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At the heart of scholars' debate about Luther's influence is whether it is anachronistic to view his work as a precursor of the racial antisemitism of the Nazis. Some scholars see Luther's influence as limited, and the Nazis' use of his work as opportunistic. Johannes Wallmann argues that Luther's writings against the Jews were largely ignored in the 18th and 19th centuries, and that there was no continuity between Luther's thought and Nazi ideology.[239] Uwe Siemon-Netto agreed, arguing that it was because the Nazis were already antisemites that they revived Luther's work.[240][241] Hans J. Hillerbrand agreed that to focus on Luther was to adopt an essentially ahistorical perspective of Nazi antisemitism that ignored other contributory factors in German history.[242] Similarly, Roland Bainton, noted church historian and Luther biographer, wrote "One could wish that Luther had died

At the heart of scholars' debate about Luther's influence is whether it is anachronistic to view his work as a precursor of the racial antisemitism of the Nazis. Some scholars see Luther's influence as limited, and the Nazis' use of his work as opportunistic. Johannes Wallmann argues that Luther's writings against the Jews were largely ignored in the 18th and 19th centuries, and that there was no continuity between Luther's thought and Nazi ideology.[239] Uwe Siemon-Netto agreed, arguing that it was because the Nazis were already antisemites that they revived Luther's work.[240][241] Hans J. Hillerbrand agreed that to focus on Luther was to adopt an essentially ahistorical perspective of Nazi antisemitism that ignored other contributory factors in German history.[242] Similarly, Roland Bainton, noted church historian and Luther biographer, wrote "One could wish that Luther had died before ever [On the Jews and Their Lies] was written. His position was entirely religious and in no respect racial."[243][244] However, Christopher J. Probst, in his book Demonizing the Jews: Luther and the Protestant Church in Nazi Germany (2012), shows that a large number of German Protestant clergy and theologians during the Nazi Third Reich used Luther's hostile publications towards the Jews and their Jewish religion to justify at least in part the anti-Semitic policies of the National Socialists.[245]

Some

Some scholars, such as Mark U. Edwards in his book Luther's Last Battles: Politics and Polemics 1531–46 (1983), suggest that since Luther's increasingly antisemitic views developed during the years his health deteriorated, it is possible they were at least partly the product of a state of mind. Edwards also comments that Luther often deliberately used "vulgarity and violence" for effect, both in his writings condemning the Jews and in diatribes against "Turks" (Muslims) and Catholics.[246]

Since the 1980s, Lutheran denominations have repudiated Martin Luther's statements against the Jews and have rejected the use of them to incite hatred against Lutherans.[247][248] Strommen et al.'s 1970 survey of 4,745 North American Lutherans aged 15–65 found that, compared to the other minority groups under consideration, Lutherans were the least prejudiced toward Jews.[249] Nevertheless, Professor Richard Geary, former professor of modern history at the University of Nottingham and the author of Hitler and Nazism (Routledge 1993), published an article in the magazine History Today examining electoral trends in Weimar Germany between 1928 and 1933. Geary notes, based on his research, that the Nazi Party received disproportionately more votes from Protestant than Catholic areas of Germany.[250][251]

Luther had been suffering from ill health for years, including Ménière's disease, vertigo, fainting, tinnitus, and a cataract in one eye.[252] From 1531 to 1546 his health deteriorated further. The years of struggle with Rome, the antagonisms with and among his fellow reformers, and the scandal that ensued from the bigamy of Philip I incident, all may have contributed. In 1536, he began to suffer from kidney and bladder stones, arthritis, and an ear infection ruptured an ear drum. In December 1544, he began to feel the effects of angina.[253]

His poor physical health made him short-tempered and even harsher in his writings and comments. His wife Katharina was overheard saying, "Dear husband, you are too rude," and he responded, "They are teaching me to be rude."[254] In 1545 and 1546 Luther preached three times in the Market Church in Halle, staying with his friend Justus Jonas during Christmas.[255]

His last sermon was delivered at Eisleben, his place of birth, on 15 February 1546, three days before his death.[256] It was "entirely devoted to the obdurate Jews, whom it was a matter of great urgency to expel from all German territory," according to Léon Poliakov.[257] James Mackinnon writes that it concluded with a "fiery summons to drive the Jews bag and baggage from their midst, unless they desisted from their calumny and their usury and became Christians."[258] Luther said, "we want to practice Christian love toward them and pray that they convert," but also that they are "our public enemies ... and if they could kill us all, they would gladly do so. And so often they do."[259]

Luther's final journey, to Mansfeld, was taken because of his concern for his siblings' families continuing in their father Hans Luther's copper mining trade. Their livelihood was threatened by Count Albrecht of Mansfeld bringing the industry under his own control. The controversy that ensued involved all four Mansfeld counts: Albrecht, Philip, John George, and Gerhard. Luther journeyed to Mansfeld twice in late 1545 to participate in the negotiations for a settlement, and a third visit was needed in early 1546 for their completion. <

His poor physical health made him short-tempered and even harsher in his writings and comments. His wife Katharina was overheard saying, "Dear husband, you are too rude," and he responded, "They are teaching me to be rude."[254] In 1545 and 1546 Luther preached three times in the Market Church in Halle, staying with his friend Justus Jonas during Christmas.[255]