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I think that this was the official version for the populace, but not the reason why the nazis wanted to totally exterminate the Jewish people.

I'm inclined to agree.  I really can't think of any instance of racism rooted absolutely in ideology.  It inevitably has something to do with the subjected minority perceived as being in the way, or a threat to the ruling class's pursuit of wealth, land, power, and their general "way of life", etc.  

Which is not to say that people don't also hold that metaphysical belief.  A lot of people truly believed also that Native Americans and Africans were a disgusting class of subhumans.  Not to mention accounts of Nazis taking Jewish women as secret lovers.  Anyway, ideology is usually what you feed the masses when you're trying to rally support for your plan to acquire as much personal power as possible.  It is a means to an end, not the end itself.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 04:24:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem with your analysis is that the Nazi leadership believed in their extreme antisemitic ideology  back when they were part of 'the masses'. The same was true of a substantial minority in many parts of Europe (France, Poland, Hungary etc.). It is true that ideologies are related to socioeconomic circumstances - in this case the break down of traditional social structures as a result of industrialization and the other aspects of what is commonly known as 'modernity'. Radical antisemitism offered an all encompassing explanation of the disruption. In that sense it is analogous to Marxism, though unlike Marxism it was not a rational and cogent analysis of what was going on. But it is no accident that socialist leaders referred to antisemitism as the 'socialism of idiots'.

The Nazi leadership and much of its rank and file sincerely believed the hodge-podge of quack ideas that constituted their ideology. Ideology was a means to power, but power was simultaneously a means to put that ideology into practice.

by MarekNYC on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 04:51:00 PM EST
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Hitler was obsessed with the idea of creating an empire that would be considered at the par with those of the Romans and Egyptians. He even spoke with Speer about the aesthetics of nazi buildings as ruins in 1000 years from now and how to build them and what materials to use to ensure that they would look more grandios to posteriority than the Colosseo Romano and Limes.

Relict of the nazi Limes on the French coast:


"The USA appears destined by fate to plague America with misery in the name of liberty." Simon Bolivar, Caracas, 1819

by Ritter on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:20:03 PM EST
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I don't have references handy, but IIRC it was more compex for at least some Nazi leaders - I recall some quote (Goebbels?) half-acknowledging that the 'Jewish problem' is their creation and 'solving' it is a means to forge national coherence rather than a goal into itself.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 19th, 2006 at 05:25:41 PM EST
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