- Paperback: 268 pages
- Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 2009 edition (May 9, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0230112730
- ISBN-13: 978-0230112735
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #562,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hitler's Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress 2009th Edition
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“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 a 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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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. From here, the author examines the concept of evolutionary progress as an overriding concern among intellectuals of the time, and continues into the idea of racial struggle so prominent in Hitler's thought. Weikart deals with "the Jewish question," next, showing how the outworking of Hitler's thought on racial struggle became his attempt to destroy the Jews in the world -- how he saw the Jews as a sort of "anti-evolutionary type," tearing down what nature was building the future of man.
Hilter's socialism is next, with an extended discussion of how Hitler saw socialism as the most advanced economic system, even though he allowed private enterprise as a matter of expediency. The next two chapters deal with the apparent contradictions in Hitler's policies on children and families, explained by noting that Hitler wanted to increase the German population while reducing other populations through abortion, sterilization, and birth control. It's interesting that many Christian leaders accepted Hitler on this single point of agreement, without ever examining the basis for his rants against birth control and abortion. In the final two chapters, Weikart works through why Hitler went to war, and how he justified the murder of millions in the name of his social programs.
Overall, this is a well written, and well documented book. Agree or disagree with the author's thesis, there is a lot of material here that needs to be dealt with intelligently to separate Hitler from the evolutionary ethic he so clearly endorsed and implemented.