Darwin's influence on the Third Reich:
1 Dcumenting Darwin's Influence...
2 Lavoisier's Influence...
who was anyone
embraced his doctrine
By Kitty Foth-Regner
When I was a journalism
student back in the 1970s, I spent every precious elective on history
classes, with an emphasis on modern German history.
This coursework did some
damage to my near-perfect grade-point average, because it meant
studying under a professor who considered "C" an adequate reward for
mastering the material. Still, I persisted. I studied obsessively and
read all the best books about that era, from Allan Bullock's acclaimed
Hitler: A Study in Tyranny to Albert Speer's Inside the
Yet somehow, I don't
remember hearing much about the philosophy underlying Hitler's attempt
to exterminate the Jews. Maybe if I'd ever read Mein Kampf, I
have had a clue, but not one professor ever recommended it. Maybe they
believed, with George Eliot, that cruelty requires no motive.
But Eliot was wrong, and
I'm afraid my beloved professors were, too. The "why" of the Holocaust
is critically important, both for evaluating our past errors and for
doing everything possible to prevent another, perhaps even deadlier,
Enter Hitler and the
Darwinian Worldview: How the Nazi Eugenic Crusade for a Superior Race
Caused the Greatest Holocaust in World History. The latest work of
Jerry Bergman, it is one of those books that explores what should be
obvious – but, like the proverbial elephant in the room, is for some
reason never discussed in polite company.
What a shame. Dr. Bergman's
book explains the inexplicable, makes sense out of the nonsensical, and
reveals the thought that allowed the unthinkable to come to pass. It
should be mandatory reading in college history classes. And it should
top the reading list of anyone who understands that what we believe
really does matter.
Here's Dr. Bergman's
premise about "doctrinaire Darwinist" Adolf Hitler – a premise that he
A central goal of Hitler
and his government was the development and implementation of eugenics
to produce a "superior race," often called the Aryan, Teutonic or
Nordic race. At the very least, this goal required preventing the
"inferior races" from mixing with those judged superior in order to
reduce contamination of the gene pool. Hitler believed that what we
today recognize as the human gene pool could be improved by using
selective breeding, similar to how farmers breed superior cattle.
Dr. Bergman makes an
airtight case that this was indeed the philosophy driving Hitler's
murderous machine – the philosophy that unfortunately "culminated in
the Final Solution, the extermination of 6 million Jews and over 5
million Poles and others who belonged to what German scientists judged
were ‘inferior races.'"
Acknowledging that there
were many factors leading up to the Holocaust, Dr. Bergman points out
that "Of the many factors that produced Hitler's eugenic and genocidal
[programs], according to his own writings, one of the more important
was Darwin's notion that evolutionary progress occurs primarily as a
result of the elimination of the weak in the struggle for survival and
allowing the strong to flourish... Darwin-inspired eugenics clearly
played a critical role."
The author then goes on to
prove it, point by terrifying point, in a frighteningly compelling
read. He uses excellent techniques to pull the reader through, for
instance by foreshadowing what we'll learn in subsequent chapters to
give context to the subject at hand. And in addition to setting the
stage generally, he provides up-close-and-personal analyses of Hitler's
most important and influential henchmen – Mengele, Bormann, Himmler,
Goebbels, Göring, Heydrich, Rosenberg and Streicher.
Dr. Bergman closes his book
with a weighty chapter entitled "What can be learned from attempts to
apply Darwinism to society." This chapter alone is worth the price of
Hitler and the Nazi
Darwinian Worldview is full of surprises. The margins of my copy are
filled with exclamation points to highlight facts about, for instance,
the German government subsidizing reproduction among "racially and
biologically desirable" couples, perfecting its Lebensborn
program to advance the breeding of the Nordic super-race, and
sponsoring mass kidnapping of "racially valuable" children.
Another recurring (and
unfortunately less surprising) theme was the enthusiastic support lent
to Hitler by members of the scientific establishment. Germany was known
in the first part of the 20th century as the home of the most
accomplished scientists in the world, including the majority of Nobel
Laureates. These were the experts who gave Hitler the scientific
justification he needed to advance his horrific programs.
Noting that some Nazi
scientists received accolades and awards long after the fall of the
Third Reich, Dr. Bergman provides this chilling insight from Dr.
Susanne Heim: "Scientists are highly vulnerable to intellectual and
moral corruption – opportunities will be used if they promise more
influence and success."
Apparently not even medical
doctors could resist. Forget the Hippocratic oath; "the psychiatric and
medical professions were among the most enthusiastic supporters of Nazi
Dr. Bergman is not alone in
believing that Darwinism impacted Hitler and his supporters. He quotes
other authorities extensively throughout his book, and notes that
scholars such as Professor Richard Weikart have also documented its
role in Nazism. And as outspoken Harvard professor Stephen Jay
Gould wrote in his book Ontogeny and Phylogeny, "'Biological arguments
for racism…increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of
evolutionary theory' by scientists in most nations."
But this book may be the
first to gather all this evidence under one convenient cover and to
make such a persuasive case for what happens when Darwinism is taken to
its logical conclusion.
It's not a book I'd
recommend for bedtime reading.
In the midst of reading
Hitler and the Nazi Darwinian Worldview, I had the chance to
Comfort's powerful pro-life documentary 180, in which he uses
Holocaust as an analogy for abortion (watch it at www.180movie.com/).
Ray opens with clips of interviews with young people. Astoundingly,
almost none knew who Hitler was.
And there you have it. We
are raising a nation of people who don't know who Adolf Hitler was, or
what he did; yet they have been raised on the same existential
philosophy that drove his killing machine.
Is this really such a
It is if Dr. Bergman is
correct about the parallels that he and others are drawing to events in
our world today.
Consider, for example, the
alarming increase in reports of Antisemitism in many parts of the
Or consider the "weaning of
Americans from Christianity by banning public display of Christian
symbols and ritual." This is, he points out, "remarkably reminiscent of
what Nazi Germany did."
Or consider any of the
other steps that the western world is taking, from gun control
legislation to interfering with (and in some cases persecuting)
home-schooling parents – all echoes of Hitler's own policies.
Then read Dr. Bergman's
latest book, and consider the similarities between the philosophies
underlying the Third Reich, and those prevailing in our culture today.
What do you think? Is there
cause for concern?
Many in Germany, early on,
recognized the harm of Darwinism, and the Prussian Minister of
Education for a time in 1875 forbade the "schoolmasters in the country
to have anything to do with Darwinism…with a view of protecting
schoolchildren from the dangers of the new doctrines." A significant
question is this: Would the Nazi Holocaust have occurred if this ban
had remained in effect?
Great question – one that I
believe Dr. Bergman answers affirmatively and persuasively in this very
Foth-Regner is a
freelance writer and the author of Heaven Without Her (Thomas
2008) – a memoir describing how, in the wake of her beloved Christian
mother's death, creation science pointed her to the truth of the Bible
and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Lavoisier's Influence on
the Third Reich:
who was anyone
(Investigator 155, 2014
Foth-Regner (#153) answers
the "why" of the Holocaust. She blames it chiefly on Hitler's
acceptance of eugenics — the belief that selective breeding and
sterilization can improve "races" — which in turn supposedly came from
Charles Darwin's idea of "natural selection". With natural selection
tied up with the Holocaust, Evolution has to be wrong and unscientific.
This argument is a
variation of "attack the man and ignore his evidence" with the
difference that Foth-Regner attacks the science (by associating it with
Here are three quotes from
Scientific American to summarize the unscientific status of
but scientific status of Natural Selection:
- "Social Darwinism and
eugenics movement that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th
centuries were pseudoscientific attempts, now discredited, to apply
Darwin's ideas to social planning." (Gary Stix)
- "The status of
selection is now secure, reflecting decades of detailed empirical
work." (Allen Orr)
- "Understanding of
is fostering powerful technologies for health care, law enforcement,
ecology, and all manner of optimization and design problems." (David
We could get hundreds of
similar quotes every year because discoveries in genetics and geology
and related sciences are ongoing and generate countless scientific
reports. To reject what evolution is based on i.e. thousands of
discoveries is rejection of science.
Why not broaden
Foth-Regner's argument and get rid of chemistry too? We simply besmirch
the character of Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) the "founder of modern
chemistry" because the Nazi regime used products of chemistry to gas
people to death.
To show that such thinking
is silly I paraphrased Foth-Regner's title in my title, by changing
"Darwin" to "Lavoisier" and "[Darwin's] doctrine" to "Chemistry".
Furthermore, we do not
normally label as "doctrine" anything confirmed by 150 years of
discovery, tests and successful predictions. The existence of
electricity or the moons of Jupiter, for example, are not "doctrines".
pseudoscience when Genetics became a scientific discipline around 1920.
Natural Selection in contrast has passed tests and challenges for 150
years, and was backed by genetics rather than refuted by it, and made
predictions which it also passed, and so is scientific.
Eugenicists wanted to put
into action the ideas of Social Darwinists such as Herbert Spencer.
Allan Chase in The Legacy of Malthus says:
Spencer, the guru
of Social Darwinism—with its fierce injunctions against the Undeserving
Poor; against free universal education, against free meals for indigent
schoolchildren; against clinics, hospitals, and social services for the
non-rich; against all laws that either regulated working hours or
called for minimum standards of occupational safety and health in mines
and factories; against laws establishing minimum standards of health
and safety in dwellings built, sold, and rented for human habitation;
and above all, against trade unions, which Spencer saw as instruments
of human tyranny that would destroy civilization—quickly became the
favoured philosophy of the affluent. He not only proclaimed the moral
rights of the Deserving Rich to heaven; Spencer also denounced the
immorality and impracticability of health, education, safety, and
welfare programs that would have materially increased their taxes here
on earth… (p. 105)
The cruel Spencerian
concept of millions of inferior people born worthy only of a quick and
unmourned death, and of far lesser numbers of superior people
prospering because they were born fittest to survive, formed an
important element of conventional wisdom of the educated classes of the
nineteenth century. So pervasive was this common error that "the
survival of the fittest" was what evolution was all about that most
educated people also believed that it was Darwin, and not Spencer, who
had coined this phrase originally. Although Darwin considered Spencer
to be a conceited and ill-informed boor who made sweeping scientific
statements on the basis of inadequate evidence and personal
observation, this did not stop educated people from regarding Spencer
as the man who had applied Darwinian evolution to sociology. (p. 106)
Spencer's ideas were also
fodder to racists such as Madison Grant ("The Passing of the Great
Race") and Lothrup Stoddard ("The Rising Tide of Color") avidly read by
Hitler's closest advisors.
Eugenic and racist political agendas had
little in common with the "origin of species" or with genetics.
Creationists who blame the
Holocaust on evolution are conducting a smear campaign as surely as
atheists who argue that Hitler was a Christian and blame the Holocaust
on The Bible.
My position is, let science
do its work and accept what's discovered, including evolution to
extent science demonstrates it. If we cannot confirm the Bible with
science then we cannot confirm it — full stop.
Over the years I've
shown hundreds of Bible statements substantiated in mainstream
scientific publications, but this is undone and faith becomes fantasy
if science is invalid.
Anonymous. Social Darwinism,
Investigator #33, November 1993, 8-24
Chase, A. 1980 The
Legacy of Malthus, Alfred A. Knopf
Orr, H.A. Testing Natural
Selection, Scientific American, January 2009, 30-36
Mindel, D.P. Evolution in
the Everyday World, Scientific American, January 2009, 68-75
Stix, G. Darwin's Living
Legacy, Scientific American, January 2009, 24-29