Loving Hitler

A friend just shared with me this account from Apostle George F. Richards, which I had never seen before:

A few years ago, at the closing of a conference of the St. Johns Stake, we had had a wonderful conference I thought, and I was very happy on retiring. I was sleeping in the home of the president of the stake, Brother Levi Udall, and that night I had a remarkable dream. I have seldom mentioned this to other people, but I do not know why I should not. It seems to me appropriate in talking along this line. I dreamed that I and a group of my own associates found ourselves in a courtyard where, around the outer edge of it, were German soldiers—and Fuhrer Adolph Hitler was there with his group, and they seemed to be sharpening their swords and cleaning their guns, and making preparations for a slaughter of some kind, or an execution. We knew not what, but, evidently we were the objects. But presently a circle was formed and this Fuhrer and his men were all within the circle, and my group and I were circled on the outside, and he was sitting on the inside of the circle with his back to the outside, and when we walked around and I got directly opposite to him, I stepped inside the circle and walked across to where he was sitting, and spoke to him in a manner something like this:

“I am your brother. You are my brother. In our heavenly home we lived together in love and peace. Why can we not so live here on the earth?” And it seemed to me that I felt in myself, welling up in my soul, a love for that man, and I could feel that he was having the same experience, and presently he arose, and we embraced each other and kissed each other, a kiss of affection.

Then the scene changed so that our group was within the circle, and he and his group were on the outside, and when he came around to where I was standing, he stepped inside the circle and embraced me again, with a kiss of affection.

I think the Lord gave me that dream. Why should I dream of this man, one of the greatest enemies of mankind, and one of the wickedest, but that the Lord should teach me that I must love my enemies, and I must love the wicked as well as the good?

Now, who is there in this wide world that I could not love under those conditions, if I could only continue to feel as I felt then? I have tried to maintain this feeling and, thank the Lord, I have no enmity toward any person in this world; I can forgive all men, so far as I am concerned, and I am happy in doing so and in the love which I have for my fellow men.

(Conference Report, October 1946)

Comments

  1. My first thought was “Sometimes love is a kiss, and sometimes, love is a bullet to the head.”

    This is an interesting find. Thanks.

  2. Man, oh, man. Now I want to hunt for reactions from members of the congregation that day.

  3. My wife just let me know that my initial comment was very weird. Sorry about that.

  4. Matt W, I think you should show your wife some love for pointing that out.

    WAIT, not that! NOOOOOooooooo…

  5. Actually, that’s just plain weird. If you have a dream that involves kissing Hitler, keep it to yourself. Seriously. There’s another possible interpretation.

  6. Latter-day Guy says:

    Holy Freudian-nightmare, Batman!

  7. Ardis,
    Do. Because I want to read about them.

  8. Molly Bennion says:

    When I first read this years ago, it gave me great hope for all of us in the eternities. It still does. If Hitler, one of the worst, then why not me and the people I love, we who err on a lesser scale?
    But it didn’t make me a pacifist and it didn’t answer the big questions of what is forgiveness or what is love or how do we ideally interact with and protect society from evil. Btw, on some of these issues, the current film Defiance is rivoting.

  9. While this story/andecdote/dream is (I suppose) intended to be inspirational, it is, instead, repulsive and disgusting.

    I read it before once. I think it was included in a book put together by Eugene England.

  10. Danithew, I didn’t have that reaction at all. I thought it was a good reminder that Hitler and his kind were among those who decided not to follow “the third part” and come to the Earth, so there may be some good somewhere. I think it’s safe to say that Heavenly Father sees Hitler very differently than we do and we should try to get to the place where we are closer to His perspective.

    This does not mean we don’t fight against them if necessary — it means we need to keep in mind that “love your enemies” was not meant to be easy.

  11. I’m curious about exactly what is repulsive or disgusting about the story. What exact words or message is it?

    There hasn’t been a single specific criticism in the comments yet – except with regard to the image of kissing Hitler. There’s been a general “yuck factor” reaction, but there’s been nothing substantive yet as to why it is a bad quote. Molly’s and Geoff’s comment, otoh, fit the overall context of the quote quite well.

    I understand that there is an appalling interpretation that could be taken from the image of kissing Hitler, but it would require ignoring just about the entire context of the overall quote itself to reach that conclusion – especially since Elder Richards described Hitler in the quote as “one of the greatest enemies of mankind, and one of the wickedest”.

    I’d like to read some substantive analysis of the whole quote in context from those who think it’s abominable.

  12. Mark Brown says:

    I have heard a general authority (whose name I will not drop) say that in God’s perspective, the difference between the best of us and the worst of us isn’t that great. Even the very best people occasionally do appalling things, and the most depraved and reprobate degenerate is occasionally capable of something surprisingly noble.

  13. And sometimes people do appalling things because they truly believe those things are righteous. Still, I am not sharing this story with friends and I don’t see myself ever kissing Hitler.

  14. Any lack of understanding or compassion for Hitler should be implicitly understood. This shouldn’t require an explanation, at all.

  15. Any Jungians want to take a stab at the ‘circle’ stuff? I was curious about that. Circles of Power? Inclusiveness? Exclusiveness? Why was it that the person that was stepping from the outside to the inside was the one initiating the kiss? Not that I believe all dreams have an ‘interpretation’, but it seemed to mean something to him. Also, was a “a kiss of affection” common in the 40’s?

  16. I don’t hate Hitler. Frankly the guy never did anything to me. Why should I hate him?

    I don’t hate Osama Bin Laden. Frankly the guy never did anything to me. Why should I hate him?

    I don’t hate George W. Bush. He’s out of office now. :)

  17. This reminds me of the interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan that (as I understood it) the “point” is that even a shockingly vile enemy is our neighbor.

  18. How about our leadership taking away the dream and stepping more realistically into the circle of say the Pope, Ayatollah Khomeini, Affirmation, democrats, socialists, communists, etc., etc. and kissing them in love?

  19. I cannot see any connection whatsoever between the story of the Good Samaritan and this bizarre, useless dream about Hitler.

    Daniel wrote: “I don’t hate Hitler. Frankly the guy never did anything to me. Why should I hate him?”

    So I guess if someone commits genocidal acts, but doesn’t commit them against us (Mormons), it’s not that big a deal. That’s a flippant, insensitive statement. We should be sympathetic with Hitler’s victims, not with Hitler. That’s just common sense.

  20. Norbert, I have laughed all day at your good humour. Thanks.

  21. danithew, I agree with your reaction to Daniel’s comment, frankly, but what in the story says Elder Richards was not sympathetic to Hitler’s victims? What says he was “sympathetic” to Hitler? He called Hitler, “one of the greatest enemies of mankind, and one of the wickedest”. How is feeling a rush of love for an evil brother equal to lacking sympathy for the victims of that brother?

    I know someone whom I love very much who abused his daughters. I LOATHE what he did; I love him like a brother. I have NO sympathy for his actions; I have DEEP sympathy for those girls. Are my emotions “repulsive” and “disgusting”?

    We have a command, “Love thine enemies.” What do you think of that command? Does it only apply to our minor enemies – or only our personal enemies – or only to those who kill a few rather than millions?

  22. A fine comment, Ray (#21). That is what religion is supposed to be about, right? Not simply cloaking normal human emotions under a guise of faith, but seeking higher perspectives instead, as you have expressed.

  23. Latter-day Guy says:

    I understand what you’re saying, Ray, and half of me agrees with you. However, I am reminded of a piece I read after the Columbine school shooting. It addressed the massive outpouring of forgiveness for the perpetrators… from other schools, even in other states. The article asked, what right do they have to offer forgiveness for sins by which they were not directly affected? In the same way, what right do I have to offer love/forgiveness to a mass murderer whose actions did not affect me directly? Isn’t that the role of his victims? I don’t know if that makes sense, but I am certainly conflicted. (Apart from the whole idea of kissing Hitler, which is just creepy.)

  24. I agree that it expresses a fine sentiment. I agree that we should, in theory, love Hitler. Absolutely. But I’ve had all kinds of dreams that I can analyze to have a spiritual meaning (Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High represent the church, the whipped cream is the need for charity, etc.) But I’m not necessarily going to share that in a church meeting.

    Of all phrases uttered by Mormons, this strikes the most fear in my heart: I think the Lord gave me that dream.

  25. danithew,

    This post wasn’t about the victims of Hitler. This post was about Hitler, whether to love or hate him. I don’t feel anything for the guy because I really didn’t know him. And he really didn’t do anything to me. Did he do bad things for others? Of course he did. Do I feel badly for them. Of course I do. But just because they suffer does not mean I hate the guy. For me anger at someone goes only as far as that person is able to continue influencing things that have a negative effect upon me. Bin Laden did something bad to my country, but not to me. I felt we had it coming with our constant intervention in the Muslim world, so I wasn’t exactly infuriated by his attack. Plus, his ability to strike again in a similar fashion is severely limited. He has no direct influence over me, or close to me. George Bush on the other hand does. Hence my constant anger at him. He is now out of office, and his influence severely waned. Hence, why my anger at him has diminished.

  26. Latter Day Guy,

    what right do they have to offer forgiveness for sins by which they were not directly affected? In the same way, what right do I have to offer love/forgiveness to a mass murderer whose actions did not affect me directly? Isn’t that the role of his victims? I don’t know if that makes sense, but I am certainly conflicted.

    Conversely, what right do YOU or I have to hold hatred for sins by which you and I were not directly affected? What right do we have to offer hate/anger to a mass murder whose actions did not affect me directly?

  27. Wow,and people like to talk about polygamy?
    That is radical.

  28. It is obscene to attempt to surgically separate Hitler from his victims and create some kind of space to talk about forgiving/loving Hitler without mentioning the victims. Even if the victims are not mentioned, they are ever present, ever there.

    This is not the first time I’ve seen a situation where a Mormon, or more than one Mormon, is somehow trying to romanticize the issue of forgiving Hitler. In the minds of some, it seems to be some kind of beautiful ideal to do so.

    The prophet Mormon wrote to his son about the atrocities of his people and he seems to have wrestled with this problem in his own mind and soul. He wrote:

    Mormon 9:21-22
    20 And now, my son, I dwell no longer upon this horrible scene. Behold, thou knowest the wickedness of this people; thou knowest that they are without principle, and past feeling; and their wickedness doth exceed that of the Lamanites.
    21 Behold, my son, I cannot recommend them unto God lest he should smite me.

    I think this particular scriptural passage is useful because it describes a situation where Mormon sees the wickedness of his people, recognizes the justice of God and acknowledges that to recommend forgiveness or acceptance of such depraved people would in fact provoke God’s anger.

    Hitler and the Nazi movement in general certainly fall into such a category. No one (direct victim or not) is in a place or has the right to flippantly waive aside the cruel, genocidal actions of these people.

    There is a scripture (D&C 64:10) which I think silently is hiding in the background and influencing us at times to want to forgive everyone. But every verse has to be weighed with reason and common sense and no single verse contains the whole gospel. In this one place God tells us he will forgive whom he will forgive but we are to forgive all men.

    I think this verse is a prime example of how Mormons sometimes make unintended and inaccurate applications of scripture. The point of the verse is that we should, in general, be forgiving and kind to our neighbors and the people we meet, whether we like them or not. I don’t think the verse intended for us to immediately search for the most depraved, murderous, cruel, genocidal person in history and casually forgive him in our minds. That kind of mental exercise serves no purpose at all – it doesn’t mean the person is forgiven and it doesn’t make us holy to think that way.

    The idea of forgiving/loving/kissing Hitler is improper and preposterous. If the thought doesn’t offend our own sensibilities it certainly would mortify Holocaust survivors and their descendants – people who we actually might want to interact with and learn from.

    I don’t believe God will forgive Hitler. In my opinion, His divine hands are tied on this one. The suffering and blood of too many people cries out against Hitler. He is one of the greatest symbols of evil in the 20th century and for good reason. If Hitler isn’t damned to hell, who is?

  29. Danithew,

    If your comment is directed toward me, then let me respond. You don’t have to love or hate someone in order to make a judgment about whether or not God will punish that person by never forgiving him. If I were a victim of his actions or had a close relative who was a victim of his actions would I have rawer feelings against him? You bet. Did Hitler make bad decisions in his life? You bet he did. Did he pay enough for his crimes? No. He killed himself like a coward. He was unwilling to face his consequences in this life, and will surely face them in the next.

    Even with all the studies I’ve done about him and World War II, I still can’t hold intense hatred for the guy. It’s mostly because he lost, can no longer hurt anyone, and his influence nearly gone.

    Am I supposed to put on my shoulders the pain and suffering of others? The hatred that others have of other individuals? I am supposed to be emphatic and understanding, and perhaps my comment was acerbic and flippant, but I’ve always stood for dealing with problems without the use of violence, without resorting to killing each other to get our way. The Germans who believed the same thing Hitler did felt the only way to resolve their problem was by the extermination of another group of people. That didn’t turn out so well for them and the Jews. Violence usually doesn’t.

    The best way to get something like this to not happen again is to do everything we can to lower the level of hatred people have one against another, so that we all realize that resorting to violence is not sustainable, or enduring. And if we are to truly learn the lessons of the Book of Mormon, we are to never go on the offensive, but always be on the defensive in the “defense” of our nation or beliefs. Let those who wish us harm come to us. Their blood will be spilled on our walls, but they will never get through. But I’m too much of a utopian. I believe too closely or too literally what our Savior taught us.

  30. Re: no. 5: “If you have a dream that involves kissing Hitler, keep it to yourself. Seriously. There’s another possible interpretation.”

    But sometimes a dream of kissing Hitler is just a dream of kissing Hitler.

    Oh wait.

  31. Danithew:

    My great great Grandfather did not state that God had forgiven Hitler in his dream. He said that it was a lesson in overcoming enmity and hatred. In the dream, Richards had the following impressions:

    – Richards and his friends were about to be executed by Hitler and his companions;
    – It was a given that Hitler was “one of the greatest enemies of mankind, and one of the wickedest”;
    – The Lord was teaching Richards that he must love his enemies;
    – The Lord was teaching Richards that he must love the wicked as well as the good;
    – After overcoming himself and expressing his desire to live in peace on earth, Richards was able to forgive even this, the most extreme example of evil that his mind could muster in the sense that he did not harbor emnity toward him.

    It just reads like a straight-forward example meant to teach the principle of “love thy enemy”. The date is 1946, immediately after the end of (arguably) the most brutal war in the history of the world. How could America, as a people, forgive Germany for what it had perpetrated? By overcoming the emnity that is too easy to succomb to in mortality.

    Norbert, I doubt that Richards was thinking about a French kiss, or even a kiss on the lips. Having been a mission president in Europe, Richards was probably thinking about a kiss of affection on the cheek.

    I’m not too worried when an apostle shares a dream for purposes of teaching a discreet lesson on Christian ethics. Again, I think it is crucial to note that this story isn’t a sappy story about Hitler going to heaven or accepting the Gospel or anything like that — it focuses on Richards and his struggle to overcome emnity and his joy in feeling like he had been able to do so.

  32. More succinctly, if he could overcome emnity toward someone who had caused so much suffering and irreparable harm, he felt he had the capacity to learn to love anyone on earth.

  33. I agree, john f. It’s an interesting, albeit shocking, anecdote. I found it to be instructive and edifying. I don’t think it offends traditional notions of propriety.

  34. #23 – LdG, you said:

    “The article asked, what right do they have to offer forgiveness for sins by which they were not directly affected? In the same way, what right do I have to offer love/forgiveness to a mass murderer whose actions did not affect me directly? Isn’t that the role of his victims?”

    I agree completely. I think “easy forgiveness” is an abominable concept – but I didn’t see forgiveness anywhere in the story. That’s important.

  35. #24 – Norbert, thanks a lot for that dream image and interpretation. I needed a laugh today.

  36. Thank you, john f. Your comments were stated much more eloquently than mine. If I’d read all of the comments before writing #34, I wouldn’t have written it. Yours say it much better.

  37. Sheesh.

    I’ve insulted John Fowles’s great great grandfather.

  38. John F. Thanks. It is very hard to love.

    I believe this was one of the trials that Jesus had, to love even the most wicked, even as they were having absolute good nailed to the cross for … leading the people astray.

    Jesus had to lay down his life for Hitler, too, and love him as a son. Hard. It is beyond most of us to do that.

  39. #15 Steve P, I always considered the circle (semi-circle, since he had his back to those in the circle?) was a firing squad – thus explaining the weapons being prepared.

    I think I recall Elder Packer sharing this story years ago, and it greatly affected me at that time. We view the tragedies of this world as extremely huge. And from our puny perspectives, they are. However, from God’s eternal perspective, and as a parent of all of us, he sees it differently.

    Many have been disgusted with this story. What if Hitler was your child? What if you knew the good he’d done in the past? What if you were able to see the millions of Germans who didn’t starve, due to the ridiculous requirements emplaced upon the Germans by the French and others after WWI? How do we know he didn’t have mental illness, or some other issue?

    While it doesn’t make his horrendous actions and decisions any more palatable to us, perhaps we’ll be amazed at who he ends up being in the next life.

  40. I still think it is a grotesque dream. It bothers me that people walk away from reading/hearing this anecdote with the idea that they should think about whether Hitler did any good in his life – again a mental exercise that I consider a total waste of time. If Hitler smiled pleasantly at his mother a few times when he was growing up, it’s inconsequential in the light of the fact that he drove a nation-state to institutionalize serial murder and a whole world of harm and hurt to people he hated for purely racist reasons.

    I think the Mormon receptiveness to this story shows that we haven’t studied the Holocaust all that much. It must be some kind of cartoon in our worldview. I imagine a visit to a few concentration camp sites could rectify this but it’s unlikely that many people are going to do it.

  41. “think the Mormon receptiveness to this story shows that we haven’t studied the Holocaust all that much. It must be some kind of cartoon in our worldview. I imagine a visit to a few concentration camp sites could rectify this but it’s unlikely that many people are going to do it.”

    danithew, if I believed in public vulgarity, I would employ it right now. I’m at my limit here, so I’m bowing out before I say something truly disgusting.

    Answer the last paragraph of #21, at least, please. I think Elder Richards deserves that much consideration. You’ve accused him of all kinds of things not warranted by the story; at least have the decency to address what he was addressing in it.

  42. Ray, I don’t really understand your response to what I’m saying. I’m not trying to personally go after Elder Richards. I don’t know much about him. My problem is with the dream and even more so with who Hitler is and what Hitler represents. I don’t have an iota of sympathy or understanding for him and I don’t see why anyone would.

    Regardless, I’m not all that worried because everyone in the comments is so forgiving and so ready to embrace an eternal perspective – so no matter what I should say here, I have nothing to worry about.

  43. Norbert, I doubt that Richards was thinking about a French kiss, or even a kiss on the lips.
    John F, I wasn’t really going so far, but thanks for the image.

    I have some sympathy for danithew’s perspective here, especially given Mormon history’s own obsession with their persecuted dead, the doctrine of blood atonement and the vitriol used against the Missouri mobsters. The principle is good, but it is an unfortunate way of expressing it, which many would see as insensitive, including me.

  44. What if you were able to see the millions of Germans who didn’t starve, due to the ridiculous requirements emplaced upon the Germans by the French and others after WWI?

    Sorry, but that’s crap. That’s how the German’s told the story, but the reality is much more nuanced.

  45. Ray asked me to respond to something. Here is the quote (from comment #21) to which he wanted me to respond:

    We have a command, “Love thine enemies.” What do you think of that command? Does it only apply to our minor enemies – or only our personal enemies – or only to those who kill a few rather than millions?

    I don’t think “Love thine enemies” applies to a mass murderer like Hitler. I don’t know how to love him. I’m not sure if it would productive to even try. Why bother? What would be the point? Who cares if you do or if you don’t? I certainly don’t believe God wants me to love Adolf Hitler.

    The Sermon on the Mount is not requiring us to be stupid or insane.

    There are other scriptures to consider as well. Here’s a fun passage to ponder over, in regards to this topic.

    Proverbs 6:16-19
    16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
    17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
    18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
    19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

    So if the Lord hates all these things and the Nazi party embodied all these things, atonement notwithstanding, is it possible to contemplate that Jesus might hate Hitler and all that he represented?

    I think it’s possible.

  46. Eric Russell says:

    danithew, how are we to determine who makes the exemption list to God’s commandment to forgive all? Can you provide a list of people I’m not required to forgive? Because that would be valuable information to have. I’ll get it started:
    Hitler
    DKL
    Mao Zedung
    George Bush
    Stalin

    Who else?

  47. I would agree that Hitler and Stalin belong on that list.

  48. As a practical matter, if Hitler and Stalin were still alive and we could capture, judge them and execute them, I would support that happening.

    Once that happened, people could ‘forgive’ them as much as they wanted.

    Part of the problem here is I have no idea what, in a practical sense, for mortals, this kind of ‘forgiveness’ (that is being talked about here in the comments) actually means.

  49. Let’s imagine that you had a Hitler or a Stalin in front of you, in handcuffs and you wanted to ‘love’ or ‘forgive’ that person.

    Would you turn the key in the lock and let them go?

    Would that be responsible?

    What exactly does ‘love’ or ‘forgiveness’ mean in this context?

  50. I think there are differences among forgiveness, love and trust. I do not think it is necessary for our emotional health in this life to love or trust our enemies, including those who may have abused us or our loved ones or people. But, I think that , at least for my mental and emotional well-being, it is necessary for me to “forgive” those who have wronged me, at least in the sense of “letting go” and stopping to obsess about the wrongs and plotting revenge. It may not be easy, and it may take a long time, but it is necessary. My two cents, anyway.

  51. Are we to think that Christ’s atonement did not cover Hitler’s atrocities? If not, why? The volume? The scale? Are murderers exempt? Are mass-murderers exempt?

    In any event, I found the story quite moving. It has nothing to do with Hitler. It has to do with Christ.

  52. Eric Russell says:

    danithew, there’s a difference between forgiveness and absolution. Let’s take a more commonplace example. Let’s say a man rapes and murders my daughter. In order to forgive him I must cleanse my heart of any negative feelings towards him. However, while having forgiven him completely, I can still insist that he spend the rest of his life in jail (or even be executed). I can see at least two good grounds for insisting on such a course of action:
    1. For the sake of the rule of law – if we don’t prosecute murderers then more will be likely to commit them.
    2. For the protection of others – if he did it once, he’s likely to do it again.

    Neither of these motives for seeking his imprisonment requires a hard heart. So I can testify against him and send him to jail while simultaneously harboring no feelings of ill will towards him personally.

    While loving and forgiving others compels us to action, it doesn’t compel any specific actions. What it requires is that we rid ourselves of all hard-heartedness. Love itself is not an action, but a state of being.

  53. Just for the record, let’s recap Dan’s views:

    1. We had it coming on 9/11/2001.

    2. He harbors no ill-will for Osama bin Laden, who, after all, only attacked Dan’s country, and not him personally, and his country had it coming (see #1).

    3. Hitler only killed 6 million Jews and 5 million others in the camps, but no one Dan knew, so no skin off Dan’s nose.

    Hey Dan: Why don’t you keep this crap to yourself?

  54. Let’s say a man rapes and murders my daughter. In order to forgive him I must cleanse my heart of any negative feelings towards him.

    Good luck. I wouldn’t think less of you if that experiment failed.

  55. #45 – Thanks, danithew.

    In summary, “Love thine enemies” is a nice, general platitude, but it’s not a commandment – especially in really difficult cases. I’m fine ending our own conversation there, and I really do appreciate the response to my question.

    Also, I’m not touching the whole forgiveness question, since it has absolutely nothing to do with the actual story.

  56. Ray, I think “love thine enemies” is a practical commandment – but I confess that I have no idea how to ‘love’ certain historical figures who committed atrocities. I don’t even know how to start or why I would bother.

    There are people I actually interact with and meet that I don’t like so much. My understanding of the commandment you are quoting is that I should strive to love those people. That is practical and real and maybe, to the degree I succeed in the attempt, meaningful.

    In regards to Hitler, I don’t believe there is a practical application of the commandment. I am taking you seriously and that is my sincere response on the subject. I think the whole concept of trying to apply it in that context/situation is nutty, crazy, ridiculous, dreamy (in the worst, most naive kind of way).

    All I can think about in regards to that man and his soul is that justice should be done.

    There are members of the church who have pursued these sort of sentiments to the most absurd level possible, by doing proxy ordinances for Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun and my understanding is that the Church leadership has had to step in and rescind/undo/wipe away those names from the records of the Church.

  57. Eric Russell says:

    Good luck.

    Thanks! Considering that a broken heart and a contrite spirit are prerequisites for receiving the blessings of the atonement, I’ll need it.

  58. Sorry but Hitler was a monster , my Husband is Jewish and to this day cannot perceive him as anything else . I hope he is suffering in Hell for eternity .

  59. I remember hearing many, many years ago, (I am 75 now and was fairly young then) about an apostle (my memory on this is very very fuzzy) who had a dream about Hitler. I don’t remember what brought it on, but in the dream he saw Hitler after his death, and he was sobbing and in great agony over what he had done to people. I think the moral of the story was that when we get on the other side we will see things as they really are, and not necessarily what we thought was always right, and will realize that all others are our brothers and sisters.

  60. Nice theory , but what about all those souls who were murdered , their body fat used for soap, their loved ones used in experiments too cruel for animals ? Hitler needs not only to sob , but suffer greatly for eternity . Sorry to sound so harsh , but i am witness to the ongoing effect that his disgusting life has had on my family .

  61. #58 & #60 – Why can’t someone both love someone AND agree with their extreme punishment?

    danithew, you said:

    “There are people I actually interact with and meet that I don’t like so much. My understanding of the commandment you are quoting is that I should strive to love those people.”

    Does it change anything at all, then, that Elder Richards was a contemporary of Hitler – since that would place Hitler in the category of those whose actions had a direct effect on Elder Richards’ world and Hitler was the public face of the “enemy” forces during WWII? For Elder Richards, Hitler would seem to be the perfect example of the type of person you describe in your last comment. (Again, taking forgiveness completely out of the issue and focusing only on trying to love our enemies)

    Would it change anything if the dream was about the father of someone killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and Osama bin Laden? Would your reaction be the same in that scenario? Is it the apparent separation between Richards and Hitler that bothers you most? If Richards was Jewish, would that make a difference?

  62. Eric Russell has it spot on.

    To forgive someone does not mean you take away the punishment that person deserves for his crimes. To forgive someone means that you take the anger and hate off YOUR shoulders, because it really should not be there in the first place. It is unhealthy spiritually and physically to have hatred toward others. It wears on you, tearing you down.

    The purpose of forgiveness is to bring peace to the victim, and NOT to take away from the punishment the perpetrator gets.

    gst (#53),

    2. He harbors no ill-will for Osama bin Laden, who, after all, only attacked Dan’s country, and not him personally, and his country had it coming (see #1).

    I know, what kind of ultra-hyper nationalist am I. My country did have it coming. That’s not to justify the action.

    3. Hitler only killed 6 million Jews and 5 million others in the camps, but no one Dan knew, so no skin off Dan’s nose.

    It just means I have no excuse to have hatred against the man. And since forgiveness is meant for aggrieved to come to peace with their victimization, I don’t really fit that in regards to Hitler.

    Do I support the punishment Hitler will eventually get? Yep. If he didn’t kill himself, would I have had any problem with another state (like the Nuremberg Trials) taking him and executing him for his crimes? None at all.

    I’m curious, though, why I should get my blood boiling over the events of World War II. Why exactly should I be feeling anger toward Hitler? Anyone care to explain that for me please.

  63. I hate Hitler, and I don’t give two shits whether he’s a child of God or whether Jesus died for his sins. When he gets resurrected, I’ll go find him and piss on him.

  64. Before you piss on him. please make sure that he’s not being smooched by any General Authorities. Minimize collateral damage, if possible.

  65. I once had a dream that I was rounding 3rd base with Pol Pot. Why can’t I speak in General Conference?

  66. Good point, gst.

  67. I argued vociferously on this subject yesterday. My point in arguing as much as I did was not to offend people. I really think the way I do, I have strong feelings against a particular trend of thought that I see in the Church on this (odd) subject. So I came back repeatedly to argue about them.

    However, I also tried to argue that I’m practical and I think after awhile the mere exercise of arguing becomes impractical. Also, I don’t think I’m detecting that anyone is changing their particular stances.

    So I’m done with this thread. Everyone have a great day!

  68. I don’t see what upsets people about kissing Hitler or Atilla the Hun or Ted Bundy or anyone like that. It was a kiss of affection. Now if there was something erotic in it–that would clearly be worse than anything Hitler ever did.

  69. Doug Hudson says:

    Has Hitler received baptism for the dead? If not, should he? If not, why not?

  70. The only reason to baptize Hitler would be to hold him underwater and drown him. Drowning him by proxy wouldn’t work, and it’s probably not a good idea to murder someone in the temple anyway. Thus, I see no reason to baptize Hitler for the dead.

  71. Doug Hudson says:

    So in your view the Atonement has its limits? That Hitler cannot repent (which, granted, could be lengthy process, given how much he has to repent for) and be saved?

    Interesting. How do you reconcile that with Jesus’ statement that there is only one unforgiveable sin, denying the Holy Ghost? Do you think Hitler committed the unforgiveable sin? Or do you think Jesus was mistranslated, and that genocide is also unforgiveable (by God, that is?)

  72. Doug, if Jesus wants to baptize and forgive Hitler, than that’s grounds for leaving Christianity.

  73. hmmm, who would I rather have in Christianity, a repentant Hitler or DKL…

  74. Steve Evans says:

    “a repentant Hitler or DKL…”

    I fail to see the distinction.

  75. Daniel: who would I rather have in Christianity, a repentant Hitler or DKL[?]

    I would not worship in that man’s company that fears his fellowship to worship with me.

  76. Eric Russell says:

    Ahmadinejad provides us a sterling example, for even he remembers Hitler’s sins no more.

  77. Latter-day Guy says:

    Has Hitler received baptism for the dead?

    I remember reading somewhere that he had been, and sealed to Eva Braun to boot! I think that all hit the fan during some of the business over baptizing holocaust victims, so they were taken off the database.

  78. Steve Evans says:

    And people say there are no funny Hitler jokes. Just goes to show you — turns out all you have to do is mock Jesus and Hitler simultaneously. Hat’s off!

  79. Ok, so Hitler was a kook with some wacky ideas; now where’s the scorn and bitter contempt of his willing executioners?

  80. Steve Evans says:

    Right on, Pete. It’s so easy for us to villainize Hitler — we should be judging his executioners!

    Hmm. problematic.

  81. True. We’re better off recognizing their sacrifices made during a war in which the British and Americans bombed and burned civilians indiscriminately.

  82. I know I started out weird here, but if there is a guy like Hitler, and you have the option of killing him or not.

    1. Kill him, this shows more love to those he has killed, and more love to him, because you disable his ability to further sin and make matters worse for himself.

    2. Don’t kill him. This shows less love to those around him who he is terrorizing, and also shows less love towards him, who you are allowing to be a horrible person.

    So Killing Hitler is the more loving thing to do.

    To me, the commandment “Love thy enemy” is more about a state of mind, not any actual action that you take.

  83. Steve Evans says:

    actually I was thinking more along the fact of Hitler’s suicide.

  84. Ah. I was thinking of Daniel Goldhagen.

  85. I’m glad this dream served to make Elder Richards a more loving human being, but frankly, it’s not doing a thing for me.

  86. Peter LLC: Ok, so Hitler was a kook with some wacky ideas; now where’s the scorn and bitter contempt of his willing executioners?

    A kook with whacky ideas? You make Hitler sound like some crazy uncle. I’d be careful with that formulation if I were you, because you could use it to say the same thing about Jesus: OK, so Jesus was a kook with some whacky ideas and his followers committed untold atrocities against Jews, heretics, and non-believers for the better part of two millennia. Now where’s the scorn and bitter contempt of his willing executioners.

  87. Doug Hudson says:

    And what if Hitler was clinically insane? I mean, obviously he was a genocidal megalomaniac, but there are definitely some indications that, as the result of various illnesses, Hitler was increasingly irrational, probably by the late ’30s, certainly by the early 40s. How much of his evil was the result of a seriously unbalanced brain, one that could have been controlled or even cured by modern medicine?

    Obviously we can’t know the answer to that. But it is certainly a possibility. I stress that I do not suggest that we should not have fought Hitler, nor that his deeds should not be condemned–obviously, we want to discourage anyone from thinking that Hitler should be emulated.

    But as far as the condition of Hitler’s soul goes–I think we mortals can’t possibly judge that, and it would be arrogant to try.

  88. Doug: And what if Hitler was clinically insane? I mean, obviously he was a genocidal megalomaniac…

    When you use the heinousness of the crime becomes evidence of insanity, you’re making a circular argument: What makes him insane? What he did. Why does what he did make him insane? because only insane people would do it. Very small circle there, Doug.

    Doug Hudson: Hitler was increasingly irrational, probably by the late ’30s, certainly by the early 40s.

    Yes, and liberals think that roughly 46% of US voters are irrational because they didn’t vote for Obama, but you don’t see them ordering the murder of millions of Jews.

    Doug: But as far as the condition of Hitler’s soul goes–I think we mortals can’t possibly judge that, and it would be arrogant to try.

    So you’ll judge me for my arrogance, but you’ll give Hitler gets a free pass on genocide just because you’re a mortal?

  89. Doug: And what if Hitler was clinically insane? I mean, obviously he was a genocidal megalomaniac…

    When you use the heinousness of the crime as evidence of insanity, you’re making a circular argument: What makes him insane? What he did. Why does what he did make him insane? because only insane people would do it. Very small circle there, Doug.

    Doug Hudson: Hitler was increasingly irrational, probably by the late ’30s, certainly by the early 40s.

    Yes, and liberals think that roughly 46% of US voters are irrational because they didn’t vote for Obama, but you don’t see them ordering the murder of millions of Jews.

    Doug: But as far as the condition of Hitler’s soul goes–I think we mortals can’t possibly judge that, and it would be arrogant to try.

    So you’ll judge me for my arrogance, but you’ll give Hitler a free pass on genocide just because you’re a mortal?

  90. I think we mortals can’t possibly judge that…

    DKL, I guess this is one instance when millennial resurrected beings would come in handy…

  91. Orwell, LOL. Indeed.

  92. Danithew, I totally agree with your comments.

  93. DKL,

    I’m not sure I understand the point of your scenario in which the followers of Jesus might reap the whirlwind for untold atrocities against Jews, heretics, and non-believers if we’re not careful about how we label charismatic leaders.

    Hitler could have railed against Jews, Jehovas Witnesses and homosexuals until he went blue in the face or his stenographers went on strike, but all that effort wouldn’t have amended the text of a single law, forced a decision by a single judge or strung a single strand of barbed wire. Hitler was no one man show; it took a village to accomplish what he did, and it would only be fair to condemn its inhabitants to drowning by baptism too.

  94. What you’re describing, Peter LLC, is the mystery of political systems as described by David Hume; viz., the mystery of why, throughout history, so many have always unquestioningly submitted themselves to the will of so few. You could hardly expect the Germans citizens to be much different from any other citizenry in history.

    And the way that the gospels describe it, Christ had so many vitriolic fits or rage against his Jewish brothers and sisters that one can hardly blame his followers for spending the vast majority of the time since his death joining with Jesus in their vitriolic fits of hateful condemnation.

  95. Doug Hudson says:

    DKL–I’m sorry if I was not clear, I am drawing a distinction between evil and clinical insanity. If Hitler was suffering untreated schizophrenia or psychosis, he would not have been able to discern reality from delusions. Do you believe the clinically insane are capable of exercising agency?

    With regard to judgment, it is my opinion (judgment, if you will), that your statements are a tad arrogant. After all, what else would you call it to state that you will leave Christianity if Jesus forgives Hitler? I believe the Greeks called that hubris. But I would never presume to judge the state of your soul. So I dispute that I am a hypocrite, in this at least :)

    In all seriousness, is it so controversial to state that God will judge as He will? That seems like a fundamental belief of Christianity of any flavor.

  96. Eric Russell says:

    Doug, I don’t think there’s a single mass murderer who would pass a 21st century clinical test for mental disorders.

  97. Doug Hudson asked: Has Hitler received baptism for the dead? If not, should he? If not, why not?

    I think it should be obvious the answer should be an emphatic no to any kind of proxy ordinance for Hitler.

    However, I’ll try to temporarily take the question a little bit seriously and attempt to approach it in some kind of logical way.

    When I was a missionary many years ago, the possibility was raised that a confessed murderer might listen to discussions and want to be baptized. We were told that in such cases, the person had to write a letter to the First Presidency of the Church, explaining his actions and that only the First Presidency could determine whether that person could be baptized.

    In fact, I knew of a specific case where this process went through its paces. A man had killed a number of people (more than a few) and had taken refuge in Guatemala (where I was serving). The missionaries came to his door and he and his family listened to the gospel and he expressed a desire to be baptized. At a certain point he explained to the missionaries what he had done. He was told to write a letter to the First Presidency describing his actions and he did so. Some weeks later he got a response and though he was told he should continue to attend church meetings but that he was not to be baptized (at least at that time).

    I actually had a conversation with this man and he described, somewhat graphically, how he had murdered some of his victims. So I know this isn’t a story that was just trundled around the mission field.

    I don’t know if such considerations (in regards to murder) normally come up in proxy ordinances – but it seems to me that they could and certainly an egregious case of genocide such as that perpetrated by Hitler should not be ignored.

    Based on my limited (but I still think useful) practical experience in the mission field in regards to this question, I would expect that Hitler would not even be considered for our ordinances.

    Have other people here encountered murderers (who wanted to be baptized) during their missions? Has the church policy in regards to such persons changed in the past couple of decades (I finished my mission in 1992)? I’m curious what others might have experienced, witnessed, or observed in regards to murderers and Church ordinances.

    I would expect that at a minimum, any limitations placed on living mortals who have committed murder should be applied to Hitler, even though he is dead. In fact, it seems only sensible to say that Hitler is in a special category and there all limitations would apply to him – that he should be permanently barred from receiving ordinances of any kind. I would expect that only the Savior himself would have any possibility of interceding and I honestly can’t imagine Him doing so.

  98. danithew,

    The problem with comparing a regular person who murdered, and a head of state who gave orders for the deaths of others is that those heads of state have been given some discretion as to the order of the deaths of others. Again, this is not to minimize what Hitler ordered, but I don’t know of anyone he himself killed with his own hands. All deaths occurred at his order, or the order of his subordinates.

    Harry Truman ordered nuclear bombs dropped on innocent people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but we justify that action based on a larger picture. Still, those innocents will certainly cry out for vengeance against that heinous action. We have no problem with that particular action because it did not negatively affect any one of us. But how will God judge Truman and those who dropped those bombs? Is He going to ask Truman why he didn’t simply drop those bombs on military targets? I would. But that’s me.

    And I’m not trying to make it seem that dropping nuclear bombs on innocent people is equal to the depravity of what Hitler tried to do to Jews, gays, Gypsies and others. Hitler tried to create an unsustainable world, based on an utopian view that you can simply kill those who don’t fit certain criteria. This is unsustainable, and unendurable. In the end, you’ve gotta learn that you’re just going to have to live in a world where your enemies also live.

    I don’t expect Hitler in the Terrestrial Kingdom. I do expect him in the Telestial. I would be surprised if he is considered for Outer Kingdom.

  99. Danithew,

    I had experience several times as a missionary working with people who had killed in the past. At that time (35 years ago), our mission policy was that in all cases the matter went to the mission president who considered all facts and circumstances; he could approve a baptism, for example, if he determined the killing was in self-defense or negligent homicide; if it was murder in the sense of unjustified, deliberate killing of another, then the matter went up the ladder.

    As I understand the handbook, a person excommunicated for murder can only be rebaptized with permission of the First Presidency. There is, to my knowledge, no absolute prohibition of rebaptism of someone who has committed murder.

    As far as temple work is concerned, my understanding is that the Church’s general policy is to perform baptisms for everyone, and leave it to God (and the individual) to determine whether the ordinance actually “takes”. I understand that for certain high profile individuals, like Hitler, such work may not be authorized. I do not think this necessarily represents a statement on God’s behalf whether or not the work could or should be done at some point on behalf of such an individual.

    I realize that President Kimball and others have taught that murder is either unpardonable or unforgiveable. On the other hand, Jesus taught that only denial of the Holy Ghost was unforgiveable. Even President Packer has taught that “Save for those few who defect to perdition after having known a fulness, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness.” Boyd K. Packer, “The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,” Ensign, Nov 1995, 18

    Perhaps there is a limit on the healing power and reach of the Atonement. Perhaps it does not extend to genocide, or to physical or sexual abuse of a small child. I do not know for sure.

    But I choose to believe that God’s grace is infinite, without limits. And I also choose to believe that if God’s healing mercy eventually reaches the performers of such heinous acts, it will only be because God’s healing grace and mercy has also completely healed the victims.

    A foolish belief? Perhaps. But I choose to believe and hope and pray for mercy for me, for my house, and for all of God’s children and creations (no exceptions).

  100. At what point is it appropriate to insert a link to GST DKL/Hitler post on Rusty’s blog?

  101. Molly Bennion says:

    #98, A downwinder negatively impacted by the bomb tho not the bombing, I have long been interested in the development of the bomb and Truman’s decision to use it as he did. You might find The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, interesting. End of threadjack.

  102. Molly,

    thanks for the recommendation. I looked at Amazon and it does seem to be a book to read, so I bought it.

  103. I read that Richard Rhodes book a long time ago and yes, it is worthwhile reading. He also wrote a book called “Why They Kill” that deals with the issue of personal violence and the scholarship/project of a sociologist named Lonnie Athens.

    Lonnie Athens went into prisons and interviewed prisoners who had committed violent crimes – asking them all kinds of questions about what they were thinking/experiencing before, during and after their violent crimes (rape, murder, etc.). It was some of the darkest reading I’ve ever done but I felt like it gave me a schema/framework for understanding some of the horrible things that human beings do to each other.

  104. I see a lot of people say things along the lines of “what Hitler did didn’t affect me”.

    I would argue that the effects of Hitler’s actions could not be understated. You cannot eliminate millions of people and not change the world. How many people that were killed would have gone to do great things (or terrible things, for that matter)? We all have a stake in what happened.

    Also, I would argue that Hitler is just a figurehead in this dream, the personification of all Elder Richards’ enemies, whoever they may be (in this world or another). When you argue about loving Hitler, I think you miss the forest for the trees.

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