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Religion and Totalitarianism
they took pride in being the last
bastion of Imperial virtue in the
Empire.
Throughout the middle ages
this Teutonic ideal was nour–
ished in many a German breast.
Its chauvinistic flavor is well re–
flected in a sampling of oratory
given to the Emperor in the
early 1500s: "Our race, on the
contrary, was judged worthy of
the imperium because of its in–
nate virtue and because of the
Ironically, there was
nothing really all that
revolutionary in the
racial, nationalistic gospel
that Hitler preached.
It had its roots embedded
deeply in Germanic
history.
perseverance with which we
took the labors of God upon
ourselves. May we, under your
aegis, noble emperor, long con–
tinue to be worthy of exercising
the Roman rule. As virtue and
faith are superior to vice and
oppression, we who possess vir–
tue and faith are greater than
all other nations" (Strauss,
Manifestations of Discontent in
Germany on the Eve of the Ref–
ormation,
p. 71 ). Even after the
Reformation and the rise of
modern secular states in the
43
West, many Germans still
clung to this imperial concept.
Blood, Iron and Obedience
Historical circumstances also
combined to instill in most Ger–
mans a deep respect for the
state and the authority of their
ruler. Luther for one was a
staunch defender of the iron–
fisted
prerogatives of his
princely patrons. Long after the
Thirty Years' War when
England's parliamentary sys–
tem was well established and
French society was about to be
transformed by the Revolution,
Germany still continued to ex–
ist as a disjointed hodgepodge
of feudal principalities. The
same traditions were also em–
phasized in Prussia where by
sheer discipline, hard work and
emphasis on obedience, the
Junker aristocracy carved out a
mini-empire from a relatively
sterile and barren environment.
Much of these "blood-and–
iron" concepts were later re–
flected in the writings and
works of men such as Wagner,
Fichte, Hegel and Nietzsche.
Heavy emphasis was laid on
both the idea of the innate su–
periority of the Germanic race
and the all-pervading rule and
authority of the state. Hegel,
for instance, in his
Philosophy
of Right,
had this to say: "The
state is the divine will, in the