It is not an exaggeration to say that between the 1870s and the end of WWII the great minds of the world were preoccupied with four concepts: race, science, nation and degeneracy. But the evil flowers that bloomed from these thoughts grew into very different plants in Germany and the United States. Proving decisively that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, these four words were bandied about at the beginning of the movement in the United States by upper class dilettantes with enough time and money to fret about the dearth of equally intelligent, cultured folks of good breeding for their sons and daughters to marry. These armchair scientists were almost always lawyers educated at Harvard or Yale, members of the monied educated leisure class, who inhabited the top social echelon as comfortably as cream sits on milk.
In their view, they were the native Americans, and their new nation, they had no doubt, would be populated by descendants of other pure white Europeans like themselves. The notion of a melting pot, with its indistinguishable, haphazard stew of different origins, cultures, gene pools, colors and population groups presented an abhorrent potage of radical alterity that clearly showed how races degenerate when whatever positive characteristics they may have had are diluted through the admixture of other lower and more primitive ones.
A terrible dilemma, and if something were to be done, it had best be done quickly, because there just weren’t enough of the right white people to populate this vast country. Thus, if white people weren’t having enough sex to fill the nation with children, the most reasonable thing to do was to prevent the riffraff -Africans, white trash, Jews, Southern Europeans, criminals, those deemed mentally and/or physically defective, and a passel of others that weren’t right for one reason or another- from interbreeding with that pure white native American stock. These degenerates, who bred more like animals than proper humans, could not be trusted to monitor the scope of their excessive reproduction. As a result, their mongrel births needed to be controlled by whites to stop their thoughtless passing on of less than desirable hereditary traits, both physical and of character, to vast numbers of even more degenerate offspring. Enter Eugenics, which, in the United States, concentrated on maintaining perceived racial purity through Draconian immigration laws, anti-miscegenation statutes, and forced sterilization of at least 65,000 people in 33 states. Eugenics in the United States was an essentially preventive and preemptive quasi-science aimed at individuals.
Whereas the focus of Eugenics in the US was on the individual, as was only apropos for a country based on the concept of an inalienable right to personal freedom, in Germany -where the country was focused on the creation of a national identity- it was the collective Volk that mattered. The problem was, that since Germany had been around (geographically, at least) for centuries longer than the US, the German Volk had already absorbed -been infected- by all sorts of questionable blood lines. The national fabric appeared deceptively white, but many bad elements already ran through its warp and woof. Alarmingly, after several generations, many signs of bad blood were no longer visible to the naked eye. Thus, in Germany, Eugenics was more concerned with the extraction of previously integrated bad genes that might have crept in generations earlier, and could no longer be seen. In simplistic terms, Germany had a pre-existing condition which required far more invasive procedures to purify the already degenerated Volk.
Germany was very different from the United States in fundamental ways. It was in Europe, shared numerous borders with other countries, and had no national history or state mythology per se since it had historically been an occasional confederation of warring city-states, united primarily in their mutual hatred of France. Between 1862-1890, the statesman Otto von Bismarck held various positions -first in Prussia and then Germany- presiding over attempts to unify a German state that culminated with the first federation in 1871. In 1899, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, a botanist interested in the flow of sap before turning to human anatomy, wrote The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century. His first published work was Notes sur Lohengrin, in 1892, a paean to Richard Wagner and his music. In Foundations, he posited the concept of an Aryan race as well as the primus inter pares position of Teutons above all, drawing on both Wagner and Gobineau for support. By the start of World War II, the book had sold more than a quarter million copies and become the seminal text on German pan-nationalism. Its ideas inflamed the Volk.
One of the most peculiar reasons for the success of the Eugenics movement in Germany, was that Chamberlain had hitched his pseudo-scientific theories of Aryan racial supremacy to Richard Wagner’s operatic star, and linked Der Ring des Nibelungen to his own fallacious theories on race. He set Eugenics to music- in order to influence National Socialist political ends- and the German people were delighted to carry the tune and dance to it. Beethoven’s 1792 Ode to Joy, which stressed the unity of mankind, had previously gained popularity as a political theme for lumpers sensu latu, who sang along and envisioned a socialist welfare state with human rights for all. Marx and Engels had published their Manifesto in 1848, a passionate cry for border-free unity concomitant with the rise of the world's nationalist movements and a major international revolutionary year. Wagner’s Ring Cycle knocked Beethoven off the charts, offering splitters of the world the leitmotif of a lost romantic age of Norse culture and mythology when tall, well-built specimens in Viking helmets, thick blonde braids and metal bras that foreshadowed Madonna, ruled Earth.
Germany ached for a return to that prelapsarian Nordic paradise. Although Wagner died in 1883, his wife, Cosima, continued to burn his torch, and leading intellectuals converged at Wagner’s Beyrouth home to listen to his music and plan Germany’s future greatness. After Chamberlain completed his own ring cycle by marrying Wagner’s daughter, Eva, in 1908, he joined the inner circle of this nationalist policy group as a highly influential member. Chamberlain had arrived socially, scientifically, and politically. Hitler, accompanied by Goebbels, visited Chamberlain at Bayreuth on several occasions in the early-mid 1920s, and attended his funeral in 1927 accompanied by the A-list of the Reich.
The problem, and it was a big one, was that Germany had already absorbed all kinds of different population groups within its frequently changing borders, and had two million Jews -roughly half of the entire world “Jewish Problem”- spun into the thread of its population. But the Jews needed to be objectified and demonized before they could be exterminated; the Volk could not be expected to ruthlessly weed out neighbors who often looked as Aryan as they. Fortuitously, Germany had a large and vulnerable Eastern flank which was susceptible to invasion from successive waves of millions of undesirable Jews fleeing Russia. Historic incursions from the filthy East by plagues, vermin, Jews, Roma gypsies and disease had long infected the German body politic. It wasn’t a big leap to confound Jews with disease-bearing vermin since they both continually over-flooded the eastern border.
The Volk were desperately in need of racial cleansing before they could begin to regain their rightful dominion over Europe. Since Germany also had long been home to a goodly number of highly educated thinkers, many of them assimilated German Jews, its people had more fundamental respect for science and scientists, and the intelligentsia was, as a result, treated with esteem, deference and honor. Because of both the age of their universities and the Volk's acclimation to having had so many folks with doctorates about for so long, it was a very simple step to hand over the redemption of the German race to Herr Doktor. Accustomed to national adulation of Doktoren, Germans didn’t think twice about turning their embarrassing racial degeneration into a scientifically curable medical problem. All in all, Germany sterilized 400,000 undesirables, exterminated 6,000,000 human vermin in camps, and murdered between 16,000,000 and 21,000,000 in the name of racial purification.