William Shirer was an American journalist in Germany starting in 1934, after the Nazis had gained power by a combination of electoral success and shrewd bargaining, including gaining the backing of Pope Pius XI and the German Catholic Center Party. As a basis of further discussion I quote from Shirer's Berlin Diary for September 5, 1934:
I'm beginning to comprehend, I think, some of the reasons for Hitler's astounding success. Borrowing a chapter from the Roman church, he is restoring pageantry and colour and mysticism to the drab lives of twentieth-century Germans. This morning's opeing meeting in the Luitpold Hall on the outskirts of Nuremberg was more than a goreous show; it also had something of a mysticism and religious fervour of an Easter or Christmas Mass in a great Gothic cathedral. The hall was a see of brightly coloured flags. Even Hitler's arrival was dramatic . . . Hitler appeared in the back of the auditorium, and followed by his aides, Goring, Goebbels, Hess, Himmler, and the others, he strode slowly donw the long centre aisle while thirty thousand hands were raised in salute . . .Hitler himself was Roman Catholic, so it should be no surprise that, like the Pope, he expected people to believe every thing he said. He and the Pope disagreed, both publicly and privately, on many occasions, but that was about who would be top dog. Hilter wanted a subserviant Pope, and the Pope wished for a subservient German dictator. On the whole they got along quite well, though later the Church did well at re-writing the history. And of course most people, including non-Catholics, swallowed that lie with ease.
In such an atmosphere no wonder, then, that every word dropped by Hitler seemed like an inspired Word from on high . . .
Most German Christians were either Lutheran or Roman Catholic. All Nazi Party members had to swear they were Christian. Most atheists in Germany belonged to either the Communist Party or the Social Democratic Party, the main enemies of the Nazi's. So how did the Nazis get recast as atheists or pagans?
Pro-Catholic propagandists had the occasional sharp remark from Hitler to use, but since Mein Kampf was co-written with a Roman Catholic priest, using Hitler's own words requires a great deal of selectivity and is easily contradicted by his testaments to the Catholic and more generally Christian faith.
Instead they tend to use quotes from Hitler cronies. As far as I can tell some of them really did not believe in god, and certainly Alfred Rosenberg was a pagan. These cronies each, at times, attributed to Hitler their own beliefs. Now Hitler was a skilled liar, that is why he was such a good politiican and able to gather so many truly diverse Germans into his party. So his cronies may have believed Hitler secretly agreed with them, no matter what his public announcements.
Here's what Shirer has to say about these men. In this case Shirer is writing on December 1, 1941, after World War II started, when everyone still knew the fascist dictators Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco were all loyal Roman Catholics:
Goring, Himmler, Hess, Ribbentrop and Ley — comprise the "Big Five" around Hitler. They are called in for consultation. All but Goring give their advice very carefully and with some timidity. In every case the decision is always Hitler's.
. . .
Alfred Rosenberg, Hitler's mento in early party days and formerly one of the chief men in the party, has entirely lost out and today has no importance in the party or country. He was too much of a dreamer to be practical.
So why do people keeping lying about fascist religion? Clearly the Roman Catholic Church has reason to lie. They started World War II and lost it and want to hide that fact.
If historians are defined as people who teach History, then the answer is clear. Academia has its good side, but its bad side is bootlicking. You have to lick boots to get a PhD. You have to lick boots to get a professorship and tenure. You don't have to lick boots once you have tenure, but by then you are so mired in the boot-licking system that your ability to tell the difference between lies and truths is greatly diminished. In a nation like America, where Roman Cathocism is still the largest single denomination, historians seldom want to make their own lives uncomfortable by telling the truth about Hitler. Or about many other things.
More on Hitler's Catholicism
More on Hitler's Catholicism