By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Finally, as Arluke and Sax put it, "the Nazis abolished moral distinctions between animals and people by viewing people as animals. The result was that animals could be considered 'higher' than some people."
The blond Aryan beast of Nietzche represented animality at the top available grade, at one with wild nature. But spirituality could be associated with animals destined for the table, as in this piece of German propaganda: "The Nordic peoples accord the pig the highest possible honor... in the cult of the Germans the pig occupies the first place and is the first among the domestic animals... The predominance of the pig, the sacred animal destined to sacrifices among the Nordic peoples, has drawn its originality from the great trees of the German forest. The Semites do not understand the pig, they reject the pig, where as this animal occupies the first place in the cult of the Nordic people."
Aryans and animals were allied in a struggle against the contaminators, the vivisectors, the under-creatures. "The Führer," Goebbels wrote, "is deeply religious, though completely anti-Christian, views Christianity as a symptom of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race... Both [Judaism and Christianity] have no point of contact to the animal element, and thus, in the end they will be destroyed. The Führer is a convinced vegetarian on principle."
Race purification was often seen in terms of farm improvement, eliminating poor stock, and improving the herd. Martin Bormann had been an agricultural student and manager of a large farm. Himmler had been a chicken breeder. Medical researchers in the Third Reich, Arluke and Sax write, "also approached Germans as livestock. For instance, those familiar with Mengele's concentration camp experiments believe that his thoughtlessness about the suffering of his victims stemmed from his passion about creating a genetically pure super-race, as though he were breeding horses." Those contaminating Aryan stock were "lower animals" and should be dispatched. Seeing such people as low and coarse animal forms allowed their production-line slaughter. Höss, the Auschwitz commandant, was a great lover of animals, particularly horses, and after a hard day's work in the death camp liked to stroll about the stables.
"Nazi German identity," Arluke and Sax conclude, "relied on the blurring of boundaries between humans and animals and the constructing of a unique phylogenetic hierarchy that altered conventional human-animal distinctions and imperatives... As part of the natural order, Germans of Aryan stock were to be bred like farm stock, while 'lower animals' or 'subhumans,' such as the Jews and other victims of the Holocaust were to be exterminated like vermin as testament to the new 'natural' and biological order conceived under the Third Reich."
Animal-rights advocates and vegetarians often fidget under jeers that it was Nazis who banned vivisection. In fact vivisection continued through the Third Reich. The British journal The Lancet commented on the Nazis' animal experimentation laws of 1933 that "it will be seen from the text of these regulations that those restrictions imposed [in Germany] follow rather closely those enforced in [England]."
The moral here is not that there is something inherently Nazi-like in campaigning against vivisection or deploring the eating of animals' meat or reviling the cruelties of the feedlot and the abattoir. The moral is that ideologies of nature imbued with corrupt race theory and a degraded romanticism can lead people up the wrong path, one whose terminus was an abattoir for "unhealthy" humans, constructed as a reverse image of the death camp for (supposedly) healthy animals to be consumed by humans. For the Nazis their death camps were, in a way, romanticism's revenge for the slaughterhouses and the hogsqueal of the universe as echoing from the Union Stockyards in Chicago, which perfected industrial methods of mass killing nearly a century before Auschwitz.