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Wow, I knew Martin Luther had and taught bad theology, but I never knew what a racist pig he was.
As the Pastor of Denver Bible Church, before using the following excerpts from Luther's book, I asked a German friend, Alfred, to go with me to the University of Colorado's library in Boulder to confirm that the following English passages accurately translate Luther's original German. He opened Vol. 53 of Kritische Gesamtausgabe (Critical Collection) and read words showing a horrifying depth of hatred and racism.
I took these English-translation excerpts from Vol. 47 of Luther's Works translated by Martin H. Bertram, Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1971. Luther opens his book like this:
"I had made up my mind to write no more either about the Jews or against them… these miserable and accursed people… Much less do I propose to convert the Jews, for that is impossible." p. 137
"Listen, Jew, [your] Jerusalem… temple and priesthood have been destroyed for over 1,460 years... Let the Jews bite on this nut…" p. 138
"So we are even at fault in not avenging all this innocent blood of our Lord and of the Christians which they shed for three hundred years after the destruction of Jerusalem, and the blood of the children they have shed since then (which still shines forth from their eyes and their skin). We are at fault in not slaying them." p 267
Eventually, Adolf Hitler writing in Mein Kampf would echo Luther's sentiments: "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." -Hitler, translated by Ralph Manheim, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1971, p. 65.
Luther went on to claim that the Jews have a plan of "…finally overcoming us, killing us all… and robbing us of all our property (as they daily pray and hope)." p. 267
Luther chose to believe and spread the lies he had heard about the Jews. In 1994 the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America repudiated Luther's anti-Jewish statements. Some though seek to dilute Luther's guilt by quoting friendly statements from his 1523 work, That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew. However, in the 1520s, the reformer had high hopes of converting Jews. When that didn't happen, he eagerly disseminated the misinformation and hatred that his generation had inherited from earlier centuries. Others claim that these sentiments were from an older, frustrated man of declining health. However, Luther continued to write commentaries after completing this book in 1543.
And final excerpts, from pages 268 to 272, of what Martin Luther taught should be done to the Jews:
"First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them… Moses… would be the first to set fire to the synagogues and houses of the Jews.
Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed… Instead, they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn…
Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings… be taken from them.
Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life…"
My German friend stood among the stacks reading, sweating, and translating faster and faster, then under his breath, he he began reading only in German. We both noticed his hands shaking. While we had heard accusations of Luther's anti-Semitism, the extent of the actual hatred horrified us both. Luther's suggestions continued:
"Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the country-side… Let them stay at home.
Sixth, I advise… that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them…"
Then Luther adds, "let us emulate the common sense of other nations such as France, Spain, Bohemia, etc., compute with them how much their usury has extorted from us, divide this amicably, but then eject them forever from the country."