The Return of Das or Der Primitive

In 1882, German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche declared that “God is Dead.” (In 18 years later, God reciprocated in-kind.) In the 1930s and ’40s, National Socialist Germany very much concurred with Nietzsche’s assessment. Or as author Dave Shiflett quipped a decade ago in National Review, “A shocking story has been revealed: Adolf Hitler was not a Christian after all. Instead, he hoped to destroy Christianity.”


In 2012’s transnational socialist Germany? They’re not afraid to declare that God isn’t dead — but can’t quite make up their mind as to His gender:

A minister in Angela Merkel’s government has sparked a pre-Christmas row among Germany’s ruling parties by suggesting God be referred to with the neutral article “das” instead of the masculine “der”.

Family Minister Kristina Schroeder made the comments when asked in an interview with German weekly Die Zeit how she explained to her young daughter the use of the masculine form for God.

“The article is not important,” she responded, adding that it was fine to use “das” instead of the traditional “der” when referring to God.

The remarks were immediately denounced by members of Schroeder’s own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).

“This intellectualized nonsense leaves me speechless,” Christine Haderthauer, Bavarian social minister, told top-selling daily Bild.

Well, yes. I’d make the usual Simpsons-inspired quip that  “Wow, the  Bundestag turned into a group of dowager hairy-legged Berkeley radical feminists so slowly, I hardly even noticed,” but as Allan Bloom brilliantly noted over a quarter a century in The Closing of the American Mind, it’s much more accurate to say that the reverse has long been true:


This popularization of German philosophy in the United States is of peculiar interest to me because I have watched it occur during my own intellectual lifetime, and I feel a little like someone who knew Napoleon when he was six. I have seen value relativism and its concomitants grow greater in the land than anyone imagined. Who in 1920 would have believed that Max Weber’s technical sociological terminology would someday be the everyday language of the United States, the land of the Philistines, itself in the meantime become the most powerful nation in the world? The self-understanding of hippies, yippies, yuppies, panthers, prelates and presidents has unconsciously been formed by German thought of a half-century earlier; Herbert Marcuse’s accent has been turned into a Middle Western twang; the echt Deutsch label has been replaced by a Made in America label; and the new American life-style has become a Disneyland version of the Weimar Republic for the whole family.

Of course, some religions remain remarkably consistent in their belief systems. 75 years ago, George Orwell wrote in The Road to Wigan Pier:

“One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England….The food-crank is by definition a person willing to cut himself off from human society in hopes of adding five years on to the life of his carcase; that is, a person out of touch with common humanity.”


That song remains very much the same.

Related: Via Instapundit, the Original War on Christmas: “卐mas Caroling: The Extremes Hitler Wanted to Go To in Order to Replace Christianity with the “Religion” of National Socialism.” 

That was also the topic of this heavily illustrated 2009 London Daily Mail article: “How Hitler’s Nazi propaganda machine tried to take Christ out of Christmas.”


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