Which Came First: The Chicken, the Egg, or the Abattoir?
By Ed Driscoll · March 30, 2005 09:32 PM · The Future and its Enemies · The Gulag Archipelago · The Reich Stuff
Orrin Judd has had several recent posts that have highlighted the darkest aspect of what the Terri Schiavo drama could portend: that Germany's obsession with euthanasia, and eventually wholesale assembly line-style slaughter in the 1930s and 1940s, actually pre-dated the rise of the Nazis, just as anti-Semitism was present long before as well. The Nazis simply stoked both ideas and then perfected the dark technology to carry them out.
This is actually consistent with much current historical thinking about pre-WWII Germany. In the past, most historians viewed the Nazis as a strange alien virus that subverted the will of the peaceful and enlightened Germans, as Orrin himself wrote a few years ago:
When it comes to popular history on the Nazi era, a subject about which very little deviation from the norm is tolerated, the one book that you'll most often see cited is William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. A perfectly acceptable relic of its time, this book treats Hitler and the Nazi Party as complete aberrations, imposed on a slumbering Germany by a freakish set of circumstances. This view, understandable in a liberal West which finds it necessary to aver "it couldn't happen here" and which found it necessary to rehabilitate Germany into a worthy Cold War ally, has prevailed for the better part of sixty years now.Current thinking seems to be quite different: as Ian Kershaw described in his two-volume biography of Hitler (full disclosure: I haven't read Vol. 1 yet), Hitler was accepted quite enthusiastically by the bulk of the German people, at least until the invasion of Russia went south.
Scientists in particular led the way for much of Germany's culture of death, as Mark P. Mostert noted in the fall 2002 Journal of Special Education:
Prior to World War I, the German eugenicists concurred with their American and British colleagues regarding a scale of human worth, dividing the German population into those who were superior (hochwertig) and inferior (minderwertig). Thus, eugenics asserted that the "feebleminded" (a generic, inaccurate term covering everything from mental retardation to alcoholism) were almost always so because of inherited inferior characteristics. From these assumptions, they "saw the cause of the social problems of their times, such as alcoholism and prostitution, as inherited feeblemindedness, and viewed the manifestations of poverty, such as intermittent employment and chronic illness, as a hereditary degeneracy" (Friedlander, 1995, p. 6).Read the whole thing, it's quite staggering.
Am I suggesting that Terri's death will be a slippery slope into the abyss? Not necessarily. (And this is not to suggest that America is on a path to becoming Nazi Germany--or the Weimar Republic for that matter. That's Chutch's schtick.)
However, it's important to note that path that previous cultures and their scientists took, observe the landmarks along their way, and compare them with the road signs appearing in our windshields.
Since 2002, News, Technology and Pop Culture, 24 Hours a Day, Live and in Stereo!
(And every Saturday on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.)
What They're Saying
"Ed Driscoll: cultural journalism for the twenty-first century!"--Brian Anderson, City Journal magazine
Support the Site
Site design by
Copyright © 2002-2008 Edward B. Driscoll, Jr. All Rights Reserved