Paths to Salvation

Cloth $25
Translation by William Petropulos 168 pages, 6" x 9", illustrations, introduction, abbreviations, footnotes, bibliography, index

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Paths to Salvation

The National Socialist Religion

Vondung, Klaus

In order to understand National Socialism one must recognize its religious nature. Many Germans were attracted to the party by its pledge to re-establish a true community of the people, a goal that was celebrated as “holy”.

 Not only did Hitler promise to solve political, social, and economic problems, he also responded to a widely felt need for salvation. The prospect of salvation elevated politics into the realm of religion and lent meaning to the lives of those who embraced it.

 In this work Klaus Vondung explores the various forms in which the elevation of politics into the sphere of religion was expressed in the Third Reich: in the faith of committed National Socialists, in the party’s cult events which celebrated the “community of the people” as a “community of faith” and the Fuhrer as “savior”, and in the persecution of the Jews that was ‘justified’ in religious terms by demonizing Jews as the “evil enemies of humanity” responsible for the world’s ills. This apocalyptic world view was the extreme manifestation of the religious nature of National Socialism and, in the final analysis, the only plausible explanation for the intention of exterminating the Jews that led to the holocaust.

Klaus Vondung is Professor Emeritus in German Studies at the University of Siegen, Germany. His research and teaching abroad include a Visiting Scholarship at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Visiting Professorships at the University of Florida, Gainesville, the University of Houston, Kansai University, Suita/Osaka, and KwanseiGakuin University, Nishinomiya. He is permanent Honorary Guest Professor at Zhejiang University, Hangzhou. In addition to numerous books and articles in German, in English he has published the book The Apocalypse in Germany (2000), edited in the Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, and is the author of many articles in journals and essay volumes.