Christian conviction endures that evil can be personified by a single, sulphurously charismatic figure. But “who needs the Devil when there is Adolf Hitler”, asks Tom Holland in UnHerd. The Nazis now serve as “the very archetypes of evil”. Adolf Eichmann regretted only that so many Jews had escaped the Holocaust when he was caught in 1960. The death camps have replaced our old vision of hell with one of “crematoria silhouetted against a wintry sky”. Communism was no less murderous than Nazism, but its concern for the oppressed masses “rarely seems as diabolical”. Only Hitler aimed to eradicate Christianity’s key doctrines of charity for the weak and sick, and of universalism.
That’s why, more than 75 years after his death, the Führer “retains his starring role in contemporary demonology”. We used to ask ourselves what Jesus would have done and follow his example; now we wonder what Hitler would have done and obediently do the opposite. It was Nietzsche who declared that, although God was dead, his “immense and frightful shadow” still falls on us. In this godless age, the shadow of fascism continues to define “the meaning of evil”.
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