What does National Socialism have to do with Environmentalism?
“National Socialism is politically applied biology”. – Ernst Lehmann Professor of Botany (1934)
Nature, Environment & Nation in the Third Reich
The history of ecological politics has not always been inherently and necessarily progressive and malignant. In fact, ecological ideas have a history of being at the forefront of revolutionary movements – even National Socialism itself.
Important tendencies in German ecologism, which has long roots in 19th century nature mysticism, led the rise of the NSDAP in the 20th century.
During the Third Reich, conservationists and ecologists made organic farming, vegetarianism, nature worship, and related themes into key elements not only in their ideology but in their governmental policies.
As National Socialists, it is not our intention to deprecate the all-important efforts that environmentalists and ecologists are making to rescue the biosphere from destruction. Quite to the contrary: It is our deepest concern to preserve the integrity of serious ecological movements from ugly reactionary tendencies that seek to exploit the widespread popular concern about ecological problems for progressive agendas. But we find that the “ecological scene” of our time — with its growing mysticism and antihumanism — poses serious problems about the direction in which the ecology movement will go.
In many contemporary Western nations, expressions of anti-White sentiments are not only increasingly voiced but increasingly tolerated. Equally disconcerting, communist ideologues and political groups are enjoying total control of the media and academia. Updating their ideology and speaking the new language of ecology, these movements are once again invoking ecological themes to serve social destruction.
In ways that approximate beliefs of progressive-minded ecologists, these reactionary and outright communistic ecologists emphasize the supremacy of the “primitive” over civilization (while fully enjoying their technological advancement); evoke “feelings” and “intuition” at the expense of reason and Natural law; and uphold a crude anti-White bigotry. Tenets of “New Age” eco-ideology that seem benign to most people in England and the United States — specifically, its mystical and antirational strains — are being intertwined with the global governance movement today. This essay explores this hijacking of ecology for antilife, communistic, and genocidal ends.
What prevents ecological politics from actually conserving anything is an ecology movement that maintains a broad social emphasis, one that places the ecological crisis in a social context. As National Socialists, we see the roots of the present ecological crisis in an irrational society — in the biological makeup of human beings, in religion, in disregarding reason, science, or technology as “racist”. We uphold the importance of reason, science, and technology in creating both a conservationist ecological movement and a sustainable society. It is a specific set of social relations — above all, the misplaced compassion for the maladaptive — that is presently destroying the biosphere.
In presenting this essay, we are trying to reveal the all-important emancipatory implications of ecological politics. More than ever, an ecological commitment requires people to avoid mindlessly parroting the Astroturfed, corporate sponsored party line of both political parties in the globalist community, lest the ecology movement become absorbed in the irrational and antiWhite trends that abound today.
The “Green Wing” of the NSDAP and its Historical Antecedents
“We recognize that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind’s own destruction and to the death of nations. Only through a re-integration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger. That is the fundamental point of the biological tasks of our age. Humankind alone is no longer the focus of thought, but rather life as a whole … This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought.” – Ernst Lehmann Professor of Botany (1934)
In our zeal to condemn the status quo, radicals often carelessly toss about epithets like “Fascist” and “Nazi” thus contributing to a sort of conceptual inflation that in no way furthers effective social critique. In such a situation, it is easy to overlook the fact that there are virulent strains of communism in our political culture which have been completely mainstreamed and demand our attention.
One of the least recognized or understood of environmentalist movements is the “green wing” of German National Socialism, what is now being referred to as “eco-fascism”. Leaving aside the erroneous conflation of National Socialism and Fascism, let’s examine this “green wing”:
“Man must never fall into the madness of believing that he has risen to be lord and master over Nature – which is so easily induced by the conceit of half-education – but must understand the fundamental necessity of Nature’s rule, and realize how much of his existence is subject to these laws of combat and upward struggle. Then he will sense that in a universe where planets revolve around suns, and moons turn around planets, where force alone forever masters weakness, compelling it to be its obedient servant or else crushing it, there can be no special laws for Man. For him, too, the eternal principles of this ultimate wisdom hold sway. He can try to grasp them, but escape them never.” – Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (1924)
Despite an extensive documentary record, the subject remains obfuscated and underappreciated by professional historians and environmental activists alike. In English-speaking countries as well as in Germany itself, the very existence of a “green wing” in the NSDAP (much less its inspiration, goals, and consequences) has yet to be adequately researched and analyzed. Most of the handful of available interpretations succumb to either an alarming intellectual cowardice with their subject or a naïve refusal to accept the ideological overlap between nature conservation and National Socialism. This article presents a brief and necessarily schematic overview of the ecological components, emphasizing both their central role in Western ideology and their practical implementation during the Third Reich.
The Roots of “Blood and Soil”
Germany is not only the birthplace of the science of ecology and the site of Green politics’ rise to prominence; it has also been home to a brilliant synthesis of naturalism and nationalism forged under the influence of the Romantic tradition. Two 19th century figures exemplify this glorious conjunction: Ernst Moritz Arndt and Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl.
Arndt’s remarkable 1815 article On the Care and Conservation of Forests, written at the dawn of industrialization in Central Europe, rails against short-sighted exploitation of woodlands and soil, condemning deforestation and its economic causes.
“When one sees nature in a necessary connectedness and interrelationship, then all things are equally important — shrub, worm, plant, human, stone, nothing first or last, but all one single unity.” – Ernst Arndt (1815)
Riehl in turn, was an implacable opponent of the rise of industrialism and urbanization; his antisemitic glorification of rural peasant values and undifferentiated condemnation of modernity established him as the founder of agrarian romanticism and anti-urbanism.
“Fight for the rights of wilderness. We must save the forest, not only so that our ovens do not become cold in winter, but also so that the pulse of life of the people continues to beat warm and joyfully, so that Germany remains German.” – Wilhelm Riehl (1853)
These two luminary thoughts matured in the second half of the 19th century into the Völkisch movement, a powerful cultural disposition and social movement which united ethnocentric populism with nature mysticism. At the heart of the Völkisch message was a critique of modernity. In the face of the very real dislocations brought on by the triumph of industrial capitalism and national unification, Völkisch thinkers preached a return to the land, to the simplicity and wholeness of a life attuned to nature’s purity.
Man & Earth: Ecology and the establishment of the National Socialist movement
In 1867 the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel coined the term ‘ecology’ and began to establish it as a scientific discipline dedicated to studying the interactions between organism and environment. Haeckel was also the chief popularizer of Darwin and evolutionary theory for the German-speaking world, and developed a philosophy he called ‘monism.’ The German Monist League he founded combined scientifically based ecological holism with Völkisch social views. Haeckel believed in Nordic racial superiority, strenuously opposed race mixing and enthusiastically supported racial eugenics. His nationalism cemented with the onset of World War I as he observed Semitic influence in the post-war Council Republic in Bavaria.
He became one of Germany’s major ideologists for ethnocentrism, nationalism and conservation. Near the end of his life he joined the Thule Society, a precursor to the National Socialist movement.
The pioneer of scientific ecology, along with his disciples Willibald Hentschel, Wilhelm Bölsche and Bruno Wille, profoundly shaped the thinking of subsequent generations of environmentalists by establishing the connection of a concern for the natural world with traditional social themes. From its very beginnings, then, ecology was bound up in an intensely reactionary political framework.
Thus, for the Monists, perhaps the most pernicious feature of European bourgeois civilization was the inflated importance which it attached to the idea of man in general, to his existence and to his talents, and to the belief that through his unique rational faculties man could essentially recreate the world and bring about a universally more harmonious and ethically just social order. Humankind was an insignificant creature when viewed as part of and measured against the vastness of the cosmos and the overwhelming forces of nature.” – The Scientific Origins of National Socialism
Geist: Ecology’s relationship to civilization and human rationality
The philosopher Ludwig Klages profoundly influenced the youth movement and particularly shaped their ecological consciousness. He authored a tremendously important essay titled “Man and Earth” for the legendary Meissner gathering of the Wandervögel in 1913. An extraordinarily poignant text and the best known of all Klages’ work, it is one of the very greatest manifestoes of the radical environmental movement.
“Man and Earth” anticipated just about all of the themes of the environmentalist movement. It decried the accelerating extinction of species, disturbance of global ecosystemic balance, deforestation, destruction of aboriginal peoples and of wild habitats, urban sprawl, and the increasing alienation of people from nature. In emphatic terms it disparaged Christianity, capitalism, economic utilitarianism, hyper-consumption and the ideology of ‘progress.’ It even condemned the environmental destructiveness of rampant tourism and the slaughter of whales, and displayed a clear recognition of the planet as an ecological totality. In “Man and Earth” a genuine outrage at the devastation of the natural environment is coupled with a political subtext of cultural despair. Klages was throughout his life politically archconservative, a proud antisemite and a Völkisch fanatic.
Klages’ diagnosis of the ills of modern society, for all its condemnation of capitalism not withstanding, returns always to a single culprit: “Geist.” His use of this term, which means mind or intellect, was to denounce hyper-rationalism. This indictment of human “reason” against the Natural Laws of the Universe forecloses any chance of humanity reconstructing society’s relationship with nature.
Another philosopher and stern critic of Enlightenment who understood National Socialism as environmentalism was Martin Heidegger. A much more renowned thinker than Klages, Heidegger preached “authentic Being” and harshly criticized modern technology, and is therefore often celebrated as a precursor of ecological thinking. On the basis of his critique of technology and rejection of humanism, contemporary deep ecologists have elevated Heidegger to their pantheon of eco-heroes.
Heidegger’s critique of anthropocentric humanism, his call for humanity to learn to “let things be,” his notion that humanity is involved in a “play” or “dance” with earth, sky, and gods, his meditation on the possibility of an authentic mode of “dwelling” on the earth, his complaint that industrial technology is laying waste to the earth, his emphasis on the importance of local place and homeland, his claim that humanity should guard and preserve things, instead of dominating them — all these aspects of Heidegger’s thought help to support the claim that he is a major deep ecological theorist.
As for the philosopher of Being himself, he was — unlike Klages, who lived in Switzerland after 1915 — an active member of the NSDAP and an enthusiastically adoringly supported the Führer. His mystical prose to Heimat (homeland) was complemented by antisemitism and ethnocentrism.
Environmentalism and The Natural Laws
The National Socialist “religion of nature,”, was a beautiful mixture of primeval Teutonic Nature Worship, scientific ecology and an ideology of racial salvation through a return to the land. Its predominant theme was ‘natural order,’ organicist holism. Throughout the writings, not only of Hitler, but of most National Socialist ideologues, one can discern a fundamental exhortation of Master Nature. Anthropocentric views in general have to be rejected. They would be valid only if it is assumed that nature has been created for man. We decisively reject this attitude. According to our conception of nature, man is a link in the living chain of nature just as any other organism.
The key to social-ecological harmony is ascertaining the eternal laws of nature’s processes and organizing society to correspond to them. The Führer was particularly fond of stressing the helplessness of humankind in the face of nature’s everlasting law.
“When people attempt to rebel against the iron logic of nature, they come into conflict with the very same principles to which they owe their existence as human beings. Their actions against nature must lead to their own downfall” (Hitler, 1935).
In 1934 the director of the Reich Agency for Nature Protection, Walter Schoenichen, established that very early, the youth must develop an understanding of the civic importance of the organism, i.e. the co-ordination of all parts and organs for the benefit of the one and superior task of life. This provides the link between environmental purity and racial purity. Two central themes of biology education follow from the holistic perspective: nature protection and eugenics. If one views nature as a unified whole, students will automatically develop a sense for ecology and environmental conservation. At the same time, the nature protection concept will direct attention to the urbanized and ‘overcivilized’ modern human race.
In many varieties of the National Socialist world view ecological themes are linked with traditional agrarian romanticism and contempt for urban civilization, revolving around the idea of rootedness in nature. This conceptual constellation, especially the search for a lost connection to nature, was most pronounced among the neo-pagan elements, above all Heinrich Himmler, Alfred Rosenberg, and Walther Darré.
Critiquing Civilization: Nature, Lebensraum, Heimat and the Volk
“Today we see the steady stream from the countryside to the city, deadly for the Volk. The cities swell ever larger, unnerving the Volk and destroying the threads which bind humanity to nature; they attract adventurers and profiteers of all colors, thereby fostering racial chaos.” – Alfred Rosenberg, The Myth of the 20th Century
Classical “eco-fascist” ideology included Lebensraum, Heimat, the agrarian mystique, the health of the Volk, closeness to and respect for nature (explicitly constructed as the standard against which society is to be judged), maintaining nature’s precarious balance, and the earthy powers of the soil and its creatures. A study of the membership rolls of several mainstream Weimar era Naturschutz (nature protection) organizations revealed that by 1939, fully 60 percent of these conservationists had joined the NSDAP (compared to about 10 percent of adult men and 25 percent of teachers and lawyers). Clearly the affinities between environmentalism and National Socialism run deep.
Hitler and Himmler were both strict vegetarians and animal lovers, attracted to nature mysticism and homeopathic cures, and staunchly opposed to vivisection and cruelty to animals. Himmler even established experimental organic farms to grow herbs for SS medicinal purposes. And Hitler, at times, could sound like a veritable Green utopian, discussing in detail various renewable energy sources (including environmentally appropriate hydropower and producing natural gas from sludge) as alternatives to coal, and declaring “water, winds and tides” as the energy path of the future.
Blood and Soil: Darré and Hess the ‘Green Wing’ of National Socialism
“The unity of blood and soil must be restored,” Richard Walther Darré (1930)
“Blood’ (the race or Volk) and ‘soil’ (the land and the natural environment), for the enthusiasts of Blut und Boden, the jews especially were a rootless, wandering people, incapable of any true relationship with the land. Aryan blood engendered an exclusive claim to the sacred soil of the Homeland.
It was Darré who first popularized the term ‘blood and soil’ and then enshrined it as a guiding principle of NSDAP thought. Darré was one of the party’s chief race theorists and was also instrumental in galvanizing peasant support for the NSDAP during the critical period of the early 30’s. From 1933 until 1942 he held the posts of Reich Peasant Leader and Minister of Agriculture. This was no minor fiefdom; the agriculture ministry had the 4th largest budget of all ministries even well into the war.
Darré worked to install environmentally sensitive principles as the very basis of the Third Reich’s agricultural policy. Even in its most productivist phases, these precepts remained emblematic of NSDAP doctrine. When the “Battle for Production” was proclaimed at the second Reich Farmers Congress in 1934, the very first point in the program read “Keep the soil healthy!”
Darré’s most important innovation was the introduction on a large scale of organic farming methods, significantly labeled “lebensgesetzliche Landbauweise,” or farming according to the laws of life. The term points up yet again the natural order ideology which underlies so much National Socialist thought. The impetus for these unprecedented measures came from Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy and its techniques of biodynamic cultivation. The campaign to institutionalize organic farming encompassed tens of thousands of smallholdings and estates across Germany, and it was largely Darré’s influence in the Third Reich apparatus which yielded, in practice, a level of government support for ecologically sound farming methods and land use planning unmatched by any state before or since. For these reasons Darré has been regarded as a forerunner of the contemporary Green movement. His biographer even referred to him as the father of the Greens.
Reich Chancellor Rudolf Hess provided the “green wing” of the NSDAP a secure anchor at the very top of the party hierarchy. An inveterate nature lover as well as a devout Steinerite, Hess insisted on a strictly biodynamic diet — not even Hitler’s rigorous vegetarian standards were good enough for him — and accepted only homeopathic medicines.
It was Hess who introduced Darré to Hitler, thus securing the “green wing” its first power base. He was an even more tenacious proponent of organic farming than Darré, and pushed the Führer to take more demonstrative steps in support of the lebensgesetzliche Landbauweise. His office was also directly responsible for land use planning across the Reich, employing a number of specialists who shared Seifert’s ecological approach.
With Hess’s enthusiastic backing, the “green wing” was able to achieve its most notable successes. As early as March 1933, a wide array of environmentalist legislation was approved and implemented at national, regional and local levels. These measures, which included reforestation programs, bills protecting animal and plant species, and preservationist decrees blocking industrial development, ranked among the most progressive in the world at that time. Planning ordinances were designed for the protection of wildlife habitat and at the same time demanded respect for the sacred German forest. The Third Reich also created the first nature preserves in Europe.
The SS in Germany were instructed in yoga practices and recommended its members practice yoga to enrich their mind, bodies and spirits. The ancient discipline was seized on by race experts in the party as being the pursuit of Aryan people. Jakob Wilhelm Hauer, an SS captain and yoga expert convinced his chief Himmler that yoga can “internally arm us and prepare us for the forthcoming battles”. In 1937, four years after the NSDAP assumed power, the country’s first yoga center opened up in Berlin and operated until it was destroyed by Allied bombs in 1943. It’s said that Himmler carried around a German copy of the Bhagavad Gita with him wherever he went.
The National Socialist calling is a call to reform society according to nature, to codify ‘natural order’ or ‘natural law’ and submit selfish human desires and actions to it. The underlying social processes and societal structures which constitute and shape people’s relations with their environment must be examined and reshaped to provide for the heath of the environment, which in turn is an attempt to preserve life itself. We must embrace clear-sighted social-ecological positions as the complexity of the society-nature dialectic is sacrificed to “diversity” as imagined by people who seek to destroy diversity by promoting race-mixing. Natural Law does not leave room for compromise; its claims are absolute. The necessary project of creating an emancipatory ecological politics demands an acute awareness and understanding of “eco-fascism”.
Survival of the Fittest: Applying Darwin to Society
It may be said that if Darwinism in England was an extension of laissez faire individualism projected from the social world to the natural world, in Germany it was a projection of German romanticism and philosophical idealism… The form which social Darwinism took in Germany was a scientific religion of nature worship combined with notions of a racial nature. Like Anglo-American social Darwinism, German social Darwinism applied the maxim ‘survival of the fittest’ to society. Thus, the ‘fittest’ race not only would but should survive, supplanting its competitors in this struggle for existence.
“People owe their higher existence, not to the ideas of a few crazy ideologists, but to the knowledge and ruthless application of Nature’s stern and rigid laws. Among these laws: Nature usually makes certain corrective decisions with regard to the racial purity of earthly creatures” Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
It is well known among ecological activists today that Ernst Haeckel coined the term ecology in the 1860s; what is less known is that Haeckel was the primary spokesperson for German social Darwinism in the latter half of the 19th century. German social Darwinism is the concept of ecology. Haeckel himself was a proponent selective breeding and racial hygiene.