Hitler's Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress y First printing Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0230618077
ISBN-10: 0230618073
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Editorial Reviews


“There have been many attempts to provide the key to Hitler's world of ideas but Richard Weikart has succeeded in revealing what must be the central element in any understanding of Hitler's world view. The terrible paradox at the heart of the Third Reich, that biological utopia could only be created by intense physical suffering and violence, now has a proper explanation. What seemed to others bizarrely immoral appeared to Hitler an honorable duty.”--Richard Overy, Professor of History, University of Exeter, UK

About the Author

Richard Weikart is Professor of Modern European History at California State University, Stanislaus.  He has published three previous books, including From Darwin to Hitler and his prize-winning dissertation, Socialist Darwinism. He has also published numerous essays on social Darwinism in anthologies and leading journals, such as German Studies Review, Journal of the History of Ideas, and Isis.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; y First printing edition (August 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0230618073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0230618077
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,804,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Weikart is professor of history at California State Univ., Stanislaus. He earned his Ph.D. in 1994 at the University of Iowa in modern European history with specializations in modern Germany and modern European intellectual history. His dissertation, which was subsequently published as a book, _Socialist Darwinism: Evolution in German Socialist Thought from Marx to Bernstein_, won the biennial prize of the Forum for History of Human Science for best dissertation in that field. He subsequently published with the scholarly publisher Palgrave Macmillan two books on the history of social Darwinism and evolutionary ethics in Germany: _From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany_ and _Hitler's Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress_. He has also published a book on the theology of Bonhoeffer. In addition to his books, he has published many articles, review essays, and reviews in scholarly journals.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Darwin Researcher on September 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Hitler's Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress" is a well documented work using largely primary sources, many in German. It follows the authors first book "From Darwin to Hitler" and further supports his conclusion in the first book, namely that Darwinism had a major influence on Hitler and the leading Nazis. Professor Weikart concludes that Hitler's evil can be explained only by evaluating the influence of eugenics on Germany, a conclusion that should be obvious to any informed student of the Nazi movement. The exact influence is the area of contention, an issue that this book helps to clarify in some detail. The study of the Nazi movement is now a small industry, and this book will greatly add to our understanding of many aspects of the worst 12 years in world history. This book is must reading for anyone who wants to be informed about this important chunk of Western history. We must not forget, and must understand it, to insure it never happens again.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Virginia C. Hughes on July 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a concise paperback that details the ethos Hitler followed during his reign. A brief chronology is offered and elements of eugenics, anti-semitism, living space, war, Darwinism, and most of all struggle. Struggle is a constant theme throughout the book. Hitler's view on the African Negro is also highlighted which is not mentioned in many other books and thought it added another dimension to his views on the master race. His ideas on socialism and nationalism all point to survival and evolution of the Aryan race. This definition deviates from other views on socialism where public goods and welfare predominate. It was interesting hearing the social programs and annual programs for helping the poor and stew Sundays. These programs are also uniquely discussed in this book compared to others motivating a sense of community and charity among the German people. These programs of course occurred early in his tenure as Chancellor. His preponderance for the convenient lie is also a major theme in this book. Lies were opportunistic in advancing his doctrine. For example, the Germans in Czech are suffering boosting national support for invading that country in 1939 and coming to their aid. Propaganda was paramount to effecting his policies; were they lies or were they moral to him because the ends justified the means. It is clear that he preached to the German people the volk is superior to the individual in preservation of the former and war is necessary to progress and evolution of the German people. All of his motives appear to support the goal of preserving the Aryan race. If the ill and decrepid are using up funds that could be used to support the war effort, they must be sacraficed for the volk. If any people are interfering with might of the volk they must be sacraficed, i.e. Jews.Read more ›
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Roger P on February 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Hitler's Ethic solves a mystery: Why did Germany, a modern industrialized nation with a rich Christian tradition of humanitarianism and charity, become the most brutal and genocidal killing machine in history? Author Richard Weikart assumes the role of master history detective and continues the research he began in From Darwin to Hitler. Weikart seemingly has examined every word that has emanated from the pen or mouth of Adolf Hitler in his writings, speeches, and recorded conversations as well as diligently researching Hitler's Nazi conspirators and the works of other Hitler historians. Having gathered the evidence, Weikart then becomes a fearless prosecuting attorney and presents an air tight case in his well written, easy to read book, Hitler's Ethic - The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress. Weikart proves that the core of Nazism was an unwavering belief by Hitler and his followers (especially scientists and medical doctors) in Darwinian evolution. To Hitler genocide and war was ethical and moral because it was a law of nature, a survival of the fittest, a species specific law of evolution, or as Darwin subtitled Origin of Species, [Nazism was] the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. I wrote above that Weikart was "fearless." By this I meant that any criticism of Darwin is considered by many in the academic community as blasphemy and high treason. Branding Darwinism with the swastika of Nazi Germany proved Weikart was a champion of truth regardless the personal consequences. As an armature Hitler historian I believe Hitler's Ethic is the gold standard for understanding Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Russ White on October 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In a culture where Darwinism is almost a religious belief, and the name "Hitler" has become a byword for "evil," one point that will be hotly contested is how these two men are tied together (see the negative reviews on this item, for instance). Darwinian Evolution is seen as scientific, intelligent, and "left wing," while Nazism is seen as anti-scientific, unintelligent, and "right wing" -- and there's no way the two can ever meet, except on the battlefield.

Richard Weikart explodes the mythical separation of evolutionary thought from Hitler in this well researched and well documented book. Working from Hitler's writings and speeches, he shows how Hitler attempted to follow what he considered to be an "evolutionary ethic;" that by placing an evolutionary framework around Hitler's thought, we can make sense of the many apparently contradictory strands. From compulsory sterilization to the promotion of childbirth, Hitler had one aim in mind: the dominance of his race. He believed the dominance of one race over all others was part and parcel of the evolutionary project.

The author takes his reader through eight distinct areas of Hitler's thought, using not only Hitler's speeches and writings, but also the writings of those who interacted with Hitler, to carefully analyze what Hitler believed about each one. Once this is established, he examines others in the same era who upheld these same thoughts, returning time and again to Darwin and his champions throughout the scientific world, and the world of social evolutionary thought that paralleled the rise of evolution as a thought system.

He begins by documenting how Hitler was a moral crusade even through his lies -- how the two are attached through the concept of discarding lower moral concepts for higher ones.
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Hitler's Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress
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