Flashcards in Eugenics and Fascist Social Policy Deck (38):
What is fascism?
o A form of radical authoritarian nationalism characterised by:
- dictatorial power
- forcible suppression of opposition/enemies
- control of industry and commerce
o Fascism generally encompasses notion of the people as a mass behind the leader i.e. followers
When did fascism become more prevalent?
o Fascism gained prevalence in early 20th century Europe.
o This time period signified the emergence of revolutionary nationalists movements, gaining recognition during the interwar years.
Why did fascism gain prevalence during the interwar years?
o Fascists were inspired by WW1 - viewed as a revolutionary event.
o The war’s ability to mobilise millions of people to serve on the front lines and provide economic production and logistics was admired and supported by fascists as well as the ability to gain unprecedented power/authority to intervene in the lives of citizens. (Michael Mann, ‘Fascists’, 2004)
In which country can the first significant fascist group be traced to?
o First emerged in Italy in 1919 but soon spread to other countries in Europe (Peter Davies and Derek Lynch, ‘The Routledge Companion to Fascism and the Far Right, 2002).
o Benito Mussolini created political dictatorship beginning 1925.
Who were the most significant fascist powers in Europe during WW2?
o German National Socialism i.e. Nazism (1933-1945)
- Most well known and devastating.
- Set apart from other types of fascism through their notions and philosophies i.e. the importance of racism.
o Fascist Italy under rule of Mussolini.
o Elements of fascism could also be found in other European countries such as Spain, France, Poland and Austria.
What are the defining characteristics of fascism?
o One-party rule
o Extreme nationalism and martialism (the quality of being warlike)
- The 'integration' of business/union associations but with state leadership (common good before the individual good)
o Preservation of private property
- Except for 'anti-social' Jews in Germany.
o Racism and anti-Semitism (esp. in Germany)
- Genetic sense of race as biology
- Eastern Europe and Jews targeted
- Jews as an internal enemy - a 'virus', 'cancer' or 'parasites'
o 'Reactionary modernism' (Herf)
o State terror (secret police)
- E.g. The Gestapo (Secret State Police) were the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German occupied Europe.
o Rejection of both liberal capitalism and Bolshevism/communism
- Bolshevism was the communist form of government adopted in Russia following the Bolshevik revolution of 1917
How did Mussolini and Hitler exemplify extreme nationalism and martialism?
o Both Mussolini and Hitler pursued territorial expansionist and interventionist foreign policy agendas from the 1930s through the 1940s culminating in WW2.
o In general, both wanted more land and to have a greater influence in world affairs.
Expand on what 'reactionary modernism' refers to.
o Term coined by US historian Jeffrey Herd in his book 'Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich' (1984)
o Explains term as way of expressing the mixture of 'great enthusiasm for modern technology with a rejection of the Enlightenment and the values and institutions of liberal democracy'.
o This ideology is characteristic of Nazism.
In terms of ideologies, what commonalities can be found i across different fascist groups?
o Racism, eugenics, nationalism
o Corporatism and stress on unity
o Violent opposition to parliamentary democracy
- (particularly against communism, social democrats and the left)
o Violent attacks on the left
o Glorification of violence and war, militarism
What is 'Hitler's Table Talk'?
o During WWII, Hitler gave a series of monologues expressing his various objectives and aims. These were transcribed between 1941-44 and titled 'Hitler's Table Talk'.
o The talks surround the topic of war and foreign affairs as well as communicate Hitler’s attitudes on religion, culture, philosophy and his personal aspirations and feelings towards his enemies and friends.
Discuss 'Hitler's Table Talk' as a primary source which divulges his expansionist aspirations.
o A particular monologue given in 1941 reveals Hitler’s vision of a Germanised Europe by carrying out European colonialisation/imperialism.
-‘This Russian desert, we shall populate it…we’ll Europeanize it.’
- ‘There’s only one duty: to Germanise this country by the immigration of Germans and to look upon the natives as Redskins.’
o So, there are clear ideas of race and superiority underlying the Nazi regime.
What is a key fascist ideology (especially in Germany)?
o Race as biology or 'racial purity'
- used to determine superiority and inferiority (these qualities considered as innate traits)
- Aryans vs. Slavic peoples and Jews
- Major social and cultural influences
- Used as justification for war of extermination/to terminate East.
Is race as a determinant of superiority or inferiority a new concept during this time period?
o No, this ideology can be traced back throughout history.
o Civilisation/cultured vs. savages/barbarians is reminiscent of the ‘civilising mission’ of imperialism.
o Religion vs. religion/non-religious (e.g. Christian vs. heathens/pagans) has existed throughout history – missions to convert.
o Jews as a ‘race’; a fixed biological character – even converted Jews – is an ideal which came to fruition in the late 19th to mid-20th centuries.
o Miscegenation frowned upon – the interbreeding of people considered to be of different racial types.
What was the general opinion towards science?
o Science was held in high public acclaim and considered as offering lots of promise.
o Science beginning to better understand disease, industry and biology.
o Widespread belief that science would be the source solutions to many problems spurred by the myriad of social problems in 19th century industrialising countries:
- Environmental and sanitary issues
- Class tensions
- Population health
What influenced the development of science in the late 19th and early 20th centuries?
o Economic growth (and competition) spurred the 2nd industrial revolution.
o This propelled the development of technology and science (esp. in Germany).
In what ways did the development of science become exploited?
o Science being used/forged to provide justification for ideas about race.
o However, ideas of race as biology can be considered as pseudoscience as no real scientific basis/evidence to suggest race can determine superiority or inferiority.
Give an example of a biologist who used science to justify ideas of race as biology.
o Ernst Haeckel, a German biologist argued that Darwin’s work could be used to show the development of ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ organisms in history.
- He developed a hierarchical scale of 12 types of the human race and associated physical characteristics with culture.
- Argued that the German people were the most highly evolved of all social organisms; although the highest stage of his cultural scale had not yet been reached
Give an example of another biologist who used his discoveries as metaphors.
o German biologist, Rudolf Virchow discovered that the body is made up of cells and they are all multiples of the original – thus life was a hereditary succession of cells.
o The idea of the cell acquired significance as the basis of medicine and the basis of physiological life.
o According to writings of Virchow from the 1850s, cells lived in a ‘cellular democracy’ and as a ‘republic of cells’
- Clear political overtones as Virchow was a supporter of the failed 1848 liberal revolutions in Berlin – he did not see any hierarchies in his discussion of cells, for him, body of cells was a metaphor for equality.
How did Hitler exploit the work of Virchow?
o As Virchow’s political language suggests, cells also functioned as a metaphor for the state and society.
- Hitler used idea to apply to Jews as a virus/germ spreading through the German nation.
What do 'pro-natalist' policies refer to?
o Pro-natalism refers to the policy or practice of encouraging the bearing of children, especially government support of a higher birth rate.
o It reinforces ideas of men and women being biologically different.
o Strong emphasis on ‘motherhood’
o Pro-natalist policies were prevalent in WW1
What does Social Darwinism refer to?
o Theory of Evolution brought to life by Charles Darwin’s, ‘Origins of the Species’ from 1859.
o Social Darwinism is a term used to refer to the various ways of thinking and theories that emerged in the late half of the 19th century
- ideas which tried to apply the evolutionary concept of natural selection to people and human society.
- the theory that individuals, groups, and peoples are subject to the same Darwinian laws of natural selection as plants and animals
o Encompasses idea of ‘survival of the fittest’ which became exploited to justify political ideas, imperialism and racism in late 19th and early 20the centuries, driven and advocated by Herbert Spencer.
- Promoted idea of nation as a racialized entity.
How are ideas of 'natural selection' and the development eugenics linked?
o Eugenics forms basis for genetic science.
o It was considered as a way of influencing 'natural selection' in society to improve it.
- In general, it applies principles of selective breeding to humans.
o The term refers to a set of beliefs and and practices which aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population. (Francis Galton, ‘Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope, and Aims’, 1904)
- Galton coined the term.
In more detail, how did eugenicists promote the notion of achieving 'racial hygiene'?
o Positive eugenicists
- Hoped to increase fertility among the wealthier, ‘fitter’ parts of the population, the upper and middle classes
o Negative eugenicists
- Believed marriage and reproduction should be controlled among the ‘unfit’.
- These included; criminals and other perceived deviants such as alcoholics and prostitutes, and those who were termed ‘feeble-minded’, in other words, mentally handicapped, and those who were morally ‘feeble-minded’, including single women who had children.
What ideas surrounding Jews existed (esp. in Germany)?
o Jews no longer defined as a religion but as a race.
o Did not matter if individual was converted to another religion or not a practicing Jew
- E.g. anyone who had Jewish grandparents was considered Jewish.
How did Hitler communicate his dislike for Jews?
o ‘Mein Kamf’
- ‘For a racially pure people which is conscious of its blood can never be enslaved by the Jew.’
- ‘And in politics he [Jew] begins to replace the idea of a democracy by the dictatorship of the proletariat’
- ‘Culturally, he contaminates art, literature, the theatre, he makes a mockery of natural feeling, overthrows all concepts of beauty and sublimity, of the noble and the good, and instead drags men down into the sphere of his own base nature’
- ‘The end is not only the end of the freedom of the peoples oppressed by the Jew, but also the end of this parasite upon the nations.’
o Hitler clearly fuses politics, ideology and race.
o Jews considered as the internal oppressor
How were Jews explicitly ostracised legally?
o Through Nuremberg Laws
- Germany used these laws to deliberately target Jews.
o Laws included:
- Law for the Protection of Hereditary Health of the German People, 18 October 1935: required a certificate of health for a marriage licence
- Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honour, 14 November 1935: barred marriage or sexual relations between Jews and Germans “racially suspect” children, extended to Roma (Gypsies), blacks offspring of “mixed marriages”
- Citizenship Law, 14 November 1935: denied Jews equal rights,
- 1935: Prosecution of homosexuality (50 000 convictions between 1937 and 1939)
- 1941: Regulation that Jews wear a Star of David
(Hitler hated that Jews ‘were German’, looked German, spoke language etc. so imposing rule to wear star attempt to easily differentiate them, and eventually increasingly an excuse to kill them)
What is a significant event which communicates Hitler's strong desire to achieve 'racial purity'?
o The Holocaust
- Hitler’s ideology against Jews leads to justification to ‘exterminate’ them from the ‘body politic’.
- This event differentiates WW1 from WWII as WWII more a ‘total’ war of the people against people
What are some potential explanations /factors for why Italy and Germany resorted to fascist policies?
o Post WW1 saw Italy with no colonies and Germany facing harsh reparations and loss of land due to the punitive nature of the Treaty of Versailles and the re-drawing of national borders.
o Overall surge in unemployment
- Severe restrictions had been placed on workers during the war and expectations of rewards for this were not fulfilled in the post-war years
- Onset of high unemployment because of the post-war recession in the 1920s and economic pressure
- Significant labour discontent
- Fear of the Communist Party and revolution – the Russian experience (but also opposed to liberalism).
o So there is a lot of economic and social dislocation and discontent.
- This propelled the establishment of the 1st fascist parties
In general terms, how was propaganda used by fascists?
o Propaganda was used to communicate fascist desire to achieve:
- 'educate' people of the 'threats' to the nation
- the ideal society
- the support of the youth and workers
How was propaganda communicated?
o It infiltrated the entertainment industries.
- E.g. In Germany, in March 1933, the Reich Ministry of Popular Entertainment and Propaganda was established under Joseph Goebbels, with various subordinate departments to control literature, the arts, radio and the theatre.
Give an example of a propaganda film.
o 'Triumph of the Will' is a 19355 German propaganda film directed, edited, produced and co-written by Leni Riefenstahl
- It chronicles the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg, which was attended by more than 700,000 Nazi supporters
- Communicates ideas of what a nation should be:
• Technological (e.g. depicts use of planes)
• Creates aesthetic of mass ornamentation
• Portrays distinct segregation between men, military, mothers and women (pro-natalist ideas?)
Give an example of a propaganda poster.
oThere is a propaganda poster that portrays Hitler in a Messianic way
- Religious overtones in image but not explicitly religious
- Hitler increasingly being depicted/more associated with figure of the Führer.
- ‘How many look up to him [Hitler] with touching faith as their helper, their savior, their deliverer from unbearable distress.’
(Louis Solmitz, Hamburg schoolteacher, 1932)
How was propaganda utilised to influence the youth?
oEducation as a means of indoctrination
- Education not about free thinking or critical thinking
o Youth organisations (e.g. Hitler Youth in Germany)
- In 1938, Hitler remarked that once a child entered the Jung Volk/Mädel, they would not be free for the rest of their lives.
- Indoctrination effective as Hitler increased in popularity among all groups of people.
o State run sports associations and recreational groups (Italy)
oGender specific nature of activities
- Boys – military training for future war
- Girls - prepared for motherhood and home-making
o So, an underlying emphasis on healthy bodies and reassertion of traditional gender roles.
- Ideological objective to create more healthy, Aryan race
- Emphasis on youth to create a better race and nation for the future.
What promises did propaganda communicate to workers?
o Pensions and welfare system
o Recreational associations (vacations Kraft durch Freude: Strength through Joy)
- Many going on first vacations through Hitler
o Germany: a stake in the racial state
- Vision of unity
o Italy: images of labour for the country, but there was also opposition to the regime
Give an example of an organisation that expressed resistance towards fascism.
o Underground Italian Communist party
- They attacked the constitution of the Fascist regime in 1936, especially on issues like freedom of religion and pensions
-"Today what are the Italian people? Nothing. What should they be? Everything."
- Suggests that they felt that fascism was compromising/challenging Italian national identity.
Why was the emancipation of women considered as a threat to fascists?
o Believed that more independent women would promote the following:
o Dissolution of the family (rising divorce)
o Falling birth rate (especially through abortions)
- Abortions were only granted for ‘unwanted people’ (link to eugenics) such as Jewish women, gypsies and people with mental or physical disabilities.
- These people also subject to sterilisation laws as another way of preventing them from reproducing
• Ca. 320 000 sterilisations carried out in Germany between 1934 and 1939
• Laws also prevalent in the US (30 states)
o Declining moral standards
o Male unemployment
How did fascists ideologies prefer to view women?
o Primarily as wives and mothers.
o Promoted financial incentives to have children (pro-natalist)
- tax breaks
- family allowances
- preferential treatment for certain jobs if men had a large family