History Mini-Lesson of the Moment Vol. 5
Martin Luther Was a Dick
I shall not have it judged by any man, not even by any angel. For since I am certain of it, I shall be your judge and even the angels’ judge through this teaching so that whoever does not accept my teaching may not be saved - for it is God’s teaching and not mine.
Martin Luther: the protestant hero. He took Europe by storm in the 1500s with his rejection of Pope Leo X and the corrupt Catholic Church, forever reforming Christianity. His belief that earning God’s forgiveness did not come with a monetary price tag made him pretty popular throughout Europe, but an outlaw in the eyes of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. He translated the Bible into simple German language, he wrote numerous hymns that helped influence singing to become a staple in church services, and he thought it was a good idea to let priests marry.
Oh, Martin Luther was also a real dick.
You see, Martin Luther didn’t like Jews. In fact, Martin Luther hated Jews. In his younger years, his writings demonstrated a level of tolerance. Despite his belief that Jews were responsible for Jesus’s death, he was mostly kind and even called for violence against Jews to cease, thinking he might be able to convert Jews to his new Pope-less Christianity. He was met with little success in this aspiration.
In the years before his death, ol’ Marty didn’t even try to hide it anymore. He influenced the expulsion of Jews from Saxony. He drove Jews out of many German towns. Then in 1543, he wrote a 65,000-word treatise titled On the Jews and Their Lies that would eventually go on to make him a Nazi hero (and his book popular at Nazi rallies). In it, he referred to Jews as a “whoring people” who are “full of the devil’s feces” and deserve no kindness or legal protection.
He also called for Jewish synagogues, homes, and schools to be burned to the ground, for all Jewish writings to be banned, for rabbis to be punished by execution if caught preaching, and for all Jews to be forced into agricultural slave labor.
There are many reasons why Adolf Hitler praised Martin Luther as one of Germany’s greatest reformers in Mein Kampf. One can assume these are a few of the reasons. Perhaps Bernhard Rust, Minister of Education in Nazi Germany, put it best in 1933 when he wrote:
Since Martin Luther closed his eyes, no such son of our people has appeared again. It has been decided that we shall be the first to witness his reappearance. … I think the time is past when one may not say the names of Hitler and Luther in the same breath. They belong together; they are of the same old stamp.
While Martin Luther may live on in high school textbooks as a hero of the Protestant Reformation who boldly stood up to the corrupt Catholic Church, to those who are in the know, his legacy will forever be tainted by his strong antisemitic writings. And now you know.
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