Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Anti-Semitism Essay - Martin Luther as Spiritual Icon for Adolf Hitler

Martin Luther as Spiritual Icon for Adolf Hitler   Ã‚   The world has been plagued with the specter of anti-Semitism for many centuries. This hatred manifested itself in the frenzy of Nazism and the deaths of six million Jews, the Holocaust as it has come to be known. If someone were to reveal an eight step plan for the removal of Jews from European society, one would readily associate such a plan with Adolf Hitler. One would not, however, think also of Martin Luther, though he himself wrote an essay in 1543 entitled "Concerning the Jews and their Lies" outlining such a plan. This is not to suggest that Luther was akin to Hitler in action or deed. This does suggest that Luther, the spark of the Protestant Reformation and father of German nationalism, and his teachings had a profound impact on the anti-Semitic thinkers that were to follow (Prager 106). It is possible that Hitler and Luther shared a common ideological base.  Ã‚        Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   Luther's attitude toward the Jews is puzzling. During the course of his theological writings Luther made a drastic transition from sympathy to hateful paranoia. Very early in his Protestant career Luther wrote an essay entitled "That Jesus Christ Was Born A Jew". In it he calls for tolerance, compassion, and peaceful conversion. "...they [Catholics] have dealt with the Jews as if they were dogs and not human beings" (Luther "That" 33). Luther believed that a purified Christianity, his Christianity, would attract Jews (Patterson 16). Jews could only truly be converted through a demonstration of the scriptural basis of Christianity. A Jew was a person of worth to Luther. Luther asked how Jews could improve his society (Luther "That" 34). Luther called into question those who advocated vi... ...was not constrained by Luther's sense of "merciful severity". Thus, it is unfair to say that Martin Luther was a direct cause of the Holocaust. Rather, Luther's anti-Semitic ideas and proposals provided a fertile soil from which the seeds of new even more horrific visions could germinate and grow into full bloom.    Works Cited Luther, Martin. "Concerning the Jews and their Lies". 1543. Rpt. in Disputation and Dialogue. F.E. Luther ed. New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1975. ---. "That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew". 1523. Rpt in Disputation and Dialogue. F.E. Luther ed. New York: Ktav Publishing House, 1975. Mosse, George L. Toward the Final Solution. New York: Howard Fertig, 1978. Patterson, Charles. Anti-Semitism. New York: Walker and Company, 1982. Prager, Dennis and Joseph Telushkin. Why the Jews? New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983.   

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