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HIST3025 Hitler and the National Socialist Ideology Lecture 6: History 7 March 2013.

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Presentation on theme: "HIST3025 Hitler and the National Socialist Ideology Lecture 6: History 7 March 2013."— Presentation transcript:

1 HIST3025 Hitler and the National Socialist Ideology Lecture 6: History 7 March 2013

2 Hitler’s readings on history Arthur de Gobineau’s ( ) race theory Houston Steward Chamberlain’s ( ) race struggle theory Karl Haushofer’s ( ) expansionist ‘geopolitics’ Friedrich Nietzsche’s ( ) ‘will to power’ (Untimely Reflections, ) Popular historian Hermann Stegemann University historians Alexander von Müller, Heinrich von Treitschke, Leopold von Ranke Military leader Erich Ludendorff

3 Hitler’s style of reading Read not with open intellectual mind Acquired vague & half-comprehended knowledge Looked for confirmation of his own beliefs Sought to lend legitimacy to own prejudices Attempted to invest own prejudices with aura of philosophical profundity

4 Hitler’s style of writing Wrote hardly any ‘intellectual history’ Vulgarized key elements of scientific, historical, philosophical traditions = Connected with world of thought of 19 th/ early 20 th c. but only mediocre thinker / philosopher

5 Hitler’s vulgarization Vienna, Munich, WW I, early Weimar Republic: Through acquaintance with relevant canonical texts of political philosophy Through second-hand acquisition of knowledge from pamphlets, newspapers, lectures, conversations, without scholarly/historical value = Mixed resultant thoughts

6 Charles Robert Darwin ( ) English naturalist Established that all species of life has descended over time from common ancestors: Pattern of evolution Pattern of evolution resulted from process called natural selection Natural selection by struggle of existence Book On the Origin of Species (1859) on theory of evolution with compelling evidence Applying Darwin’s biological concepts & evolutionary theory to sociology and politics: Ideology of society = ‘Social Darwinism’ (modern term applied to 1870s-) Social Darwinists’ core beliefs: “Struggle of existence & survival of the fittest”

7 Hitler’s Darwinist thinking (1) Believes in human beings driven by 2 fundamental biological urges: hunger & procreation Sees fundamental ‘instinct for self-preservation’ as only meaning of life Regards struggle as dominant motive force of history Applies individual’s struggle to peoples & nations = Social Darwinism

8 Hitler’s Darwinist thinking (2) Nations exist in constant Darwinian struggle for survival against one another: Only entitled to ‘defendable’ space Borders never natural nor fixed but transitory Expansion natural when people grow in strength ‘Declining races’ subject to contract borders = War as natural expression of eternal struggle for space: The strong to survive – The weak to perish

9 Hitler’s Darwinist thinking (3) Alternate ways for nation in constant search for food & survival:  More efficient cultivation of own land  Limited space ≠ growing population  More trading  World market for exports not endless  Less people by emigration or birth control  ‘Race’ condemned to decline War & expansion vs. other nations

10 Hitler’s view on World War I  Military developments on battlefield  Fighting capacities & morale of German army  Political events on German home front = Only surface expressions  Nation unable to protect herself in struggle for existence → Underlying process of ‘racial’ decline


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