A ‘vulgar Darwinism’ that displaced Christian culture permeated Germany’s Nazis

From Volume 5 of the ‘Blue Series’ transcript of the Nazi war crimes trial, pgs 373-378.

[This was copied and pasted from a PDF, which needs to be cleaned up.]

I propose today to prove to you that all this organized and vast criminality springs from what I may be allowed to call a crime against the spirit, I mean a doctrine which, denying all spiritual, rational, or moral values by which the nations have tried, for thou- sands of years, to improve human conditions, aims to plunge humanity back into barbarism, no longer the natural and spon- taneous barbarism of primitive nations, but into a diabolical bar- barism, conscious of itself and utilizing for its ends all material means put at the disposal of mankind by contemporary science. This sin against the spirit is the original sin of National Socialism from which all crimes spring.
This monstrous doctrine is that of racialism: The German race, composed in theory of Aryans, would be a fundamental and natural concept. Germans as individuals do not exist and cannot justify their existence, except insofar as they belong to the race or Volkstum, to the popular mass which represents and amalgamates all Ger- mans. Race is the matrix of the German people; proceeding there- from this people lives and develops as an organism. The German may consider himself only as a healthy and vigorous member of this body, fulfilling within the collectivity a definite technical function; his activity and his usefulness are the exact gauge and justification of his liberty. This national body must be “moulded” to prepare it for a permanent struggle.
The ideas and the bodily symbols of racialism form an integral part of its political system- his is what is called authoritative or dictatorial biology.
The expression “blood” which appears so often in the writings of the Nazi theorists denotes this stream of real life, of red sap which flows through the circulatory system of every race and of all genuine culture as it flows through the human body. To be Aryan is to feel this current passing through oneself, this current which galvanizes and vivifies the whole nation. Blood is this region of spontaneous and unconscious life which reveals to each individual the tendencies of the race. The intellectual life must never, in extolling itself,

separate us from this elemental basis of the sacred community. Let the individual go into himself and he will receive by direct revela- tion “the commandments of the blood.” Dreams, rites, and myths can lead to this revelation. In other words the modern German can
and must bear in himself the call of the old Germany and find again its purity and its youthful primitiveness.
The body and soul unity (Leib Seele Einheit) of the individual must not be disputed. One reads in the Nationalsozialistische Monats- hefte of September 1938 that the body belongs to the State and the soul to the Church and to God. It is no longer so. The whole of the individual, body and soul, belongs to the Germanic nation and to the Germanic State. National Socialism affirms, indeed, that the moral conscience is the result of ortho-genetic evolution, the consequence of the most simple physiological functions which characterize the individuality of the body. Therefore, the moral conscience is also subject to heredity and consequently subject to the postulate and to the demands of the race.
True, this pseudo-religion does not repudiate the means of reason and of technical activity, but subordinates them rigorously, brings them infallibly to the racial myth.
The individual has no value in himself and is important only as an element of the race. This affirmation is logical if one admits that not only physical and psychological char$cteristics, but also opinions and tendencies are bound, not to the individual but to the nation. Anyone whose opinions differ from the official doctrine is asocial or unhealthy. He is unhealthy because in the Nazi doctrine the nation is equivalent to the race. Now, the characteristics of the race are fixed. An exception in the formation from the spiritual or moral point of view constitutes a malformation in the same way as does a clubfoot or a harelip.
That is the totalitarian doctrine which reduces the individual to nonexistence save by the race and for the race, without freedom of action or any definite aim; totalitarian doctrine which excludes every other concept, every other aspiration or requirement save those connected with the race, totalitarian doctrine which eliminates from the individual every other thought save that of the interest of the race.
National Socialism ends in the absorption of the personality of the citizen into that of the state and in the denial of any intrinsic value, of the human person.
We are brought back, as can be seen, to the most primitive ideas of the savage tribe. All the values of civilization accumulated in the course of centuries are rejected, all traditional ideas of morality, justice, and law give way to the primacy of race, its instincts, its

needs and interests. The individual, his liberty, his rights and aspirations, no longer have any real existence of their own.
In this conception of race it is easy to realize the gulf that separates members of the German community from other men. The diversity of the races becomes irreducible, and irreducible, too, the hierarchy which sets apart the superior and the inferior raws. The Hitler regime has created a veritable chasm between the German nation, the sole keeper of the racial treasure, and other nations.
Between the Germanic community and the degenerate popu- lation of an inferior variety of men there is no longer any common measure. Human brotherhood is rejected, even more than all the other traditional moral values.
How can one explain how Germany, fertilized through the centuries by classic antiquity and Christianity, by the ideals of liberty, equality, and social justice, by the common heritage of western humanism to which she had brought such noble and pre- cious contributions, could have come to this astonishing return to primitive barbarism?
In order to understand it and to try to eradicate forever from the Germany of tomorrow the evil by which our entire civilization came so near to perishing, it must be recalled that National Socialism has deep and remote origins.
The mysticism of racial community was born of the spiritual and moral crises which Germany underwent in the 19th century and which abruptly broke out again in its economic and social structure through a particularly rapid industrialization. National Socialism is in reality one of the peaks of the moral and spiritual crisis of modern humanity, convulsed by industrialization and techni- cal progress. Germany experienced this metamorphosis of economic and social life not only with an extraordinary brutality but at a time when she did not yet possess the political equilibrium and the cultural unity which the other countries of western Europe had achieved.
While the inner and spiritual life was weakening, a cruel un- certainty dominated human minds, an uncertainty admirably defined by the term “Ratlosigkeit,” which cannot be translated into French but which corresponds to our popular expression, “One no longer knows in what saint to believe.” This is the spiritual cruelty of the 19th century which so many Germans have described with a tragic evocative power. A gaping void opens before the human soul, disoriented by the search for new values.
The natural sciences and the sciences of the mind give birth to
absolute relativism; to a deep scepticism regarding the lasting
quality of values on which Western humanism has been nurtured
for centuries. A vulgar Darwinism prevails, bewilders, and befuddles

the brain. The Germans cease to see in human groups and races anything but isolated nuclei in perpetual struggle with one another.
It is in the name of decadence that the German spirit condemns humanism. It sees in the value of humanism and in the elements that derive from it only “maladies,” which it attributes to an excess *of intellectualism and abstraction of everything that restrains men’s passions by subjecting them to common norms. From this point on, classic antiquity is no longer considered in its aspects of ordered reason or of radiant beauty. In it one sees only civilizations violently enamored of struggles and rivalries, linked especially to Germany through their so-called Germanic origin.
Sacerdotal Judaism and Christianity in all its forms are con-demned as religions of honor and brotherhood, calculated to kill the tirtues of brutal force in man.
A cry is raised against the democratic idealism of the modern era, and then against all the internationals.
Over a people in this state of spiritual crisis and of negations of traditional values the culminating philosophy of Nietzsche was to exercise a dominant influence. In taking the will to power as a point of departure, Nietzsche preached, certainly not inhumanity but superhumanity. If there is no final cause in the universe, man, whose body is matter which is at once feeling and thinking, may mould the world to his desire, choosing as his guide a militant biology. If the supreme end of humanity’ is a feeling of victorious fullness which is both material and spiritual, all that remains is to insure the selection of physical specimens, who become the new aristocracy of masters.
For Nietzsche the industrial evolution necessarily entails the rule of the masses, the automatism and the shaping of the working multitudes. The state endures only by virtue of an elite of vigorous personalities who, by the methods so admirably defined by Machiavelli, which alone are in accord with the laws of life, will lead men by force and by ruse simultaneously, for men are and remain wicked and perverse.
We see the modern barbarian arise. Superior by his intelligence and his wilful energy, freed of all conventional ethics, he can enforce upon the masses obedience and loyalty by making them believe in the dignity and beauty of labor and by providing them with that mediocre well-being with which they are so easily con- tent. An identical force will, therefore, be manifest in the leaders, by the harmony between their elementary passions and the lucidity of their organizing reason, and in the masses, whose dark or violent instincts will be balanced by a reasoned activity imposed with implacable discipline.

Without doubt, the late philosophy of Nietzsche cannot be
identified with the brutal simplicity of National Socialism. Never-
theless, National Socialism was wont .to glorify Nietzsche as one
of its ancestors. And justly so, for he was the first to formulate
in a coherent manner criticism of the traditional values of
humanism; and also, because his conception of the government 01
the masses by masters knowing no restraint is a preview of the
Nazi regime. Besides, Nietzsche believed in the sovereign race and
attributed primacy to Germany, whom he considered endowed with
a youthful soul and unquenchable resources.
The myth of racial community which had arisen from the depths of the German soul, unbalanced by the moral and spiritual crises endured by modern humanity, allied itself with the traditional theses of Pan-Germanism.
Already Fichte’s speeches to the German nation exalting Germanism clearly reveal one of the main ideas of Pan-Germanism, namely, that Germany visualizes and organizes the world as it should be visualized and organized.
The apology for war is equally ancient. It dates back to Fichte and Hegel, who had affirmed that war, through its classifying of peoples, alone establishes justice among nations. For Hegel, in Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechtes, Page 433, states: “The moral health of nations is maintained thanks to war, just as the passing breeze saves the sea from stagnation.”
The living-space theory appears right at the beginning of the 19th century. It is a well-known geographical and historical demonstration which such people as Ratzel, Arthur Dix, and Lamprecht will take up later on, comparing conflicts between peoples to a savage fight between conceptions and realizations of space and declaring that all history is moving towards German hegemony.
State totalitarianism also has ancient roots in Germany. The absorption of individuals by the State was hoped for by Hegel, who wrote:
“Individuals disappear in the presence of the universal
substance”-that is the people or state idea-“and this
substance itself shapes the individuals in accordance with
its own ends.”
Therefore, National Socialism appears in present-day Germany neither as a spontaneous formation which might be due to the consequence of the’ defeat in 1918, nor as a mere invention of a group of men determined upon seizing power. National Socialism is the ultimate result of :a long evolution of doctrines; the exploitation by a group of men of one of the most profound and most tragic aspects of the. German soul. But the crime committed

by Hitler and his companions will be precisely that of unleashing and exploiting to its extreme limit the latent force of barbarity, which existed before him in the German people.

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