What Insights Do We Gain from Interpreting National Socialism as a Political Religion?



Over the last ten years, the concept of political religion has gained recognition as an instrument to capture certain characteristics of the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Nonetheless, it is still under dispute. There is skepticism about the adequacy of the term, in particular with respect to the application of the term ‘religion’ to political and ideological phenomena. And there are historians and political scientists who doubt that the concept has any analytical value. In Germany, and with respect to National Socialism, these skeptics can be found, in particular, among the so-called ‘structuralists’ or ‘functionalists’, historians like Hans Mommsen or Martin Broszat, who attach greater importance to political structures and the mechanisms of power, than to individual persons or to ideological motivations and intentions.1


National Community World History Socialist Race Totalitarian Regime Christian Religion 
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  1. 1.
    See, for instance, Hans Mommsen, ‘Nationalsozialismus als politische Religion’, Hans Maier and Michael Schäfer (eds), Totalitarismus und Politische Religionen: Konzepte des Diktaturvergleichs 2 (Paderborn: Schöningh, 1997), pp. 173–81.Google Scholar
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© Klaus Vondung 2008

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