National Socialism – it’s a term that was most famously used by the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or the NSDAP. This party was more commonly known as the Nazi Party, the German group somewhat responsible for killing over ten million innocent people during the course of their Anti-Semitic crusades across Europe in the 1930’s and 40’s. Rudolph Hess, who was the deputy leader of the party until 1941 stated, quite famously, that “National Socialism is nothing but Applied Biology.” This essay will attempt to break down this comment, and use this view in relation to other well-known genocidal episodes to evaluate the truth, or the fiction, behind the so-called ‘applied biology’.
Before we begin, we must define what ‘Applied Biology’ is. Strictly speaking, it is the application of the field of scientific study called biology. It is usually found in relation to Genetic Modification (such as foods) where scientific research is completed to the betterment of humanity – for example making wheat crops yield more grain, or become more resistant to cold climates. For reference, ‘Pure’ biology is the simple facts resulting in research on the world that surrounds us. Further, National Socialism is widely viewed as a political movement – a radical left political movement. How can genetic modification, or ‘applied biology’ apply, or even be in any slight way related to a political movement? Put simply, it’s not. National Socialism was more than a political movement. It was “…not simply a political system or a form of government, but a general philosophy, or Weltanschauung” (Peterson, 2012) that underpinned everything that the Nazi party did during their time in power. It is a system (and I believe probably the only political/world-view) that views people as not just part of a whole, such is found in communism, or as an individual, as found in capitalism, but as both. The very structure of National Socialism places everyone as part of a family unit, all working for the greater good. It is this that lays the founding principle of the use of ‘Applied Biology’.
But perhaps a better term for ‘Applied Biology’, at this point, would be “Eugenics” – the idea of controlled improvement of the genetic structure of a race. If you were to think of the human race as a bunch of saplings, it would be similar to pulling out the defective saplings to make sure only the best trees survive. Its creator Francis Galton wanted to see if he could apply the ideas of Evolution to the human world. By the time the early 20th Century had come to be, many government including but not limited to Germany, UK, the United States and Australia had enacted these views by way of forced sterilization, marriage restrictions segregation, or forced pregnancies amongst other acts. The main other way this ideal was enforced was by the mass killings of the undesirable – the genetically ‘weak’ members of the race. If these were removed from the melting pot of human genetic code, then the race, as a whole, would become stronger. But who were these weaker members? What defines them as ‘weak’? Coincidentally, it depends which point in history you want to look at.
The most obvious, is the mass-murder of jews, gypsies and homosexuals (amongst other groups) in Germany and the greater German empire under the rule of the Nazis. The entire ideal of National Socialism was built upon this concept, this “biomedical vision that required the kind of racial purification that would progress from sterilization to extensive killing” (Lifton, 1986). Its effectiveness was reliant purely on the government policies instigated at the time, and the willingness of the members of the society within to do their part in helping these events take place. People such as doctors, lawyers, even construction workers and schoolchildren who were introduced to the militarization of Germany through “Military Education” (Rhodes, 1976). It also relied heavily on the slow build-up and conditioning over years that the people had been subject to – the mass propaganda campaigns run by the NSDAP via mediums such as film, which depicted the country of Germany rising to world power once again, without those regarded as inferior to hold them back.
It was, undoubtedly, an extremely efficient method of “pruning the genetic tree”, and there is no doubt that the Nazis wanted the Jews to “Disappear from the earth.” (Manne, 1998). The National Socialist party and movement was not just a political movement – but a world view which was grounded in these theories. All of which built upon efficiency of the German working class, and the unification of the individual to make the country ‘one big family’. There really are (strictly speaking) no other examples of this level of eugenic societal conditioning from history. The Eugenic ideal that Hess spoke of during his 1934 speech was something that has only ever been prominent in the Nazi ideology and NSDAP way of life. However, if you were to look at this in relation to some Genocidal episodes from around the world, you could apply it – at least in part – to two other distinct events.
The first example was right here in Australia. The forced removal of Aboriginal children from their parents by the powers that were, was an example of this term of Applied Biology. Many will argue that the forced removal of the Aboriginal Children was to “Merge them into white community” (Neville, 1934), or “to force the assimilation of mixed-de- scent Aborigines into mainstream European-Australian society” (Bartop, 2001). This was, plainly, to remove the ‘undesirable’ half-castle gene from the genetic pool, and eventually breed out the supposed imperfection of the Aboriginal genetic code. We can see links here with the Nazi ‘race purification’ scheme in which Jews, in particular, were seen as sub-human (German: untermenschen) and were not to be married or engaged with sexually. This was also the case in Australia, where “…Every endeavour is being made to breed out the colour by elevating female half-castes to white standard with a view to their absorption by mating into the white population.” (Cook, 1933). Otherwise, “…the mating of aboriginals with any person other than an aboriginal is prohibited.” (Cook, 1933).
In this case, we can see the model of Eugenics being used to create a ‘supreme’ white race, in both accounts. The Nazis wished to create a pure “Aryan” race, and the Australian government wished to be rid of the half-caste ‘problem’ it saw. This application of Eugenics is evident and obvious in both cases, and moreover is clearly effective as a model and a reasonable argument to the layman in support of the creation of a stronger, better future, or to obtain the public support as seen in the Buck v Bell case from the United States at around the same time: “It is better for all the world if… society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit [to breed] from continuing their kind.” (Holmes, in Buck v Bell 1927). There is however, a severe difference. Whilst the German society saw the jews and other people groups as undesirable and sub-human, and wished to eradicate them from their world, the Australian government saw the half-castle Aboriginals as “salvageable” and their continuation in white society was considered a positive outcome.
The other example, the most critical, glaring and horrific of the two, stems from a country I’ve already made reference to. The United States. Interestingly, the Eugenics programs in the United States predates the Eugenics programs in Nazi Germany, and was used in conjunction with racial segregation and a strict immigration act which prevented the immigration into the United States from areas such as East Asia, Southern Europe and the Middle East, and was “Consciously designed” to do so (Lombardo). This was to “[keep] American stock up to the highest standard – that is, those who were born here.” (Stephenson, 1964). However, the immigration restrictions were merely the top of the iceberg, as it were.
The Eugenic policies instigated in the United States targeted not only immigrants into the country but also “unfit” individuals which ranged from people with a certain intelligence below an acceptable level (an IQ of 70 or less was deemed enough in North Carolina), right through to the disabled, and poor, who “Readily adopted the new techniques for birth control” (Helmes and Tomlinson, 2011). There was also wide-spread public support for the program. Funding was received from the likes of Rockerfeller and J H Kellogg. The popularity of the program eventually resulted in the world’s first compulsory sterilization law in the world being passed in 1907 – some twenty odd years before the Nazi’s own version in Germany. Some argue that these were an extremely influential predecessor to the Nazi version of ‘Applied Biology’, complete with its own ‘social cleansing’ plans, not limited to social separation, compulsory sterilization and local euthanasia – the latter of which didn’t take hold. The use of sterilization, on the other hand, was wide-spread across the United States. From 1907 right through to when the final sterilization was performed in 1981, 32 of the states had enacted forced Sterilization laws, including but not limited to Utah, Maine, Michigan, Oregon and California – where the largest amount of forced sterilizations occurred. The sterilizations, and the apparent success of them in the golden state led to the publication of “Sterilization for Human Betterment” – a paper which was “Used by Nazi Germany to… justify policies of racial hygiene and racial cleansing that Nazi Germany enacted against Jews and other… persons who did not meet the Aryan ideal” (Miller, 2009).
The model here, in the United States, was uncannily similar to that which evolved in Germany. It was, after all, the predecessor to the Nazi version of affairs. In fact, it is difficult to find a difference between the two – despite historians separating the two post the end of the Second World War. However, there are two glaring differences. First, the United States stayed within its own borders. The policies of the United States government – from the immigration restrictions right through to the forced sterilization procedures were only for those within the United States. It did not enforce these on people outside of its borders. Secondly, there was no large-scale Euthanasia programs in the United States. There were isolated events – such as the tuberculosis poisonings in Illinois, however the idea was widely panned and public approval ratings for killing off its own population were next to zero.
So then, where does this leave us? In the United States, the case for Eugenics was made by wanting to rid society of those who may place a drain upon it. Its societal patterns and public opinion did support it – however it was not a backbone of the society. In Australia, a similar story occurs, with the attempted breeding out of the ‘half-caste’ Aboriginal population, to integrate them into society. Again, the ideals of applied biology were not a staple of the Australian societal structure at the time, albeit a racist, white-dominated and patriarchal society, and these ideas were arguable never intended to destroy. Rudolph Hess’ comments about “Applied Biology” in regards to Germany however, were completely correct. These biological theories underpinned the very fabric of the society that he and his party built. All of the fabric of the Nazi rule – from the efficiency of the machine that was the Third Reich, right down to the extermination of those defined by the ruling elite as ‘undesirable’ – was built upon the idea of removing the weak, and replacing it with the strong, the efficient and the best suited for that task.
The very ‘model’ of applied biology, in a genocidal situation therefore, is the removal of traits and characteristics which are already there. In Nazi Germany we see the ‘untermenchen’, and we can clearly trace their removal from the societal fabric through enforced euthanasia, segregation, and the overall plan to remove the jewish populations (and others), from the German world, leaving only the ‘true’ Aryan race. In Australia, there was a wish to integrate those affected into society – not remove them completely and kill them off. The same is seen in the United States, where these people’s lives were not directly affected, nor their freedoms impinged in the way they were in the Third Reich. The only thing which was directly affected, was the way by which they were to pass their bloodline on – if at all. The role that ‘Applied Biology’ plays in these kinds of Genocidal episodes is both prominent, and disturbing. But perhaps what makes the difference between the National Socialist view of Eugenics, and the rest of the world, is their willingness to instigate it upon people and groups beyond their own borders, and their steadfast dedication to the idea of one true race, culminating in mass murder by design. The use of the family unit to represent the country and the German populous, and the mass conditioning of those same people make Hess’ comments nothing more than a completely accurate representation of what National Socialism, at its most fundamental level, is. The application of biology to fix a problem. Unfortunately, their problem was other people. And they were more than prepared to kill to realize their goal.
Photo: Warner Bros.
Most suave mofo that ever lived.
Sorry, Nathan Fillion.
don’t ask me about my favorite tv show because i’ll bet you a million dollars that conversation is going to be a lot more than you bargained for
So, to people don’t believe in Climate Change. Let me put this to you.
Since 1795, there have been 81 instances of tornados in Australia. Of those, 38 have been in the past ten years. Just let that sink in. 38 out of 81 - or 47 per-cent of the instances of tornados appearing in a place they shouldn’t be, have been in the past ten years - which is proof of something a little more alarming.
That being, that the amount of weird and wild weather in the southern hemisphere, is not an outlier anymore - it is slowly becoming the norm. This is frightening, and not to mention almost exactly what climate scientists told us a good decade or two ago. You know, when the world scoffed.
Even now, the world has it’s mass sceptics. On Channel Nine’s Six O’Clock news tonight, the weather girl was certain to tell us that the amount of rain we saw in the last 24 hours is still a far cry from the record - which was set in 1986. But that is more proof of what the experts have been telling us.
Outliers of heavy rainfall are becoming less - not because they are further between, but simply because they are becoming the norm. Summer rainfall is predicted to increase at least 20 per-cent by 2050, and since 1968 the average rainfall has risen by 15 per-cent. Seven of the thirteen wettest years on record have been from 1973, and records have been kept from 1885.
And then there’s the temperature.
The average anomaly has risen from an average of -0.5 degree to +1 degree above average, on average, since 1910. Overnight minimums have been a lot higher on average now, than in the early 20th Century, with everything post 1960 being stand out, but of the five stand out years, three (1991, 1998 and 2005) being especially so.
Anyone who says that it’s not happening deserves a special place in hell. With people who talk at the theatre.
Fuck you, google. You made me cry.
Some more photos from photography expeditions…