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Category: Race

Nazism developed several theories concerning races. The Nazis claimed to scientifically measure a strict hierarchy among "human race"; at the top was the "Nordic race" or "Aryan race", followed by lesser races.

At the bottom of this hierarchy were "parasitic" races (of non-Aryan/white European origin) or "Untermenschen" ("sub-humans"), which were perceived to be dangerous to society. Lowest of all in the Nazi racial policy were Gypsies and Jews.

Gypsies and Jews were eventually deemed to be "Lebensunwertes Leben" ("Life unworthy of life"). Jews, and later Gypsies, became second-class citizens, expelled from Nazi Germany before being interned in concentration camps, then exterminated during the Holocaust (see Raul Hilberg's description of the various phases of the Holocaust).

Richard Walther Darré, Reich Minister of Food and Agriculture from 1933 to 1942, popularized the expression "Blut und Boden" ("Blood and Soil"), one of the many terms of the Nazi glossary ideologically used to enforce popular racism in the German population.

Contents

Racialist ideology

Origins

Nazi theories of race were not as perversely idiosyncratic as may at first appear to those unfamiliar with late nineteenth century European anthropology. The idea that certain races are superior to others was common in Britain and the United States. Indeed the science of Eugenics was largely an Anglo-Saxon creation, pioneered by Sir Francis Galton.

Anthony S. Wohl cites an example of the kind of popular pseudo-scientific racism prevalent in England in the mid to late nineteenth century:

...John Beddoe, who later became the President of the Anthropological Institute (1889-1891), wrote in his The Races of Britain (1862) that all men of genius were orthognathous (less prominent jaw bones) while the Irish and the Welsh were prognathous and that the Celt was closely related to Cro-magnon man, who, in turn, was linked, according to Beddoe, to the "Africanoid". The position of the Celt in Beddoe's "Index of Nigrescence" was very different from that of the Anglo-Saxon. These ideas were not confined to a lunatic fringe of the scientific community, for although they never won over the mainstream of British scientists they were disseminated broadly and it was even hinted that the Irish might be the elusive missing link! Certainly the "ape-like" Celt became something of a malevolent cliche of Victorian racism. Thus Charles Kingsley could write ". . . I am haunted by the human chimpanzees I saw [in Ireland] . . . I don't believe they are our fault. . . . But to see white chimpanzees is dreadful; if they were black, one would not feel it so much. . . ." (Charles Kingsley in a letter to his wife, quoted in L.P. Curtis, Anglo-Saxons and Celts: A Study of Anti-Irish Prejudice in Victorian England, 1968, 84).' [1]

Germany, which at the turn of the nineteenth century was as technologically advanced a nation as any, held popular race views in line with other developed European nations. It was the catastrophe of losing the First World War with its devastating economic consequences which set the stage for racism to take root as one means of apportioning blame for Germany's misfortune. It was such latent popular racism that the Nazis exploited in their propaganda.

Philosophers and other theoreticians participated in the elaboration of Nazi ideology. The relationship between Heidegger and Nazism has remained a controversial subject in the history of philosophy, even today. According to the philosopher Emmanuel Faye, Heidegger said of Spinoza that he was "ein Fremdkörper in der Philosophie", a "foreign body in philosophy" – Faye notes that Fremdkörper was a term which belonged to the Nazi glossary, and not to classical German[2]. The jurist Carl Schmitt elaborated a philosophy of law praising the Führerprinzip and the German people, while Alfred Baeumler instrumentalized Nietzsche's thought, in particular his concept of the "Will to Power", in an attempt to justify Nazism.

Three books belonging to the scientific racism ideology, which claimed that perceived racial difference was hierarchical and central to social order, had a major influence on the trajectory of Nazi racial theories:[3]

American eugenicists traded ideas with their counterparts in Nazi Germany (Lombardo 2002; Kühl 1994).

Ideology

Adolf Hitler read Human Heredity[4] shortly before he wrote Mein Kampf, and called it scientific proof of the racial basis of civilization.[5] Its arguments were also repeated by the Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg, in his book The Myth of the Twentieth Century (1930).

Rosenberg argued that the Nordic race had evolved in a now-lost landmass off the coast of North Western Europe, and had migrated through Scandinavia and northern Europe, expanding further south, and as far as Iran and India where it founded the Aryan cultures of Zoroastrianism and Hinduism. Like Grant and others, he argued that the entrepreneurial energy of the Nordics had "degenerated" when they mixed with "inferior" peoples.

With the rise of Hitler, Nordic theory became the norm within German culture. In some cases the "Nordic" concept became an almost abstract ideal rather than a mere racial category. Hermann Gauch wrote in 1933 that the fact that "birds can be taught to talk better than other animals is explained by the fact that their mouths are Nordic in structure." He further claimed that in humans, "the shape of the Nordic gum allows a superior movement of the tongue, which is the reason why Nordic talking and singing are richer."[6]

Such views were extreme, but more mainstream Nordic theory was institutionalized. Hans F. K. Günther, who joined the Nazi Party in 1932, was praised as a pioneer in racial thinking, a shining light of Nordic theory. Most official Nazi comments on the Nordic Race were based on Günther's works, and Alfred Rosenberg presented Günther with a medal for his work in anthropology.

Fischer and Lenz were also appointed to senior positions overseeing the policy of Racial Hygiene. Madison Grant's book was the first non-German book to be translated and published by the Nazi Reich press, and Grant proudly displayed to his friends a letter from Hitler claiming that the book was "his Bible."[7][8] The Nazi state used such ideas about the differences between European races as part of their various discriminatory and coercive policies which culminated in the Holocaust. Ironically, in Grant's first edition of his popular book, he classified the Germans as being primarily Nordic, but in his second edition, published after the USA had entered WWI, he had re-classified the now enemy power as being dominated by "inferior" Alpines.

Günther's work agreed with Grant's, and the German anthropologist frequently stated that the Germans are definitely not a fully Nordic people. Hitler himself was later to downplay the importance of Nordicism in public for this very reason. The standard tripartite model placed most of the population of Hitler's Germany in the Alpine category, especially after the Anschluss.

J. Kaup led a movement opposed to Günther. Kaup took the view that a German nation, all of whose citizens belonged to a "German race" in a populationist sense, offered a more convenient sociotechnical tool than Günther's concept of an ideal Nordic type to which only a very few Germans could belong. Nazi legislation identifying the ethnic and "racial" affinities of the Jews reflects the populationist concept of race. Discrimination was not restricted to Jews who belonged to the "Semitic-Oriental-Armenoid" and/or "Nubian-African/Negroid" races, but was directed against all members of the Jewish ethnic population.[9]

The German Jewish journalist Kurt Caro (1905-1979) who emigrated to Paris in 1933 and served in the British army from 1943,[10] published a book under the pseudonym Manuel Humbert unmasking Hitler's "Mein Kampf" in which he stated the following racial composition of the Jewish population of Central Europe: 23.8% Lapponid race, 21.5% Nordic race, 20.3% Armenoid race, 18.4% Mediterranean race, 16.0% Oriental race.[11]

By 1939 Hitler had abandoned Nordicist rhetoric in favour of the idea that the German people as a whole were united by distinct "spiritual" qualities. Nevertheless, Nazi eugenics policies continued to favor Nordics over Alpines and other racial groups, particularly during the war when decisions were being made about the incorporation of conquered peoples into the Reich.[12][13][14] In 1942 Hitler stated in private,

I shall have no peace of mind until I have planted a seed of Nordic blood wherever the population stand in need of regeneration. If at the time of the migrations, while the great racial currents were exercising their influence, our people received so varied a share of attributes, these latter blossomed to their full value only because of the presence of the Nordic racial nucleus.[15]

Hitler and Himmler planned to use the SS as the basis for the racial "regeneration" of Europe following the final victory of Nazism. The SS was to be a racial elite chosen on the basis of "pure" Nordic qualities.[16][17][18]

Addressing officers of the SS-Leibstandarte "Adolf Hitler" Himmler stated:

The ultimate aim for those 11 years during which I have been the Reichsfuehrer SS has been invariably the same: to create an order of good blood which is able to serve Germany; which unfailingly and without sparing itself can be made use of because the greatest losses can do no harm to the vitality of this order, the vitality of these men, because they will always be replaced; to create an order which will spread the idea of Nordic blood so far that we will attract all Nordic blood in the world, take away the blood from our adversaries, absorb it so that never again, looking at it from the viewpoint of grand policy, Nordic blood, in great quantities and to an extent worth mentioning, will fight against us.[19]

Propaganda and implementation of racial theories

A fragment of the exposition Der ewige Jude ("Wandering Jew") which demonstrates "typical" anatomical traits of the Jews

Nazis developed an elaborate system of propaganda to diffuse these theories. Nazi architecture, for example, was used to create the "new order" and improve the "Aryan race." Sports were also seen by the Nazis as a way to "regenerate the race." The Hitler Youth, founded in 1922, had among its basic motivations the training of future "Aryan supermen" and future soldiers who would faithfully fight for the Third Reich.

Cinema was also used to promote racist theories, under the direction of Joseph Goebbels' Propagandaministerium. The Hygiene Museum, in Dresden, diffused racial theories. A 1934 poster of the museum shows a man with distinctly African features and reads, "If this man had been sterilized there would not have been born ... 12 hereditarily diseased."[20] According to the current director Klaus Voegel, "The Hygiene Museum was not a criminal institute in the sense that people were killed here," but "it helped to shape the idea of which lives were worthy and which were worthless."[20]

Nazi racial theories soon translated into legislation, most notably with the 1935 Nuremberg Laws and the July 1933 Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring. The Action T4 euthanasia programme, in which the Kraft durch Freude (KdF, literally "Strength Through Joy") youth organisation participated, targeted people accused of representing a danger of "degeneration" towards the "Deutsche Volk."

The Nazi régime also implemented a vast bureaucratic apparatus for making "racial determinations," the ancestral proofs of Aryan descent (Ariernachweis) or "German blood" (Deutschblütigkeitserklärung). Probably the vast majority of the population made such a proof during the course of the Third Reich.

The Nazis' racial policy also unfavored large segments of the Slavic East European populations, notably the Poles in Nazi-occupied Poland. They were included in the "Untermenschen" category along with non-Caucasian peoples like Black Africans, which were a very small minority in Germany at the time.

The Nazis felt the Japanese allies, like east Asians, weren't "white Aryan", but Japanese diplomats in Germany were given "Honorary Aryan" citizenship in 1935. Hitler once remarked to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on the Italian people "had some African blood in them and therefore are not full-blooded Aryans".

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.victorianweb.org/history/race/rc5.html
  2. ^ Emmanuel Faye, Heidegger, l'introduction du nazisme dans la philosophie, Albin Michel, 2005. See Nazi Foundations in Heidegger's Work, South Central Review, Volume 23, Number 1, Spring 2006, pp. 55-66
  3. ^ Chip Berlet. 2004. “Mapping the Political Right: Gender and Race Oppression in Right-Wing Movements.” In Abby Ferber, ed, Home-Grown Hate: Gender and Organized Racism. New York: Routledge.
  4. ^ Menschliche Erblichkeitslehre und Rassenhygiene (Human Heredity Teaching and Racial Hygiene), E. Baur, E. Fischer and F Lenz (1923)
  5. ^ Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. "Racism: elimination of human beings of minor value". University of Minnesota. http://chgs.umn.edu/histories/documentary/hadamar/racism.html. Retrieved 2007-07-27.  
  6. ^ Gauch, Hans (1934). New Foundations of Racial Science. USA: Encyclopedia of the Third Reich. p. 281. ISBN 1569249172.  
  7. ^ Marks, Jonathan. "Eugenics -- Breeding a Better Citizenry Through Science". University of North Carolina at Charlotte. http://personal.uncc.edu/jmarks/eugenics/eugenics.html. Retrieved 2007-07-19.  
  8. ^ Alexander, Charles (1962). "Prophet of American Racism: Madison Grant and the Nordic Myth". Phylon Vol. 23, No. 1: 73–90.  
  9. ^ The Racial Analysis of Human Populations in Relation to Their Ethnogenesis Andrzej Wiercinski; Tadeusz Bielicki, Current Anthropology, Vol. 3, No. 1. (Feb., 1962), pp. 2+9-46.
  10. ^ "Kurt Caro". German Federal Archives. http://www.bundesarchiv.de/aktenreichskanzlei/1919-1933/0001/adr/adrag/kap1_3/para2_16.html. Retrieved 2008-05-05.  
  11. ^ Hitlers "Mein Kampf". Dichtung und Wahrheit by Manuel Humbert (Kurt Michael Caro) Paris 1936. page 139.
  12. ^ The Lebensborn program sought to extend the Nordic race. Gumkowkski, Janusz; Kazimierz Leszczynski. "Poland under Nazi Occupation". http://www.dac.neu.edu/holocaust/Hitlers_Plans.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-19.  
  13. ^ Crossland, David. "Nazi Program to breed Master race, Lebensborn Children Break Silence". Der Spiegel. http://www.spiegel.de/international/0,1518,446978,00.html. Retrieved 2007-07-20.  
  14. ^ "Opening Statement of the Prosecution in the Einsatzgruppen Trial". Nuremberg Trial Documents. http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/nuremberg/einsatzopenpros.html. Retrieved 2007-07-20.  
  15. ^ Trevor-Roper, Hugh, Hitler's Table Talk, 1941-44, 1973 edition, p. 475 (12 May, 1942)
  16. ^ Hale, Christopher (2003). Himmler's Crusade. Bantam Press. pp. 74–87. ISBN 0593 049527.  
  17. ^ Russell, Stuart (1999). Heinrich Himmler's Camelot. Kressman-Backmayer.  
  18. ^ Geoffrey G. Field, "Nordic Racism", Journal of the History of Ideas, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977, p. 523 JSTOR
  19. ^ DOCUMENT 1918-PS "Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Vol. IV. USGPO, Washington, 1946, pp.553-572". University of North Carolina at Charlotte. http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/SS1.htm DOCUMENT 1918-PS. Retrieved 2007-07-19.  
  20. ^ a b MSNBC, "Nazi racial purity exhibit opens in Germany," October 9, 2006; on-line (English)

Bibliography

  • Biddiss, Michael D. 1970. Father of Racist Ideology: The Social and Political Thought of Count Gobineau. New York: Weybright and Talley.
  • Ehrenreich, Eric. 2007 The Nazi Ancestral Proof: Genealogy, Racial Science, and the Final Solution. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
  • Kühl, Stefan. 1994. The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Lombardo, Paul A. 2002. "‘The American Breed’: Nazi Eugenics and the Origins of the Pioneer Fund." Albany Law Review 65:743–830.
  • Mintz, Frank P. 1985. The Liberty Lobby and the American Right: Race, Conspiracy, and Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood.
  • Poliakov, Leon. 1974. Aryan Myth: A History of Racist and Nationalist Ideas in Europe. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Tucker, William. 2002. The Funding of Scientific Racism: Wickliffe Draper and the Pioneer Fund. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.







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