DescriptionThere were eighty of them. They were young, clever and cultivated; they were barely in their thirties when Adolf Hitler came to power. Their university studies in law, economics, linguistics, philosophy and history marked them out for brilliant careers. They chose to join the repressive bodies of the Third Reich, especially the Security Service (SD) and the Nazi Party’s elite protection unit, the SS. They theorized and planned the extermination of twenty million individuals of allegedly ‘inferior’ races. Most of them became members of the paramilitary death squads known as Einsatzgruppen and participated in the slaughter of over a million people.
Based on extensive archival research, Christian Ingrao tells the gripping story of these children of the Great War, focusing on the networks of fellow activists, academics and friends in which they moved, studying the way in which they envisaged war and the ‘world of enemies’ which, in their view, threatened them. The mechanisms of their political commitment are revealed, and their roles in Nazism and mass murder. Thanks to this pioneering study, we can now understand how these men came to believe what they did, and how these beliefs became so destructive.
The history of Nazism, shows Ingrao, is also a history of beliefs in which a powerful military machine was interwoven with personal experiences, fervour, anguish, utopia and cruelty.
PART ONE: The young men of Germany
Chapter 1 A ‘world of enemies’ (I)
The outbreak of war
The silence of the Akademiker
The ‘time of troubles’: an experience of war?
Chapter 2 Constructing networks
Places to study
Places of association
Networks of solidarity
Chapter 3 Activist intellectuals
The construction of academic knowledge
Knowledge and activism (1919-1933)
‘Combative science’ and SS intellectuals in the Third Reich
The shadow of the Great War
PART TWO: Joining the Nazis: a commitment
Chapter 4 Being a Nazi
The foundations of the doctrine
The origins of Nazi fervour: planning a sociobiological
The appropriation of a system of beliefs
Chapter 5 Entering the SD
Whether to enter the Party or not?
Towards the SD: Nazi careers
Recruitment: a social mechanism of enlistenment
Chapter 6 From struggle to control
From the ‘Security Department of the SS’ (SD) to
the ‘Reich Security Main Office’ (RSHA)
A ‘world of enemies’ (II)
PART THREE : Nazism and violence: the culmination 1939-1945
Chapter 7 Thinking the east, between utopia and anxiety
The curse of Germanic isolation
The Nazi project for a sociobiological re-establishment
Redevelop and settle: forms of Nazi fervour
Chapter 8 Arguing for war: Nazi rhetoric
From the reparative war to the ‘Great Racial War’
From the discourse of security to the discourse of genocide
Expressing violence: defensive rhetorics, utopian rhetorics
Chapter 9 Violence in action
The experience of violence
Demonstrative violence, violence of eradication
A transgressive violence
Violence as rite of initiation
Chapter 10 SS intellectuals confronting defeat
Defeat rendered unreal
Finis Germaniae. The return of the old anxiety
Chapter 11 SS intellectuals on trial
Strategies of negation
Strategies of evasion
Strategies of justification: the Ohlendorf case
Conclusion: Memory of war, activism and genocide
Sources and bibliography
A piece of research and its context
A specific conceptual framework
List of archival collections consulted
"a thoughtful, well researched, and well written addition to the field of perpetrator studies—a work that illustrates convincingly the role of Germany’s “best and brightest” in the prosecution of genocide."
Holocaust and Genocide Studies
"A chilling collective portrait of a generation blinded by the fervor of their ideology and oblivious to the suffering of others."
Wall Street Journal
"Packed with useful information on this important Nazi cadre."
"Presents gripping accounts of particular spectacles of violence and their role in imposing order."
Los Angeles Review of Books
"With this quest for understanding in mind, Ingrao has undertaken what is clearly a mammoth historical task, and ultimately written an astonishingly profound and in-depth book on a subject that ought never be forgotten."
David Marx Book Reviews
"This is an important and original study of ideology and experience rather than yet another catalogue of crime, and it therefore offers a different and powerful explanation for how educated men became perpetrators of mass murder."
Richard Evans, University of Cambridge
"How did highly educated German intellectuals of a certain generation make themselves into believing Nazis, career-minded ideologues, and practitioners of terror? In compelling detail and in a manner consistent with the best accomplishments of recent scholarship, Christian Ingrao guides us astutely and assuredly through this shockingly normalized interior world."
Geoffrey Eley, University of Michigan