Thursday, April 14, 2022

Hitler’s Social Darwinism

Hitler was a believer in the social-Darwinistic view of the survival (or triumph) of the fittest. He used to insist that might was always right and that the powerful were the drivers of history. The defeat of the German army in the Battle of Stalingrad came as a shock to him, and for the first time he started applying his theory of social Darwinism to the people in his own country. 

When the news came that the Russian Red Army was pouring into Eastern Europe, Goebbels recorded Hitler as saying: “Such a collapse could only be caused through the weakness of the people… If the German people turned out to be weak, they would deserve nothing else than to be extinguished by a stronger people; then one could have no sympathy for them.” But he insisted that the setback was temporary and that the collapse of the German Reich was out of the question. He seemed to suggest that the collapse of the German Reich would entail the end of his own life.

The notion that the weak, even if they were Germans, must perish, and that the mighty must triumph remained with Hitler till the end. He refused to negotiate, and surrender was out of the question. On 30 April 1945, when the Red Army was a block or two from the Reich Chancellery, and Hitler picked up a gun to shoot himself in the head, I wonder what his last thoughts were: Was he blaming the Germans for not being the mightiest?

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