Hitler’s legacy: plundering German Atheists to benefit the Pope
Dr. Ulrike Tietze
A lecture delivered by Dr. Ulrike Tietze in Chicago on Friday, April 18,2003 at the 29th National convention of American Atheists
My dear ladies and gentlemen, Unlike the case of the USA or France, where the church’s full power of command has either remained withheld or has been removed again and thereby had its mostly illegally obtained earnings cut off, it has, in Germany, not only been able to maintain its power of command but actually to expand it.
Thanks to Hitler, an alliance with the Nazis gave the church a multitude of privileges, but most of all it secured for it an untamed and uninterrupted continuity in power. It was Adolf Hitler who made a concordat with the Vatican, securing these benefits for the church. Even though Hitler had to go, the concordat still remains solid as a rock.
In this way, the major Christian churches have secured themselves a multitude of privileges which they then went on to expand as far as was possible. In Germany that was possible, due to the fact that in Germany after Hitler second- and third-ranking Nazis could still pull the levers of power for the church.
The interwoven nature of church and state in this structurally clericofascist construct, in which everything stank of kneeling-chairs and swathes of incense, was so tight that right from the outset the membership fees for the major churches were collected by the state in the form of a tax, the so-called church tax. There’s nothing like this anywhere else in the world!
These facts are widely enough known. However, what is completely unknown, because it has been cautiously kept secret from the public and has only become known at all due to our tireless and stubborn publicity, is the following: The Church State of Germany is violating the constitution in order to rob German Atheists of billions, and that at the time when their financial worries are at their greatest, i.e. when they have lost their jobs — because everyone who is unemployed and not a church member is forced to pay church tax.
There have been a whole series of trials concerning this matter recently. The precise number of such trials is kept from the public just as much as the tax theft itself had been. The German Atheists are demanding their stolen money back! Instead of paying it back with due interest added, the church state is planning a dishonest turnaround maneuver: it is planning to extend this tax to all German Atheists.
What does that mean specifically?
In the case of Dr. Peter Nittmann, who has not been a church member for 25 years, it means the following: Dr. Nittmann lost his job after 17 years as an editor. When he received his already somewhat meager unemployment benefit, which he had been paying into for years before, he realized that every month, church tax to the sum of E$ 95 was being deducted. Projected onto the entire duration of the unemployment benefit, 18 months, the sum of stolen money amounts to E$ 1725 for him alone!
As you can see, the Concordat State is stealing money, a great deal of money — money that German Atheists want back! The case of Dr. Nittmann is just one example. One of millions, which means that billions of euros in tax are being stolen in breach of the German constitution to support the major churches, and that from the unemployment benefit of German Atheists, which is already meager to start with. This money is being stolen from the poorest and most vulnerable part of the population in order to benefit an organization that those affected by the concordat do not belong to and in the overwhelming majority of cases do not want to support. This foray is a crystal-clear violation of the constitution. It violates Article 3, Sections 1 and 3 of the Basic Law, the principle of equality, which states that no-one may be advantaged or disadvantaged on account of his Weltanschauung or religion, Article 4, Section 1 of the Basic Law, which states the freedom of religious views and views on the world in general, and A rticle 33 of the Basic Law, the principle of neutrality on the part of the state.
Because it is the case — and always has been — that it is not permissible to impose a ‘special tax,’ even in Germany, that calls to mind in its substance the taxing of Jews in the Middle Ages in order to build churches, the German courts have invented two legally disguised formulations, both of which are nonetheless in breach of the constitution, that are intended to cover up the initial violation.
The first formulation states that this violation is fictitious because the money is not being passed on to the church. It’s called church tax, but the state is lying because although it is collecting the money it is not passing it on to the church, so it is therefore not church tax and, ergo, not in breach of the constitution.
However: as Dr. Nittmann pointed out in his trial: this stolen money, the 1795 euros, is very real for the victims of this constitutional violation — it makes no difference to them whatsoever whether the state is going to use it to sponsor 100 kneeling-chairs, convert 100 Africans, or pay off 100 civil servants.
The second anti-constitutional formulation says that the stolen church tax is not in breach of the constitution because the “overwhelming majority of the working population in Germany pay church tax.” In officialese, that means that it is “consequently the norm” and is thus also deducted from Atheists independently of the fact that they are in this way being forced to support an organization they don’t belong to and don’t want to support. So the Concordat has to be held directly responsible for the justification of this practice of tax stealing — because there would be no “church tax” in Germany without the Hitler Concordat.
However, the extra service for the major churches supported by the Concordat at least presumes membership, just like a dog tax would presume the luxury of owning a dog. The highest German court presented this formulation in 1994, displaying not only a “broad interpretation” of the constitution, but also the arrogance of power that says: no-one gets away from us! And indeed — it really is difficult to escape the clutches of religion! This is why we are demanding our money back! (So, give the money back!)
However: what neither the honorable judges nor Hitler’s successors could count on for ever is that this unconstitutional legal formulation about the overwhelming majority of tax-paying church members would actually be endangered as regards the German population. But this is exactly what happened when the former East Germany, which was basically secular in its substance, was annexed. Because a ruling passed by the Federal Sozialgericht (B 11 AL 43/01 R) — and this figure is as difficult to obtain as the precise number of trials pertaining to this matter — states that in 1999, 43% of the working population in Germany did not pay church tax, i.e. were not paid-up members of the church! And so this pseudo-legal formulation, which was thought to be safe for all eternity, started to look vulnerable. There can be no doubt about the arbitrariness of this setting of the figure.
But thanks to our dogged determination to inform the public, there is now no longer any way of continuing this work in secret. So the German legal system is now, on account of this new public awareness, and for this reason alone, preparing a coup intended to allow it to kill two birds with one stone:
Bird 1: The tax theft is to continue and the money obtained by it, in violation of the constitution, to remain stolen.
Bird 2: The facade of legality is to be maintained after the fact. The coup looks like this: the Nittmann ruling from the first trial indicates that the enforced tax collection is not yet in breach of the constitution. It will be, however, as soon as “the number of those in work who belong to a church that levies taxes is less than 55%” — all of a sudden, and only after we had publicized the fact that this proportion was 57% in 1999.
The judge’s statement that we can expect now may sound like this: “After careful examination of all legal concerns and taking the latest statistics into account, the Federal Sozialgericht/Federal Constitutional Court is of the opinion that the collection of a fictitious church tax will no longer be constitutional as of 01.01.2004.”
As of Jan. 1, 2004: that means the money is gone! For this reason our demand must be: Give the German Atheists their stolen money back!
As I have already said, the enforced taxation alone is already in breach of the constitution. It calls to mind the tax on Jews in the Church State before Garibaldi liberated them from it. But this arbitrary formulation about the overwhelming majority of tax-paying church members, which is of necessity based on the Concordat, since there could be no church tax without the Concordat, as in any secular state, was never anything but in breach of the constitution. If you may, at this point, good-naturedly think that this is a sign of the high judges realizing the injustice that has been committed, then think again: nothing could be further from the truth!
Here, an apparatus that breaks the constitution as matter of routine, which has been forced into a rearguard action by public attention and which would otherwise have happily continued plundering its unemployed Atheists for as long as possible, is trying to cloak itself in an air of legality while its bureaucratic caste, pervaded to the core by the mentality of the swindler, is preparing the next strike: the church state is not planning the return of the stolen money but the extension of the tax theft to include all German Atheists!
One such suggestion has already been made in a German newspaper, Die Tageszeitung: “It is important to know that Die Tageszeitung is the only newspaper in Germany that is exclusively financed with tax-payers’ money since, on account of its low advertising volume and low circulation, it would otherwise not survive. It is the unofficial governmental organ of the Green Party, and accordingly, the writer of this article, a certain Gerd Grozinger, who is a Green “tax politics expert” and also a lecturer in economics at the University of Flensburg, makes the following proposal under the cynical heading of: “A long-term gift. Atheists don’t pay church tax — and thus have immense financial reserves for setting up a nationwide fund for social engagement for the benefit of all.”
So, this whole thing is no longer called enforced taxation of Atheists, but by renaming the whole thing, i.e. a nationwide fund instead of a tax, is seeking to change the nature of the matter in itself This nationwide fund is to bear the Orwellian name of “Test the Future.” The “social capital,” i.e. the savings of Atheists, is to be transferred to this fund. The heartless slogan is: “Let’s get at the well-filled coffers of the post-materialists!” — which means that anyone who, as a modern-day adherent of the Enlightenment, does not believe in any god, is now in line to pay up, and that as much as possible. The author of the article makes the following suggestion:
Tax-payers who do not formally belong to any religious group should be made to pay an amount equal to the church tax that they would otherwise have to pay…. The aim is to use Atheists’ money to promote a modern public spirit…. There will be large amounts of money involved.
The last point sounds a bit like “Jews’ property” in the Nazi propaganda organ, Der Volkische Beobachter, because German bureaucrats have had lots of practice at extorting money from minorities that have been and are being discriminated against.
This intended foray could also set the tone for other countries to follow For this reason, everything depends on international protest — especially yours. We must demand that the money that has been stolen from German Atheists be given back to them.
Adherence to the German constitution is what is required, not the extension of special taxes that are derived from the Concordat. The former is, as Article 1 of the Basic Law prescribes, directly applicable law. It is binding for MPs, judges and the Chancellor. Whether or not it is actually adhered to depends, of course, on the watchfulness of the public. There are numerous examples to show that protest, and above all international protest, is extremely promising in terms of success, when it is properly coordinated.
This success is demonstrated in the successfully defended blasphemy trials against the scandalous paragraph 166 of the German Penal Code and the crucifix ruling in Bavaria, brought about by many years of effort by the lawyer, Niemietz, which generated a gentle breeze of secularism and freedom in German classrooms and is still doing so today, as is shown by subsequent trials of teachers who refused to teach under the cross.
This is shown most clearly by the Nittmann case: without the international protest, the trial would most certainly not even have come to court yet, as the numerous other trials, which the courts have been dragging their heels over for years on end, prove unequivocally. But even more than this: not one peep of what I have told you about the sinister intentions of the church state would ever have been made public. The judge was unable, in this first round, to conceal her unbridled anger at the increased pressure put on her by the numerous protests from Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Australia, Canada and the USA. Dr. Nittmann and his lawyer, Gottfried Niemietz, have appealed against the negative verdict — which was only to be expected — that was passed by a bureaucracy well-practiced in dragging cases through several trials.
Now, it all depends on giving publicity to the proceeding that is pending before the state Sozialgericht (Higher Court of Social Security and Related Matters).
We must demand: No compulsory church tax for Atheists! Give them their stolen money back! Oh, and by the way: in case anyone in Germany should hit upon the idea that the German Church State may not have the money any more because they’ve already spent everything they’ve stolen and the Chancellor, forced in this way to make due compensation, would be made bankrupt — we have a suggestion as to where he can get his money from: The church! The church is not only the biggest landowner and the biggest property speculator in Germany, but also, on account of the many social, privileged agreements made as a consequence of the Concordat, exempt from paying real property tax and property acquisition tax.
So, Schroder, get your money from the church and not from unemployed Atheists, i.e. the poorest and most vulnerable people in Germany!
On account of its numerous privileges, the church in Germany has permanent access to people in weak situations, from kindergartens and schools to hospitals and old peoples’ homes. It uses this access to plant its sinister and misanthropic program into the minds of its partially, if not totally, defenseless victims. Here, it benefits from its mass membership: against this background, any individual who asserts himself is made to appear like a hopeless errant. Its entire propaganda is aimed at weakening and intimidating the individual. Its central means are fear, power and violence, Anyone who tries to do anything against it is greeted with a collective “Why do YOU think that YOU can do anything about it?”…
It is tiresome and difficult enough to escape their clutches. And anyone who does manage it should be made to understand that, if the will of the church has any say in the matter, strength of character doesn’t pay.
So, not least in view of this:
No compulsory deduction of church tax for Atheists!
No special tax for German Atheists!
Get rid of the Hitler Concordat !!!
Thank you for your attention!
The help of American Atheists is requested. Only an international outcry can move these bureaucrats to honor the constitution instead of the concordat. You may write letters to the German Chancellor and the court to protest this church tax on unemployed Atheists. Your letters should be addressed to:
Mr. Gerhard Schroder
Willy-Brandt Str. 1
10557 Berlin, Germany
FAX: 0049-30/4000-1818, 1819
Postfach 10 29 44
70025 Stuttgart, Germany
The subject, including the case number, is the following:
Subject: Enforced imposition of church tax on unemployed non-church members
Dr. Peter Nittmann,
File No. L 13 AL 4869/02
Please send a copy of your protest letter also to German Atheists at:
Bund gegen Anpassung
D-79002 Freiburg, Germany
Dr. Ulrike Tietze very graciously, on sudden notice, came to America to speak in the place of Gottfried Niemietz, who was seriously ill at the time. Both are representatives of the Bund Gegen Anpassung (“Alliance Against Conformism”), a German Atheist organization fighting to eliminate clerical privileges and bring about complete separation of state and church in Germany.
COPYRIGHT 2003 American Atheists Inc.
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