One academic’s (the Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College) response to the pope’s claim that the Nazis were atheists (in reality, some were and some were not) can be found here. An extract follows:
Christian theologians, Catholic and Protestant, reassured Germans that Nazism was in full accord with Christian principles. This was not a marginal effort; at the 1934 Oberammergau passion play, watching Jesus being hoisted on the cross, the audience saw a parable of the Third Reich, calling out: “There he is. That is our Führer, our Hitler!”
Hitler became Christ, the redeemer of Germany, thanks to a reinterpretation of the Gospels: Jesus was not a Jew, but an Aryan who came to redeem them from the Jews who sought their destruction. Karl Adam, the prominent German Catholic theologian, affirmed in 1933 that Hitler was the one “prophesied by our poets and our wise men” who suffered in his fight for Germany’s salvation. Adam continued in 1941: “Christ’s teaching was entirely anti-Jewish in its tenor (that is why he was crucified).”
Nuts, of course, but atheist?
Well, here is Hitler (cited in Table Talk) on October 24, 1941:
It’s senseless to encourage man in the idea that he’s a king of creation, as the scientist of the past century tried to make him believe…The Russians were entitled to attack their priests, but they had no right to assail the idea of a supreme force. It’s a fact that we’re feeble creatures, and that a creative force exists.”
Hitler’s comments on this topic are often contradictory, and often self-serving, but those remarks do not sound like the opinions of an atheist to me.