The holocaust probably would not have happened if it wasn't for Christianity. Whether Hitler was an atheist or not is not important. Whether Nazism was the bastard child of Christianity as Isis is of Islam - is not important. What is important, is that common Germans would probably not have so easily related to the notion of the "Jews being responsible for all the worlds evils, and therefore the world would be better off without them" - without 2000 years of deeply ingrained antisemitism in their culture - the product of pre-evangelical christian upbringing.
I am no scholar of Christianity, but when I read the new Testament for the first time, the following passage from Matthew was like a slap in the face:
“Why?” asked Pilate. “What has He done wrong?” But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify Him!” When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but that instead a riot was breaking out, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood, he said. “You shall bear the responsibility.” All the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”…
For those who may not recognise these verses - Jesus has been handed over to the Romans for execution. The Roman Prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate, decides to pardon Jesus, but the Jews insist he kill him. He offers and pleads but the Jews demand blood. He finally gives up and declares that this mans blood will not be on his hands, but rather theirs - and their reply - “His blood be on us and on our children!”
And there you have it ladies and gentlemen - the theological basis for 2000 years of persecution, wholesale murder, pogroms, ethnic cleansing and eventually the extermination of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust - an attempt to eradicate an entire people, that almost succeeded.
These verses, along with others in the New testament (such as the Parable of The Good Samaritan, or the treachery of Judas and the Jewish Sanhedrin), shaped the world view of the Jews as vile, murderous, knifing God killers - whose punishment is eternal - literally as a result of a curse they had brought on themselves (at least according to Matthew).
The strangest angle to this story however, is that while early Christianity persecuted and wiped out competing Christian sects and other Pagan minorities to extinction, it made sure to preserve the Jews. One could almost argue that the reason European Jewry survived the last 2000 years and did not disappear as all other ancient world religions - is because the Church deliberately aimed to preserve the Jews - alive but always persecuted and humiliated.
Christianity, being a historical religion - needs the Jews. If god first chose the Jews to be his people at mount Sinai, only to abandon them and declare the Christians as his new people - then the existence of Jews is forever required for the authenticity of Christianity to remain. Stories of the evil Jews are far less effective in uniting the christian community if all Jews have been eliminated 500 years ago. The killers of Christ, the people abandoned by God, the eternal enemy living within us, responsible for all our problems - what better way to unite a group than against a common (make-believe) enemy.
Since the Christian take-over of the Roman empire and up until the Holocaust, Jews were labelled with special and demeaning clothing, segregated with laws, forced to convert, wholesale murdered and uprooted regularly, forced to work in "Jew-specific" professions, such as money lending, and then demonized for it (as in the The Merchant of Venice). They were tortured by the Inquisition and were constantly accused of blood libels - kidnapping and murdering Christian childrens for the purpose of drinking their blood - libels which were always proven in their time as false - but not after inciting the local Christian population to murder some Jews in revenge for the crime that never was.
While I doubt that a deliberate conspiracy against Jews could be traced to Church leadership- it seems that clergy always knew when to increase the incitement, let the flames rise, and then call off the dogs at the right time. These waves of violence allowed the Jewish communities to continue existing under the rule of Christian Europe- always persecuted, always blamed for all the world's troubles - but ultimately, never exterminated, like other communities - as to serve their religious purpose - to be eternally punished for killing the son of God, the perfect scapegoat and unifier of the Christian community around a common enemy.
It should be noted that a similar status for Jews existed in the Muslim world. Jews (and Christians for the matter), were labelled under Islam as "Dhimmi" - second class citizens who were not to be exterminated as other pagans - but rather preserved - in an eternal state of Humiliation. In the Muslim world, Dhimmi too were forced to wear indicative and humiliating clothing, and pay a tax of Half their income to local Muslim authorities, known as Jizya. It was even stated that upon receiving this tax, the Dhimmi would need to humiliated in the process (spitting at them was a common method), as to remind them of their inferior status. On a side note, understanding this alone gives one a whole new angle on the Arab-Israeli conflict - explaining the Arab disgust at the people they regarded as slaves for 1500 years rise up and demand independence in the middle of Dar-Al-Islam.
All this changed with the rise of secularism. While the most immediate effect of secularism and enlightenment to race and religion relations was that of emancipation - the cancellation of all discriminatory laws and integration of the Jews into European society - the broader effect proved deadly to the Jews of Europe. If under religious rule the Jews were segregated and hated as the "other" who insists on preserving his identity instead of assimilating - the Jews were now even more hated specifically for the crime of assimilating. The laws of Europe may had changed, but its population, ingrained with 2000 years of antisemitic preaching, did not look kindly to people who they were taught every Sunday were devils in human skin suddenly take post in leadership and academia. It seemed that even when local populations became secular themselves over generations - the meme of antisemitism carried on, always in the background, always waiting to erupt in times of financial or political crisis.
This had become so deeply rooted in culture, that when Adolf Hitler declared that ridding Germany of the Jews would solve the worlds problems - no less - it sounded logical to alot of folks. It connected with things their parents and grandparents had told them, it was part of culture as old as songs and dances. It was not far fetched. In the cultural climate of Christian / post Christian Europe - this conspiracy theory actually made sense.
The Holocaust took on the massive scale that is did largely because the Pogromists of the 20th century had technology at their disposal - No more pitchforks and axes (although some 100 thousand Jews were killed in 1648 in Poland and the Ukraine using such methods) - but mainly because the church was not there to intervene anymore. Without the religious incentive to ultimately keep the Jewish community alive to re-enforce religious dogma - the Nazis seeked to wipe out the Jews "once and for all". Their belief that the Jews genuinely were responsible for all their problems was the product of the echo religious teaching had left on European culture. Nazism could not have existed without it. It would not have attracted such a following in a culture not rooted in centuries of religiously fuelled antisemitism.
Hitler was a theist, Catholic specifically, and, worked with the Church and visa versa.
He had many superstitious views, including an offensive to capture a museum that had a spear (lance) made from "a nail from the crucifixion of christ" that Constantine's wife had (serendipity!) found when she went to the middle east to look for one of those nails...because it was said the owner of that spear would be invincible in battle.
What he did to the Jews was however partly due to racial hatred, as you described, but, mostly just because he COULD when he came to power.
I think, if Hitler had been Jewish, or did not hate them, his plans would have been fairly similar, Mein Kampf spelled out his plans for Europe, etc...pretty clearly.
IE: He would have probably united Germany by rallying the cry for revenge for the WWI crippling and humiliation of Germany after the war by the English, etc, and whatever else he could think of...and would not have wasted men and resources he could have used at the front, to kill Englishmen, Americans, French, etc, to instead kill jews, gypsies and homosexuals, (Germans) etc.
He might have won the war if he had not diluted his resources to run the concentration camp systems....we may never know.
So, Christianity paved the way for pogroms, the holocaust, and general dehumanization/persecution of god's chosen people..but, I don't think it "created Hitler" so much as shaped his hatred, and, supported his war efforts, and, helped the Nazi's escape later, etc.
To the Nazi's, killing jews was a side effort. World domination was the main agenda.
The assorted Asians, etc, were next on the hit parade...if they had gotten that far, as also considered mud people...and the Japanese, etc, were a bit short on their Jew supply, so, it wasn't antisemitism alone driving the genocide. He was an equal opportunity genocidal maniac.
I wish the USA could just lift Israel up, move it across Africa and the Atlantic, and set it down... possibly splitting it up into New York and Florida where large Jewish populations already exist. This would solve the Palestinian problem, or at least give us less of need to be involved with all the hatred there. Although preservation of Jews for the sake of having scapegoats sounds a bit far-fetched and paranoic to me, it does seem that the UN started something like that back in the mid 1900s.
I wish we could just lift the USA up, move it across the Atlantic, and set it down in Europe... possibly splitting it up into the UK, Ireland, Italy where large ethnic populations already exist. This would solve the Indian/Mexican problem, or at least give us less of need to be involved with all the hatred there.
I wish we could magically erase all religions and the divides it caused among mankind.
I wish there could be one government, so that all of the nationalism and related strife could be eliminated.
IE: Geographical borders create boundaries in our compassion.
In the US, it is common for the people to be fine with any policies that help Americans, but have no interest in helping anyone outside of the borders, even if by a foot.
Why should a guy in Nebraska consider someone in Texas worthy of help, but not 1' south of Texas?
Because we were all arbitrarily grouped together.
Had a war or two, or a land deal or two, gone differently, some of us MIGHT have been Mexicans, or French for example...and, then, would only care about other French or Mexicans, etc.
Would it be SO bad if we were all on the same side, as humans?
(Wouldn't really solve the Indian problem... it was their land to start with here.)
True, sort of..but, yeah, it can't undo damage that has already happened. There's no time machine.
Even "the indians"/ "native americans" are not all the same people, and some of THEM took the territory from those who where there before THEM, and so forth.
Throughout all known history, groups move into places where the current groups were, chased them out or assimilated them, etc.
Newer american indian tribes and "the ancient ones", and then the American, British, French, Spanish, etc...ALL pushing on each other.
So, the original Colorado cliff dwellers are not getting their cliffs back from the native americans who live there now either, and so forth.
The best we can perhaps hope for is for whoever is left on earth to care about each other more equally.
Yup, it would be a major sea change, and, will not occur in any of our life times.
It took hundreds of years for American woman to be allowed to vote, blacks to marry whites, gays to marry each other, etc...and there are STILL Americans ('Mericans!") who feel that these changes were a bad idea.
The even more bizarre concept of wanting a guy 500 miles away who you don't know, to have a decent job, but NOT 501 miles away, because of a border there....will take a LOT longer.
Nationalism has been used at least as much as religion as a way of "unifying people" so that they can be used to kill those that are "different".
Its a strongly inbreed dogma.
Heck, try to get a guy who roots for the Phillies to not hate people who root for the Mets, because of that ONE difference...its like a religion....super hard to get people to see it for what it IS.
Its how we get "Us vs Them".
Until there is one "Us", its us vs them = fighting over what color hat you wear....as if its the most important thing in the world.