The hatred of Martin Luther
Is it a coincidence that Germany, the home of Martin Luther and his doctrines, was also the home of Adolph Hitler and his doctrines? I think not. Many, many historians think not as well. British conservative historian Paul Johnson says that Luther’s notorious anti-Jewish tract On the Jews and their Lies the “first work of modern anti-Semitism, and a giant step forward on the road to the Holocaust.” William Shirer, in his The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich writes: “It is difficult to understand the behavior of most German Protestants in the first Nazi years unless one is aware of two things: their history and the influence of Martin Luther. The great founder of Protestantism was both a passionate anti-Semite and a ferocious believe in absolute obedience to political authority. He wanted Germany rid of the Jews. Luther’s advice was literally followed four centuries later by Hitler, Goering and Himmler.”
And the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada confessed that Lutherans “carry a special burden in this matter because of the anti-Semitic statements made by Martin Luther and because of the suffering inflicted on Jews during the Holocaust in countries and places where the Lutheran Church is strongly represented.” The Austrian Evangelical Church wrote “our churches shares the guilt of the Holocaust” because they are “burdened by the late writings of Luther and their demand for expulsion and persecution of the Jews.” And the Lutheran Church of Bavaria said that followers of Luther ought to take seriously Luther’s anti-Semitism and “acknowledge their theological function, and to reflect on their consequences” and said that the Lutheran Church “knows itself to co-responsible for anti-Jewish thoughts and actions that made possible or at least tolerated the crime of the ‘Third Reich’ against children, women, and men of Jewish origin.”
Some future postings will discuss the authoritarianism of Luther along with his anti-capitalist views on economics. Suffice to say that if you combine his authoritarianism, with his anti-market views, along with his anti-Semitism you have Nazism in a nutshell. The only thing missing is rampant racial nationalism. In this discussion I will only cover Luther’s views on Jews. I shall try to put his own words in italics throughout.
Now Luther, like many theologians, took various views on things and changed his mind. He argued for tolerance of religion when his faith was out of power and then argued for persecution of non-Lutherans when Lutherans held power. In his early years he was a bit friendly toward Jews but he ended his life with a full on assault on them. His essay On the Jews and their Lies was written three years before his death. This was not the writing of a young, inexperienced youth but the tract of a mature adult. Luther never repudiated this view and we can only assume that when he died it was the view he still held.
Now the entire vile document by this alleged great Christian can be read here. There is a CD-Rom out with 55 volumes of Luther included. But from a reading of the web site promoting it I can’t find Luther’s diatribe against Jews included. It would have been wise to leave it out and the CD doesn’t say it is the “complete” works of Luther. On the other hand the exclusion of this tract does give one a false view of Luther. What I shall do here is merely mention the “highlights” (lowlights?) of Luther’s tract. If you wish to read the entire document do so but be aware that it is rather vicious.
Luther said he the mistreatment of Jews was a sign that they were cursed by God and something they brought upon themselves by not believing in Christianity. He said “such ruthless wrath of God is sufficient evidence” that Jews “have erred and gone astray. ...Therefore this work of wrath is proof that the Jews, surely rejected by God, are no longer his people, and neither is he any longer their God.”
Luther advised against trying to convert Jews or engage “much in debate with Jews about the article of our faith” because “From their youth they have been so nurtured with venom and rancor against our Lord that there is no hope until they reach the point where their misery finally makes them pliable and they are forced to confess that the Messiah has come, and that he is our Jesus.” Until the Jews are truly suffering it is useless to speak to them was Luther’s view.
Most the beginnings of Luther’s tract is an attack on Jews for being proud of being Jewish. This really upset Luther. He calls such pride “blasphemous and damnable”. Next there is a huge section on circumcision and why Jews ought not worry about it. Even throughout this section Luther can’t stop the pure evil of his comments from coming through. He refers to Jews as “real liars”, calls them arrogant, blind, senseless and a people who “continually perverted and falsified all of Scripture”. He says that never has the sun “shone on a more bloodthirsty and vengeful people than they are who imagine that they are God’s people who have been commissioned and commanded to murder and slay the Gentiles. In fact, the most important thing that they expect of their Messiah is that he will murder and kill the entire world with their sword.” (Sounds like the Left Behind series to me.) Luther continues: “They treated us Christians in this manner at the very beginning through out all the world. They would still like to do this if they had the power, and often enough have made the attempt, for which they have got their snouts boxed lustily.”
Luther says the Jews “have scourged, crucified, spat upon, blasphemed, and cursed God” and he calls them “a defiled bride”, “an incorrigible whore and an evil slut with whom God ever had to wrangle, scuffle and fight.” Luther writes they are “the vilest whores and rogues under the sun.” But some argue that pious Jews worship God but Luther says they are still persecuted and that proves they are not of God at all because God doesn’t allow his people to be persecuted. Since they are persecuted that proves that God “will not listen to these Jews” and “They must assuredly be the base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth. If there were a single pious Jew among them who observed these, he would have to be heard; for God cannot let his saints pray in vain, as Scripture demonstrates by many examples. This is conclusive evidence that they cannot be pious Jews, but must the multitude of the whoring and muderous people.” He says that while they pray in the synagogue they are “full of conceit, envy, usury, greed, and all sorts of malice. The worst offenders are those who pretend to be very devout and holy in their prayers.”
Luther warns his followers “be on your guard against the Jews, knowing that wherever they have their synagogues, nothing is found but a den of devils in which sheer self-glory, conceit, leis, blasphemy, and defaming of God and men are practiced most maliciously...” He says, “I do not wish to have anything more to do with any Jews. As St. Paul says, they are consigned to wrath; the more one tries to help them the baser and more stubborn they become.”
Luther is pretty disgusting, “wherever you see a genuine Jew, you may with a good conscience cross yourself and bluntly say: ‘There goes a devil incarnate.’” Even if a Jew is kind Luther says “you may rest assured that they are not prompted by love, nor is it done with your benefit in mind. Since they are compelled to live among us, they do this for reasons of expediency; but their heart remains and is as I have described it.”
For Luther Jew’s are nasty people who rob Christians even though “we show them every kindness. They live among us, enjoy our shield and protection, they use our country and our highways, our markets and streets. Meanwhile our princes and rulers sit there and snore with mouths hanging open and permit the Jews to take, steal, and rob from their open money bags and treasures whatever they want. That is, they let the Jews, by means of their usury, skin and fleece them and their subjects and make them beggars with their own money. For the Jews, who are exiles, should really have nothing, and whatever they have must surely be our property. They do not work, and they do not earn anything from us, nor do we give or present it to them, and yet they are in possession of our money and goods and are our masters in our own country and in their exile. A thief is condemned to hang for the theft of ten florins, and if he robs anyone on the highway, he forfeits his head. But when a Jew steals and robs ten tons of gold through his usury, he is more highly esteemed than God himself.”
Note that to Luther the Jew is entirely “other” and not German. There is “they” and “our”. “They” live under “our” protection. “They” use “our” country. So to Luther the Jew is the parasite living off the productive labour of hard working Gentiles. This is the sort of theory that Marx would pick up later in his diatribe against Jews and which the Nazis borrowed as well. Not only does this show contempt for Jews as people but a contempt for the role of the middleman in economic affairs. Here you have a passage of Luther that combines anti-market views and anti-Semitism. Something that Marx and Hitler both were happy to do. Whatever hatred Marx and Hitler had for Jews and markets it was Luther who got there first. He wrote that Jews “are nothing but thieves and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing which they have not stolen and pilfered from us by means of their accursed usury. Thus they live from day to day, together with wife and child, by theft and robbery, as arch-thieves and robbers, in the most impenitent security. For a usurer is an arch-thief and robber who should right be hanged on the gallows seven times higher than other thieves.”
Luther assures his followers: “Since we are not conversant with the Hebrew, they can vent their wrath on us secretly. While we suppose that they are speaking kindly to us, they are calling down hellfire and every misfortune on our heads. Such splendid guests we poor, pious Christians are harboring in our country in the persons of the Jews, we who mean well with them, who would gladly serve their physical and spiritual welfare, who who suffer so coarse wrongs from them.” Notice again that in spite of having been born in Germany as much as he was Luther calls Jews “guest” in Germany. He refuses to accept them as Germans. Consider this description by Luther of Jews: “They have been blood thirsty bloodhounds and murderers of all Christendom for more than fourteen hundred years in their intentions, and would undoubtedly prefer to be such with their deeds. Thus they have been accused of poisoning water and wells, of kidnapping children, of piercing them through with an awl, of hacking them in pieces, and in that way secretly cooling their wrath with the blood of Christians, for all of which they have often been condemned to death by fire.” Now I have forced myself to read the diatribes of Hitler and I can assure you that nothing that man said about Jews came close to be as vile as what Luther wrote. Hitler was a vile Jew hater but even in his most vicious speeches he did not come close to the crude hatred of Luther.
Again Luther characterizes the Jews as an exploiter of the labor of others (another crude Marxist concept): “In fact, they hold us Christians captive in our own country. They let us work in the sweat of our brow to earn money and property while they sit behind the stove, idle away the time, fart, and roast pears. They stuff themselves, guzzle, and live in luxury and ease from our hard-earned goods. With their accursed usury they hold us and our property captive. Moreover, they mock and deride us because we work and let them play the role of lazy squires at our expense and in our land. Thus they are our masters and we are their servants, with our property, our sweat, and our labor. And by way of reward and thanks they curse our Lord and us! Should the devil not laugh and dance if he can enjoy such a fine paradise at the expense of us Christians? He devours what is ours through his saints, the Jews, and repays us by insulting us, in addition to mocking and cursing both God and man.”
Toward the end of his disgusting tirade of hatred Luther finally tells his followers what must be done with these “rejected and condemned people, the Jews”. I will allow Luther to speak for himself and thus condemn himself.
“ First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians.
"Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them the fact that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.
"Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.
"Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17:10) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: "what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord." Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people's obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16:18, "You are Peter," etc., inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the right to teach.
"Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let them stay at home. I have heard it said that a rich Jew is now traveling across the country with twelve horses his ambition is to become a Kokhba devouring princes, lords, lands, and people with his usury, so that the great lords view it with jealous eyes. If you great lords and princes will not forbid such usurers the highway legally, some day a troop may gather against them, having learned from this booklet the true nature of the Jews and how one should deal with them and not protect their activities. For you, too, must not and cannot protect them unless you wish to become participants in an their abominations in the sight of God. Consider carefully what good could come from this, and prevent it.
"Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us an they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God's blessing in a good and worthy cause.
"... Seventh, I recommend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen. 3 [:19]). For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting., and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.”
And if the princes don’t use force against the Jews Luther has one final solution: “But if the authorities are reluctant to use force and restrain the Jews' devilish wantonness, the latter should, as we said, be expelled from the country and be told to return to their land and their possessions in Jerusalem, where they may lie, curse, blaspheme, defame, murder, steal, rob, practice usury, mock, and indulge in all those infamous abominations which they practice among us, and leave us our government, our country, our life, and our property, much more leave our Lord the Messiah, our faith, and our church undefiled and uncontaminated with their devilish tyranny and malice. Any privileges that they may plead shall not help them; for no one can grant privileges for practicing such abominations. These cancel and abrogate all privileges.”
If you doubt what I say here regarding Luther’s vile hatred and anti-Semitism go and read his disgusting tract yourself. This is what one of the “greatest” Christians of all time presents to the world. This is what he finds in his Bible. Many have tried to defend Luther saying his hatred for Jews wasn’t racial in nature like the Nazis. Instead they assure us that Luther’s hatred was religious. Oh, that’s so much better! Islamic fanatics kill, not out of racial intolerance, but religious intolerance. Is that better? The myths of religion, like the myths of racialism, are murderous doctrines. Both have been used to kill. Both are the enemies of freedom.
The men most responsible for the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe are the unholy trinity of Martin Luther, Karl Marx and Adolph Hitler.