti-aircraft cannon).

  15. Also, now that we're all on board with the Childhood Exemption principle, I would like to point out that I grew up in the 1970s and any comments about my aesthetic or cultural failings must take that into account.

    Those are not my Air Supply records. I don't know how they got here.

  16. @Beamstalk

    of course, I always like this story

    The girl on the left is like B16, only about 4 years older.

    But at least she developed a conscience....

  17. As a German, I'm embarrassed by "Ratze", as we atheists call him. It's worth mentioning that a lot of people were rather shocked by him becoming pope. This was the cover of a major national newspaper the next morning:

    Anyway, it's not like being the head of the Catholic church isn't bad enough. There was only one Nazi who ever got himself excommunicated: Joseph Goebbels. You know why?

    ...wait for it...

    He married a Protestant.

  18. I think, like Brain and others, that one cannot really blame Ratzinger for joining the Hitler Youth. That said, one can blame the lack fo transparency of the Vatican regarding his past. Trying to picture him as some kind of German version of Winston Smith is hypocritical.

    As for the Godlessness of Nazi Germany (or indeed all totalitarian states), the pope forgets that while Hitler was not exactly a practicing Catholic, many high ranking Nazis were, while others were practicing Christians of other denominations. But in any any nation that uses racial mysticism as a moral compass is far from Godless.

  19. @Turambar
    You know why?

    ...wait for it...

    He married a Protestant.
    That is amazing.

    // not really, but if you have a conscience, it is..

  20. "As for the Godlessness of Nazi Germany (or indeed all totalitarian states), the pope forgets that while Hitler was not exactly a practicing Catholic, many high ranking Nazis were, while others were practicing Christians of other denominations. But in any any nation that uses racial mysticism as a moral compass is far from Godless."

    Not to mention the average rank and file Nazi and Police were Christians. This is including the pricks who went above and beyond their "just following orders" to be sadistic cocks and play "Sophie's Choice" games with the people they had power over.

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

  22. This topic reminds me. I'm going ot a talk for Dr. Zimbardo concerning his famous prison experiment and newer discoveries on the science of evil (his words). I was thinking of trying to ask whether fundamentalist religious give the perpetual state of "being under orders from authority" that caused the prison guards in his experiment to act so sadistically. Any thoughts on how I should phrase it or if I should even ask?

  23. Good on you highlighting the murky 'revisionist' world of Herr Pope.

    The son of a policeman he was inducted into The Hitler Youth in 1941 (aged 14).

    Ratzinger, contends it was an "unwillingly induction".

    Let's take Pope Benedict at his word on this point, that he didn't harbour Nazi sympathies, and in fact was doing merely his nationalistic duty defending the 'fatherland'. It’s reasonable given the circumstances of the day, to think individual resistance to the regime would have been a perilless position to take. Belonging to The Hitler Youth was the norm, so was fighting for your country.

    Rudimentary history shows us millions of Germans fought for their home-land in World War Two and weren't in fact Nazi's.

    Overall this sector of the German armed forces, played little to no part in the in the Reich's excess's.

    The flip-side to this, is history also show’s us killing & injuring Allied soldiers wasn't the sole preserve of card carrying National Socialists. Wehrmacht soldiers, Luftwaffe pilots, Anti-Aircraft gunners, Anti-Tank battalions etc, were all part of the Nazi war machine.

    So let's picture Ratzinger at his anti-aircraft battery outside the BMW plant, Munich, in 1943. By then Allied bombers had begun reducing Germany to rubble.

    The fellow Hitler Youth, Ratzinger shares his plight with in the closely bonded flak-unit, are all teenage boys, feed on a steady diet of Nazi propaganda.The occupants manning those guns, regardless of their political leanings or religious up-bringing, are privy to the mass destruction bought on their fellow Germans by Allied bombing. To them the war is not lost, there is still fight in their belly.

    The air-raid siren goes off to notify the batteries surrounding the factory of an incoming raid, the first guns target the American Bombers and begin firing.Ratzinger's and his fellow Hitler Youth squad, prepare to defend the plant, the city, fellow Germans, at the very least save their own lives.In the surrounding Munich streets the basements and air-raid shelters are filled with cowering women & children.

    But if one believes Bendict's recollections - no shots were fired by him, and his team - who must by rights, have all been anti-Nazi’s. Their battery lay idle whilst those around them (some manned by slave-labour) spewed forth rounds, illuminating the sky above.

    Amongst this chaos and destruction Ratzinger then tells his comrades in arms “Sorry guy’s I’ve got a sore finger, and I’ll have to give this raid thing a miss tonight”.

    Any neutral can see, this excerpt from Pope Benedict's war time record is clearly not credible.It’s inconceivable an entire troop of Hitler Youth would abandon their post without 'firing a shot' and simply slip away. There are thousands of accounts of Hitler Youth fighting to the death for a lost cause.

    Perhaps The Pope wasn't involved with the mechanics of firing the weapon in question, but you can bet your boots, he and his fellow ideologically driven Hitler Youth, would have been doing their dandiest to bring down Allied bombers.

    Remember Ratzingers anti-aircraft unit operated in the late months of 1943, and not the funeral pyre of 1945.

    To claim this unit, did not see action is a lie – since allied bomber command shows The BMW plant in Munich was a regular target over these months of the war.

    This so-called anti-Nazi spent close to two years in a Nazi uniform and armed.

    He was part of of anti-tank unit in Hungary when he deserted, not a church-group.

    He was captured by U.S troops as a Soldier - not a priest.

    One of the locals in his old village Traunstein, Elizabeth Lohner, 84, whose brother-in-law was sent to Dachau as a conscientious objector, dismiss such suggestions Ratzingers war-time story. “It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others,” she said. “The Ratzingers were young and had made a different choice.”

    In other words there is a living witness who saw Ratzinger and his brother (also a member of The Catholic Clergy) not, as fighters against the regime, but as young-men who went along with the system like millions of others.

    To now come-out and say Ratzinger was an anti-Nazi is merely adding to the dung-heap of crap being piled-up by a Pope & his propaganda department, that makes Joeseph Goebells look like an amateur.

    To have his spokeman say only last week “The Pope was never in the Hitler Youth: never, never, never” shows you the desperate lies The Vatican is spreading to cover-up the true record.

    Move over David Irving.


  24. Thank you Maddog, I had never seen that before. Just goes to what I was saying, we have choice and he made his. Now, like Canterbury Atheists is saying, B16 is trying to rewrite his choices as if they never happened. I would have more respect if he just came out and said, yes I joined and I was swayed by patriotism and youthful exuberance, I have been trying to make up for all those I wronged during my short time in the war. He could even use this to say that God has shown how he can use someone that did such things in a great manner, or some similar bullshit. He really is missing out on some good propaganda.

    But that would be admitting a flaw, and the pope is "infallible". *rolls eyes*

  25. Beanstalk has a good point. Since Catholicism is supposed to be big on redemption and rehabilitation for sinners...what better display than having a former Nazi recuperated into the most pious believer alive? Wouldn't that be a better point to make? It'd certainly give weight to the religion if they can show "hey we can make Nazi's into socially adjusted loving saints". A major point for the "what can religion do that anything else can't without the bullshit" contest. But I guess they'd have to actually believe that flawed or disgraced people actually HAVE a chance to redeem themselves...


PLEASE NOTE: The Atheist Experience has moved to a new location, and this blog is now closed to comments. To participate in future discussions, please visit

This blog encourages believers who disagree with us to comment. However, anonymous comments are disallowed to weed out cowardly flamers who hide behind anonymity. Commenters will only be banned when they've demonstrated they're nothing more than trolls whose behavior is intentionally offensive to the blog's readership.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.