Skip to content
Science
Link copied to clipboard

Another View on the possible Influence of Darwin on Hitler

A reader gives a novel look at the influence of Darwinism on the Nazi party.

I've recieved dozens of thoughtful resposes to the column on alleged links between Darwinian evolution and Hitler's genocidal ideology. It was reprinted in a paper in Maine, where it was noted by a reader who wrote the reply below. This seems quite plausible, and yet it hadn't come up in my discussions with the historians on either side.

I read with some interest your article (carried in the Lewiston [Maine] Sun Journal) in the Philadelphia Inquirer concerning the link between Darwin and Nazism.  I was surprised that you left out an important concept that is both Darwinian in concept and recognized and discussed by the Nazi hierarchy charged with the details of the Final Solution.

The very act of attempting to eliminate all traces of a Race (of Jews, although we are A Human Race, and our use of the word here is incorrect) would bring about an unusual example of Darwinism.  There would be no way Heydrich and the SS could eliminate the Jews without some exceptions.  There might be escapees, uprisings, impregnations, etc. wherein members of the group being subjected to genocide would avoid extermination.  A high percentage of this group would exhibit superior genetic traits in survival skills and assertiveness.  If the SS failed to kill every single member of a group, the survivors would be, by the very nature of Darwinism, a superior group.  Furthermore, if the Final Solution was not carried out to its end (for example by the Third Reich's surrender), the surviving members would by physically superior, given that their bodies had withstood starvation, abuse and disease.

If I find the references alluded to I will write again.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or want to sail (we have informal Sunfish class racing on the pond near my home).

And speaking of the misunderstood and explosive notion of race, I've just received the new book, "Race? Debunking a Scientific Myth" by Ian Tattersall and Rob DeSalle. It looks like a very important book. I'm going to quote from the blurb on the jacket:

"Although there is clearly some physical basis for the variations that underlie perceptions of race, clear boundaries among "races" remain highly elusive from a purely biological standpoint. In other words, differences among human populations that people intuitively view as "racial" are not only superficial, but are also of astonishingly recent origin." I'm looking forward to reading it.

Published