Martin Luther - devil or hero
Luther in the 19th Century - Hero of the Fatherland
In the 19th Century, Luther was idolized as the hero of the Fatherland. Many pictures emerged which did not represent reality, but transfigured the reformer into a hero.
Luther in the Third Reich - Anti-Semetic
The Nazis used Luther's anti-semetic declarations to promote their anti-semetic theories. In this manner, some of Luther's words, such as "that one burns their synagogues..." helped to justify Nazi actions against the Jews.
Luther as Vacillator and Procrastinator
The ideologists in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) tried to stamp Luther as a vacillator who had ideas for reform, but who in the end associated with the rulers. In contrast to Luther, the GDR portrayed Thomas Muenzer as a hero for acting against powerful rulers.
A 'Church-Splitter' for Some ...
In the eyes of the Catholic Church, Luther was, even in this century, considered a church splitter who led much of western civilization away from the right path.
... a Hero and Shepherd for Others.
Within the Protestant church, on the other hand, the reformer was exorbitantly declared and revered as the 'Enlightener of Belief'.
Luther's popularity among the people
Luther also has another meaning, beyond governmental ideology. His language brought him close to the people; Luther "looked the people in the face," and he was very popular among the common folk. Sayings which go back to the Reformation have remained rooted in the people through the centuries.