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60 years after "Kristallnacht":

The Nazi-SPD-Scandal in Germany

Nazi-ideologists found refuge in "free-religious" sect of the
International Humanist and Ethic Union IHEU ---
Protection of prominent politicians in the ruling Social Democratic Party SPD makes Nazi-propaganda an easy job today ---
Antifascists’ condemnation to silence by order of court becomes a human rights‘ case, maybe on European level

During the last years, antifascist groups in Germany uncovered a political scandal: The International Humanist and Ethic Union (IHEU) enjoys Consultative Status with the European Council, but German "Free-religious" member organisations of the IHEU (counting about two thousand active individual members in Germany) are really national-socialist camouflage organisations. Their official status in Germany as registered religious associations with fiscal sovereignty (the German state tax offices collect their church-rates compulsorily) and the right to teach pupils on "religion" in public primary and high schools is due to the support of prominent Social Democratic politicians; some are sect-members themselves. But the main ideologists in the "Free Religion" today, in previous days declared Adolf Hitler God (they really did), wanted to kick the Jewish and Christian religions as "non-arian" out of Germany and tried to establish their own "Free Religion" as the "spiritual" complement of the Nazi-party NSDAP, and to become the only legal and "racially pure" state religion of Nazi-Germany. In March 1998, the leaders and "reverends" of the German "free-religious" sect declared in their monthly magazine "Wege ohne Dogma" (Ways without Dogma), that some very extreme Nazi ideologists are still their spiritual and philosophical masters. Nevertheless, they get financial public support from some German Federal States, that are ruled by the Social Democratic Party, even from the State of Lower Saxony, when it was ruled by prime minister Gerhard Schröder, now German Kanzler.

The historical and current evidence investigated by antifascists and verified in libraries and archives is very clear by now. We can outline only few important details here: In 1933, the "Free-religious" organisations in Germany, that subscribed to a Teutonic racist pantheism, joined the foundation of an umbrella organisation of "Arian" religious groups (Deutsche Glaubensbewegung DG, Movement for German Belief), that wanted to give the new Nazi state a "racially pure" spiritual basis, contrary to the Bible-religions. One of today’s top ideologists of the "Free Religion", Georg Pick, then joined the foundation. Pick was the leader of the Southern German "Free-religious" people and declared Hitler God of the "Free-religious’" in his 1937-book "Die Religion der freien Deutschen" (The Religion of the Free Germans); in that book, Pick also declared the Nazi terror laws as "divine" and as being the leading light of the "Free Religion". In 1992 (!), today’s only "parson" or "rector" of the Pick-sect set up the "Free Religion" still with direct reference to that book.

"Free-Religion" as "Arian", against the Bible-religions

The secretary-general of the Northern German "Free-religious’" in 1933, Carl Peter, a member of the Nazi Party and confident of the Nazi secret service chief Reinhard Heydrich, was supposed to become secretary-general of the DG in 1933, and, to facilitate the collaboration, the leading ideologist of the "Arian" religious groups, Wilhelm Hauer, an intimate of top Nazi theorist Alfred Rosenberg, took over the presidency of the Northern German "Free-religious’" in 1934. Ten years later, in November 1944, Hauer still wrote: "The will of Adolf Hitler indeed expresses the will of God". Because there had been some "socialists" among the "Free-religious’", they had some trouble during the coup of the Hitler-group against the "socialist" Strasser-group of the NSDAP and were outlawed by the Hitler-group at the end of 1934, as were some of the other Strasser-followers. But already in 1935, they re-founded legally under the leadership of Peter and the well-known Nazi "philosopher" Ernst Bergmann, and named their organisation in 1937 "Vereinigung deutsche Volksreligion" (Association of German Folk Religion), that held big congresses on "Free Religion" in the late thirties and early forties in Germany. Like Pick and Hauer, Bergmann too was a founder of the DG in 1933, and a member of its ruling council "Führerrat". In 1945, at the age of 63, Bergmann committed suicide, when US-American Allies liberated Leipzig (where the headquarters of the "free-religious" organisation was), and outlawed some of the Nazi religions.

1970: A State Treaty for the benefit of Nazis

Peter, Pick, Hauer and others re-founded the "Free-religious" and other sister-organisations in the late forties, by fooling some Allied officials by now naming their groups "Unitarian" or "Humanist" instead of German Folk Religion or German Belief Movement, and by referring to some heroes of the 1848 German Revolution instead of to Hitler and Rosenberg, and thus disguised their continuing alliance to the Teutonic pantheism. Peter became secretary-general again, Pick continued as leader of the Southern German "Free-religious’" until the late sixties. A lot of the former Nazi "Free-religious’" and members of the Nazi DG joined the German Social Democratic Party after 1946. In 1970, the SPD-government of Lower Saxony, under the leadership of a prime minister, who was not unsympathetic to Nazis, entered into a State Treaty between the regional "Free-religious" association and the State of Lower Saxony, that obliged the state to finance with public taxes lots of the "Free-religious" activities until now, even under the governmental authority of former prime minister Schröder, today’s German Kanzler, who had the right of giving notice to quit the Treaty because of unconstitutional politics of leading sect members. That State Treaty was the life-work of the secretary-general of the "Free-religious’", Dietrich Bronder, a former member of the Nazi party and participant of the Nazi pogroms in 1933, then prisoner of the Allies because of his NSDAP-activities, then professional secretary of the SPD, finally successor to Peter as secretary-general of the "Bund Freireligiöser Gemeinden Deutschlands" BFGD (Federation of the Free Religious Parishes of Germany) and delegate of the German "Free-religious’" to the IHEU for decades. Bronder was supported by the president of the BFGD, Wilhelm Bonneß, a former associate of Hauer, author for Hauer’s magazine "Deutscher Glaube" (German Belief), one of the Nazis’ main magazines in fighting the Christian religions in the "Kirchenkampf". Bonneß was a great devotee of the "national-socialist race knowledge", as he wrote then, and a leading war-agitator of the "Free-religious’" in World War II, then also joined the SPD, became president of the BFGD, for which he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and was honoured by the chairman of the SPD, Hans-Jochen Vogel, for forty years of party membership. Bronder and Bonneß together edited the "Free-religious" magazine "Humanist" since the seventies (which is now named "Wege ohne Dogma"), filling it up with propaganda for euthanasia and eugenics. One of the "Humanist"-authors then was the former confident of Alfred Rosenberg, Eberhard Achterberg, who was chief-editor of the "Nationalsozialistische Monatshefte" before 1945, the "intellectual" magazine of the Nazi party that was published by Rosenberg. In the eighties, Achterberg also leaded the "Deutsche Unitarier Religionsgemeinschaft" DUR (German Unitarians), an openly national-socialist camouflage organisation, whose main ideologists in the fifties up to the eighties were Hauer, and the sentenced war criminal Dietrich Klagges (the first Nazi Interior Minister ever, who gave to the Austrian Adolf Hitler the German nationality as a pre-requisite to his becoming German Kanzler in 1933), and other former leading Nazi functionaries and ideologists, as the later founder of the well-known extreme right-wing publishing house "Grabert Verlag", Herbert Grabert. The DUR is also a sister-organisation of the "Free-religious’" in today’s umbrella organisation "Dachverband Freier Weltanschauungsgemeinschaften" DFW (Umbrella Association of the Free Philosophical Unions), accompanied by the followers of the late SocialDarwinist Ernst Haeckel. In the nineties, the DUR still refers to the Nazi-fight against the Christian churches ("Kirchenkampf") and the Nazi-organisation DG as its sources; one can read advertising for the DUR in "Wege ohne Dogma", also.

Today’s situation

One might suppose that nowadays the Nazi tradition of the "Free-religious" scene has finished. No way. In 1990, Bronder published a book, in which he justifies the Nazi concentration camps as necessary to win the war, denies the murder of the European Jews, and declares the euthanasia crimes to be a logical part of the "Free Religion", because it’s a "nature religion" and in "nature" disabled individuals would have no right to live. In 1995, the "Free-religious" monthly magazine "Wege ohne Dogma", which is now the official publication organ of the whole sect, published a Bronder-text on "divine nature" as the creed of the "Free-religious’". Also in 1995, this organ published a new declaration of the DFW to legalise euthanasia ("Sterbehilfe"), and an article according to which a factual former SS parade square, built by order of Heinrich Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg in the thirties, should be a cult area of the "Free-religious’", because the Nazis and other Teutonic pantheists (and no one else) believe that it was the place, where some pagan Saxons had been killed by the Christian Kaiser Karl in the eighth (!) century. In 1993, you could read here about antifascists, who spread "cultural AIDS"; in 1992, an author who is regarded by the German secret service as one of the most important modernizers of the extreme Right’s ideology, published his ideas against democracy, justice and constitutional state also in "Wege ohne Dogma", and so on. Part of the ideological extreme confession of the sect also is, that its members are looked at as self-divine, because the divine principle or "God" is believed to be identical to the will to act of each sect-member; that is the pith of "Free-religious" belief, and it corresponds to the voluntaristic ideas of the great fascist theorists, like Houston Stewart Chamberlain or Alfred Rosenberg, and of course Ernst Bergmann.

After the German left-wing magazine "Konkret" had published some Nazi background on the "Free-religious’" in January 1998, the leaders and "reverends" of the sect declared in "Wege ohne Dogma", that they reject the antifascist critics and that they still see Georg Pick and Carl Peter as well as Bonneß as their main ideologists and masters. They didn’t take distance from those Nazis.


A long time supporter of this scene is today’s chairman of the international Social Democratic organisation "Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung", former prime minister of Hesse and former secretary-general of the SPD, Holger Börner, who seems to be a member of the "Free-religious" sect. Today’s SPD’s prime minister of Hesse, Hans Eichel, sent his best respects to a meeting of the Nazi sect DUR, his Minister of Cultural Affairs was guest of honour there; Börner has published article and interview in the DUR’s magazine "unitarische blätter", and held a speech there. Nowadays’ most prominent spokespoeple of the "Free-religious’" are the SPD-parliamentarians Eckhart Pick (Georg Pick’s son) and Doris Barnett, both recently re-elected directly in their districts for the German Federal Parliament. In March 1998, Eckhart Pick and Barnett also rejected a l l antifascist criticism and expressed – on the official letterheads of German Federal Parliament Bundestag – their solidarity with the sect,  w i t h o u t    a n y    r e s e r v a t i o n s.  The regional "Free-religious" parish Barnett is affiliated with in Palatinate, "Freireligiöse Landesgemeinde Pfalz", named its centre "Carl-Peter-Haus". That is the political reality in Germany, 60 years after "Kristallnacht".

Barnett had confessed in the 1994 election campaign, that her "religious" master was Bonneß (of course she kept secret Bonneß’ enthusiasm for Nazi "race knowledge" and his incitement to war). In the 1998 election campaign, she declared "I am rolling like a tank", fought the former Kanzler Helmut Kohl as her local rival candidate in the election district and conquered in a Blitzkrieg. Barnett, who feels herself prosecuted by Christians since her childhood, as she declared in 1994, is the big hope of the regional Social Democratic Party of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate and is actively supported by the new German Minister of Defence and chairman of the European Socialists, former chief of Rhineland-Palatinate’s and Germany’s SPD, Rudolf Scharping. Barnett and her parliamentary college Eckhart Pick, who both are lawyers, were both sentenced in September 1998 by a German court, because they tried to protect their sect by illegal measures. Neither the political-philosophical orientation of the sect nor the illegal measures to protect it seem to be getting the SPD-leaders to think the matter through. That is the most surprising fact of the whole affair.

Since the recent German parliament's and government's election in September 1998, Barnett and Pick continued their fast careers: Barnett now has been elected chairwoman of the very important Committee on Labour and Social Affairs of the German Federal Parliament. Eckhart Pick has been appointed to one of the two State Secretaries (comparable in the US: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, UK: Permanent Secretary) of the Federal Ministry of Justice. It is sure so, that Pick will be involved in the governmentally announced legal solution of the "Nazi-Gold"-affair and the affair concerning compensation to victims of forced-labour under the Nazi government.

"Free Religion" and Nazi-"religion"

There are only few books and brochures of the leading ideologists Pick and Peter, and two magazines they published. One can study them in the major German libraries. They are filled up with "blood and soil", with anti-semitism, racism, the mania of "Arian" master-race, and the "religious" ideas of Rosenberg, written down in his book "Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts" (the main important Nazi book after Hitler’s "Mein Kampf"). Pick’s standard book "Die Religion der freien Deutschen" of 1937 with the deification of Hitler was identically re-printed by Dutch Neo-nazis in the eighties, and legally re-published by Pick in 1966 – under the new title "Werkstatt der Schöpfung" (Workshop of the Creation), and without the deification of the Nazi leader, but identical in the arguments, that led to the "God" Hitler, and with all the right-wing criticism of democracy. As they referred to the 1937-version in 1992 still, the "Free-religious reverends" still recommend the 1966-version for "Free-religious" beginners.

SPD-linked judge condemned antifascist to silence

Of course, the sect fears to loose its privileges, after the Nazi background has been published now. The SPD-MPs Barnett and Pick therefore brought some actions, and the president of the appellate court (a personal friend of Pick, also member of the SPD, who was quickly promoted by SPD-prime minister Scharping and his successor Kurt Beck) ruled out to express the opinion, that the "Free-religious" sect "propagates right-wing ideas". The lawsuit costs a lot of time and money, that is in need of antifascist work, but it also became a human rights’ case by now. The German Federal Constitutional Court shall quash the decision that violates the liberty of speech, a complaint of unconstitutionality against the appellate court decision is lodged already. If the decision will not be quashed in Germany because of the entanglement of prominent Social Democrats, the European Court for Human Rights surely will deal with the case.

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