No, Pope Benedict XVI is not a Hitler fan.
Despite the fact that Pope Benedict XVI has labeled the Third Reich as a “dark time,” despite the fact that neither he nor any member of his immediate family ever joined the Nazi Party, despite the fact that his own father was critical of the Nazi government (and, as a result, his family had to move four times before he was ten years old), and despite the fact that many Jewish leaders generally like him and openly praise him [Source 1, Source 2], some individuals in the media apparently think it is prudent to mention ever so frequently in the current papal resignation coverage that Pope Benedict XVI was once a member of the Hitler Youth.
It’s disappointing, really. Here, we have a great, holy man that seems to be ill (listen to his voice at the end of his resignation announcement here for some evidence of that), and some people are trying to soil his reputation.
From the Catholic League:
Here are the facts. Like all teenage boys in Nazi Germany, Joseph Ratzinger was forced to join the Hitler Youth. Unlike many others, he did not attend meetings and deserted when he was drafted into the German army. His refusal to attend meetings brought economic hardship to his family—it meant no discounts for school tuition. German left-wing intellectuals like Günter Grass and Jürgen Habermas also were conscripted into the Hitler Youth, yet no one ever accused them of voluntarily joining.
Rabbi David Rosen, director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, said it is “rubbish” to suggest that the pope willfully joined the Hitler Youth. Following a complaint by us, even Bill Maher apologized in 2008 for making this pernicious accusation. In short, it is despicable for these journalists to smear the pope as a Nazi sympathizer.
(statement containing the above excerpt and more from the Catholic League posted here)
Let’s hope the media stops propagating the insane and intolerable accusation that Pope Benedict XVI is a closeted Hitler supporter.