The Economist's Apprentice

In which a little girl confronts the world and battles the anti-humans.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hitler the Anti-Human

The importance of combating anti-semitism has received its strongest impetus from the horrors of the Holocaust. Investigations into what caused Hitler's evil attitude towards Jews are certainly worthy. This is, of course, just one step in understanding the Holocaust. Hitler also murdered homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Slavs, pacifists, political opponents, etc. Hitler was particularly obsessed with Jews, but arguably they occupied the zenith of his pyramid of hatred because of their number. He wished to exterminate Jehovah's Witnesses, but few people study why. If the numbers of Witnesses and Jews were reversed, I imagine Hitler would have articulated his anti-Witness views more thoroughly and we would know less about his views on blood purity and the like. If there were six million openly gay men in Western Europe, I'm sure Mein Kampf would have spent more time discussing sexuality.

What made the scale of Hitler's evil so devastating was not the depth of his hatred for any one group of people, but his willingness to kill any and every group that he disliked. I think that a partial explanation lies in his environmental attitude - that human overcrowding was a very dangerous threat to Germany. Here the BBC explains Hitler's Lebensraum theory.

Between 1921 and 1925 Adolf Hitler developed the belief that Germany required Lebensraum (living space') in order to survive. The conviction that this living space could be gained only in the east, and specifically from Russia, formed the core of this idea, and shaped his policy after his take-over of power in Germany in 1933...

The final elaboration of Hitler's programme for acquiring Lebensraum occurred while he wrote Mein Kampf during 1924-1925. Essentially, this involved his study of 'geopolitics', that is, the impact of the environment on politics, which provided him with a quasi-scientific justification for the plans he had already worked out.

During his period in Landsberg prison (where he had been incarcerated following the failure of his notorious Munich beer hall coup in November 1923), he read and discussed Ratzel's work and other geopolitical literature provided by a Munich Professor of Geography, Karl Haushofer, and fellow-prisoner Rudolf Hess.

Haushofer emphasised the 'extremely unfavourable situation of the Reich from the viewpoint of military geography' and Germany's limited resources of food and raw materials, and no doubt thus provided Hitler with an intellectual justification for his views. These were expressed in Mein Kampf, and remained fundamentally the same through the following years.

Indeed, an important reason for his decision to invade the Soviet Union in June 1941 was his desire to acquire the Lebensraum that he had been seeking for Germany since 1925. He envisaged settling Germans as a master race in western Russia, while deporting most of the Russians to Siberia and using the remainder as slave labour.

If Hitler thought that invading the Soviet Union was a reasonable solution to an overcrowding problem, it is clear that his environmental views led to immense suffering. A man who would go to such lengths to increase the land to human ratio might address the issue more directly by simply killing everyone that did not meet his idealized standard. It is possible that the Holocaust was as inspired by Hitler's views on the environment as his views on blood. The postwar renaissance of Germany argues that Hitler's reasoning on resource scarcity was as dubious as his views on race.


At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that even after all these years,60+, that we as people have a hard time coming to grasp with the the morality of killing. I don't see any justification or reason to kill another human being that does not threaten your existence. I use to believe that 1920's Germany was that filled of angry jew hating citizens. I think the ingredient that allow Hitler to succeed in Germany in the late 1920's was not that his view were intrictally manifested but the over powering effect of despair and poverity in Germany at that time. Hitler let everyone see what he believed was Germany's greatest problem, the cause of the hyper inflation, desparity of wealth. Germany was so fed up with eating shit that they just wanted a way out, he gave them a way out. I just don't think they realized they were listening to a fucking lunatic.


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