The social hygiene. Those that did not fit
The Nazi State of the Third Reich is clearly defined by racial theory put into practice. One reading Burleigh and Wipperman’s book; The Racial State, learns of these different racial theories and how they are implemented under Adolf Hitler in the Third Reich.As one learns when reading The Racial State, Adolf Hitler’s eugenic and racial-hygienic theories were not original.
Theorists long before his time wrote of the same racist theories. Hitler never mentions any of these theorists in his work, but one can see when reading The Racial State, that the horrific acts that occurred during the Third Reich reflected the ideas of these theorists.Theorist Alfred Grotjahn’s believed that in order to achieve social hygiene, those who did not fit the social criteria of the state, should be isolated that in order to achieve social hygiene. Those that did not fit the social criteria of the state should be isolated and sterilized to eventually destroy these races. These people included, the insane, the work shy, alcoholics, those carrying diseases and accident victims. Zoologist Ernst Haekel shares this view with his theory that the ‘central races’ were superior and in order to maintain their superiority, those who were sick and not perfect within the group needed to be exterminated to maintain this perfection within their race.
These were only theories of theirs, mere words on a piece of paper, but one sees this actually come into practice in the Third Reich. Hitler succeeded at having those sterilized who were not to his standards and as described by Grotjahn as “healthy germans”. In 1934 the Heredity Disease Progeny Act came into legislation in Germany.As Burleigh and Wipperman explain; “This permitted the compulsory sterilization of persons suffering from a series of allegedly heredity illnesses as well as alcaholics”(pg.48). Hitler also isolated the ill from the rest of Germany in concentration camps.
Theories about the extermination of the ill were not the only appalling theories put into practice in the Third Reich. Those who were not considered pure blooded Aryan-Germans were also to suffer under Hitler’s reign of terror. Some of those groups included Jews, gypsies, poles and half breeds (eg.Half Jew-Half German). In other words those who were accepted were only those who were pure blooded Aryan-German. Theorist Arthur D.
Gobineau believed that the value of a person was determined by their color. He believed that all high cultures where the work of Aryans. He believed that if Aryans interbred with races of lesser value, this would weaken the Aryan ruling class and the Aryan culture would be lost.
Hitler shared this view as well.In 1935 the law for the protection of German blood and Honor was passed. This law forbid Jews to have sexual relations or marry those of “German blood”. This law did not only excluded Jews from marrying Germans, it also excluded Gypsies, Negroes and their bastards from marrying pure blooded Germans as well. As Burleigh and Wipperman explain, “gypsies, negroes, or their bastards’ were normally counted alongside Jews as carriers of non-German or related blood”(pg.50). One studying history of the Third Reich learns that the Jews were to suffer the most under the Third Reich, and were tortured and put to death in greater numbers than any other group excluded in the Third Reich.
The Jews were perceived as the worst of all evils. Hitler was not the creator of anti-semitism. Jews were considered by others and also written about by theorists to be evil works of the devil.Theorist Houston Chamberlain believed that Jewish women were prostitutes and that Jews were the spreaders of syphilis and other diseases that were destroying the health of Germans and were attempting to prevent racial-hygienic improvement amongst Aryan-Gemans. He believed that Jews were backstabbers and couldn’t be trusted.
He also believed that he Jews were responsible for the negative accompaniments of rapid industrialization and modernization. Here one can see that Jews were portrayed as the enemy of the healthy German state. Theories such as Chamberlains were synonymous with the theories of Hitler.
Hitler puts these anti-semitic theories into practice by taking drastic measures to exterminate the Jews. Jews were sterilized, tortured, brutally murdered, had their lively hood and possessions taken from them, and were put to suffer in concentration camps where they were isolated from those who were Germans. According to Hitler his warding off of the Jews was necessary and willed by god. Hitler wrote, “I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator: by warding off the Jews, I am fighting for the Lord’s work” (pg. 40). As Burleigh and Wipperman explain that Hitler’s racism consisted of different elements, which would best summarize what I have discussed.
Hitler believed that there were differences in individual races, and the Aryans were the most valuable race. If Aryans interbred with less valuable races it would lead to the extinction of the Aryan race. Also the health of the Aryan race needed to be maintained and improved. To alleviate these problems, Hitler took the measures discussed to prevent the reproduction and rid the German state of those who are sickly and criminal (criminal also included the Jews). As one can see these ideas were not unique to Hitler. The few theorists I’ve discussed wrote of the similar theories before Hitler’s time.
Although these theorists as well as Hitler saw these measures as necessary ways of protecting the German state from extinction, there was nothing provided to show any of these theories of racism as valid. I am referring to the allegations by these theorists, such as that the Jews were backstabbers, prostitutes and spreaders of diseases. These racist theories can not be proven as valid.From reading this book I have drawn the conclusion the that government of the Third Reich was structured, to rid the German state of those who were unable to make money for the state because they were sick or lazy, and rid Germany of the Jews because they were jealous and envious of the prospering Jews. This was evident in their actions Destroying Jewish businesses allowed Aryan’s to take over in the formerly Jewish markets and allowed the Aryan-Germans to prosper. Leaving the state to all Aryan Germans, and destroying every other culture allowed for more opportunity and less competition for economical success amongst Aryan-Germans. I believe that is why the Third Reich was able to succeed at putting these theories into action.
Hitler and these theorists alone would not have been able to put these theories into practice without the support of others. I find it hard to imagine that one reading these theories would be able to believe that these allegations were valid and justifiable reasons for the extermination of human beings. I believe it was economical interest that put these theories into action, not actually belief in the theories themselves.The theories served as justification, as an excuse for exterminating innocent people that posed as a threat to Aryan-Germans. It is appalling that something as Barbaric as the treatment of humans during the Third Reich actually took place, and that such obscure theories such as those I have discussed provided the structure for the Nazi State.
Bibliography:Burleigh and Wipperman “The Racial State, Germany 1933-1945” Cambridge University Press