In the opening chapters of “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning,” Yale professor Timothy Snyder forcefully acknowledged what he calls the “ecological” Anti-Semitism of the Fuhrer, “An instructive account of the mass murder of the Jews of Europe must be planetary, because Hitler’s thought was ecological, treating Jews as a wound of nature.” In spite of such an assertion, however, the great caveat of Snyder’s book is he inexplicably fails to discuss the Nazi ecological historical record that should have informed his thesis. Snyder goes on to reduce Hitler’s racial ecological worldview to a strict Malthusian war over natural resources which leads him to faulty conclusions at the end of his book. Masquerading as science, Malthusian math is the longstanding myth that there are too many people relative to shrinking natural resources that has been at the very heart of the green movement for well over a century. While Mein Kampf seethes with Malthusian math that Hitler used to justify his invasion of the Soviet Union, there is much more to the story of Nazi ecology than merely this.
Snyder’s introduction presents to the reader one of the most incisive descriptions of Nazi Germany’s ecological Anti-Semitism ever summarized in print, “For Hitler the bringer of the knowledge of good and evil on the earth, the destroyer of Eden, was the Jew. It was the Jew who told humans that they were above other animals, and had the capacity to decide their future for themselves. It was the Jew who introduced the false distinction between politics and nature, between humanity and struggle. Hitler’s destiny, as he saw it, was to redeem the original sin of Jewish spirituality and restore the paradise of blood. Since homo sapiens can survive only be unrestrained racial killing, a Jewish triumph of reason over impulse would mean the end of the species.”
In Hitler’s mind, the humanistic nonsense of the Jews was that they tried to live above Nature through global capitalism in the West, or through global communism in the East – both of which were hopelessly based on the modern emptiness of economic materialism. Worse, such global economic materialism based on humanism allowed the weak to live and leech off of the strong so that Germany was being weakened from within in the face of an inauthentic universal culture alien to the Aryan man, i.e., the German volk. For Hitler and the leading Nazis, “The solution was to expose the Jew to a purified nature, a place where bloody struggle rather than abstract thought mattered, where Jews could not manipulate others with their ideas because there would be no others.” Snyder even plays around with the possibility that World War II on the Eastern Front was essentially a war against the Jews. Leading Nazis actually believed if they wiped out the Jews, they would win the war because Soviet Communism was essentially a humanistic Jewish heresy.
In spite of such scholarly revelations, however, for all of Snyder’s academic acumen and language skills, he wrongfully concludes in a very revealing endnote, “Hitler’s understanding of nature also had little to do with German traditions of thought.” Citing Hegel and Marx, both of whom had an enlightened view of nature inherited from the Judeo-Christian worldview that constituted man above nature, Snyder also mentions Kant in the same breath. Yet the German master’s famous “Critique of Pure Reason” was essentially a critique of the Enlightenment that opened the door to German Romanticism and Existentialism – both of which were nature based movements that not only laid the philosophical foundations for modern environmentalism in the 1800’s, but also were eagerly absorbed by National Socialism in the 1930’s. Kant’s philosophical work essentially gave to the world a sustainable form of reason by limiting it so that German natural theology, mysticism, romanticism, existentialism, and postmodernism could develop and flower into what is otherwise known today as modern environmentalism.
German Romanticism emphasized holism in nature that quietly excluded the Judeo-Christian God from His otherworldly perch as it simultaneously rooted the natural man into his own indigenous environment. Such an earth based trope laid the foundation stones for the German volkisch movement, i.e., the peasant racial community that quickly became nationalistic, xenophobic and Anti-Semitic. Throughout the 1800’s, Jews were, in particular, censured by the romantics because their alleged filthy city ways of international banking and business led to the destruction of the countryside and forestlands of the Fatherland. Such green romantic prejudices percolated in Germany all the way up until the advent of National Socialism.
Thanks to a robust romantic movement that predated National Socialism by well over 100 years, the Nazis made Germany the greenest regime on the planet in the 1930’s. With the exception of Martin Bormann, virtually every leading Nazi had his finger in a green pie that represented everything from nature protection to animal rights, from vegetarianism to organic farming, from sustainable development to green hunting laws, from stormwater concerns to green building, from environmental bureaucracy to a ‘local only’ green farming campaign, from recycling madness to sustainable forestry and a rabid concern over invasive species. Furthermore, following in the footsteps of Germany’s nationalistic romantic movement of the 1800’s, Nazi environmental laws were both Anti-Semitic and administered by Anti-Semites as the early German green movement was absorbed by Heinrich Himmler’s SS blood and soil campaign.
German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), who is the father of modern existentialism, was an Anti-Semitic animal rights guru and dearly loved by the Fuhrer and other leading Nazis like Hess and Rosenberg. Schopenhauer specially blamed the Jews for animalcruelty. Like so many important German philosophers and thinkers, Schopenhauer blew a gasket when he started to talk about Jews, particularly over their biblical views on nature that elevated man above the natural world depicted in the opening chapters of Genesis. Schopenhauer presumed that such a view of man and nature was a form of humanistic arrogance that led to utilitarian attitudes and practices toward animals that even modern science had adopted with regard to vivisection. While Schopenhauer sometimes is considered to be the father of modern environmental ethics, he should perhaps also be declared the originator of environmental social justice as well, “We owe the animals not mercy but justice, and the debt often remains unpaid in Europe, the continent that is permeated with [Jews] … It is obviously high time in Europe that Jewish views on nature should be expelled from Europe.”
There is no question that Schopenhauer’s views were taken to heart by Hitler. In 1933, the Nazis passed a strict animal rights law, which was later featured and extolled in the infamous documentary film “The Eternal Jew.” In the film, Jewish kosher slaughter was particularly singled out as the most heinous of all crimes committed by the “eternal” Jew whose transcendental heavenly values led to no earthly good with regard to the treatment of animals. The documentary makes Jewish kosher slaughter the climax of the film right before the Fuhrer shows up for the first time as he is lauded for the passing of the 1933 animal rights law. The film then shows Hitler’s notorious Reichstag speech in which he promises to send the Jews to hell on the earth if they start another international war. That Jews would soon be crammed in cattle cars that broke Nazi animal transport laws, and were then treated like experimentalanimals at the very best, is thus not so curious. Such is the legacy of Schopenhauer’s environmental social justice.
While Snyder is fully aware of Hitler’s Social Darwinism where Ernst Haeckel’s Germanized Darwinian zoology was misapplied biologically to politics and society from the late 1800’s until 1945, he does not bother to note that eugenics was considered big science back in those days, perhaps very akin to how global warming/climate change has taken center stage today. Indeed, Ernst Haeckel, the very father of German Social Darwinism, coined the term ecology in 1866. In those days, Social Darwinism was called Monism, which eulogized the unity of man and nature at the expense of the Creator/creature distinction emphasized by the Judeo-Christian worldview together with the man/nature dichotomy that is everywhere present throughout the entire Bible – and presumed by the Enlightenment as well.
Haeckel was the first scientist to view the Jews as a biological problem. As such, eugenics, biology, and ecology were all intertwined at the very foundations of the green movement in Germany. While it is true perhaps that environmentalism has placed racism in the rear view mirror since the smoke cleared from the great battlefields of World War II, its more recent anti-humanistic tendencies are far from comforting. Racism is just one form of anti-humanism. The jettisoning of German biology for a more generalized form of environmental anti-humanism does not bode well for the future of mankind as the green movement becomes more entrenched in the West both institutionally and culturally. Today, thanks to the overpopulation diatribe, the green movement largely views man himself as a “wound” of nature that is virtually everywhere trumpeted as a scientific fact. Such inhuman ideas are not being vetted today in either the media, academia, or in elementary/high schools as many are unaware that the same people who celebrated eugenics before World War II, jumped onto the overpopulation bandwagon after the war.
Such critical omissions with regard to Germany’s sordid environmental history also lead Snyder to confuse Karl May’s sauerkraut fictionalized westerns with America’s drive for open spaces. Hitler loved Karl May’s westerns. As such, Snyder tries to associate Hitler’s blitzkrieg with the colonial conquest of the American West without the slightest realization that Karl May’s westerns were actually anti-cowboy books that extolled the warrior ethos of an Apache hero named “Winnetou” together with a German frontiersman called “Shatterhand.” More importantly, unlike the Americans who crossed the frontier to build a better life with Manifest Destiny and individual liberty as their guides, the Nazis were collectively trying to return Germans to a more natural healthy state by converting the eastern territories into an Aryan frontier where Social Darwinism would rule both people and nature. In the Nazi mind, this would rejuvenate the nation and restore natural harmony through sustainable development and economic prosperity without the excesses of the Jewish-American commercial industrial complex.
Hitler and the Nazis wanted to conquer Eastern Europe National Socialism style, and this also meant it had to be subjugated without creating an unfettered capitalistic Dust Bowl in the process. Yes, the ecological disaster of the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s was on the mind of the Fuhrer when the Nazi blitzkrieg began. As such, the Nazis had many green sustainable development plans drawn up for Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and western Russia after the war was over. Hitler wanted the eastern territories to be converted into a beautiful natural park of sorts of sustainable development and extraordinary beauty so the Germans could live heartily in their newly acquired living space. As the Fuhrer once said, “I would regard it as a crime to have sacrificed the lives of German soldiers simply for the conquest of natural riches to be exploited in capitalist style. According to the laws of nature, the soil belongs to him who conquers it.”
While Snyder’s “Black Earth” is an excellent read recounting the holocaust during the heights of World War II with some important innovative interpretations along the way, his omission of the anti-Semitic environmental history of Germany together with the green Nazi historical record itself, betrays his original thesis about Hitler’s ecological crusade against the Jews. In failing to connect the two, he makes very serious interpretive errors with regard to Hitler’s ecological worldview and its relationship to modern environmentalism. While Hitler was by no means a deep ecologist, nor an extreme environmentalist, he was most certainly an environmental fascist with totalitarian goals that would have even gone so far to include some vegetarian diet plans for the Reich had Germany won the war.
Most surprisingly, rather than repudiate Malthusian Math as an environmental fascist myth that needs to be eradicated from the western mindset, in Snyder’s conclusion, he resurrects it once again after severely criticizing Hitler for believing the same. Even though this doctrine has been disproven time and time again for the last 200 years, Snyder manages to place the global warming/climate change debate into the middle of the Malthusian math equation. Snyder believes that global warming/climate change will lead to a Malthusian natural resource crisis in the future in which countries will once again return to a war of genocide in order to obtain living space for the sake of national survival. Snyder thus concludes the climate change crisis has to be resolved by strong state support of climate science. He then criticizes climate skeptics in particular and characterizes them as anti-scientific climate deniers akin to Hitler who will only help precipitate national/international security problems across the planet.
Here again, a much closer inspection of the early German green movement, which Snyder’s original thesis demands, would have protected him from making such foolish connections. One of the original pundits who championed the cause of environmentalism over national security concerns was German green fascist/activist Dr. Erich Hornsmann (1909-1999). In postwar West Germany, Hornsmann often complained that the destruction of Mother Nature was “Enemy Number One” as he presented to the postwar world the entire litany of environmental concerns well before Rachel Carson. While not much is known about his actions during the heyday of the green Nazi movement, it is highly likely he was deeply involved in one way or another. Whatever the exact case may be on how much of a Nazi was green Dr. Hornsmann, what is known is that he sent a postcard to a relative in Bloomington, New Jersey on Hitler’s 50th birthday stating, “We think of you sincerely on a great Day! We must pity, however, ‘God’s own country’ as long as it is ruled and exploited by Jews and their servants.”
With Hornsmann leading the charge after the war, the German greens became extremely vitriolic and apocalyptic since Germany had been bombed into oblivion with an industrial destruction never seen before in the history of the world. That the capitalistic Americans wound up in charge of the nuclear bomb only made them more apocalyptic in fervor. It is thus hardly surprising that Austrian green Nazi Gunther Schwab (1904-2006) was one of the original popularizers of the CO2 global warming apocalypse dating all the way back to the 1950’s. After the collapse of the 1,000 year millennial Reich, it was primarily the German greens who turned modern environmentalism into an apocalyptic worldview demanding immediate action to stave off armageddon that has since mutated into a proverbial “cry wolf” cult kept afloat by super rich elitists and their foundations together with virtual infinite amounts of cash absconded from middle class taxpayers.
Snyder remains completely oblivious to the fact that the environmental sciences are deeply imbued with anti-Enlightenment philosophical views about man and nature that are anything but scientific, and which are the primary drivers of their conclusions. That modern green science has swallowed whole Malthusian math – hook, line, and sinker – only exacerbates the problem. In the conclusion of his book, Snyder conflates the great progress of modern agricultural science with the scientism of the global warming/climate change apocalypse as if they are part of the same “Green Revolution.” They are by no means the same. The environmental movement works against the advancement of the modern agricultural sciences, and has managed to infiltrate them to the point where such progress will only become much more expensive and less practical. It is the green movement itself that is throwing gas onto the Malthusian fire by adding myriads of restrictions, rules, taxes, and regulations onto the modern economy that makes everything artificially scarce and more expensive with an ever diminishing return of environmental gains. Worse, the poor of the world cannot pay for a green paradise conjured up by elitist environmental lawyers who think Eden can be regained through an existential triumph of the will.
Thanks to their own romanticism, existentialism, postmodernism, and scientism where nature rather than thought is the primary guide, most greens cannot tell the difference between science and Malthusian math. Herein lies the real problem facing the western world today as it has conjured up an imaginary crisis of its own making. Malthusian Math construes environmental data that invariably leads to millenarian and/or apocalyptic concerns and dangerous anti-human political policies that are holistic and totalitarian by design, and thus, fascist to the core. This is the real history lesson of Hitler’s anti-Semitic ecological worldview that Snyder completely ignores.