Sunday, February 1, 2015

Passing the Torch in Battle

My Battle Against Hitler: 
Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich
Von Hildebrand, Dietrich; Crosby, John Henry
The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. 
Kindle Edition.  (2014-10-21).

"God is offended regardless of whether the victim of a murder 
is a Jew, a Socialist, or a bishop. Innocent blood cries out to heaven." 

"We know from the memoirs that the main instrument by which Dietrich von Hildebrand fought against Nazism and for the independence of Austria was the journal he founded in Vienna, Der christliche Ständestaat. He fought as a philosopher; he fought at the level of first principles." (p. 245).

As I am discovering, there are lots of enthusiastic reviews of this book to be read. It is absolutely great both for the account of those years of struggle against Nazism and Anti-Semitism, as well as for the English quotes from articles which appeared in his famous journal and thereafter from New York. So much of von Hildebrand in his fight against National Socialism and its associated errors, against the background of the tired old world of his day, could serve as a mirror to challenge the feckless in our own day and time, perhaps even more doped and duped by post-Enlightenment relativism than was his world of the mid-20th Century. The struggle for objective truth, in defense of the primacy of the human person within community, under the Kingship of Christ, continues.

One of the questions which I kept asking myself throughout the book was whether a true Catholic Christian, a thinker, a writer, a lecturer, could be sensed as such a threat to its very existence by a lying regime today:

"The meeting was also very gratifying for me. Fr. Alois told me that, among other things, the conversation touched upon me and my journal. Papen said, “That damned Hildebrand is the greatest obstacle for National Socialism in Austria. No one causes more harm.” This made me very happy because it meant that my work and my battle in Austria had not been for naught." (p. 227).

Von Hildebrand and his family fled Austria just ahead of Hitler's troops and the Anschluss. Though he himself would not revel in such a distinction, the Gestapo had him at the top of their wanted list after Austria's government leaders; von Hildebrand with his pen seemed to have been enemy N.1 of the Third Reich.

None of us can aspire to such worth in the face of evil, but we can certainly pray that the Lord in our day and time would raise up such warriors in the defense of righteousness.


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