Chapter

Race contra Space: The Conflict between German Geopolitik and National Socialism

Mark Bassin

in Hitler's Geographies

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2016 | ISBN: 9780226274423
Published online September 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780226274560 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226274560.003.0006
Race contra Space: The Conflict between German Geopolitik and National Socialism

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Popular views of the role of geopolitics in the Third Reich suggest a fundamental significance on the part of the geopoliticians in the ideological orientation of the Nazi state. The present chapter is an examination of the relationship of geopolitical doctrine to National Socialism, and concludes that these popular views are in important ways misleading and incorrect. Despite the numerous similarities and affinities between the two doctrines, geopolitics was always held suspect by the National Socialist ideologists. This suspicion was understandable, for the underlying philosophical orientation of geopolitics ran counter to that of National Socialism. Geopolitics, deriving from the political geography of F. Ratzel, shared his scientific materialism and determinism. Human society was determined by external influences, in the face of which qualities held innately by individuals or groups were of reduced or no significance. National Socialism both rejected in principle materialism and determinism, and also elevated innate human qualities, in the form of a hypothesized ‘racial character’, to the factor of greatest significance in the constitution of human society. These differences led after 1933 to friction, and ultimately to open denunciation of geopolitics by Nazi ideologists.

Keywords: Karl Haushofer; Geopolitik; race; Friedrich Ratzel; Lebensraum

Chapter.  12335 words. 

Subjects: Historical Geography

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