World history from 1500 section 003
November 28, 2012
Compare and contrast Hitler's race theory with the realities of the Holocaust. How did expansion contribute to these theories?
Nazism developed several theories concerning races. The Nazis claimed to scientifically measure a strict hierarchy of human race. Once firmly in power, Hitler’s plans for the ending of the struggle between the Aryan race and the “inferior races” was set to work. These races feared as a biological threat to the master race purity. At the bottom of this hierarchy were “parasitic” races which were perceived to be dangerous to society. Hitler’s Nazi theory also claimed that his Aryan race is superior to all other races, that a nation is the highest creation of great races. These nations developed cultures that naturally grew from races with natural good health, and aggressive, intelligent, courageous traits. The weakest nations, Hitler said were those of impure ...view middle of the document...
Hitler and the Nazis drew upon the ideas of the German social Darwinists of the late 19th century. Like the social Darwinists before them, the Nazis believed that human beings could be classified collectively as “races,” with each race bearing distinctive characteristics that had been passed on genetically since the first appearance of humans in prehistoric times. These inherited characteristics related not only to outward appearance and physical structure, but also shaped internal mental life, ways of thinking, creative and organizational abilities, intelligence, taste and appreciation of culture, physical strength, and military prowess. The Nazis also adopted the social Darwinist take on Darwinian evolutionary theory regarding the “survival of the fittest.” For the Nazis, survival of a race depended upon its ability to reproduce and multiply, its accumulation of land to support and feed that expanding population, and its vigilance in maintaining the purity of its gene pool, thus preserving the unique “racial” characteristics with which “nature” had equipped it for success in the struggle to survive. Since each “race” sought to expand, and since the space on the earth was finite, the struggle for survival resulted “naturally” in violent conquest and military confrontation. Hence, war even constant war was a part of nature, a part of the human condition. Hitler and the Nazi party outlined their racial enemies in clear and unequivocal terms. For Hitler and the Nazis, the Jews represented a priority enemy both within and outside Germany. Their allegedly racial and inferior genetic makeup spawned the exploitative systems of capitalism and communism. In their drive to expand, the Jews promoted and used these systems of government and state organization, including constitutions, proclamations of equal rights, and international peace, to undermine the race-consciousness of superior races like the German race and to make possible the dilution of superior blood through assimilation and intermarriage. Hitler's program of war and genocide stemmed from what he saw as an equation: "Aryan" Germans would have to expand and dominate, a process requiring the elimination of all racial threats especially the Jews or else they would face extinction themselves.