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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