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The Ideological Origins of Nazi Imperialism…

The Ideological Origins of Nazi Imperialism (edition 1989)

by Woodruff D. Smith (Author)

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This study traces the evolution of imperialist ideology in Germany from Bismarck in the mid-19th century through Hitler and the Third Reich. Although much has been written about the virulently racist and anti-communist ideologies of the Nazi party, this is the first book to treat Naziimperialism as a separate ideology and set it within a sturdy theoretical framework. Smith contends that Nazi imperialism represented the last, ambitious attempt to integrate two century-old ideologies--the elite, pro-industrial Weltpolitik and the popular-based, pro-agrarian Lebensraum--into asingle system. In fact, Smith argues that it was largely the way in which the Nazis attempted to reconcile these contradictory ideologies that explains Germany's disastrous policies during World War II. This wide-ranging study also contributes to the debates over several other aspects of Germanhistory, including German military aims in World War II, the continuity--or discontinuity--of German policy from Bismarck to Hitler, and the relation between ideology and social-political life.… (more)
Title:The Ideological Origins of Nazi Imperialism
Authors:Woodruff D. Smith (Author)
Info:Oxford University Press (1989), Edition: New Ed, 348 pages
Collections:Your library, Difficult books, For sale
Tags:german history, nazism, ideology

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The Ideological Origins of Nazi Imperialism by Woodruff D. Smith



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This is a heavy historical analysis which tracks the development of two imperalistic German ideological trends - labelled Weltpolitik and Lebensraum - from the end of Bismarck's rule to the Nazis. It's hard to imagine a more complete study of this subject, but you really need to be very very interested in old imperial ideas to read the entire book. I found the German imperialisms of the 19th century to be so unrealistic and out of touch with reality that there was no way I could garner enough interest to bear with the suthor as he studies the slightly different versions that one author after another presented in their writings.

The story gets more interesting when the author gets to World War I, during which the imperialistic ideologies and their assumptions of automatic German superiority had to some extent be re-evaluated. The discussion of ideological developments in the Weimar republic was also reasonably interesting, although again the author goes into quite a lot of detail when presenting individual ideologues and their writings. Then finally come the Nazis. The author actually treats Mazi imperialism surprisingly briefly given the title of this book, but that's a good thing. No useful purpose would have been served by detailing Hitler's or Rosenberg's additions to Weltpolitik and Lebensraum, which would probably be all too familiar to most readers. The story of this book is that they built their ideology on a pre-existing tradition.

In summary, this is a high-quality historical book but I am a bit doubtful as to whether it is well-suited for educated non-specialists who would like to learn something new about the background of nazism. Most ideologies are after all just castles in the sky, and as such they are not a very interesting topic for detailed study until somebody tries to put them into practice.
  thcson | Sep 6, 2019 |
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