Apologizing to Hitler

There is no doubt about it—Hitler was a very bad man. According to the traditional numbers, he was responsible for the slaughter of about six million Jews in “the Holocaust”, though of course responsibility for this massacre must be spread more widely than merely one man. Stalin, though not as demonized by the western media as Hitler, was responsible for the deaths of even more of his countrymen, but this hardly lessens Hitler’s moral debt before God. Like I said: Hitler was a very bad man. Having the blood of six million people on your hands constitutes a tremendous debt, and post-war western civilization rightly regards Hitler as evil. They portray him as the demon-king, the epitome of all evil. The Nazi symbol, the swastika, historically the symbol of life and vitality, has come to be regarded as a symbol of evil and death. Attempts to mitigate the magnitude of Hitler’s crime by appeal to the biases against Jews endemic throughout Europe do not gain much popular traction. (Please note: I am not attempting such mitigation here.)

Nonetheless, I suggest that modern western society may have cause to apologize to Hitler for this demonization. That is, though Hitler was responsible for the Holocaust and slaughter of six million Jews and other minorities deemed offensive by the Nazis, our own western society is responsible for an even greater slaughter and a larger holocaust. I refer to the slaughter of the unborn through the abortion industry. I suppose that apologizing to someone now thoroughly dead is out of the question. Nonetheless, we should at least acknowledge that as regards Hitler and his Nazis, western society in general and North America in particular have forfeited the moral high ground insofar as our abortion industry is concerned, for we slaughter more innocent people, people guiltless of any capital offense, than Hitler ever did.

Let’s count: by traditional figuring, Hitler was responsible as the man up top for the deaths of six million Jews during the six years or so of the Second World War, between the years 1939 and 1945—on average, about a million per year. (Persecution of the Jews predated the war, and the actual slaughter was concentrated in certain years, but we are here taking an average.)   But in the U.S.A. alone, 1.06 million abortions were performed in 2011. The year 2014 saw 1.6 million abortions performed in the U.S., making it the leading cause of death there, way ahead of heart disease (responsible for 600,000) and cancer (responsible for 580,000 deaths). These abortion figures refer, by the way, to reported abortions, not abortions performed and reported as “D. and C’s”. And Hitler made a point of attempting to hide from his people what he was doing, cloaking genocide under such terms as “evacuation” and “racial hygiene”. No such attempt is made in the U.S. or Canada. Abortion is called abortion, and is celebrated as enlightenment and compassion, under the banner of “women’s reproductive rights”. The term, of course, is a little odd: by anybody’s figuring, the freedom to legally kill your baby is the right to not reproduce. Accuracy demands at least that it should advertise itself as “women’s non-reproductive rights”. (The child’s right to continue to live, having been already reproduced by conception, is not considered. It makes one imagine that only people with lobby groups have rights.)

And to put this in Canadian statistical perspective: though Canada has a much smaller population than the U.S., in 2004 Canada had 100,039 reported abortions—a number of deaths comparable to the size of a small city. (The population of Rialto, California, was 99,171 in 2010.) Thus, in both Canada and the U.S., every year we slaughter the equivalent of a small city. Suppose a disease like Ebola obliterated North American population in such numbers every year—does anyone doubt that there would be a tremendous outcry demanding that a cure be found, and that no financial price would be too great to accomplish this? But in North America such slaughter continues unabated. In Canada, the slaughter is government-funded as part of our health care. Of our three political parties in Canada, one has enshrined it as part of its political platform, another has recently announced that no one may now run as a candidate for that party while not publically supporting the right to such slaughter, while a third, while not enthused with such “women’s rights”, still refuses to protest, and has squelched any public debate. The situation is no better overseas: the European Union’s European Commission has refused to consider a two million-signature petition (the largest in EU history) to cease experimenting on human embryos and stop funding foreign abortions. Culturally, we in the west are committed to the unimpeded and legally-sanctioned slaughter of our unborn.

It is not fair, of course, to demonize the mothers who give their assent to the slaughter. No one chooses to have an abortion with the same ease with which one chooses which kind of coffee to order at Starbucks. Women who have abortions usually feel themselves to be trapped, and opt for abortion as the horrible lesser of two evils, too often pushed to the “choice” by family members or others who will not support the woman in a decision to bear and to raise the child. Thus the parallel with Nazi Germany is hardly exact: the Jews in the Holocaust were targeted because they were Jews, while the unborn are not targeted because they are unborn. Rather, they are targeted because their continued existence is judged inconvenient or problematic. Being unborn is not the reason they are targeted. It is merely the reason for their complete inability to defend themselves. And this is another example of why the parallel between the Holocaust wrought by Hitler and that wrought by the modern secular west is inexact: it was possible for targeted Jews in that situation to flee, and some did indeed survive the Holocaust. It is not possible for a foetus to flee. A Jew had some chance of eluding the Nazis and escaping Europe alive. The targeted foetus has no chance of eluding the abortionist. His or her chance of escaping his mother’s womb alive is precisely nil. As I say, the parallel is inexact.

The point of all this, may I say again, is not to blame the mother, but to begin to change the situation. Some may say that any comparison between the deaths of children in the womb and the deaths of Jews under Hitler is in tremendously bad taste and is shocking. I admit that it is shocking. The shock is why the comparison was chosen. When a person’s heart has stopped, physicians determined to save life often administer a shock, in the form of a defibrillator. Our culture in this area has gone morally flat-line, and is in need of such a shock, even if it appears to some to be in bad taste. About a million or so of our children are being slaughtered legally each year while our culture remains morally comatose.  It is not necessary that we apologize to Hitler. It is only necessary that we wake up.




  1. In the first paragraph you say, ” . . . this hardly lessens Hitler’s moral debt before God.”

    Moral debt? I don’t think that concept is compatible with Orthodoxy. At the very least, the concept of “moral debt” that most would think of in our culture upon reading this certainly isn’t compatible with Orthodoxy. Maybe you have an explanation?

    I know this point wasn’t central to your overall point, but I think it is important to clarify so as to not cause confusion for those on a path out of legalistic Christianity into the fullness and, as Father Stephen Freeman says, “un-moralism” of Orthodoxy.

    1. Dear Sunny: Thank you for your comments. By “moral debt” I simply meant “guilt” or “sin needing forgiveness”. Our Lord refers to such sins as debts in the Lord’s Prayer in Mt. 6:12: “Forgive us our opheilemata (debts) as we have forgiven our opheiletais (debtors).”

  2. A moral flat line is right. Unbelievable to think that abortion was the number one cause of death in the US. What is a person to do beside oppose it in his own heart and fight against it in the event it appears among his relationships? For me personally, my fight has been to stand against it with people who, begrudgingly, give it legitimacy *in the Church*!

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