July 21, 2015

How green were the Nazis? Pretty green, it turns out

William KayRebel Blogger

The Third Reich was the greenest regime the world’s ever seen.

The eleven authors of the 2005 book How Green Were the Nazis? were painfully aware that contemporary studies of German conservatism’s evolution into Nazism routinely highlight the naturalistic and ecological underpinnings of this political current. An appeal to the authority of ecology for political guidance is widely acknowledged as being basic to Nazism. 

A need to refute this scholarly consensus motivated the writing of How Green Were the Nazis? … but alas, in vain. The eleven clods (environmentalists all) formed a circular firing squad around their target. They shot holes through one another’s arguments then fled the scene leaving behind piles of good ammunition.

What follows is a critical condensation of How Green Were the Nazis? (Links lead to relevant chapters in the posting.)

Highlights from this posting:

  • - All leading Nazis were passionate about the environment and they put their views into practice.
  • - Upon assuming power Hermann Goring immediately decreed strict eco-forestry laws across Germany. Goring was also a driving force behind the 1935 passage of the Reich Nature Protection Law which elevated conservationism to heights seen nowhere else in the world. Within three years of its passage the Nazis established 800 nature parks.
  • - Nazi Agriculture Minister Walter Darre, considered by some to be the father of the modern green movement, coined the term “organic” foods and tried to legislate organic farming methods across Germany. After this convicted war criminal was released on medical grounds he wrote articles for nascent environmentalist journals under an assumed name.
  • - Uber-green Nazi land-use planners imposed rigorous eco-policies across newly conquered territories in the East resulting in “cleansing” the land of millions of rural people. These land-use planners were never brought to account for their crimes and they carried on as consultants and academics after 1945.
  • - Martin Heidegger, whose writings remain a staple in contemporary philosophy courses, was a proud and influential Nazi Party member from 1933 to 1945. After 1945 Heidegger shifted to articulating the ethical basis of the modern environmentalism while continuing to defend Nazism.

(William Kay is the author of dozens of long, meticulously researched essays on environmentalism, government and the economy, most of which are too long to run here at The Megaphone in full. Click HERE to go to the full text of “How Green were the Nazis?”)      


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commented 2015-08-23 07:42:19 -0400
Ian – It is reasonable you would look to “guilt by association” because that is what the left did to the right. The (mainstream) right argument isn’t so heavy handed.
What connections like this establish is,
1. NAZIism is NOT akin to the modern right, or the traditional right for that matter. This has been utterly refuted in recent years yet people still casually talk of neo-fascist parties as “right wing”. Clearly the argument bears repeating.
2. The NAZIs were not "a ‘historical aberration’ but as a barbaric mutation of modernity that displayed ‘a mixture of atavistic and avante-garde ideas’ in environmental as in other policy areas.”(from the book cover). The last time ideas like this were tried, results were bad. This should inform the framework we use to scrutinize contemporary policy.
It’s not that “green is fascist” but that “green was associated with authoritarianism.” Does it have to be? How else to achieve the goals? What safeguards have we taken this time?
commented 2015-08-19 09:54:25 -0400
I have to ask…what were the underlying philosophies that led to this green movement? What about the ‘cleansing’ of the rurals? Sounds like a superior mind left over from Darwinism.
commented 2015-08-03 22:01:11 -0400
This article is pretty stupid – the old ‘guilt by association’ trick. Not that it’s untrue – being green and organic was integral to Nazi philosophy. However, the fact that the Nazis were green or organic does not prove that today’s environmentalists are even remotely like the Nazis or that environmentalism is somehow tinged with Nazism. There’s enough wrong with today’s environmentalism that we don’t need cheap errors in basic logic like in this article. As for Heidegger – he spent one year as an active Nazi and then got the boot. If his ideas were as Nazi as his opponents claim, philosophy departments all over the world would be over-run by sieg-heiling brown-shirted philosophy students – and that’s not happening. The author clearly has never even read any Heidegger at all.
commented 2015-07-23 01:26:51 -0400
I have long seen the connection between the German Nazis and the current environmental movement.
Some ideas don’t go away . They are recycled into shiney new packages of deceit.
commented 2015-07-22 14:07:03 -0400
Lizzy would be proud ! ! !
As would Gerald . . . . the “Left” and the NAZIs had a lot in common back in the day . . . and some say still do !