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National Socialism and the Jews

The Nazis valued the concept of a select race - Herrenvolk [master race]. The Nazi strategy to create a concept of uber Mensch and Untermensch - superman and underman. The Jew was not human, he was untermensch, an inferior people. The Germans were a superior race, a group they called the Aryan race. Germany was destined to lead the world. Nature and fate would produce events to make this happen. The Aryan people would need more territory in which to grow. This desire to expand German boundaries was called Lebensraum. Only those of true German blood could be citizens. The Nazis called them the Volk. Concern for the Volk lead to a glorification of German "ancestry." Great Germans of the past, from Beethoven to Wagner, were honored. The Nazis studied Teutonic mythology and took pride in the heroic exploits of their ancestors. Praising the past led to an admiration for the medieval peasant. The peasant virtues of simplicity, honesty, and physical labor were glorified.

Using the concept of race struggle as the prime force behind human history, Hitler and his followers implemented the most systematic, widespread and destructive anti-Semitic policies ever known. While other "non-Aryans" were also subjected to persecution and abuse, Hitler saved his special hatred for the Jews. Jews were depicted as the source of all of Germany's ills and problems. They were viewed as an evil race whose ultimate aim was to destroy the "Aryan" race and dominate the world. The elements of this myth were previously used by German and Austrian anti-Semites at the end of the 19th Century; and, in general, anti-Semitism had been common throughout Europe in the late 19th century.

The Nazis used incited appeals to German patriotism. Germany was a nation wronged by history. To return to its rightful place, Germany should disregard any sense of "morality" in international life. They opposed German participation in any peace organizations such as the League of Nations. The Nazis were critical of all people except those of the "Volk." The Poles were "racial anti-types"; the British were worshippers of Mammon. Of the United States, Hitler stated, "One Beethoven symphony contains more culture than America has produced in her whole history." To Hitler, America was a Philistine, mongrelized community descended from convicts and the unwanted dregs of society. The Russians were just above the Jews.

In Mein Kampf Hitler wrote that "In Russian Bolshevism we must see the attempt undertaken by the Jews in the twentieth century to achieve world domination. Just as in other epochs they strove to reach the same goal by other, though inwardly related processes. Their endeavor lies profoundly rooted in their essential nature. No more than another nation renounces of its own accord the pursuit of its impulse for the expansion of its power and way of life, but is compelled by outward circumstances or else succumbs to impotence due to the symptoms of old age, does the Jew break off his road to world dictatorship out of voluntary renunciation, or because he represses his eternal urge. He, too, will either be thrown back in his course by forces lying outside himself, or all his striving for world domination will be ended by his own dying out."

Racial reform of the German Volk was at the core of the Nazi social and political agendas. The Nazis, like many in the early twentieth century, were interested in eugenics. To prevent the spread of "bad genes," the Nazis would recommend the sterilization of those suffering from physical malformation, mental retardation, epilepsy, deafness, and blindness.Borrowing heavily from the 'pseudo science' of racial hygiene for objective justification, the Nazis envisioned and implemented biological solutions (ie, sterilization, elimination) to a perceived problem of racial fitness, which was framed in medical terms. Individuals with disabilities and Jews were specifically targeted for marginalization and, then, elimination. Totalitarian governments gave the impression of inevitability to their dubious political theories. Populations were propagandized into thinking that the "New Man" sketched out on their blank slates would be the god-like offspring of Darwinism, biology and eugenics.

German medicine at the dawn of the Third Reich was the envy of the world. No country had produced more Nobel Prize winners in physiology. German research laboratories attracted the best and the brightest fellows from overseas. Germany's combined private and public payer systems provided an enviable, near universal access to health care services. Germany's educational structure had served as the model for the Flexner report, which had reformed North American medical education. Against this backdrop of medical sophistication, the number of physicians who joined the Nazi party and its elite formations was greater in terms of percentage than that of any other professional group. Physicians were attracted to the prospect of greater professional powers and prestige under a Nazi regime. Physicians became the "guardians of the nation's genetic constitution", trusted agents of the state's array of biological solutions.

Physicians administered the policy of compulsory sterilization. Physicians served as arbitrators of the Nuremberg Race Laws. Physicians formulated and implemented a policy of active euthanasia for those with mental and physical disabilities, which necessitated the development of novel means of mass extermination. Physicians segregated the living from the soon-to-be dead on the arrival ramps of concentration camps.

Rationalizations for the killing of the "unworthy" were bolstered by economic considerations. According to bureaucratic calculations, state funds that went to the care of criminals and the insane could be put to better use, for example by loans to newly married couples. Incurably sick children were seen as a burden for the healthy body of the Volk, the German people. In a time of war, it was not difficult to lose sight of the absolute value of human life. Hitler understood this. In their attempt to annihilate all Jews in Europe, the Nazis, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, developed a systematic plan that they called the "Final Solution to the Jewish Problem."

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 07-08-2012 19:00:25 ZULU