Sunday, September 6, 2009
The Fabricated Luther
It took me most of the summer. For some reason, I found this book difficult (but worthwhile) reading. (Not nearly as entertaining as Luther himself. :) ) Uwe Siemon-Netto's book "The Fabricated Luther, Refuting Nazi Connections and Other Modern Myths." still needs digesting. Many of the men he speaks about are not really familiar to me. For example, Ernst Toeltsch, "a liberal German theologian considered a tragic figure by many of his colleagues" had much influence that was not helpful. Such things, I've never read about. So this is just a start.
I am not really a WW II buff, though I've read a big tome on Adolf Hitler and another on Bonhoeffer's life. Of course, having grown up in Germany I have personally often been exposed to the numerous recollections of civilians, such as my parents, grandparents, my husbands family... Refugees, displaced people, German Mennonites from behind the Ural (my father's brother-in-law). Having grown up in Germany, I also still remember some of the damage to buildings, that could be seen during the sixties.
One of the reasons I picked up this book was that during some exchanges on blogs with Reformed Jews, Luther was practically charged with causing the Holocaust and this was pretty well all that was "known" about him. (Also, Bror said it was a good book.) So it arrived from CPH.
The Foreword is by Peter Berger. A number of themes are woven together in the book. Siemon-Netto tries to debunk what he calls "cliche" thinking related to Germany, World War II, Luther's understanding of the distinction between the two realms, and the German resistance under both National Socialist and Communist totalitarianism. He finishes by applying the correct understanding of Luther to current situations.
One other observer of the same time needs correcting. This is part of the effort of the book: William L. Shirer, the author of "The Rise and the Fall of the Third Reich", has wielded too much influence, dealing in cliches. (Shirer I had come across when researching a little bit about what was said about Luther in relationship to anti-semitism. So there a bell was rung.)
I'd like to go through the book again and comment on it here. Hopefully, I can do it. There are a ton of details that need to be examined when debunking "cliche thinking". If you are really interested, you would definitely be better off getting your own book.