A trip through a major Holocaust museum will tell you most of what you need to know about the mindset of the fiends who murdered millions in the middle of the last century. Poster-size images of death-camp inmates – all staring blankly – attest to the monstrous worldview of the prisoners’ tormentors.
What, though, really explains the Nazi capacity for murder? How could “regular people” slaughter children? What possessed – pun intended – Hitler’s willing executioners to butcher women and old men?
I think Jerry Bergman has figured it out.
In a new book, “Hitler and the Nazi Darwinian Worldview,” Bergman (a university professor for four decades) presents fascinating portraits of the top Nazi killers, the men who planned the ghastly Final Solution.
Although “secular science” has issues with his conclusion, the data and analysis are unmistakable: Darwin did it.
The overall premise of naturalism – that everything in the universe is random and purposeless – is a damning indictment of the worst elements of Darwinian philosophy. This mindset has created everything from schoolyard bullies to the Third Reich. Bergman’s offers a devastating critique of Darwinian philosophy, and frankly, his profiles of Hitler and his henchmen are so riveting, you won’t be able to look away. Even though you want to.
Take Reinhard Heydrich, the feared mastermind of the Final Solution, and Himmler’s top deputy. Raised in an educated home that appreciated the arts (and staunchly Catholic, yet anti-Semitic), Heydrich built-on his Darwinian perspective to become such an efficient and content killer that Hitler had to figure out ways to control him.
Or what of Julius Streicher, a mentor to Hitler in the early days? The publisher of the anti-Semitic newspaper Der Sturmer, Streicher had a hatred of the Bible and hence the Jewish people.
As Bergman writes: “Although Streicher’s views on Darwinism are mixed, it is well documented that he accepted the social Darwinian inferior race theory, and concluded that Jews were one of the worst of all biologically inferior races.”
This led to the view that the “master race” could not be contaminated, and led to the sterilization of untold numbers of people deemed inferior.
Chapter 16 of “Hitler and the Nazi Darwinian Worldview” is particularly instructive, revealing how the Nazi textbooks of the era incorporated Darwinian views.
From Bergman: “The Nazis ensured that Darwinism was taught in detail using textbooks and classrooms for the reason that ideas derived from ‘Darwinian theory became important truths in Hitler’s ideology.’”
The pages of illustrations in such books – depicting for example Jews and blacks as having “racial features” similar to primates – serve as horrifying reminders of how the poisoned views of one man can affect millions. Such was the case with Darwin and Hitler, and Bergman expertly presents the case.
Another figure to loom prominently over the Nazi house of horrors was the “physician,” Josef Mengele. The so-called “Angel of Death” was appointed research assistant at the Third Reich Institute for Heredity, Biology and Racial Purity, proving beyond doubt that the most outrageous forms of quackery can find currency with those who want to participate.
As Bergman writes about Mengele: “Dr. Mengele was now fully convinced that the human race could be improved by deliberately selecting those persons who he judged were more fit, and then encouraging them to reproduce. A second part of his plan was eliminating those who were judged as less fit. His end goal was to produce a superior race, and he was determined to use Darwinian theory to achieve it.”
In fact, one of the chief strengths of Bergman’s efforts is to show that the Nazis used what some took to be legitimate theory to justify murder. Such madness has manifested itself through the years, in many ways and under many guises, but “Hitler and the Nazi Darwinian Worldview” sets forth a clear-cut case that Darwin’s ruthless theory directly led to the black smoke hovering over Europe by 1945.
Hitler might have been a murderous psychopath, but he was also a product of the German educational system, from which developed a virtual Darwinian view of the Bible, as well.
Bergman points out that Hitler understood quite a bit of detail related to Darwinian philosophy: “In formulating his racial ideas, Hitler relied heavily on Darwinism, especially the elaborations by Darwin’s German disciples such as Professors Fritz Lenz and Ernst Haeckel. The ‘superior race’ belief was based on the theory of racial inequality within each species, a major presumption and requirement of Darwin’s original ‘survival of the fittest’ theory.”
I’ve read books about evolutionary theory for 20 years, and “Hitler and the Nazi Darwinian Worldview” is one of the very best. An absolute must-read.