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Anti- Intellectualism in Nazi Germany

Anti- Intellectualism in Nazi Germany. Thought Control. Symbols of the Reich. What is Anti -Intellectualism?. A sentiment of hostility towards, or mistrust of, intellectuals and intellectual pursuits Attacks on the merits of science, education, literature

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Anti- Intellectualism in Nazi Germany

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  1. Anti-Intellectualism in Nazi Germany Thought Control

  2. Symbols of the Reich

  3. What is Anti-Intellectualism? • A sentiment of hostility towards, or mistrust of, intellectuals and intellectual pursuits • Attacks on the merits of science, education, literature • Not just about hating intellectualism: it’s about the values in its place

  4. John Locke on Intellectualism • “I attribute the little I know to my not having been ashamed to ask for information, and to my rule of conversing with all descriptions of men on those topics that form their own peculiar [opinions].”—John Locke • “New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.”—John Locke

  5. Consequences of Anti-Intellectualism • A society where individual thought is compromised, and the preservation of truth is minimal • Authorities take more power --Cannot be challenged; there is no intellectual spirit of dissent

  6. Consequences of Anti-Intellectualism • Emergence of Pseudoscience (e.g., Eugenics) • Rewriting of History • Destruction of Classical Literature

  7. Nazi Anti-Intellectualism • Knowledge that benefited state was allowed, e.g., war technology • Individual learning was frowned upon • Independent thinking v public opinion • Propaganda: new form of education • Repression of the truth in favor of that which stirs up emotion

  8. CENTRAL QUESTION Why was anti-intellectualism such a critical element in sustaining Nazi culture from 1933-1945?


  10. Why Burn Books? • A way of venting anger • Symbolic transition of cultural values • Intellectualism to radical emotionalism • Unifies community in ritual behaviors • Intimidates the intellectual community • Angry mobs • lost touch with traditional values

  11. The Burning of the Books • May 10, 1933 • Nazi Party declares that any book “which acts subversively on our future or strikes at the root of German thought, the German home and the driving forces of our people...” is to be burned. • Jewish intellectuals were primary targets, but many non-Jews who challenged the Third Reich were suspect as well

  12. Burning of the Books • Students led by Brown Shirts ran through the streets rampaging libraries, synagogues, and private homes for books • Confiscated books were thrown onto bonfires with ceremony

  13. Mob Censorship • Nazi leaders encouraged burnings, but discouraged any publicity • Aftermath • Frightened intellectuals, Jewish and non-Jewish, fleeing Germany • “Jewish intellectualism is dead”—Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, after the 1933 Book Burning

  14. Albert Einstein Havelock Ellis Lion Feuchtwanger Sigmund Freud André Gide Franz Kafka Erich Kästner Helen Keller Alfred Kerr Jack London Heinrich Mann Thomas Mann Karl Marx Hugo Preuss Marcel Proust Walter Rathenau Erich Maria Remarque Margaret Sanger Arthur Schnitzler Upton Sinclair Jakob Wasserman H. G. Wells Stefan Zweig Emile Zola Authors of Books Burned 5/10/33

  15. EDUCATION INTHE THIRD REICH Two Jewish students are humiliated in front of their class. The writing on the board proclaims, “The Jew is our greatest enemy! Beware of the Jew!"

  16. The Nazi Classroom The Curriculum • Racial biology and eugenics • Celebratory German history • Discipline, duty, obedience, courage • Physical training—Body over mind • No concern for the “spirit of academics” “The Jewish Nose is Wide at the End and Looks like the number six”

  17. The Nazi Classroom Task of the Educator • Strengthen the soul and spirit of youth • Instill nationalism in younger generation • Prepare students for service, and even self-sacrifice to the Reich NO INTENTION OF EDUCATING THE INDIVIDUAL FOR THE SAKE OF THE INDIVIDUAL

  18. The Nazi Classroom The Goal: to root out values of… • Liberal individualism • Rationalism • Intellectualism … a complete 180° from the ideals of Locke and the Enlightenment!

  19. Rationale • Trained children to be good soldiers for the State • Easier to accept a total authority if you don’t know how to think for yourself • Control what is taught and thought • Ultimate Goal • In Democracies: Student learns so he may benefit himself • In Totalitarian Germany: Student learns so he may benefit the state

  20. Adolf Hitler on Education • "Universal education is the most corroding and disintegrating poison that liberalism has ever invented”—Adolf Hitler • "Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way round”—Adolf Hitler

  21. Adolf Hitler on Education • "The folkish state must not adjust its…educational work…to the inoculation of mere knowledge, but to the breeding of absolutely healthy bodies…And here again, first place must be taken by the development of character, especially the promotion of will-power and determination, combined with the training of joy in responsibility, and only in last place comes scientific schooling." –Mein Kampf

  22. The Hitler Youth (Hitler Jung)

  23. Clip from Triumph of the Will • Hitler is admired • Promotes emotionalism • Note the serious faces and militarism of young boys

  24. Why was the HJ necessary in Nazi Germany? • Hitler believed the future of Nazi Germany was in its children • Create a generation that knew only Nazism • No need to suppress individual thinking as adults • People are imprinted with anti-intellectual ideology at a young age

  25. Goals of the Hitler Youth • Train children for their roles as Nazi citizens • Men: “Wehrsport” (military training) • Women: Preparation for Aryan motherhood

  26. Hitler’s View of the Corps • “The weak must be chiseled away. I want young men and women who can suffer pain...” • "I will have no intellectual training. Knowledge is ruin to my young men”

  27. Relevance of the Hitler Jung toAnti-Intellectualism • The values of a culture result from the values instilled in its youth • U.S.: pressure to do well in school, go to college, get a job, make money • Nazi Germany: People were worth only what they contributed to the state

  28. Environment ofAnti-Intellectual Germany

  29. Nazi Populism • “Whoever can conquer the street will one day conquer the state...”–Joseph Goebbels • Struggle against “privileged elite” • Jews • Non-German Internationalists • Intellectuals are elitists and tricksters • Hoodwink opponents with rhetoric • Communists and Non-conformists

  30. The Volksgemeinschaft • The People’s Community • Established collective national spirit • Based on racial and national pride • Subliminal influence on culture • Bureaucratization of censorship and propaganda PEOPLE CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO THINK FOR THEMSELVES

  31. The Reichskulturkammer • Reich Culture Chamber • Managed by Hans Hinkel • Goals: • Promote Good Culture • Root out, ban Bad Culture • Compulsory membership for all members of German media HEIGHT OF ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM

  32. Divisions of the Reichskulturkammer • Reichspressekammer (press) • Reichsfilmkammer (film) • Reichsrundfunkkammer (radio) • Reichsmusikkammer (music) • Reichsschriftumskammer (literature) • Reichstheaterkammer (theater) • Reichskammer der bildenden künste (fine arts)

  33. The Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda • Spread and enforced Nazi ideology • Antithesis of intellectual-based culture • Rampant anti-Semitism • Infected all mediums of art and literature

  34. Ministry of Propaganda • In a totalitarian regime, public opinion must be molded to fit the state • Conversely, intellectualism demands: • A “marketplace of ideas” • Tolerance of dissent • Ability to question authority • Independent thought • Formulation of rational ideas

  35. Kristallnacht“Night of the Broken Glass” • Political assassination by Jew ignites spark • Nazi youth pillage Jewish buildings • The mob trumps individualism • Considered beginning of Holocaust

  36. Joseph Goebbels:Head of the Anti-intellectual Serpent

  37. Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels • Head of Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda • A textbook example of the anti-intellectualism he promoted • Extreme, unconditional loyalty to Hitler

  38. Goebbels on Truth and Intellectualism • “Intellectual activity is a danger to the building of character” • “It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion” • “Not every item of news should be published. Rather must those who control news policies endeavor to make every item of news serve a certain purpose”

  39. The “Big Lie” Theory “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”—Joseph Goebbels

  40. Summation

  41. Anti-intellectualism • A force that seeks to unify… • The mind of a nation • The will of a nation • Censorship of truth • Idea that truth is irrelevant • Truth is dangerous • Propaganda is used to orchestrate the direction of public opinion

  42. Contemporary Parallels • Regent University Law Grads • Ranked Tier 4 School • Extremely conservative • 150 in Administration • Loyalty over intelligence • Firing of U.S. Attorneys • Serve at the pleasure of the Chief Executive • No reasons given • Not based on performance

  43. Repetitious Rhetoric • Propaganda • Overuse of the word “freedom” • Overgeneralization of “terror” • Simplification of good vs. evil • Stirring up emotions • 9/11 as a rallying point • Scapegoating “outsiders”

  44. Karl Rove on Intellectualism • “As people do better, they start voting like Republicans—unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing”

  45. The End(or is it?)

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