The NAZIs of course did not come out of nowhere. They were the culmination of a range of diserate thought arising in the 19th century, including ideas that had been percolating in Germany and other countries for enturies. Anti-Semitism is of ancient originds. Other ideas like eugenics were of more recent origins. The NAZIs are simply the most notable example of the Fascist movement of the early 20th century because they managed to gain control of the German state and Germany's powerful uindustrial and scientific capavility. Mussolini was the first Fascist leader, but neither he or Hitler invented Fascism. Fascist thought developed in the 19th century throughout Europe and it was not particularly strong in either Germany or Italy or for mater the Asian variant in Japan.
We see Fascist ideas in writers from many European countries, including Austria, France, Germany, and Italy. It must be recalled that at the time that most of Europe was dominsted by multi-natiinal empires (Austria-Hungary, Germany, the Ottomans, and Russia). Some of the most important early Fascist political authors were Theodor Fritsch, Paul Anton de Lagarde, Julius Langbehn, Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, Joseph de Maistre, Charles Maurras, and Georges Sorel. The 19th century saw the rise of science and some authors attempted to use the authority of science to support their philosophy, Karl Marx did the same. Fascist authors included Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Giovanni Gentile, Gustave Le Bon, Friedrich Nietzsche, Vilfredo Pareto, Karl Vogt, and Ernst Haeckel. There were also a range of historians and social thinkers. Some Fascists as well as many progressives were also influenced by eugenics. Eugenics and Social Farwinism became a central tennant of NAZI thought. Each national Fascist movement had its own peculiar excetricities. The NAZIs were influenced by German historical ideas such as the German tribes resustabce to the Ronman Empire and the medieval Teutonic Drang nach Osten.
Fascism was the product of political thought developed in the 19th century throughout Europe and it was not particularly strong in either Germany or Italy or for mater the Asian variant in Japan. We see Fascist ideas in writers from many European countries, including Austria, France, Gerjmany, and Italy. It must be recalled that at the time that most of Europe was dominsted by multi-natiinal empires (Austria-Hungary, Germany, the Ottomans, and Russia). Some of the most important early Fascist political authors were Theodor Fritsch, Paul Anton de Lagarde, Julius Langbehn, Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, Joseph de Maistre, Charles Maurras, and Georges Sorel. The 19th century saw the rise of science and some authors attempted to use the authority of science to support their philosophy, Karl Marx did the same. Fascist authors included Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Giovanni Gentile, Gustave Le Bon, Friedrich Nietzsche, Vilfredo Pareto, Karl Vogt, and Ernst Haeckel. There were also a range of historians and social thinkers.
The NAZIs like the Fascists in Italy were strongly influncd by Marxism. You see that in the name of the Party whiich includes both 'Sociaist' and 'Workers'. Many seem to think that was window dressing. And the apopcolyptic struggle on the World War II Eastern Front leads many to see thevNAZIs and Communists as polar opposites on the political spectrum. This does not the case. Both are totalitarian movements with much more in common than differentiating them. The polar opposite to both is liberal democracy. The reason that the Communists and NAZIs have so much in common is their shared Marist (Socialist) base. The Communists and NAZIs were essentialist Socialist twins. Hitler as he took control of the Party would downplay the Socialist orientation, not because he did not intend to pursue Socilist policies, but because he needed to get support fron importabt capitalist for donations and the Army so they would not intervene, but once in cintrol of the German state, the policies with some exceptions were very similar to those of Stalin in the Soviet Unioon.
Jews and anti-Semitism have a long history in Germany. German history is full of antisemitic writings, to start with the great reformator Martin Luther. Then Nietzsche with his Ubermensch and atheism, but especially the 19th century produced some weird writers. The British-born Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1855-1927) moved to Germany and wrote most of his books in German. He married one of Wagner's daughters. Richard Wagner himself was an antisemite. Wrote a book, Das Judentum in der Musik (Jewry in music). The historian Arthur Moeller van den Bruck (1876-1925) was a "volkisch" author, but I am sure that he would have gotten into trouble with the NAZIs had he lived longer. He wrote Das Dritte Reich (The Third Reich). Then we have the Nazi-philosopher Alfred Rosenberg, born in Estonia, educated in Moscow, who really had to show that he was Aryan with a name like that and coming from Eastern Europe. On the other hand there always were some writers like Lessing who propagated tolerance ("Nathan der Weise") and the linguist Herder who even wrote some slavonic dictionaries. Max Bruch composed Hebrew music for Jewish services, although he was not Jewish himself.
Some Fascists as well as many progressives were also influenced by eugenics. Eugenics and Social Farwinism became a central tennant of NAZI thought. Eugenics was by no means a NAZI creation. The principle that the white race was superior was widely accepted in both intellectual and mainstream thought in America and Europe during the 19th and early 20th century. After Darwin published his land mark principles of evolution, important writers in America and Europe began to develop a new science which they called eugenics. Many eugenic laws were passed in America and other countries, especially Protestant counties, aimed at sterilizing retarded individuals--often youths. The NAZIs in fact used American laws to justify their program, but built a much expanded program aimed at not only retarded children and adults, but physically handicapped children as well. At first the NAZI program focused on sterilization, but eventually it evolved into the T4 euthanasia program--state scantioned murders by medical personnel.
Charles Darwin was the English biologist who after his participation in a British scientificic expedition abord the HMS Beagle (1830s) conceived of natural evolution. Several observations led to his conclusions such as finding sea shells in the high Andes or the variations in tortoises and finches on the Galapagos Islands that suggested the animals were adjusting to climatic differences in a way that created new species. Other biologidts/naturalists at the time had also reached similar conclusions, but Darwin was the first to publish his theories in the landmark Origin of the Species (1859). Central to Darwin's theory was the response of individuals to the environment and the perpetuation of characteristics best adapted to the environment. Those organisms best suited to their environment achieved a degree of survival advantage and passed their superior genetic characteristics to their proginy. The concept was viciously attacked at the time, mostly by religious groups. In fact the religious right continues to object to evolution, but now attempts to desgise its attacks in pseudo-science called inteligent design. Social Darwinism actually has noting to do with Darwin himself who was describing biological processes. Social Darwinism was the creation of a philosopher, Herbert Spencer. While presented as scientific, it was never subjected to the rigorous scientific examination to which Daewinian evolution was subjected. Thus Social Darwinism is more of a philosophical construct or pseudo-science. The term Social Darwinism was designed to cloth the concept in science. The heart of Social Darwinism as prpounded by Spencer was was the concept of "survival of the fittest". Spencer tried to apply Darwinian evolution to culture and race. Spencer writing in the late 19th century saw a dominant Europe and backward socities in Asia and Africa which were being colonized. Spencer was British and he saw Britain and the British Empire as the most successful country and he saw a world that was being dominated by Anglo-Saxon Protestant Christianity. Because Europeans were white and other regions were populated by other races, racism became an important element of social darwinism. The concept was useful way of legitimizing European imperialism.
Each national Fascist movement had its own peculiar excetricities. The NAZIs were influenced by German nationalist historical ideas such as the German tribes resustabce to the Ronman Empire and the medieval Teutonic Drang nach Osten.
Future Vice Führer Rudolf Hess while at the University of Munic, focused on history and economics. While at university he was influenced by Karl Haushofer, a geo-politcal theorists. Haushofer's central thesis was that every political state is in effect a biological organism which either grows or contracts over time. He saw the life of a state as a struggle for space with other states. In this struggle the strong nations take land from the weaker. It is believed that Hess who becane intimate with Hitler, introduced these ideas to him.
Some historuans believe that the Thule Society had ainificant impact on the racist, xenephobic ideology that Hitler abnd his close associates turned into the cire ideoklogyb of the NAZI Oarty. The Thule Siciety was a small, virtually unknown occult society that lso hd aolitical agenda. It was organized and led by Rudolf von Sebottendorf, a commonner adopted by German nobilityduring an oddesy in the Ottoman Empire before Wotkd War I. Sebottendorf developed an anti-Christian odeology to which he added a racist component--the Aryan super race. The Thule Society attempted to propagate its ideology within the wirking class and founded the German Worker's Party. This was the germ from which the NAZI party developed Important NAZIs emerged from the Thule Society, including Heinrich Himmler and Alfred Rosenberg. One author writes, "Characteruzed by a wierd mélange of occultism, anti-Semotism, and politucal violence, its membership numbered professional soldiers and morphine adicted poetsm bohemians and aristocrats, idealists and scoundrels, the Thule Society strikes many historians as neither fish nor fowl, a twilight escaoade to be passed over in silence. But it would be a mistake to asume that history is not made ometimes in te=wilight ...." [Luhrssen]
Luhrssen, David. Hammer of the Gods: The Yhule Society and the Birth of Nazism (2012).
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