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National Socialism

Ideology

Nazi ideology drew on the racist doctrines of the comte de Gobineau and Houston Stewart Chamberlain, on the nationalism of Heinrich von Treitschke, and on the hero-cult of Friedrich Nietzsche, often transforming the ideas of these thinkers. Nazi dogma, partly articulated by Hitler in Mein Kampf, was elaborated by the fanatical Alfred Rosenberg. Vague and mystical, it was not a system of well-defined principles but rather a glorification of prejudice and myth with elements of nihilism. Its mainstays were the doctrines of racial inequality and of adherence to the leader, or Führer; its constant theme was nationalist expansion.

According to Nazi dogma, races could be scientifically classified as superior and inferior. The highest racial type was the Nordic, or Germanic, type of the "Aryan" race, while blacks and Jews were at the bottom of the racial ladder. Intermarriage contributed to the deterioration of the superior race, and the Jews, knowing this, had furthered prostitution and seduction to defile the Germans. Consequently only small islands of the pure remained, but it was their destiny to govern their inferiors and, through scientific breeding, to extend the "master race" and limit inferior races.

The Nazis accused Jews of obstructing the conquering path of the "master race." Marxism, international finance, and Freemasonry were all said to be Jewish devices created to dominate the world. Even Christianity was denounced by Rosenberg as a Jewish creation, but Hitler hedged on this point. International Jewry was blamed for the humiliation of Germany in the Treaty of Versailles (1919), and German Jewry was accused of betraying Germany in World War I.

Nazi expansionism was linked to race in the geopolitical theories of Karl Haushofer; from the degenerate Slavs in particular the Germans would wrest Lebensraum [living space]. The ruling "master race" itself was to be organized into an authoritarian pyramid, at the apex of which stood the infallible Führer. Strength and discipline were deified by the Nazis, and democracy was spurned as a depraved form of government that protected the weak and mediocre.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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