Understanding Nazi Ideology

The Genesis and Impact of a Political Faith


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About the Book

Nazism was deeply rooted in German culture. From the fertile soil of German Romanticism sprang ideas of great significance for the genesis of the Third Reich ideology—notions of the individual as a mere part of the national collective, and of life as a ceaseless struggle between opposing forces.
This book traces the origins of the “political religion” of Nazism. Ultra-nationalism and totalitarianism, racial theory and anti–Semitism, nature mysticism and occultism, eugenics and social Darwinism, adoration of the Führer and glorification of violence—all are explored. The book also depicts the dramatic development of the Nazi movement—and the explosive impact of its political faith, racing from its bloody birth in the trenches of World War I to its cataclysmic climax in the Holocaust and World War II.

About the Author(s)

Carl Müller Frøland holds an MA in intellectual history from the University of Oslo and is working on a PhD dealing with religious and secular aspects of the Nazi worldview. He lives in Oslo, Norway.
John Irons holds a PhD in literature from Cambridge University and has translated more than 100 books from various European languages into English. He lives in Svendborg, Denmark.

Bibliographic Details

Carl Müller Frøland
Translated by John Irons

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 348
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7830-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3762-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 3
Part I. The Organic and the Dynamic:
Two Aspects of German Romanticism
1. The Demonic Source of Energy: Genius Worship and Nature
Mysticism in Sturm und Drang 16
2. A Drop in the Ocean of Omnipotence: Herder’s View of God 22
3. The Struggling World Organism: Schelling’s Philosophy of Nature 26
4. The Continual Advance of the Race: Fichte’s Nationalism 32
5. Two Romantic ­Idea-Complexes 41
Part II. The Organic Nation:
The Emergence of the Völkisch Ideology
6. From the Napoleonic Wars to the Unification of Germany:
The Historical Background of the Völkisch Ideology 46
7. The Germanic Community of Faith: Lagarde’s National Mysticism 51
8. The Mystical Connection with the Soil: Langbehn’s Blood Mysticism 58
9. From ­Neo-Romanticism to the Weimar Republic: The Further
Development of the Völkisch Ideology 64
Part III. The Dynamic Will:
The Emergence of Vitalism
10. The Blind Will to Live: Schopenhauer’s Metaphysics of the Will 78
11. Dionysian Energy: Nietzsche’s Glorification of Creation
and Destruction 82
12. From the Cultivation of the Superman to the Glorification of War:
The Development of a Lebensphilosophie 91
13. The Ecstatic Steel Warrior: Ernst Jünger’s Romanticism of Violence 98
Part IV. A Worldview Comes into Existence:
The Growth of Nazi Ideology
14. From Freikorps to Coup d’état: The Growth of the Nazi Movement
from 1919 to 1923 108
15. The Fighting Volksgemeinschaft: Hitler’s “Worldview” 115
16. Politics, Ideology, Propaganda: The Nazi Movement from 1925 to 1929 126
17. The Mystical Center of Force: Rosenberg’s Metaphysics of Race 129
18. The Deeply Rooted Race Soul: Darré’s Agrarian Romanticism 141
19. The Agonal Will: Baeumler’s Vitalism 147
20. From Mass Movement to Führer State: The Nazi Movement from 1930 to 1934 153
Part V. Manifestations of the Führer Cult
21. Collective Ecstasy: The Nuremberg Rallies 162
22. Charismatic Authority: The Bond Between Führer and People 167
23. Polycratic Energy: Institutional and Individual Rivalry 172
24. Political Mysticism of the Will: The Cult of the Führer as a Political Religion 180
Part VI. The Black Corps: SS—Ideology and Practice
25. A Link in a Fighting Chain: The SS System of Beliefs and Order
Structure 190
26. The Tentacles of the Octopus: The New Police State 202
27. Cleansing Violence: The “Task Forces” in Eastern Europe 211
28. A Genocide Takes Form: The Wannsee Conference and Nazi
Antisemitism 229
29. Genocidal Yearning for Paradise: Industrial Mass Murder at Auschwitz 234
30. The Therapy of Extermination: Medical Experiments at Auschwitz 242
31. The Flashing Sword: The ­Waffen-SS in Battle 251
Part VII. The Conceptual Universe of Nazism
32. Ragnarok: The Cataclysmic End to Nazism 262
33. Movement from the Bonds of Blood: Nazism in the Light of the History of Ideas 271
Chapter Notes 291
Bibliography 335
Index 341