Science and Nazism

The unconfessed collaboration of scientists with National Socialism

Oskar Kokoschka. Sturm Plakat, 1911. Tempera on canvas, 70 × 102 cm.

Nazism is all too often trivialised as a movement led by a handful of enlightened and unstable people. Films and television series (as well as comic books and video games) where National Socialism has been shown as a gathering of disturbed people on the verge of the most nonsensical histrionism have notoriously contributed to this. But in recent years, historiographic revisionism has shown that the German (and Austrian) academic world was involved, and that the apparent arbitrariness with which the actions were conducted was based on major philosophical and scientific foundations. Concepts such as Lebensraum (“living space”), Weltanschauung (“cosmovision”), Entartung (“degradation”), or Heimat (“identity”) were extensively explored by the German academy, with the aim of creating a solid and apparently scientific theoretical corpus to legitimise Nazi politics.

This monograph seeks precisely to show the level of involvement of the German academic world with Nazi postulates. Reading the articles, we can deduce that renowned scientists participated in the policies of the Third Reich, fully integrated within Nazi ideology, which resulted in the death and forced displacement of millions of people. This active participation, often even enthusiastic, should motivate a deeper reflection on how educated minds of exceptional scientific value were abducted by the postulates of Nazism. These facts should warn us against the resurgence of totalitarian and far-right movements in the world and redouble our efforts to combat them from the very first moment.

© Mètode 2019 - 102. Online only.. Science and Nazism - Volume III (2019)