More “Before Auschwitz”

Here is another review of the book I noted in an earlier post.  Some quotes:
“For this to work as intended, it is essential that one avoids what Hinlicky calls “the retrospective fallacy.” In studying the history of Nazism, all of us tend to be influenced by the fact that we know the outcome. This easily skews our evaluations in a way that makes it difficult to take the supporters of Nazism seriously, and thus distracts from our ability to learn from the story as it actually unfolded. Hinlicky’s avowed goal is, however, to study the debate on Nazism on its own terms, thus trying to learn how the different participants in it acted as they did, and to learn from that. By approaching the story from this particular angle, and consistently criticising those who don’t, he succeeds in showing that the supporters of Nazism where not stupid. They had reasons for doing what they did…”
“…The conclusion is therefore that a traditional conservative/liberal, right/left dichotomy is not at all helpful in capturing the dynamics of the relationship between the Nazis and their supporters and opponents either politically or theologically. Nazism understands itself as a modern, rational movement and its defenders looked at it in the same way. To support Nazism was to support science and progress.”
“…Bultmann is a particularly interesting case here, himself arguing that theology should take seriously that very kind of scientism that Nazism made its starting point. Still, he was sufficiently informed by his own appreciation of Pauline and Lutheran anthropology to understand that Nazism moved in a direction that was in direct opposition to his own Christian existentialism…”
“What was, then, the ideology Nazism’s German and foreign critics were up against? Hinlicky tries to get a grip on that as well by relying on Mein Kampf and Hitler’s table talks as his primary sources. As Hinlicky presents it, it is a kind of naturalist materialism related both to Darwinism and Nietzsche’s Übermensch philosophy. Hitler had no formal university education, and that was one of the reasons German intellectuals could never bring themselves to taking him seriously. But he was not uninformed, and his thoughts have a kind of fascinating logic to them. His views on race and eugenics were not particularly controversial in the 1930s; in that respect, many among the progressives, and even some of the less progressive, agreed with him on both sides of the Atlantic.”

“Hitler was, however, not only a naturalist. He considered himself as the prophet of a new era, the third kingdom, as the eschatological implications of the word Endlösung clearly indicate. Hitler’s philosophical hero Nietzsche was no anti-Semite. But Hitler radicalized Nietzsche’s critique of the Jewish slave morality to a critique of all who suppress nature’s principle that might is right. Religions usually do, however, and the Jews, by means of their seeing themselves, in spite of their powerlessness, as God’s chosen people, are the worst of the pack. In fighting the Jews, Hitler was therefore convinced that he represented progress and science, and he was aware of the religious and eschatological implications of the fight that in his view was necessary for carrying this principle to its victory.”
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