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Hitler's Struggle for Eugenics: Part III

Posted by Matthew McCusker on 12 July 2013

Hitler’s infamous manifesto Mein Kampf presents human life as a perpetual struggle between the weak and the strong. This eugenic view of human existence is most clearly articulated in Chapter XI: ‘Nation and Race.’

Hitler begins the chapter by asserting certain ‘truths’ which he considers ‘obvious’. He thought it to be an unchangeable law of nature that the stronger members of a species must breed only with each other if the species is to survive and evolve in a competitive environment. The mating of the strong and the weak is ‘is contrary to the will of Nature for a higher breeding of all life.’ There is therefore a perpetual struggle between the strong and the weak which must end ‘in the total victory of the former’ if ‘higher development’ is to take place. Hitler considered that these lessons apply just as much to human beings as they do to lesser animals.

In Hitler’s view the strongest human race would be that whose individual members had the highest capacity to sacrifice themselves for the success of their race; he identified the ‘Aryans’ (a concept connected to the historical reality of speakers of Indo-European languages spreading throughout Europe and parts of the Middle East and India) as exemplifying this quality. Nazi ideology came to consider that the Germanic peoples had the purest ‘Aryan’ blood.

Culture was also linked inextricably to race. ‘Everything we admire on this earth today’ he wrote ‘…is only the creative product of a few peoples and originally perhaps of one race. On them depends the existence of the whole culture. If they perish, the beauty of this earth will sink into the grave with them… All great cultures of the past perished only because the originally creative race died out from blood poisoning.’

In Mein Kampf humanity is divided into three categories; the ‘founders of culture’, the ‘bearers of culture’ and the ‘destroyers of culture.’ To Hitler ‘all the human culture, all the results of art, science, and technology that we see before us today, are almost exclusively the creative product of the Aryan.’ The Aryan is given the credit of being behind every great civilisation and the role of other races in history is only as ‘bearers’ of a culture of Aryan origin (Hitler gives the Japanese as an example).

The final group of races, those Hitler identifed as ‘destroyers of culture’, were those who were not only incapable of accepting and transmitting Aryan culture, but who also, by their very nature, undermined and corrupted it. Mein Kampf does not give a comprehensive overview of those races considered ‘destroyers of culture.’ The Roma and Sinti gypsies, who the Nazis later attempted to exterminate, are not mentioned at all and the references to Slavs, while indicating that Hitler considered them to be markedly inferior to Germanic peoples (despite the fact that Slavs are as Indo-European as Germans), does not ascribe to them the sub-human status they would later acquire.

It is the Jews who are identified as the real ‘destroyers of culture’. Hitler considered that they had no culture of their own, having achieved nothing in the fields of art, music and architecture. Rather than create their own culture they simply adopted that of the peoples among whom they lived. The Jew, Hitler wrote, was ‘the typical parasite, a sponger who like a noxious bacillus keeps spreading as soon as a favorable medium invites him. And the effect of his existence is also like that of spongers: wherever he appears, the host people dies out after a shorter or longer period.’ He traces what he considers to be the malign influence of the Jews on every aspect of human life over the centuries through to the collapse of the German war effort in 1918. He ends the chapter by asserting that all economic, political or social reform will prove useless unless racial purity is maintained. Here, clearly, are the roots of the policy of eugenic extermination implemented by the ‘Third Reich’.

This is the third part in our series on Hitler's Struggle for Eugenics - catch up on Part I and Part II.

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