Hitler and Social Darwinism
Charles Darwin’s theories about evolution are well known: he formed the idea of survival of the fittest. Herbert Spencer formed a theory of social Darwinism where he applied biology to society. Darwin’s ideas of struggle in nature were used by Spencer to describe class struggle. Hitler then brought these Darwinian theories into his Mein Kampf to justify his ideology. “Hitler perceived struggle not only as the essence of all nature, thus postulating a crude Darwinism, but also as the central principle for both individuals and nations, thus exalting a crass Social Darwinism.”(1) In Mein Kampf Hitler explains his ideology by relating it to nature, mainly the struggles in nature. Hitler states that “no more than Nature desires the mating of weaker with stronger individuals, even less does she desire the blending of a higher with a lower race, since, if she did, her whole work of higher breeding, over perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, might be ruined with one blow.”(2) With this passage, Hitler aimed to show how there are races higher than others. By this he meant the Aryans over the Jews.
After reading the excerpt from Hitler’s Mein Kampf, I have a better understanding of Hitler’s ideology. He took ideas from other people like Darwin and Spencer to explain why the Aryan race should thrive over the Jews. This is very disturbing to me, but I can see why Hitler wanted to use these theories to explain his actions. It is a horrible tactic, but it would have been effective as a form of propaganda. I brought this up in a previous post, but I continue to wonder how other nations were blind to this ideology? I can think of two things. As I said in that previous post, other nations were worrying about themselves over anything Hitler was doing in Germany. The other thing I wonder is maybe they thought Hitler was just plain crazy with the ideas in his book. I would think someone who wrote a book like that was crazy, but as we have learned, Hitler was not. He was smart enough to use certain ideas to justify ideology and actions while influencing the minds of German citizens.
- Jackson Spielvogel, Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History (United States: Pearson Education, 2014), 134.
- Benjamin Sax and Dieter Kuntz, Inside Hitler’s Germany: A Documentary History of Life in the Third Reich (Lexington: D. C. Heath and Company, 1992), 191.