The National Socialist View of the Natural World

The National Socialists of the Third Reich were true environmentalists. They had a great respect for the natural world and its immutable laws, seeking the ‘organic’ not only in their food, but also in their community organization, building projects, and political leadership. This outlook was in stark contrast to the Communist machine, which had little regard for the sanctity of creation.

The National Socialists built upon the groundwork laid by 19th century zoologist Ernst Haeckel, who invented the term ecology. Haeckel had a holistic view of man and thought he should have a symbiotic relationship with the natural world. Haeckel saw that the laws guiding Nature also apply to human civilization.

Civilization and the life of nations are governed by the same laws as prevail throughout nature and organic life. ~ Ernst Haeckel <1>

Haeckel had a Darwinian approach, seeing the strong organisms, which are willing to struggle and fight, as those who would ascend upward and evolve. They are rightfully superior.

The whole of organic nature on our planet exists only by a relentless war of all against all. … The raging war of interests in human society is only a feeble picture of an unceasing and terrible war of existence which reigns throughout the whole of the living world. ~ Ernst Haeckel <2>

Haeckel viewed God in all of the material world, and not opposed to it. Later you will see how his thinking was reflected in Adolf Hitler.

We are compelled by reflection to recognize that God is not to be placed against the material world [as in Christianity], but must be placed as a ‘divine power’ or ‘moving spirit’ within the cosmos itself … All the wonderful phenomena of nature around us, organic as well as inorganic, are only various products of one and the same original force. ~ Ernst Haeckel <3>

Let’s consider the words of the National Socialists themselves to better understand their view, starting with the Founder and Head of the National Socialist Teachers Association.

National Socialism is politically applied biology. ~ Hans Schemm <4>

Adolf Hitler wanted to apply biology to politics, but thought it was erroneous for man to assume he could be supreme master of Nature.

Man must not fall into the error of thinking that he was ever meant to become lord and master of Nature. A lopsided education has helped to encourage that illusion. Man must realize that a fundamental law of necessity reigns throughout the whole realm of Nature and that his existence is subject to the law of eternal struggle and strife. He will then feel that there cannot be a separate law for mankind in a world in which planets and suns follow their orbits, where moons and planets trace their destined paths, where the strong are always the masters of the weak and where those subject to such laws must obey them or be destroyed. Man must also submit to the eternal principles of this supreme wisdom. He may try to understand them but he can never free himself from their sway. ~ Adolf Hitler <5>

[It is] useful to know the laws of nature – for that enables us to obey them. To act otherwise would be to rise in revolt against heaven. ~ Adolf Hitler <6>

Hitler’s feelings about Nature were seen in his desire to preserve the German countryside.

The German countryside must be preserved under all circumstances, for it is and has forever been the source of strength and greatness of our people. ~ Adolf Hitler <7>

This worldview permeated all aspects of the Reich, and could even be found in the construction of roadways.

The German landscape is something unique that we cannot disturb and have no right to destroy. The more densely populated our ‘living space’ becomes with settlements, the greater our hunger will grow for unspoilt nature. The ever increasing spiritual damage caused by life within the big city will make this hunger practically uncontrollable … when we build here on this the landscape of our homeland we must be clear that we will protect its beauty; and in places where this beauty has already disappeared, we will reconstruct it. ~ Fritz Todt <8>

We do not build speedways, but roads which correspond to the character of the German landscape. ~ Fritz Todt <9>

For decades engineers have stood accused that their buildings do not have any cultural value. We have attempted to liberate engineering of this accusation. As National Socialists we are dedicated to working with boldness, but also with love of the Volk and our landscape in mind. These roads do not serve transportation alone, they also bind our Fatherland. In these highways our engineering will reflect the National Socialist movement. ~ Fritz Todt <10>

The landscape of Germany was especially crucial as the German folk were seen by the National Socialists to be a unique result of their particular blood and soil (blut und boden).

The morality and customs of Germans are derived entirely from the organizational unity of blood and soil. ~ R. Walther Darré <11>

The laws of the land in Germany were based upon on the natural laws of life.

The leadership of our National Socialist state and our conception of a people [Volk] is penetrated and inspired by foundations in biology. Legal provisions are derived from the laws of life. Their worth proceeds from the degree to which they are thought through in biological terms and on biological foundations. ~ Walter Greit <12>

Hitler saw that the natural world was not “democratic,” with natural aristocracy seen everywhere.

The parliamentary principle of vesting legislative power in the decision of the majority rejects the authority of the individual and puts a numerical quota of anonymous heads in its place. In doing so it contradicts the aristocratic principle, which is a fundamental law of nature. ~ Adolf Hitler <13>

This natural aristocracy, which the cultural Marxists fight so hard against, is obvious to anyone with eyes to see. Races are not created equal.

The völkisch concept of the world recognizes that the primordial racial elements are of the greatest significance for mankind. In principle, the State is looked upon only as a means to an end and this end is the conservation of the racial characteristics of mankind. Therefore on the völkisch principle we cannot admit that one race is equal to another. By recognizing that they are different, the völkisch concept separates mankind into races of superior and inferior quality. On the basis of this recognition it feels bound in conformity with the eternal Will that dominates the universe, to postulate the victory of the better and stronger and the subordination of the inferior and weaker. And so it pays homage to the truth that the principle underlying all Nature’s operations is the aristocratic principle and it believes that this law holds good even down to the last individual organism. ~ Adolf Hitler <14>

Difference which exists between the lowest, so-called men, and the other higher races is greater than between the lowest men and the highest apes. ~ Adolf Hitler <15>

Along with recognizing the reality of racial superiority and wanting to improve the natural environment for the folk, the National Socialists wanted to improve the folk themselves, and looked to Nature for the prescription to do so. This idea of eugenics has been greatly disparaged, but is completely natural.

For as soon as the procreative faculty is thwarted and the number of births diminished, the natural struggle for existence which allows only healthy and strong individuals to survive is replaced by a sheer craze to ‘save’ feeble and even diseased creatures at any cost. And thus the seeds are sown for a human progeny which will become more and more miserable from one generation to another, as long as Nature’s will is scorned. ~ Adolf Hitler <16>

Even in those days [in Vienna] I already saw that there was a two-fold method by which alone it would be possible to bring about an amelioration of these [social] conditions. This method is: first, to create better fundamental conditions of social development by establishing a profound feeling for social responsibilities among the public; second, to combine this feeling for social responsibilities with a ruthless determination to prune away all excrescences which are incapable of being improved.

Just as Nature concentrates its greatest attention, not to the maintenance of what already exists but on the selective breeding of offspring in order to carry on the species, so in human life also it is less a matter of artificially improving the existing generation – which, owing to human characteristics, is impossible in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred – and more a matter of securing from the very start a better road for future development. ~ Adolf Hitler <17>

And, of course, a vigorous folk needs to expand to new soil, which was seen as completely in line with natural law.

Every healthy Völk sees the right to expansion of its living space as something natural. ~ Adolf Hitler <18>

Although there are plenty of quotes suggesting Hitler had an affinity for Christianity, it appears he took Haeckel’s view that the religion is unnatural. Hitler saw Christianity as standing against Nature, which should be our teacher and the basis for our religious impulse.

Christianity [is] a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. ~ Adolf Hitler <19>

Man has discovered in nature the wonderful notion of that all-mighty being whose law he worships. Fundamentally in everyone there is the feeling for this all-mighty, which we call god (that is to say, the dominion of natural laws throughout the whole universe). ~ Adolf Hitler <20>

The man who contemplates the universe with his eyes wide open is the man with the greatest amount of natural piety; not in the religious sense, but in the sense of an intimate harmony with things. ~ Adolf Hitler <21>

As with most controversial Hitler quotes, I am sure the above statements are disputed. These sentiments, however, were shared by NSDAP Party Secretary Martin Bormann.

When we National Socialists speak of a belief in God, we do not mean what naive Christians and their clerical exploiters have in mind. …The power of nature’s law is what we call the omnipotent force or God. …We National Socialists demand of ourselves that we live as naturally as possible, that is to say in accord with the laws of life. The more precisely we understand and observe the laws of nature and of life and the more we keep to them, the more we correspond to the will of this omnipotent force. ~ Martin Bormann <22>

This reverence for the natural world was clearly demonstrated by the treatment of animals in the Third Reich. Upon assuming power, the National Socialists quickly banned fox hunting, vivisection (unnecessary and cruel animal experimentation), and inhumane (kosher) slaughter. The Fuhrer himself had a largely vegetarian diet and had a great relationship with animals.

The German people have always shown their great love of animals and the question of animal protection was always near their hearts. For thousands of years the German people have always looked upon their household and farmyard animals as their companions, in the case of horses as their fighting companions, and as God’s creatures. To the German, animals are not merely creatures in the organic sense, but creatures who lead their own lives and who are endowed with perceptive facilities, who feel pain and experience joy and prove to be faithful and attached. …Under the influence of foreign conceptions of justice and a strange comprehension of law, through the unhappy fact that the exercise of justice was in the hands of people alien to the nation (i.e., Jews) — because of all these conditions, until now, the animal was considered a dead thing under the law. ~ Hermann Goering <23>

As we conclude, let’s reflect upon the words of a popular writer in Second Empire Germany, as he was a clear inspiration for the National Socialists to come.

Nations whose feeling for nature dissipates because they destroy their homeland, carry the seeds of death in them; they only continue as a nation artificially. Nations with a strongly defined feeling for nature, like the Germans and the Slavs, overcome even the hardest blows and have an unlimited capacity for regeneration. Therefore a government that seeks to maintain the feeling for nature of its people is smart, and to that end no sacrifice is too large, no means too small, and everyone who helps with that serves his Völk.” ~ Hermann Löns <24>

There is much more that could be said on this subject, but hopefully this plants a seed of interest in the reader.

  1. Ernst Haeckel, The History of Creation. 2 vols. (New York: D. Appleton, 1876), vol. I, p. 11
  2. Ernst Haeckel, Monism: The Confession of Faith of a Man of Science. Tr. J. Gilchrist (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1895), pp. 73-74
  3. Ernst Haeckel, Monism: The Confession of Faith of a Man of Science. Tr. J. Gilchrist (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1895), p. 15
  4. Founder and Head of the National Socialist Teachers Association
  5. Mein Kampf, Chapter 10
  6. Hitler’s Secret Conversations, 1941-1945, p. 116
  7. Hitler quoted in Raymond H. Dominick III, The Environmental Movement in Germany: Prophets and Pioneers, 1871-1971 (Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1992), p. 81
  8. Franz W. Seidler, Fritz Todt: Baumeister des Dritten Reiches (München: F.A. Herbig, 1986), p. 113
  9. Fritz Todt, “Vortrag in der Leipzig-Hochschule am 6.2.1934” in Die Autobahn, 4/1934, p. 125
  10. Deutsche Technik, June 1935, p. 270
  11. R. Walther Darré, Um Blut und Boden: Reden und Aufsätze (München: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, Franz Eher Nachführung, 1942), p. 57
  12. Chief of Reichsbund für Biologie – Klaus Fischer, Nazi Germany: A New History (New York, Continuum, 1995), p. 233
  13. Mein Kampf, Chapter 3
  14. Mein Kampf, Chapter 13
  15. Hitler quoted in Heinz Bruecher, Ernst Haeckels Bluts- und Geisteserbe (München: Lehmann, 1936), p. 91
  16. Hitler Speech, Völkischer Beobachter, 11 November 1931
  17. Mein Kampf, Chapter 4
  18. Mein Kampf, Chapter 2
  19. Hitler’s Secret Conversations, 1941-1945 (New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1953), p. 43
  20. ibid, p. 5
  21. ibid, p. 5
  22. Boria Sax, Animals in the Third Reich: Pets, Scapegoats, and the Holocaust (New York: Continuum, 2000), p. 106
  23. Hermann Goering, The Political Testament of Hermann Goering. Tr. H.W. Blood Hermann (London: John Lang, 1939), pp. 70f
  24. Zeitschrift für Vogelschutz und andere Gebiete des Naturschutzes 1, 1 (1920), p. 44

Originally posted by Kyle Hunt at: Renegade Tribune