RE: New book on Hitler and evolution

From: Richard Weikart <rweikart@csustan.edu>
Date: Mon May 03 2004 - 12:37:37 EDT

Moorad and others:

I am well aware of the literature on the Armenian genocide, and in fact, I'm
teaching a seminar on genocide in the fall, in which we will discuss the
Armenian genocide. In the course of my research I read part of Dadrian's
book, _German Responsibility in the Armenian Genocide: A Review of the
Historical Evidence of German Complicity_, as well as other material on the
Armenian genocide. However, for two reasons, I didn't include anything
about the Armenian genocide in my book.

1) It is outside to scope of my subject. My book examines the impact of
Darwinism on ethical and moral thought in late nineteenth and early
twentieth-century Germany. I am not claiming to provide a full explanation
for the Holocaust, and thus many issues related to the Holocaust are left
undiscussed. In my research I looked for evidence of the impact of
Darwinism or social Darwinism on the Armenian genocide, and I could find no
evidence for it. If I had, you can be sure I would have jumped on it. Is
there any evidence that Darwinian thinking influenced the Turks who
perpetrated the genocide (or the Germans who assisted them)?

2) There is no evidence that the Armenian genocide provided motivation for
Hitler's genocide. The quotation that Moorad adduces was pretty obviously
an attempt to overcome the qualms of his army officers. It was not a
statement of Hitler's reasons for killing people. In my book, I show
conclusively that Darwinism influenced Hitler's ideology. This is not a
radically new point--many scholars have mentioned it. What is new is that I
explain the background to it, analyze it, and argue that Hitler had a
coherent--albeit pernicious--ethic based on Darwinian ideology. Considered
counterfactually, I would argue that even if the Armenian genocide had never
occurred, Hitler still would have murdered Jews.

I should perhaps also note that my book is not predominately about Hitler.
Only one chapter is devoted to him. Most of the book is on the impact of
Darwinism on ethical and moral thought, especially on the Judeo-Christian
sanctity-of-life ethic, in Germany in the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries.

Best regards,

Richard Weikart
Department of History
California State Univ., Stanislaus
Turlock, CA 95382

Author, From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in
Germany (2004)

office phone: 209-667-3522
homepage: www.csustan.edu/History/Faculty/Weikart/index.html

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Alexanian, Moorad [mailto:alexanian@uncw.edu]
> Sent: Sunday, May 02, 2004 10:42 AM
> To: George Murphy; Ted Davis; asa@lists.calvin.edu; rweikart@csustan.edu
> Subject: RE: New book on Hitler and evolution
>
> There are two excellent new references regarding the Armenian Genocide.
First and
> foremost by the genocide scholar Vahakn N. Dadrian, "The History of the
Armenian
> Genocide: Ethnic conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the
Caucasus,"Berghahn Books,
> 1995, ISBN 1-57181-016-1 and "The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide
and
> America's Response," Peter Balakian, HarperCollins Publishers, 2003, ISBN
0-06-019840-
> 0.
>
>
>
> On page 403 Dadrian discusses Hitler's much debated key statement on the
annihilation of
> the Armenians and Genghis Khan as a role model. Dadrian writes, "Who after
all is today
> speaking of the destruction of the Armenians" (Wer redet heute noch von
der Vernichtung
> der Armenier). The document was for the first time transmitted to British
diplomats in
> Berlin in August 1939 by Louis Lochner. For more than two decades, Lochner
was chief of
> the Berlin Bureau of The Associate Press and for many years, he was
president of the
> Foreign Press Association there. Sir Neville Henderson, British Ambassador
at Berlin,
> transmitted the document to London on August 25, 1939. The document
purports to be the
> summary of one or two speeches Hitler delivered to the Chief Commanders
and
> Commanding Generals at Obersalzberg, August 22, 1939, in preparation for
the impending
> invasion of Poland. In essence, Hitler in that speech is admonishing the
high ranking
> military officers to be brutal and merciless for a quick victory."
[Document on British
> Foreign Policy. 1919-1939. E.L. Woodward, R. Butler and A. Orde, eds.
Third Series. Vol.
> VII, 1939 (London, 1954). Doc. No 314, enclosure. Pp. 258-260.]
>
>
>
> On page164 discusses the chief propagandist of the CUP (Committee of Union
and
> Progress, the Young Turks) Ziya Gokalp. Balakian writes, "Gokalp's
pan-Turkism was
> bound up in grandiose romantic nationalism and a "mystical vision of blood
and race," and
> was influenced by the German nationalism of Herder and Wagner, who were
also key
> influences on Nazi Aryan ideology. Gokalp believed that for Turkey to
revitalize itself, it
> had to reclaim a golden are, which he defined as a pre-Islamic era of
Turkic warriors such
> as Genghis Khan and Tamerlane. It is ironic that Hitler also extolled
Genghis Khan in his
> speech about the future of German world domination and his immediate plan
to invade
> Poland. Speaking to his elite generals eight days before invading Poland
in 1939, Hitler
> praised the virtues of power and brutality, referring to how easy it had
been to dispense of
> defenseless people like the Armenians. "Genghis Khan led millions of women
and children
> to slaughter-with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees him solely
as the bounder
> of a state. It's a matter of indifference to me what a weak western
European civilization will
> say about me." And then the fuhrer asked rhetorically: "Who today, after
all, speaks of the
> annihilation of the Armenians." [Louis P. Lochner, What About Germany?
(New York:
> Dodd, Mead & Co., 1942), 2.]
>
>
>
> I do not know if Richard Weikart in his book inquired on the connections
shown above
> regarding the motivation of Hitler in carrying on the Final Solution on
the Jews. It seems
> that Weikart wants to make the link between Darwin and Hitler and does not
invoke the
> Armenian Genocide and the rationale given by the Turks for it nor the
connection with
> Germany.
>
>
>
> Moorad
>
Received on Thu May 27 22:14:19 2004

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