quinta-feira, 20 de dezembro de 2012

Reactionary Modernism in the Third Reich by Jeffrey Herf

I have documented the claim that the reactionary modernist tradition was an important component of modern German nationalism, that it was pervasive within the conservative revolution in Weimar and in the cultural politics of German engineering from the 1870s to the collapse of the Weimar Republic. Before 1933, the Nazis were aware of the tradition and contributors to it. But what happened after the seizure of power? In this chapter I will present evidence suggesting that the reactionary modernist tradition continued up through the very end of the Nazi regime. It did not give way to rural nostalgia or postideological technocratic world views. This is not to say that Luddites and technocrats did not exist in the Hitler regime. Rather, the continuity of reactionary modernist ideology after 1933 was both more pervasive than these other views and more important in accounting for the primacy of ideological politics during the Hitler years. The irrationalist embrace of technology articulated by the reactionary modernists contributed to the mixture of deficient technical innovation and strategic miscalculation that characterized the Third Reich.

Development of a distinctive National Socialist view of technology began well before the seizure of power. At the center of all Nazi views on the subject stood a mythic historical construction of a racial battle between Aryan and Jew, blood and gold. Like the reactionary modernists we have examined so far, the Nazis combined anti-Semitism with approval of technological advance, which is important to note given the frequency with which anti-Semitism and generalized rejections of industrial society have been associated with one another.

In the years immediately following World War I, Gottfried Feder, himself an engineer, dominated discussion on the subject in the Nazi party. In the early 1920s, his pamphlet, Das Manifest zur Brechung der Zinsknechtschaft des Geldes (The Manifesto on Breaking the Interest Slavery of Money) was, along with Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Alfred Rosenberg’s Mythos der 20. Jahrhundert (Myth of the 20th Century), one of the party’s most important tracts. (1) Feder distinguished between “Jewish finance capital” and “national capital,” thereby encouraging anticapitalist rhetoric that left actual property relations intact. “Creative labor” and industrial capital would have to be liberated from the tentacles of international Jewish power.

His works borrowed from Marxist vocabulary, speaking of the “liberation of productive labor” and calling on the peoples of all

nations to unite against the force of international finance. (2) In his 1923 pamphlet, Der deutsche Staat auf nationaler und sozialer Grundlage (The German State on National and Social Foundations), Feder insisted that “the Jew” had remained remote from productive labor and was the bearer of a parasitic spirit. But at the same time he claimed that German big industry — Krupp, Mannesmann, Thyssen — and its property were “not at all in conflict with the interest of the totality.

The fundamental recognition of private property is deeply anchored in the clear awareness of the Aryan spiritual structure.” (3) Feder summarized his “theoretical” contribution to National Socialism in the formula, “creative versus parasitic capital” (schaffendes gegen raffendes Kapital), which appeared in his 1933 work, Kampf gegen Hochfinanz. (4) Creative capital was a source of utility, employment, and technological advance, whereas parasitic capital drained national resources for the benefit of a smaller number of international financiers. Feder’s conspiratorial outlook served to shift the conflict between capital and labor into a nationalist idiom. Describing capital as “creative” banished any talk of class conflicts arising from the labor process, blamed the banks for the problems of the whole economic system, and carried hints of the aestheticization of the labor process that the Nazis made so much of in the Bureau of the Beauty of Labor (Amt Schönheit der Arbeit). (5) Moreover, the associations in Feder’s slogan between beauty and productivity with the German racial character and ugliness and parasitism with the Jews were standard fare in German anti-Semitism. (6)

In 1926, Hitler selected Feder as the final arbiter of disputes arising from formulation of the party’s twenty-five-point program. (7) Feder used this position to publish a series of pamphlets, the “National Socialist Library,” which set forth a Nazi “theory” on economic organization and technology. Feder’s anticapitalist rhetoric fell out of favor with Hitler after Hitler developed closer ties to some German industrialists in the last years of the Weimar Republic, but his distinction between creative and parasitic capital accorded with the anticapitalism of the engineers that had developed outside the Nazi party. (8) In July 1933, published a speech by Feder in which he claimed that National Socialism was compatible with the internal tradition of the engineers and with their desires to elevate “service” to the nation above individual profit. (9) In his view, National Socialism would fulfill the engineers’ demands for greater social recognition and more state intervention to unleash technology. He admitted that technology posed dangers, for example, undue dependence on foreign raw materials, an unhealthy urban atmosphere, and an excessive division of labor that might destroy the German “feeling for home” (Heimatgefühl). But all of these problems could be surmounted if technology were placed in the service of the national “totality.” In practical terms, this meant job programs, highway construction, and production of synthetic fuels to reduce German dependence on imported oil. (10)

Feder’s National Socialist Library was the vehicle for the first “official” Nazi statement on modern technology, which appeared in 1930. Nationalsozialismus und Technik: Die Geistigkeit der nationalsozialistischen Bewegung (National Socialism and Technology: The Spirituality of the National Socialist Movement) was written by Peter Schwerber, a philosophically adept engineer who, four years earlier, had written that right-wing politics and Christian ethics were the path of salvation from the depravity of modern industrialism. (11)  Nationalsozialismus und Technik was the earliest effort to synthesize Nazi ideology with the indigenous traditions of German engineers. Schwerber made reference to Dessauer, Zschimmer, and Spengler as well as to Feder and Hitler. His pamphlet rested on one obsessively repeated idea, namely, that racism was the logical end point of Germany’s reconciliation with modern technology. (12)

As we will soon see, Schwerber’s argument became a familiar one in Germany after 1933: Far from being antitechnological, National Socialism was dedicated to liberating technology from the “domination of money” and the “fetters” of Jewish materialism. “Jewish abstraction” was alien to the “autonomous life element of the German Volk,” whereas

technology was not only in tune with the Volk but was something around which a whole world view could and ought to be constructed. (13) Schwerber wrote that technology was more than a material foundation of Nazism. It was an “independent factor” of a new, postliberal, postmaterialist culture. It was the generation that survived the Fronterlebnis that really grasped the idea of freedom inherent in technology. National Socialism was the product of this generation. But the idea of freedom — from physical labor and for free time — remained unrealized due to the “domination of a power alien to the essence of technology, that is, the power of money...the Jewish- materialist suffocating embrace [Umklammerung] of our life elements.”' (14)

The really decisive contribution of National Socialism, Schwerber continued, lay not only in recognizing the “major cause of our misfortune,” but also, and more importantly, in moving to the level of the “decisive deed. . .the act of liberation.” (15) Only “blood” and action would prevail against “the titanic power of money.” (16) National Socialism was more than a collection of protests against materialism and the Jews. Schwerber attributed to both technology and National Socialism a “primal life instinct.” Both would join forces against “Jewish- materialist restrictions.” (17) Like the engineering professors at the technical universities, Schwerber saw technology as a natural force, at once demonic and passionate, which sought a victory of “spirit over matter.”  (18) But Schwerber and the Nazis after him introduced a new twist: Whereas the Jews destroyed and misused technology, the Nordic race was ideally suited to it. Technical Geist and the Nazi racial myth would form a common front against Jewish materialism.

National Socialism was dedicated to emancipating technology from capitalist exchange, a goal that bore striking similarities — at least on a rhetorical level — to the engineers’ own anticapitalist language. Schwerber’s protest was against insufficient rather than excessive technological progress. If we substitute “relations of production” for

“Jews” and “technology” for “forces of production,” Schwerber’s rendition of Nazi ideology amounts to an appeal to liberate a will or telos said to be inherent in the forces of production from restrictions imposed by the existing bourgeois social relations of production. Destruction of the Socialist and Communist parties and the trade unions, abolition of parliament, and breaking the Versailles restrictions on German rearmament were the practical meaning of such a program. This conception of the “primacy of politics” was simultaneously a plan for political reaction and technological modernization presented as a cultural revolution from the Right.

At the center of Nazi Germany stood the figure of Adolf Hitler and his ideas. The view, first expressed by Hermann Rauschning, that Hitler was an opportunist without scruple, has, in my opinion, been effectively laid to rest by scholars such as Eberhard Jäckel and Joachim Fest. Hitler’s Weltanschauung was both fanatically coherent and politically decisive. At no time did he join in the hostility to technology found in völkisch ideology. For Hitler, the decisive element remained the ideology of the will to power. If life and politics were essentially a struggle in which the strongest won, then in politics among nations the technologically weak

would deserve to be defeated. He insisted that the Germans must succeed in the battle against nature in order to win in the battle among nations and races. As early as 1919, in a speech advocating German rearmament and abrogation of the Versailles treaty, Hitler said that “the misery of Germany must be broken by Germany’s steel. That time must come.” (19)

In Mein Kampf, he divided  humankind into three categories: founders, bearers, and destroyers of culture, and assigned these historical roles to the Aryans, the Japanese, and the Jews, respectively. He went so far as to define Aryan culture as a synthesis of “the Greek spirit and Germanic technology.” (20) He also acknowledged his debt to Gottfried Feder’s ideas on “breaking interest slavery.”

This notion was “a theoretical truth which would inevitably be of immense importance for the future of the German people. The sharp separation of stock exchange capital from the national economy offered the possibility of opposing the internationalization of the German economy without at the same time menacing the foundations of an independent national self-maintenance by a struggle against capital.” (21) This selective anti-capitalism had been common in the völkisch tradition. But where Sombart’s anticapitalism attacked Jewish Geist, Hitler turned this cultural revolution into a biological revolt.

Hitler did not write extensively on the subject of technology. Albert Speer reports listening to Hitler’s theory of “ruin value,” according to which the purpose of Nazi architecture and technological advance should be to create ruins that would last a thousand years and thereby overcome the transience of the market. (22) (As we saw in the previous chapter, the juxtaposition of permanent technology and evanescent capitalism was an important theme among the reactionary modernists.)

Hitler was the first political leader of the twentieth century to use the airplane extensively. The radio spread his voice and fast cars sped him over the Autobahnen. His conversations with associates, published as the “table talks,” reveal a man fascinated with the details of military technology. (23) His embrace of modern technology as an expression of Aryan will was fully consonant with rejection of the Enlightenment and the social consequences of the French and industrial revolutions. Given his outlook, Hitler never feared that a rearmed Germany would be a soulless Germany.

Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, devoted a great deal of effort to convincing the Germans that their souls were compatible with modern technology. Goebbels’s speeches on the subject are interesting because they were directed to the general public as well as to engineers, and thus combined elements of the conservative revolution, romanticism, and völkisch ideology with a cult of technological modernism.

For example, in a speech in 1932, Goebbels echoed Hitler’s view that the true politician was an artist whose task was to give form to the “raw material” of the masses. In the century of mass politics, the political leader must avail himself of the most modern means of propaganda, such as the radio, to encourage “spiritual mobilization” (geistige Mobilmachung). In March 1933, he assured his audience that he was not “an unmodern man who is inwardly opposed to the radio. . . but a passionate lover of the press. . . theater. . . radio.” In his view, the radio should not be used to create an illusory objectivity but to assist in the spiritual mobilization the National Socialist regime was fostering. The Germans, he argued, must learn the primary lesson of World War I: Germany was defeated by deficiencies of the spirit rather than by material deficiencies. “We did not lose the war because our cannons failed, but rather because our spiritual weapons didn’t fire.” The radio gave National Socialism unprecedented means for reaching the masses with this message of spiritual revolution. (24)

From his earliest broadcasts to his last, Goebbels returned to a theme that reflected reactionary modernism. In November 1933, he first celebrated a “steely romanticism” (stahlernde Romantik) that had “made German life worth living again.” This new romanticism did not hide from the “hardness of being” or dream of escape into the past. Instead it “heroically” faced up to the problems of modern times. (25) Goebbels often discussed the meaning of stählernde Romantik and his speeches were reprinted in Deutsche Technik (German Technology), a monthly journal published from 1933 to 1942. One particularly graphic example appeared in the February 1939 issue of this journal. The cover shows Goebbels delivering a speech, a Volkswagen on one side, Hitler on the other. The following passage indicates Goebbels’s skill at administering a cultural tradition — what Horkheimer later called the bureaucratic dispensation of the revolt of nature:

We live in an era of technology. The racing tempo of our century affects all areas of our life. There is scarcely an endeavor that can escape its powerful influence. Therefore, the danger unquestionably arises that modern technology will make men soulless. National Socialism never rejected or struggled against technology. Rather, one of its main tasks was to consciously affirm it, to fill it inwardly with soul, to discipline it and to place it in the service of our people and their cultural level. National Socialist public statements used to refer to the steely romanticism of our century. Today this phrase has attained its full meaning. We live in an age that is both romantic and steellike, that has not lost its depth of feeling. On the contrary, it has discovered a new romanticism in the results of modern inventions and technology. While bourgeois reaction was alien to and filled with incomprehension, if not outright hostility to technology, and while modern skeptics believed the deepest roots of the collapse of European culture lay in it, National Socialism understood how to take the soulless framework of technology and fill it with the rhythm and hot impulses of our time [emphasis added].” (26)

This is a remarkable condensation of reactionary modernist themes. Over and over again, Goebbels claimed that the cultural crisis German conservatism had feared had been “overcome” by National Socialism. Filling technology with soul was a practical matter as well. The Volkswagen meant that now modern technology was accessible to the masses and accessible in a way that spread the “rhythm and hot impulses of our time.”

During the war years, Goebbels continued to boast that National Socialism had developed a “new ideal of cultivation” freed from the “false and saccharine romanticism” of the past. (27) In Heidelberg in July 1943, Goebbels elaborated on the theme of the kind of romanticism peculiar to National Socialism.

Every time has its romanticism, its poetic presentation of life. . . Ours does as well. It is harder and crueler than a previous romanticism, but it remains romantic. The steely romanticism of our time manifests itself in actions and deeds in service of a great national goal, in a feeling of duty raised to the level of an unbreachable principle. We are all more or less romantics of a new German mood. The Reich of droning motors, grandiose industrial creations, an almost unlimited and unenclosed space which we must populate to preserve the best qualities of our Volk - is the Reich of our romanticism [emphasis added] (28)

For Goebbels, the war years were a period “overflowing with deeds,” in sharp contrast to the “exaggerated intellectualism” of Weimar politics and culture. German victories were possible only because German engineers and scientists approached their work with the “same fanaticism and wild determination” as did German soldiers, workers, and peasants. In the last year of the war, Goebbels again turned to stahlernde Romantik. The geistige Mobilmachung must again turn for assistance to the “German genius for invention” (deutsche Erfindungsgenie) to avoid impending defeat. In July 1944, Goebbels promised that Hitler’s leadership, the spirit of the Volk, and the V-1 and V-2 rockets would combine to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. (29)

There are two points to be made about these passages. First, Goebbels spoke with slogans and stock formulas. He was, in other words, an administrator of political meanings. But however administered these meanings were, they were not arbitrary. On the contrary, Goebbels spoke a language familiar to German engineers (among others), one stemming from traditions that really did, as he put it, “grow from the Volk.” Without this cultural resonance, he would not have been the successful propagandist he was. Second, it is difficult to determine the degree of cynicism or belief Goebbels aroused in his listeners, but we certainly ought not to rule out the possibility that he actually believed what he was saying. Sociology has devoted much effort to measuring public opinion, but less thought has been given to the effect of political propaganda on the political elites that express it. It is — and was — obvious to anyone with minimally unclouded vision that “fanaticism and wild determination” would do little to turn the tide of the war in 1944. The point about Goebbels’s steely romanticism was that it most certainly had obscured his vision. Although Nazi ideology may not have drugged the entire German people, it certainly acted as an opiate of the Nazi political elite, one that made them oblivious to the catastrophic consequences of Germany’s ideology, technical deficiencies, and totalitarian leadership.

Hitler was an enthusiast of technical advance. The reception of nazism among German engineers also appears to have been enthusiastic, but less so than that of the legal and medical professions, as indicated by the results of student elections at German technical universities in 1933. About 41 percent of the 10,000 students at the technical universities

voted for the Nazis in student elections compared 48 percent of the 37,000 students at the nontechnical universities. Beyond the campuses, approximately 300,000 people were classified as engineers in 1933, including Germany’s 36,000 architects and 31,000 chemists. Of this total, around 7,000 belonged to the Nazi party. In January 1933, party membership stood at 720,000 (of a population of 32 million). Hence, about the same proportion of Ger-man engineers was drawn to membership in the Nazi party as German citizens generally, but less so than white-collar workers and independent professionals. After 1933, the number of engineers in the Nazi party doubled but the increase in the other middle-class professions was even greater (about 230 percent). Only 13.1 percent of the leadership positions in the mid-1930s were held by engineers, compared to 56 percent for lawyers, and 15.5 percent for doctors. (30)

Since their inception, the national engineering associations in Germany had bemoaned their lack of political influence and social prestige relative to the nontechnical middle-class professions. Both the Verein Deutscher Ingenieure (Association of German Engineers, VDI) and the cultural politicians publishing  Technik und und Kultur called for a national office of planning for technical development, a Staatstechnik, which would coordinate state, industry, and engineering in the interests of the national community.

The overall leadership of the new regime’s efforts at “coordination” (Gleichschaltung) lay with Robert Ley, the director of the German Labor Front, whereas Feder directed the activities of the Reichsbund deutscher Techniker (RDT). Feder wanted to replace the existing technical associations — Fachvereines — with Nazi organizations focused on his version of German anticapitalism; Ley sought to integrate the existing engineering organizations into the German Labor Front. The RDT had been founded in 1918 to foster the interests of engineers in national politics. Although Feder envisaged a Front der Technik under leadership of the RDT, by the end of 1933 it had collapsed. Some of its functionaries turned to the Deutsche technokratische Gesellschaft (DTG), founded in 1932 as an international Weltbund organized around slogans of a technocratic socialism. Although Feder saw the greatest opportunity for technocratic ascendancy in private or state capitalism, those who took seriously the goal of production for human needs over the needs of profit became increasingly uncomfortable with the Nazi regime, especially after the announcement of the four-year plan directed at rearmament. The DTG, whose Veblenian socialism of the technicians was utterly removed from the goals of the regime, ceased to exist in 1937. (31)

The Gleichschaltung process of the engineers is a chapter in the story of the underestimation of Hitler by the conservative elites of German society. Initially it entailed a trade-off between the regime and the engineering organizations. In exchange for accepting and assisting the new regime, the engineers sustained a semblance of organizational independence, which, however, was gradually whittled down to in¬significance. The leadership of the VDI (which now had about 30,000 members) informed the new government that it was ready to help deal with the problems of unemployment, energy, and rearmament and to work with the Nazis’ own organization of engineers, the Kampfbund deutscher Architekten und Ingenieure (KDAI). In April 1933, the KDAI membership included only 3 percent of Germany’s engineers, a fact that led Rudolf Hess and Todt to urge integration rather than destruction of existing organizations. The leadership of the VDI viewed Feder as an economic crackpot and was more interested in placing the engineers’ technical skills at the service of the new regime through combining the energies of industry, engineers, and the state. Hitler also regarded Feder’s anticapitalist rhetoric as unhelpful when the regime was intent on convincing the existing organizations that their interests were best served by adapting to the program of the new regime.

Although not enamored of Feder’s ideological pronouncements, the leaders of the VDI opted for political accommodation rather than resistance. In exchange for offering their services to the new regime in a spirit of objective functionality — objektive Sachlichkeit — the engineering associations were able to survive as organizations, although the leadership positions were controlled either by members of the Nazi party or sympathizers. (32)

The executor of the political coexistence of regime and the preexisting engineering organizations was Fritz Todt. In 1934, Hitler designated him as his representative for “all questions” concerning the organization and development of technology. Todt, a party member since 1923, had strong and enduring ties to the engineering profession and to its political and cultural traditions. Rudolf Hess and Alfred Rosenberg also sang the praises of technology in National Socialist terms, but it was Todt, more than any other leading figure of the regime, who could truthfully claim roots in both the Nazi party and in the engineer’s cultural politics.

Following initial bureaucratic struggles with Feder, Todt assumed leadership of the Amt der Technik, the office charged with coordinating Hitler’s goals and the aspirations of the engineers. Whereas Ley viewed the Amt der Technik primarily as a tool for political control, Todt hoped to present this new political control as itself the outcome of the engineer’s own traditions. To this end, he linked practical issues of raw material resources, new energy sources, and decreasing German dependence on raw materials with the ideological traditions that German engineers had themselves developed. Todt urged his fellow engineers to consider political as well as technical issues and to favor both “revolution and tradition.”

In 1934, under the umbrella of the German Labor Front, Todt assumed leadership of the Amt der Technik, which in turn administered the Nationalsozialistischen Bund deutscher Techniker (NSBDT). Members of the NSBDT were also members of the Nazi party whereas most engineers were also required to join a broader front organization, the Reichsgemeinschaft Technischewissenschaftlichen Arbeit  (RTA),and to pay dues to the all-encompassing Labor Front. (33)

Thus Feder’s political demise did not mean that Nazi ideology had given way to the solvent of industrial rationality. His eclipse was accompanied by Todt’s ascendancy and Todt was by no means an apolitical technocrat. On the contrary, he understood that the price of formal autonomous existence for the Vereines was not a high price for the regime to pay for their political submission. As part of this strategy of politicization, Todt used his office to publish the “technopolitical journal,” Deutsche Technik, from 1933 to 1941, a magazine of essays and photographs that sought to convince its approximately 80,000 readers that Nazi ideology was compatible with modern technology.

Deutsche Technik thus supplanted , some of whose contributors were more taken with Feder’s anticapitalism than with Todt’s emphasis on Staatstechnik. By 1937, Todt announced with great pride that the “new ordering of German technology was complete” and that the Nazi party and regime had completely integrated the organizations of German engineers that predated 1933. (34) The number of engineering organizations had been reduced from eighty to sixteen, and in 1937 these were placed under the control of a central government office called the Hauptamt fur Technik (Central Office for Technology). About 81,000 of Germany’s 300,000 engineers participated in the schools and in propaganda efforts and received journals published by the Hauptamt für Technik. In 1939, Todt was elected chairman of the VDI. (35)

By 1936, when Hitler announced a four-year plan of economic development, rationalization of industry, expanded development of synthetic energy substitutes, and rearmament, the Hauptamt für Technik and the NSBDT gave the Nazis

an organizational monopoly over the technical instruments necessary for rearmament. If up to 1936 the focus of Nazi economic policy had been recovery from the depression, the four-year plan contained the additional goal of reducing German dependence on the world economy through technical innovation. Fundamentalist slogans of national economic autarky went hand in hand with technical advances. Nazi publicists presented the plan as yet another act of liberation of technical workers from the tentacles of Jewish finance, and the leaders of the engineering associations extolled the ideal of placing their skills in the service of the Volk. (36)

Pragmatic, rationalizing themes existed alongside traditional Nazi ideology. The propaganda of Todt’s office of technology insisted that there simply was no contradiction between developing new energy sources, building the Autobahnen, and rearmament, on the one hand, and serving the “general interest,” on the other. Whereas the Nazis claimed that völkisch ideology and technical advance went hand in hand with Hitler’s ideology of the will, the engineers drawn to the

regime believed that their sober commitments to technical rationality would finally be placed in the service of the state. They also realized that their own power and importance would grow as the demands for armaments production expanded. This history of organizational survival through political acquiescence reminds us that many German engineers remained outside the ideological disputes over the relation between technology and Germany’s soul. The most that can be said on the basis of the evidence presented here is that in this period, when and if German engineers turned their attention to the connection between technology and Germany’s national identity, the terms of discussion were dominated by the cultural tradition of reactionary modernism.

The Nazis were more successful at preserving their ideological souls than the engineers were at imposing pragmatism on the German dictatorship. The examples of lack of coordination of political ends with technical requirements are impressive. The most spectacular, of course, was the damage done to German nuclear physics by the doctrine of “Aryan physics.” But German technical advance was hindered in less visible ways as well. The combination of appointments based on

ideological rather than scientific and technical criteria with bureaucratic conflicts over jurisdiction hindered technical innovation and research. For instance, the number of patents actually declined from the levels at the end of the Weimar Republic. This was the case even in chemistry, in which twice as many patents were awarded in 1932 as in any of the years from 1933 to 1937. Todt’s program of highway construction along with the advances associated with the four-year plan were based on research that took place before 1933. Hitler’s view that innovation was the outcome of the creative forces slumbering within the German soul was hardly conducive to the requirements of scientific and technical research. The Nazis accumulated a large number of weapons, but their qualitative technical backwardness in such crucial areas as torpedoes, radar, communications, air defense, and airplane design became apparent during World War II. (37)

Even if German engineers had not been hindered by ideological criteria, fewer of them were being trained in the late 1930s to design Hitler’s weapons of war. Although the VDI estimated in 1936 that Germany needed 4,000 more engineers, the number of students at the technical universities fell from 17,745 in 1933 to 10,747 in 1936 and rose to 12,287 in 1939 only to fall steadily to 7,866 in 1940 and 6,675 in 1943. At the same time, study length was cut from eight to seven semesters. By comparison, in 1940 enrollments at technical universities in the Soviet Union were three times what they were in 1928. (38) In 1937, several months before he left his position as minister of economics, Helmar Schacht warned that National Socialism’s preference for political-ideological training at the expense of technical education threatened Germany’s technical superiority over other nations, a decline that had grave consequences both because of the importance of exports for the German economy and for military purposes. (39) Schacht’s understanding of the relation between science and technology was not widely shared in the regime. Nazi propaganda focused on the accomplishments of individual inventors and on the immediate, practical benefits of technical advances. In weighing the causes of German technical backwardness, political terror and persecution must be placed alongside the generally antiintellectual and antiscientific ideology of the Nazi regime. Many people in positions of responsibility — Speer, Himmler, Ley, Bormann, and Hitler - simply lacked the background to grasp the implications of scientific advances for technical advances.

At the outset of the war, Germany’s technology was both quantitatively and qualitatively inferior to that of its enemies. In 1939, Germany was producing 27 million tons of steel a year, in contrast to over 100 million tons produced by the Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States. By 1941, Germany had not yet developed a tank that was a match for the Soviet T-34. By 1943, when the Germans finally produced a new model, the Russians had advanced still further. Perhaps most striking were the enormous quantitative inferiorities of

German compared to Russian tank production. From 1941 to 1944, the Soviet advantage ranged from 1.5:1 to 4:1. The actual production figures in these years were 6,590 Soviet to 3,796 German tanks in 1941, 24,719 to 6,189 in 1942, 30,000 to 10,757 in 1943, and 30,000 to 18,284 in 1944. Although the Nazis made much of their love of airplanes, by 1943 Germany’s airplane production had fallen to about 20 percent of that of the Allies. (40) In short, the German dictatorship simply lacked the technical means to win the war, except, of course, its war against the European Jews.

Ironically, it was Fritz Todt who confronted Hitler with the contradiction between his ideological goals and German technical capabilities. By December of 1941, it was clear that the invasion of the Soviet Union in the previous June had not resulted in the quick, decisive victory Hitler expected. Just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the American entry into the war, Todt urged Hitler to sue for peace with the Russians. Speaking as an engineer, Todt argued that time was on the side of the enemy; a long war would mean a German defeat. But Todt himself had entered into the pact with the devil. By 1941 it was too late for rational, strategic calculations to sway Hitler from his goals. His ideological politics triumphed over considerations of traditional power politics. The very same ideological frame of mind that had prevented Germany from developing its scientific and technical potential now contributed to overestimation of German capacities, underestimation of the capabilities of the Allies, and refusal to face the consequences of Germany’s technical shortcomings. The constant of Hitler’s ideology of the will was a refusal to match political ends with existing means. Todt’s confrontation with Hitler in December was the exception that proved the rule: German engineers, including Todt up to this point, subordinated their knowledge of technical realities to the demands of Nazi ideology.

In the first issue of Deutsche Technik, published in September 1933, Todt wrote that the new “technopolitical journal” would make “German technology into a pillar of the total state” and place technology’s “cultural and spiritual outlook on the foundation of a pure National Socialist world view.”(41) Todt was able to speak in terms similar to the aesthetic and philosophical themes of the engineers’ traditions. For example, the construction of the national highway system would be based on a unified plan, in sharp contrast to the alleged “chaos” of the Weimar “system.” It flowed from a unified Geist and represented an artistic effort to give proper form to the German landscape. Germany’s highways were to be far more than an engineering feat; they must be “an expression of the German essence.” Todt argued that the “decisive” fact of the era for German engineers was that National Socialism was liberating technology from the “material bonds” that had restricted it for the last half century. Here were both an opportunity and a necessity for “total engagement” by engineers in the nationalist revival.

During the first years of the dictatorship, Todt pointed with pride to the construction of the Autobahnen as evidence that the Nazis had rescued technology from an era that had treated it as an object without soul or spirit. Like Freyer and Schmitt, Todt argued that now politics, not economics, was in command. Aesthetic criteria were displacing the profit motive, and the Nazis were demonstrating that technology did not consist of dead matter, but of “soulful cultural works” that grew organically from the Volk. Todt even claimed that there was a specifically National Socialist conception of technology that elevated creativity over materialist considerations.

During these years, Deutsche Technik was filled with photographs of the highways gracefully weaving through valleys, mountains, and farmland. These roads demonstrated that, as Todt put it, “the artistic and technical powers of invention and formation live together in the creative engineer.” The following passage is typical of Todt’s view of technology as an art form:

The following arc the features that make a road as a totality into an artwork that brings the environment joy through its intrinsic beauty and harmony with the environment: The direction of lines is bound to the land [landschaftsverbundene Lininefiihrung], Construction remains true to natural forms [naturformgetruere Erdbau]. Workmanship is based on the craftsman’s principles of building and implantation in the earth [bodenstände Bepflanzung]. (42)

If this was what highway construction was about, it hardly conflicted with the cultural revolution promised by National Socialism. Building the “highways bound to the land” (landschaftsverbundene Strassen) and saving the German soul were mutually reinforcing projects. Todt’s message was clear: The new highways posed no threat to the German Volk. On the contrary, they promised to restore the nation’s lost unity. As Albert Speer later put it, Todt did not see “brutal and loveless images of iron and cement” when he looked at highways, but rather deliverance and redemption from a fragmented, materialist era. (43) As one of the official eulogies for Todt in 1941 put it, the Nazis had learned to lift technology out of the web of “bureaucratism” and had taught German engineers that “the language of technical works must rest. . .on the grammar of nature.” (44)

Deutsche Technik is a striking document of the continuity of the reactionary modernist tradition after 1933. The Zeitschrift des Vereins deutscher Ingenieure continued to appear in these years, but it was primarily devoted to technical discussions combined with promptings for loyalty to the führer. Deutsche Technik proceeded to adapt many of the themes that first appeared in . Unlike Albert Speer’s Bureau of the Beauty of Labor, Deutsche Technik did not replace völkisch pastoralism with technocratic aesthetics but, as Todt urged, incorporated technology into the National Socialist Weltanschauung. Articles were short, usually no more than three pages long, and repetitive. Little was new or original. The message of the journal was straightforward: Whatever had been posed as a problem before 1933 had now been solved.

At the Haus der deutschen Technik in Munich, the Nazis presented annual exhibitions on the theme of art and technology. Deutsche Technik reproduced many of these paintings as well as photographs of cars, planes, trains, and roads. Typical of the commentary was a 1942 essay asserting that National Socialism understood that art infuses technical processes with Geist. As a result of this understanding, German artists were “no longer out of step” with technology, but saw in it instead “the essential and necessary principle of our being,” which established law over arbitrariness, duty over selfishness. Now that technology had become part of the Volksgemeinschaft, it had assumed clear and beautiful forms. (45) Technical advance under the Nazis was a cultural revolution that gave new meaning to cold steel. Among the accomplishments of nazism regarding technology were a “victory over the elementary,” “overcoming” the threat of Americanization, balancing city and country, and bringing to the surface a uniquely German “surrender” to technology. (46)

Deutsche Technik elaborated the engineer’s view that there was a specifically German technology. As contributors to Technik und Kultur had done before them, the writers for Deutsche Technik traced technology back to famous figures of preindustrial Europe, such as Leonardo da Vinci, who were stylized as models of the not-yet-divided engineer-artist or scientist-soldier. (47) The point of these generally fatuous accounts of the past was to stress links between the very old and the very new and to root technology in precapitalist and preindustrial traditions. (48) A great deal was made of “Goethe the technologist.” One author, for example, claimed that Goethe’s Faust was a fundamental text for understanding the secrets of the technological Geist in electricity, central heating, and photography. (49)

But the central message of Deutsche Technik was that National Socialism had indeed overcome the conflict between technology and culture. An essay published in February 1943, “NS-Technik,” surveyed the first ten years of technology under Hitler. Its argument was as follows: Before 1933, Germany and German technology had suffered from capitalist misuse, the Jewish financial “plutocracy,” American “desouling” (Entseelung), and the threat of enslavement by the Bolsheviks. National Socialism had made clear that it was the Germans who were the truly chosen people and had helped them construct a new German landscape saved from the “filth of civilization” and the “American-Jewish destruction of German nature.” Ferdinand Fried, editor of Die Tat in the Weimar years, presented such views in several essays. Although Germany’s “racial soul” was in tune.with technical advances, technology had been “raped” by the Jewish Ungeist. Under the Nazis, the German soul was reasserting itself.“  (50) The Volkswagen, the Autobahnen, the air force, and Speer’s Bureau of the Beauty of Labor were all examples of a new NS-Technik. Fried claimed that envy and resentment of Germany’s liberation from “the chains of Jewish money” were the real motivations of the Reich’s enemies. (51) The danger of dehumanization at the hands of the machine or of destruction of the German landscape had been averted. National Socialism meant deliverance from a wasteland.

Deliverance from the past only highlighted present dangers. Like the reactionary modernists, the Nazi propagandists transformed Germany’s geographical location into a cultural-political identity. Germany, they said, as the country between East and West, was the only one to really grasp the “essence of technical creation.” The Deutsche Technik authors repeated the complaints about American and British materialism and Soviet-style dialectical materialism. Only the Germans had synthesized technics and nature. By the time Hitler’s armies dominated Europe from the Soviet Union to the Atlantic, such ideas were developed into a Grossraum Technik, a unified, integrated technological system in Europe, with Germany as its center. (52)

The reader will recognize the familiar themes of reactionary modernism in these ideas. As I put it earlier, the Nazi propagandists were administrators of already existing traditions. But they were distinct within the panoply of German nationalism for the emphasis they placed on anti-Semitism and the biological foundations they gave to German technological advance. They wrote that the Nordic race had peculiar technical and scientific abilities. Had Germany only been a nation of poets, philosophers, and artists, it would be defenseless. Fortunately for the Germans, the Nordic race had a distinctive urge to dominate nature. One contributor referred to the electric motor as the “great symbol of German technology,” a technology whose roots lay in the Nordic soul. Unlike the Americans, or the Jewish-Bolsheviks, who introduced technology with murder and forced labor, the Nazis built on German racial foundations to ward off the threats from both capitalism and socialism. (53) As one frequent contributor, Richard Grun, put it, “In this ruthless world, a nation of poets is defeated, a nation of philosophers hungers, a nation of aesthetes is subject to ridicule. Only a people able to produce arms, weapons, commodities, machines and knowledge is able to survive.” (54) Grun argued that Germany must compensate for its numerical disadvantages in relation to its enemies with its technical capabilities and with efforts to increase the birth rate among the scientifically and technically talented.

Deutsche Technik, like Technik und Kultur earlier, published excerpts from books or from essays that later were expanded into books published in editions of about twenty to twenty-five thousand. The continuities with reactionary modernist ideology are striking. In 1936, for example, Fritz Nonnenbruch’s Die dynamische Wirtschaft (The Dynamic Economy) was published by the Nazis. He wrote that National Socialism had overcome the abstract economic laws of a capitalism bereft of “ties to the Volk.” The primacy of politics, not class conflict, had led to

“the actual overcoming of capitalism.” Nonnenbruch periodized the history of German capitalism in terms of predominance of either the Jewish or the Nordic spirit. Whereas pre-1933 capitalism had been dominated by the spirit of the merchant and financier, he argued that after 1933 it was dominated by the spirit of the “Nordic peoples” and was therefore productive and favorable to the interests of German engineers. (55) Economic crises had been brought about by production for the market rather than for the needs of the nation. But the economic recovery after 1933 was evidence of the affinity between “the Geist of technics and the Geist of the race.” (56)

In a manner reminiscent of Ernst Jünger, Nonnenbruch recalled the soldier formed by the Fronterlebnis as a “master of technology.” The war had shown a generation of young Germans that technology need not be soulless and impersonal, but could be “great, manly, dangerous, free and wild. . .The will of the race speaks in highway construction.” (57) Like many other contributors to Deutsche Technik, Nonnenbruch argued that the Nazis’ great accomplishment was to have restored a dynamic to capitalism without also restoring bourgeois rationalism. Placing economics at the center of attention would have been a purely “intellectual exercise.” But surrendering to the “will of the race for technology” would be a matter of the spirit and the soul, which are “superior to the intellect.” “Where the race speaks, the intellect can offer no resistance. Appeals to the intellect bring dis-harmony. Appeals to the will of the race bring unity, harmony and creation.” (58)

Nonnenbruch’s brand of irrationalism lies within the reactionary modernist tradition, indicating its continuity after 1933. Nonnenbruch picked up on Goebbels’s efforts to recast romanticism for a technological age, thereby linking National Socialism to another German tradition:

Technology is romantic but in a way that is totally different from any other kind of romanticism. It is not a flight from reality but a flaming illumination of reality. Flying in an airplane, driving in a car, the thunder of the elevated railway, the various landscapes of the battlefield, the glowing stream of flowing iron in the ghostly night filled with steel ovens - all of these thing are incomparably more romantic than anything previous romantics could imagine. (59)

Both Goebbels’s steellike romanticism and Nonnenbruch’s new romanticism were directed against those elements of the romantic tradition that supported a reconciliation with or return to nature. There were only two alternatives for the reactionary modernists: effeminate and cowardly escape into the Asian or pastoral past, or masculine and courageous flight into the German future. (60) In one of the last issues of Technik und Kultur, Paul Ernst’s criticisms of the dehumanizing impact of the division of labor were rejected in favor of a Jüngerian celebration of the Gestalt of the worker. Ernst was charged with escapism, having a merely “external” view of technology, and failing to recognize that technology was essential to the nation and grew out of the “inner necessity of our being.” (61) The process of selectively borrowing from past cultural traditions, in this case romanticism, is again apparent in these statements. The reactionary modernists took those metaphors and symbols they found useful and rejected those they did not. However selective they were, the reactionary modernist tradition would have been inconceivable without romantic legacies.

Nonnenbruch’s second book-length propaganda effort, Technik, Politik und Geist, repeated many of the themes he had developed in Die dynamische Wirtschaft. The immediate purpose of the book was to depict the four-year plan, in particular the achievements of the German chemical industry, as examples of a will-to-freedom present in the German nation. Development of synthetic fuels would free Germany from foreign sources of raw materials, and state direction of the economy abolished restrictions on growth due to commercial greed. In Nonnenbruch’s account, National Socialism was attempting to reverse the results of World War I by “unleashing” technology. In so doing, the Nazis demonstrated that technology expressed the will of the Volk rather than the will of “international capitalism hostile to the Volk.” (62) The synthesis of energy and organization in the four-year plan had been prefigured by the Fronterlebnis of World War I.

Like all of the Nazi propaganda concerning technology, Technik, Politik, und Geist was neither creative nor original. Its effectiveness rested on an obsessive repetition of the now familiar and stale metaphors and associations with which technology was presented in the language of National Socialism — Geist, Gemeinschaft, Schicksal (destiny), Heldentum (heroism), Opferbereitschaft (readiness for sacrifice), will, freedom, and race. In this cultural perspective, rationalization of industry and preparation for aggression appear as a momentous cultural revolt against the now obsolete and historically bypassed liberal era.

Politik, Technik, und Geist is evidence of the reactionary modernist effort to preserve the charismatic experience of World War I on the eve of the next war, and of the persistence of reactionary modernism after the first several years of the Hitler regime.

In 1937, Wilhelm Stortz, a professor of engineering at the technical university in Stuttgart, presented a National Socialist version of technological development in modern Germany, Der Weg der deutschen Technik. His reconstruction was as follows: Nineteenth-century Germany was spared the full brunt of the soulless materialism that engulfed England, France, and the United States because its industrialization process was guided by the state under Bismarck, Germany’s “first National Socialist.” (63) But by the turn of the century, “production of useful goods” (Gebrauchs gutererzeugung) was replaced by “commodity production” (Warenerzeugung), with a resultant decline both in the quality of goods and in the skills of the labor force, as well as growing unemployment. The years preceding World War I were characterized by the increasing predominance of “capitalist market calculation” over “technical quality.” (64) But the war reversed this trend by wrenching technology out of the control of exchange relations and placing it in the service of the nation.

For Stortz, the tragedy of German technology was that at the very moment the generation formed by the war experience became aware of the value of technology for German nationalism, the Treaty of Versailles blocked German technical expansion. The Weimar system once again established the primacy of “economic thinking” over that of technical idealism. No wonder Spengler’s pessimism found an echo. Stortz saw in National Socialism a political movement that presented resistance to cultural pessimism and that averted the “escape from technology which threatened to strangle us before 1933.” (65) Stortz credited the Nazis with having successfully incorporated technological advance into the spiritual renewal of a victorious national revolution. As with so many of the reactionary modernists who preceded him, Stortz saw in war and nationalism the ideological and political alternative to the culture and politics of the market.

Book-length expositions of reactionary modernist themes continued to appear during the war years. Several works published from 1940 to 1943 deserve mention: Alexander Friedrich’s Die unsichtbare Armee: Das Buch der Energie (The Invisible Army: The Book of Energy), Richard Grun’s Wir und die Technik, and Anton Zischka’s Erfinder brechen die Blockade (Inventors Break the Blockade), and Seig der Arbeit: Geschichte der fünftausendjährigen Kampfes gegen Unwissenheit und Sklaverei (Victory of Labor: The History of the 5ooo-year-long Struggle against Ignorance and Slavery). All three authors continued to protest that no, technology is not a threat to the German soul, and to insist that yes, it is an expression of the heroic virtues of a united Volksgemeinschaft. All of them attacked intellectuals and artists who have shown no appreciation for technics and no understanding that “from Gutenberg and Luther through Hitler,” the Germans have used technology to advance national unity. (66) And all of them attacked those remaining humanist Luddites who, they believed, were incapable of grasping the higher laws working in technical processes.

These laws were not social or economic laws but determinations grounded in Germany’s racial soul. True, for years German technology had suffered from the unproductive jüdische Geist, but those days of depraved commercialism were over. The Germans were bound to win the war because Germany’s productivity would prevail over Jewish parasitism. (67)

Grun in particular stressed the masculine nature of technology. The proper order of things suggested that men built technological artifacts while women remained in the home. Further, he distinguished between tradition, which was good because it offered ties to the past and hope for the future, and reaction, which was bad because it stubbornly clung to obsolete methods of production and could thus harm the nation. The Nazis had addressed the engineers’ need for tradition by integrating technology into the traditions of the whole nation. The calling of engineers demanded that they be innovators and revolutionaries, but this did not mean that they would be separated from the Volk. Recalling Todt’s words on nature and technical form, Grun celebrated the synthesis of a German feeling for nature with a no less German drive for technical progress.

Finally, Grun wrote that National Socialism demonstrated that Social Darwinism, the laws of nature, and the laws of technological advance were compatible. If the survival of the fittest was an unavoidable requirement of life, restricting technical progress would conflict with biological laws and make possible the triumph of those less racially fit. The real Nazi achievement was to have seen that technology was a biological rather than an economic phenomenon. To have succumbed to the antitechnological currents within German nationalism would have meant rejecting National Socialism’s racial theory of history.

Zischka and Friedrich also attacked Jewish influence on German technology, praised Hitler for restoring technical progress in Germany, and advocated further development of synthetic fuels to overcome Germany’s paucity of natural resources. Both Friedrich and Zischka emphasized the importance of scientific and technical discoveries for Germany’s independence. As Zischka put it, Germany was strong because “invention lies in our blood,” unlike the British, whose technical skills were merely “external” and lacking in the inner depths that continued to push German technological progress forward.'’ (68) Now that the power of the Jews over German energy and technology had been broken, a bright future of national independence, technical advances, and authoritarian politics promised to sustain the Volksgemeinschaft indefinitely. (69) Germany’s enemies — the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union — still labored under the burden of the Jews and thus would fall behind the Nazis’ technical capabilities.

In view of the balance of military and industrial power between Germany and her enemies, these statements were complete delusions. Earlier I recalled Todt’s famous 1941 meeting with Hitler in which he urged that a respect for strategic realities be given equal weight with ideological goals. When Albert Speer took over the position of armaments minister after Todt’s death in a plane crash following his meeting with Hitler, he remained loyal to Hitler almost to the very end, despite the fact that he had the same information about the relative strengths of the German and Allied military-industrial capabilities as Todt. There was no revolt of the technocrats against the ideologues.

The reactionary modernist  tradition reached its end point in the SS. In the last years of the war, Hitler’s ideological convictions remained unshaken, as did his faith in technological breakthroughs that would bring about a dramatic reversal of the course of events. Hitler became both an advocate of the omnipotence of the will and a seeker after a technological fix — the wonder-weapons such as the V-i and V-2 rockets that would win the war. In 1942, Goebbels opened an office for weapons propaganda, presented visions of a European technology of the future, and, above all, spoke more and more about a new Waffenmythos as the course of the war went from bad to worse. Goebbels’s hopes were grotesque in view of the imbalances between Germany and the Allies. In 1944, German war production amounted to 4 percent of American war production alone. In 1945, the Germans did not even have a wind tunnel in which to test airplanes. (70)

In this hopeless situation, it was only fitting that the ideological fanatics in the regime should be the major proponents of the technological fix. By 1944, the SS had 900,000 men under arms in thirty- eight divisions. It conducted research leading to innovations in machine guns, flame throwers, tanks, air defenses, and airplanes. Himmler also supported research into high-frequency electronics at Dachau. (One of the most fortunate ironies of modern German history was that the Nazis’ anti-Semitism sent much of the physics community into exile, thereby hindering the development of the real “wonder-weapon,” the atom bomb.) But the most important of the SS projects was the rocket program at Peenemünde, where the V-I and V-2 were developed and tested. These were to be the wonder-weapons that would reverse the course of the war and demonstrate that the German racial soul could compensate for quantitative (and in many cases qualitative) inferiorities. They were also the fitting culmination of the reactionary modernist tradition. However destructive they may have been, placing hopes in them at that date was indicative of the contempt for strategic thinking, that is, for relating means to ends, that had permeated the Nazi regime. (71) Reactionary modernist views of technology must be given credit for this remarkable instance of nonutilitarian flight into ideological politics up to the very end.

German engineers, along with the conservative economic, military, foreign policy, and civil service elites of German society allied with Hitler to serve their own particular ends. Like these other elites, the engineers were convinced that Hitler was devoted above all to the preservation of the existing order, albeit in its most reactionary form. But among the engineers, just as among these other elites, there were currents of ideas, partly indigenous and partly fanned by the Nazis, that pointed to a cultural and political revolution centered around a racial utopia. This utopia flew in the face of the logic of capitalist profit, Prussian military tradition, traditional German foreign policy, and the engineers’ technical reason. But none of these groups had been sufficiently wedded to liberal values to see the point of resisting Hitler before it was too late. And each could draw on traditions similar to reactionary modernism that dispirited those who questioned the regime and gave heart to others who believed Hitler really was speaking for Germany. (72)

In this chapter, I have presented evidence that the reactionary modernist tradition by no means faded away under the pressures of political rule and the conduct of war. On the contrary, the Nazis gave to the tradition both institutional and propagandistic expression. They borrowed from its language and metaphor to assert that their rejection of the Enlightenment was compatible with technology, but that very same rejection became a barrier to technical innovation as well as to matching technical capacities with strategic realities. The German soul and will proved tenacious but woefully inadequate when confronted with the Allied arsenal. Hitler’s defeat reminds us that National Socialism was not only a monstrous evil. It was also self-destructive, a self-destructiveness due in part to the tradition this book has documented. Had the Nazis been committed Luddites, they would not have been able to start World War II. Had they been cynical, calculating technocrats, they might have won a more limited victory or, at the very least, avoided catastrophic defeat. The reactionary modernist tradition was politically consequential in three fundamental ways. First, it contributed to the technological strength that made the war conceivable, if not winnable; second, by preserving an antiscientific and antirational ethos it created a barrier to technical innovations that could compare with efforts in Russia, Great Britain, and the United States; and third, it was part of the ideological fanaticism that convinced the Nazis they could win even though they lacked the means to attain victory and replaced strategic coordination of ends and available means with political gambles based on the language of the will.


1. Gottfried Feder, Das Manifest zur Brechung der Zinsknechtschaft des Geldes (Munich, 1919)
2. Feder, Das Manifest, p. 62. On Nazi economic theories see Werner Krause, Wirtschaftstheorie unter dem Hakenkreuz (Berlin, 1962).
3.Gottfried Feder, Der deutsche Staat auf nationaler und sozialer Grundlage (Munich, 1923), p. 21.
4. Gottfried Feder, Kampf gegen Hochfinanz (Munich, 1933).
5. On the Bureau of the Beauty of Labor, see Rabinbach, “The Aesthetics of Production in the Third Reich,” in International Facism, ed. George Mosse (Beverly Hills, Calif., 1979)
6. George Mosse elaborates on the distinction between Aryan beauty and productivity vs. Jewish ugliness and parasitism in Towards the Final Solution (New York, 1978); and The Crisis of German Ideology, (New York, 1964).
7. See Neumann, Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism (New York, 1944), pp. 228—9; Ludwig, Technik und Ingenieure im Dritten Reich (Königstein, 1979), p. 76. Hitler referred to Feder’s Der deutsche Staat auf nationaler und sozialer Grundlage as the “catechism of our movement”; Neumann, p. 229.
8. David Schoenbaum, in Hitler’s Social Revolution (New York, 1966), refers to the “rural, racist, anti-industrial pole around Feder” (p. 22) that survived only as “characteristic folklore” (p. 46) with “the option for industrial rearmament in 1933 and against Feder in 1934. This was an option against the new aristocracy of Blut und Boden and in favor of the long-term dynamics of industrial society as they had been working in Germany and all other industrial societies since the beginning of the nineteenth century” (p. 240). Charisma and faith replaced ideology. First, nothing in Feder’s distinctions between productive and parasitic capital conflicted with industrial rearmament. Feder was a racist but not a Luddite. Second, Schoenbaum’s claim that ideology was replaced by faith assumes a highly rationalistic conception of ideology. But both before and after 1933, Nazi ideology was deeply emotional and antirationalist. The distinction between faith and ideology simply does not apply, especially when dealing with totalitarian politics.
9.Gottfried Feder, “Die Aufgaben der Technik beim Wiederaufbau der Deutschen Wirtschaft” (The Tasks of Technology in the Reconstruction of the German Economy), Technik und Kultur 24 (1933), pp. 93—100. The essay was originally delivered as a speech to the Kampfbund Deutscher Architekten und Ingenieure, a Nazi organization of architects and engineers.
10.Ibid., pp. 98-100.
11. Peter Schwerber, Nationalsozialismus und Technik: Die Geistigkeit der nationalsozialistischen Bewegung (Munich, 1930).
12. Ibid., p. 72. Schwerber also made favorable reference to Henry Ford, whose biography was also published in the National Socialist Library. The Nazis praised Ford for his anti-Semitic views and for being what they saw as an ideal-typical “technical man” who excluded all “merchant” activity or dependence on finance capital by creating a self-financing industrial corporation. Other works from the engineers’ own tradition cited by Schwerber included Viktor Engelhardt, Weltanschauung und Technik (Leipzig, 1922);  Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, Apologie der Technik (Leipzig-Vienna, 1922); Robert Weyrauch, Die Technik (Stuttgart, 1922).
13. M Schwerber, Nationalsozialismus und Technik, p. 3.
15. Ibid., p. 6.
16. Ibid., p. 21.
17. Ibid., p. 23.
18. Ibid., p. 37.
19. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (Boston, 1939), p. 318. Cited in Eberhard Jäckel, Hitler’s World View: A Blueprint for Power, trans. Herbert Arnold (Middletown, Conn., 1972), p. 90.
20. Cited in Jäckel, p. 28.
21. Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 213. Also see Iring Fetscher, “Die industrielle Gesellschaft und die Ideologie der Nationalsozialisten,” Gesellschaft, Staat und Erziehung 7 (1962), pp. 6-23.
22. Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, trans. Richard Winston and Clara Winston (New York, 1970), pp. 93-4.
23. See Hitler’s Table Talk, ed. H. R. Trevor-Roper (London, 1953).
24. Joseph Goebbels, Reden (March 25, 1933).
25. Joseph Goebbels, Reden (March 15, 1933).
26. Joseph Goebbels, Deutsche Technik (March 1939), pp. 105-6 (speech at the opening of the Berlin Auto Show, February 17, 1939).
27. Joseph Goebbels, Reden (Berlin Sportpalast, June 5, 1943).
28. Joseph Goebbels, Reden (Heidelberg Stadthalle, July 7, 1943).
29. Joseph Goebbels, Reden (July 26, 1944).
30. See Ludwig, Technik und Ingenieure, pp. 105-8.
31.Ibid., pp. 123-4.
32. Ibid., p. 111. Ludwig’s is the definitive account of the process of Gleichschaltung or "coordination" process of the Nazi regime as it concerned engineers.
33. Fritz Todt, “Tradition und Reaction,” Zeitschrift des Vereines des deutschen Inqenieure 78 (1934), p. 1047.
34. Fritz Todt, “Die Neuordnung der deutschen Technik,” Deutsche Technik, 5 (1937), p. 204.
35. Ludwig, Technik und Ingenieure, p. 172.
36. For example, Fritz Nonnebruch, Die dynamische Wirtschaft (Munich, 1936)
37. Ludwig, Technik und Ingenieure, p. 255.
38. Ibid., pp. 275—7; and Kendall Bailes, Technology and Society under Lenin and Stalin: Origins of the Soviet Technical Intelligentsia, 1917—1941 (Princeton, N.J., 1978), p. 221.
39. Ludwig, Technik und Ingenieure, p. 284.
40. Ibid., pp. 440-1.
41. Frtiz Todt, "Mein Auftrag", Die Strasse (15, 1933), reprinted in Deutsche Technik (August September, 1941), p, 2.
42. Fritz Todt, Leistung und Schonheit: Der Technik im Dritten Reich: Bild-Beilag zur Zeitshrift `Deutsche Technik` (July, 1939), p. 2. As the title indicates, Leistung und Schonheit was a photo magazine that complemented Deutsche Technik, provinding space for reproductions and photos from exbitions organized by the Amt der Technik, usually an the theme of art and technology.
43. Albert Speer, "Der Baumeister Fritz Todt, "Deutsch Technik (April 1942), p. 128.
44. Münchner Neueste Nachrichten, “Deutschlands erster Ingenieure” (February 9, 1942), reprinted in a special issue of Deutsche Technik (March 1942), entitled Dr.-Ing. Fritz Todt: Schöpferischer Techniker — Vorbildlicher Kamerad — grosser Deutscher (Dr.-Eng. Fritz Todt: Creative Engineer — Visionary Comrade — Great German). This is a very interesting collection of remarkably similar-sounding eulogies, including Hitler’s oration at Todt’s funeral (“I have lost one of my most loyal colleagues and friends.”); Alfred Rosenberg (“Todt had never abandoned the old sense of struggle born of deeply rooted agreement on a Weltanschauung), and numerous statements from the press and engineering journals.
45. Fritz Nimitz, “Vor einen neuen Syntheses von Kunst und Technik,” Deutsche Technik (September 1942), pp. 367—71.
46. Heinrich Doll, “Die geistigen Verantwortung der Technik,” Deutsche Technik (September 1942), pp. 284-5.
47. Essays on these themes included the following: Heinrich Doll, “Die geistigen Ver-antwortung der Technik”; Deutsche Technik (September 1942), pp. 284-5; and Richard Grun, “Der Geist der Technik,” Deutsche Technik, (June 1940), pp. 5-6.
48. Joseph Bader, “Der Deutsche und das Wesen der abendländischen Technik,” Deutsche Technik (November 1940), pp. 475-8; a catalogue of German contributions to technical advance is presented by Dr.-Ing. L. Erhard in “Zur Technikgeschichte des Reichsprotektorate,” Deutsche Technik (September 1940), pp. 211 — 14.
49. Kurt Schuder, “Der Techniker Goethe,” Deutsche Technik (August-September 1941), pp. 417-18.
50. Ferdinad Fried, "Die Soziale Revolution: Der Pakt mit der Technik - Die industrielle Revolution", Deutsche Technik (Oktober 1942), pp. 410-13.
51. Walter Ostwald, "NS-Technik: Was die nationalsozialistische Revolution aus der deutschen Technik gemacht hat, " Deutsche Technik (Februar 1943), pp. 48-50. Ostwald`s essay was in an issue devoted to "the first ten years" of the "national socialist technology after Adolf Hitler`s assumption of power." Ostwald celebrated the Autobahnen in word and photos in "Vom Wesen der Reichautobahnen", Deutsche Technik (Oktober 1939), pp. 396-401.
52. Kurt Wagner, “Grossraum Technik,” Deutsche Technik (April 1942). Wagner published a book by the same title: Grossraum Technik: Die Technik im neuen Europa (Berlin 1944)-
53. Joseph Bader, “Das Deutsche und das Wesen des abendländischen Technik.”
54. Richard Grun, “Sterbende Technik?” Deutsche Technik (September 1942), p. 282.
55. Fritz Nonnenbruch, Die dynamische Wirtschaft (Munich, 1936), pp. 8, 124-5. 56. Ibid., p. 125.
57. Ibid., pp. 142-3.
58. Ibid., p. 151. The idea that National Socialism had “overcome” the cultural crisis occasioned by technological advance was common in Deutsche Technik. As early as 1934, K. F. Steinmetz, who had just been appointed the new editor of Technik und Kultur, wrote that technology was no longer a problem now that liberalism had been overcome and engineers had been reintegrated into the nation. See K. F. Steinmetz, “Die Technik ist kein Problem,” Technik und Kultur 26 (1935), pp. 97—99.
59. Nonnenbruch, Die dynamische Wirtschaft, p. 153.
60. See R. N. Coudenhove-Kalergi, Revolution durch Technik (Leipzig, 1932). Couden- hove-Kalergi juxtaposed European man - energetic, active, goal oriented, romantic, heroic, Dionysian, and manly — and Asian man — harmonious, rooted and settled, static, classical, idyllic, Apollonian, and effeminate. The European character is oriented to the domination of nature; the Asian character is oriented to self-control. Coudenhove-Kalergi saw the former as well suited for technology, whereas the latter was inclined to reject it. See pp. 25-9.
61. Eberhard Ter-Nedden, ‘‘Paul Ernsts Stellung zur Technik,” Technik und Kultur 28 . (1937), pp. 82-4.
62. Fritz Nonnenbruch, Technik, Politik und Geist (Munich, 1939), pp. 53-4.
63. Wilhelm Stortz, Der Weg der deutschen Technik (Stuttgart, 1937), p. 8
64. Ibid., p. 12.
65. Ibid., p. 39.
66. Richard Grun, Wir und die Technik (Berlin, 1942); Alexander Friedrich, Die unsichtbare Armee: Das Buch der Energie (Berlin, 1942); Anton Zischka, Erfinder brechen die Blockade (Berlin, 1940); and Sieg der Arbeit: Geschichte der fünftausendjährigen Kampfes gegen Unwissenheit und Sklaverei (Leipzig, 1941). Also see Ulrich Troitzsch, “Technikgeschichte in der Forschung und in der Sachbüchliteratur während des Nationalsozialismus,” in Naturwissenschaft, Technik und NS-Ideologie: Beiträge zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte des Dritten Reiches, ed Herbert Mehrtene and Steffen Richter (Frankfurt, 1980), pp. 215-42.
67. Richard Grun, Wir und die Technik, pp. 36, 60, 126.
68. Anton Zischka, Erfinder brechen die Blockade, pp. 94;5. Cited in Ulrich Troitzsch, "Technikgeschichte in der Forschung", pp 28-29.
69. Die unsichtbare Armee, p. 54. See Ulrich Troitzsch, “Technikgeschichte in der Forschung,” pp. 225-33.
70. For a through discussion of German weapons technology in 1944-5, see Ludwig, Technik und Ingeniere, pp. 451-73.
71. On the role of the SS in the German armament program see Ludwig, Technik und. Ingenieure, pp. 473-514. On the forced emigration of the German Jewish physicists and its impact on physics under the Nazis, see Beyerchen, Scientists Under Hitler: Politics and the Physics Community under Hitler (New Haven, Conn., 1977).
72. On Hitler and the Reichswehr see Michael Geyer’s Aufrüstung oder Sicherheit: Die Reichswehr in der Krise der Machtpolitik, 1924—1936 (Wiesbaden, 1980). Geyer concludes that despite its intensive rearmament, the Third Reich was not in a position to conduct a war based on the strategic coordination of means and ends characteristic of Bismarckian military tradition. The parallel to German engineers is striking: The politicization of the military in the Third Reich pointed to a war unguided by technical or strategic rationality. For the generals to have resisted would have demanded a defense of their professional best judgment, yet that resort to expertise was ruled out with the politicization of the military elites. See pp. 489-505.

In: Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich. Cambridge, 1984, pp. 189-216.

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