Barth on Nazism and Communism

One of the things I appreciate about Barth is that while he did make political moves (Barmen et al), unlike modern hipster Christians, he really isn’t interested in showing how every page in the Bible teaches left-wing socialism.   In either section 19 or 20 of Church Dogmatics it appears that he makes a veiled reference to the difficulty that many European Christians had in evaluating Nazism and Communism.  That he resisted Nazism is obvious.  However, and unlike Americans today whether right-wing or left-wing, it seems that he realized the true danger to humanity was not Nazism as such, but communism.   He addresses those who perhaps want the church to ally itself with National Socialism in order to resist communism.   He says that is wrong, and I agree with him, but he does so from a position of understanding.

What we don’t realize is that communism killed hundreds of millions more than Nazism.

12 comments on “Barth on Nazism and Communism

  1. Jeronimo says:

    I’ve not read Barth, and so I don’t know how nuanced his approach to this is. However, it’s important to note that had Germany and the other Axis powers succeeded in WW2, this likely would not have been the case – fascism would far exceed any Soviet or communist bloc pogrom. And unfortunately, post WW2 – at least post 1945 – in their reactionary anti-communist zeal, Allied powers worked behind the scenes in countries like Greece, and aided fascists both financially and militarily in order to counter the perceived communist threat. The deaths resulting from such alliances are never counted among the fascist tally, and there were many. Allied powers also assisted many former Nazi sympathizers’ return to power in West Germany, not to mention absorbing much of Nazi intelligence into our own country’s covert network. These elements no longer wear the swastika publically, but their influence is largely responsible for much of our military exploits of the 20th and 21st centuries.

    Long forgotten is the 1933-1934 coup plot that sought to take over the US government and replace it with a fascist one. These elements, made up of the Liberty Lobby, KKK and elite industrialists, wanted to end the New Deal and depose FDR by force, but were betrayed from within by Smedley Butler.

    Thene there is the veiled (and not so veiled) anti-Jewish sentiment so prevalent among sources of anti-communist jeremiads. Not saying Barth promotes that, but reactionaries love to play that card.

    I believe this “fascism is not so bad as communism” is really just fantasy, and ignores much of the roots of both fascism and German Nazis. Unfortunately it plays well in the US, where we are very ignorant for the most part with regard to Eastern European history.

    • Jeronimo says:

      The above reads rather poorly as an appropriate response to your post. I’m not promoting a competition between each side in favor of the one that killed less people, or with whatever one has less killing potential. Rereading your point about Barth, a main point is his position if understanding, which is important in these conversations but is unfortunately largely not undertaken outside of academic environments these days.

      • Olaf's Axe says:

        I am well aware of the coup in the 30s. I’ve read Jim Marrs’ works on this topic. Barth, it should be emphasized, categorically denounced and resisted the Nazis. The only reason he didn’t suffer Bonhoeffer’s fate was that he was in Switzerland.

        I stand by my claim that Communism is far more evil. Their body count is bigger and they are an eschatological religion. Fascism simply worships a charismatic leader, one who would eventually die off.

      • Jeronimo says:

        I’d caution to not underestimate the Prussian fehme.

    • Jeronimo says:

      The Fehme carries out the violent legacy of their Teutonic heritage. Hitler was only the front man for Junker corporate interests, which never went away. See Paul Winkler’s “The 1000 Year Conspiracy,” a rather provocatively titled work, but with good information about the ultimate culmination of Prussian belief in their own superiority. I won’t argue the tragedy that European communism unleashed, but fascism is hardly a worthy option under any circumstances.

    • Jeronimo says:

      Yes, and I think the reviewer’s concerns regarding Bavarian interests were addressed by the author, but to each his own. The information about the Teutonic Knights was fascinating, and I don’t recall ever reading that elsewhere.

      • Jeronimo says:

        Actually, after reading the full review, I’d say its a classic example of historical revisionism. I’d posit the reviewer thought he was writing about a book no one would be reading.

      • Olaf's Axe says:

        There might be problems with the reviewer, but if the quotes he cites are indeed accurate, it’s hard to see how this isn’t racism against Germans and Northern Europeans. He might be wrong but the quotes are there. And I’ve done my own research on WWII: Churchhill had no problem starving hundreds of thousands of German women and children to death.

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