Did Adolf Hitler Also Persecute German Atheists

Adolf Hitler is a name synonymous with the atrocities and brutality of the Holocaust. While Hitler’s persecution of Jews is widely understood, his treatment of atheists is not as commonly known. Indeed, the Nazi regime had contempt for those who did not believe in God, who they saw as a threat to their rule. This article will explore the persecution of German atheists by the Nazis and offer some insight into the lesser-known aspect of Hitler’s atrocities.

The Nazi Worldview and Atheism

The Nazis believed in an ideology of racial purity and a strong authoritarian government. They saw non-believers as a threat, as a sense of divine will gave them the justification for their own rule. Hitler himself made clear the importance of faith to their cause in his speech to the Reichstag in 1933. He suggested that, “He who rejects faith divides the nation,” and he stressed the idea of monotheistic faith as the foundation of a strong nation. This disdain for atheism was also apparent in the Nazi Party’s writings and their own magazines. Thus, German atheists were seen as a threat to the Nazi regime and were not tolerated in any way.

Legal Persecution

In 1933, the Nazis passed the Civil Service Law, a law which prevented anyone who did not believe in God from working in a public service job. This form of legal persecution excluded atheists from public office, the judiciary, and the military. Galileo Galilei, one of Germany’s greatest scientists, was persecuted for his atheism. The Nazis were aware of his standing as a scientist, however, he was still kept from teaching or practicing science due to his lack of faith.

Social Persecution

In addition to legal persecution, atheists were also persecuted socially. They were subject to discrimination and harassment, being branded as “Godless” and accused of being communists. This hatred towards atheism was so strong that Hitler even considered making atheism illegal. Atheists found it difficult to find employment and were seen as an outcast by their community, with some even facing violence.

Opposition to Hitler

The German atheist movement was an anti-Nazi group that opposed the persecution of atheists by the Nazis and sought to create awareness of the issue. They formed organisations such as ‘The League of Free Thinkers’ to stand up for the rights of atheists and to speak out against the Nazi regime. They were met with hostility, however, as their actions were seen as a threat to the Nazi regime.

The Fallout for Atheists After The War

The legacy of the Nazi regime had a lasting impact on the status of German atheists. Even after the war ended atheism was still seen negatively, with atheists facing discrimination and stigmatisation. This was due to the association with the Nazi regime and the perception that atheism was to blame for the atrocities of the war.

Atheism in Present Day Germany

In modern Germany, the situation for atheists has improved greatly. In recent years, the country has seen a rise in vocal support for atheism and there have been calls for greater acceptance of the religion in public discourse. A survey carried out by researchers at the University of Bielefeld found that 52% of Germans are comfortable in the presence of atheists, reinforcing the idea that the country is becoming more tolerant of atheism.


Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime had a deep-seated animosity for atheists, viewing them as a threat to their authority. German atheists were subject to both legal and social persecution, making it difficult for them to make their voices heard in the political discourse. Despite this, the atheist movement did manage to make an impact in their opposition to Hitler, with the repercussions of their actions still being felt in present day Germany. Atheism has thankfully become more accepted in the country, however, the memory of Hitler’s persecution of those without faith is still fresh in the minds of many.

Elizabeth Baker is an experienced writer and historian with a focus on topics related to famous world dictators. She has over 10 years of experience researching, writing, and editing history books and articles. Elizabeth is passionate about uncovering lost stories from the past and sharing interesting facts about some of the most notorious dictators in history. In her writing, she emphasizes how dictators can still affect modern-day politics and society. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington where she continues to write and research for her latest projects.

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