Musser's Nazi Oaks
By William Walter Kay
R. Mark Musser is a Christian with a Master of Divinity degree from Oregon’s Western Seminary and several years’ experience as a missionary in Eastern Europe. He is currently a pastor in Olympia, Washington. Not only is Musser a Christian, he is given to a rather literalist interpretation of the Bible.
Fortunately, this is a cross not all of us have to bear.
Unfortunately, it saddles his Nazi Oaks with dozens of biblical passages, some spanning the better part of a page. Said passages will surely slip the book from many a reader’s hand, which is too bad because, aside from said passages, this 405-page, 1,334-footnote text easily passes as a piece of professional academic scholarship.
More importantly, Musser definitely contributes something valuable to the conversation about environmentalism with his Pantheism versus Christianity thesis.
What follows is a selective condensation of Pastor R. Mark Musser’s Nazi Oaks.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Gist of Nazi Oaks
Musser Dispatches Some Ecofascist Revisionism
Eco-Nazis who kept up the Kampf
Back in the USA
Musser goes to the Movies
The Gist of Nazi Oaks
Pantheism/paganism (i.e. nature worship) is the most popular religion in the world today and in world history. Today’s nature worship (a.k.a. environmentalism or ecofascism) fills the vacuum left by a collapsing church. Christianity helps keep ecofascism at bay. As Christianity loses influence, and as churches sell out by supporting “progressive” causes, a counterweight to ecofascism is lifted.
Environmentalism is stifling our world much in the same way that Canaanite nature worship suppressed the Hebrews in Old Testament times. A warning about nature idolatry is a core biblical message. God forbade nature worship. The forsaking of the transcendent Creator-God in favour of nature worship preceded Israel’s fall to the Assyrians (722 BC) and Judah’s fall to the Babylonians (586 BC).
The Hebrews perennially backslid into nature worship, particularly the adulation of the Canaanite god of rainstorms and grain. “Baal” was said to die every year but could be conjured back to life through rituals often involving child sacrifice. Baalism was foisted upon the masses by cultured elites.
The Old Testament is no eco-tourist brochure. Wilderness is a harsh, forsaken wasteland; a place of banishment. Wilderness is deserts and pits, droughts and darkness – the Devil’s abode. The desert is the chaotic, life-threatening antipode of the city. Eden was a garden, not a wilderness. The turning of agriculturally bountiful land into a barren wilderness was a divine threat.
In Genesis, God made Man in God’s image, separate and above other animals. God commanded Adam to subdue, cultivate, and populate nature. Many biblical passages are pro-wealth creation such as:
“Where there is no oxen, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes from the strength of the ox.”
Shepherds pervade the Bible both as metaphor and as the livelihood of heroes. Shepherds defend their flocks from nature’s hostile forces. The Bible favours domestic animals over wild ones.
New Testament Christians also struggled against pagan Pantheism. Paul accused Gentiles of denying the glory of God, as revealed in nature, by worshipping nature itself:
“Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and birds and four-legged animals and crawling creatures.”
Christianity de-spiritualized nature with a transcendent Creator-God. Pagans worship creatures. Christians worship the Creator. Christians are in awe of creation because God created it.
Christianity is a uniquely anti-naturalist religion; the main exception being the Catholic eco-cult of St. Francis of Assisi. Protestants (especially Puritans) are the Christians most eager to subdue nature.
Pagan Pantheism blocked progress. Placating pagan guardians of streams and forests inhibited economic growth. Early Christians cut down pagan cultic alters, cleared sacred groves, and chased away druids. Later Christians subdued sacred groves on both sides of the Atlantic for centuries.
Pantheism means God is everything. Hence, Nature must be worshipped like God. Tampering with Nature is tinkering with God. Like their ancient pagan forbearers, Pantheists exclude humans from sacred lands and dread provoking Mother Nature’s wrath by upsetting Her delicately balanced ecosystems.
German Christianity began receding behind a wave of a new-fangled Pantheism, often called Romanticism and/or Naturalism, in the early 1800s. This process was partly led by Natural Theologians who were impeccably scientific when analyzing Christianity but not when dealing with their own Nature mysticism. Also facilitating the Church’s decline was philosopher Immanuel Kant who dispatched popular arguments concerning God’s existence by emphasizing the limits of Natural Reason. Kant stressed abstract philosophical speculation while giving short-shrift to Bible study.
Evolving alongside, and cross-pollenating with, these wayward theologians were swaths of Romantic and/or Naturalistic artists and academics. Such men were affiliated with Germany’s arch-conservative political constituency. They abhorred capitalism and urbanization.
Romanticism was a subjective, emotional, spiritual, but above all conservative protest against modernity. Despite their conservatism, many Romantics broke from the traditional church. Romantic pioneer, Wolfgang Goethe (1749-1832) complained about the “Jewish nonsense” of the Old Testament.
The Romantic approach to Nature, with its talk of interdependence and holism, presaged ecology. The sympathies of Romantics were always with Nature, which they saw as vulnerable to catastrophic loss if disturbed in even inconspicuous ways.
University of Jena denizen Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) erased the boundary between Man and Nature. His Naturalism was a quest for pious Romantic alternative to Christianity. He used Enlightenment science against Christianity but slid into mysticism when extolling Nature’s harmony. He wanted unique local environments and indigenous peoples protected from invasive species and non-native peoples. He opposed deforestation:
“…short-sighted plundering had robbed present and future generations of the manifold material and spiritual benefits that derive from the woodlands.”
Ernst Arndt (1769-1860) focussed on the menace of industrialization. He bared his fervent nationalism and peasantism in A Word about the Care and Preservation of the Forests and the Peasants (1815), which condemned deforestation’s alleged damage to woodlands, soil, and Volk.
Arndt’s student Wilhelm Riehl (1823-1897) published three books between 1851-1855 under the collective title, The Natural History of Germany (re-published with fanfare by the Nazis in 1944). In Romantic poetical terms, Riehl fought for the trees – “to axe the forest is to demolish civil society.”
Riehl’s Field and Forest (1853) introduced “wilderness rights” and argued for parity between farmland and wildland. It denounced industrialization, urbanization, cosmopolitanism, and “Jewish capitalism.”
In arch-conservative fashion, Riehl bemoaned the revolutions of 1848 and 1871. He favoured a return to the Middle Ages when kings controlled forests.
Hitler’s favourite philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), vehemently defended “animal rights” in diatribes freighted with anti-Semitic and anti-Christian sentiment. He believed the mistreatment of animals to be Christianity’s greatest defect and that the Jewish perspective on Nature had to be expunged from Europe. Here is a medley of Schopenhauerisms:
“The morality of Christianity has no consideration for animals.”
“Look at the revolting and outrageous wickedness with which our Christian mob treat animals.”
“We owe the animal not mercy but justice, and the debt often remains unpaid in Europe, the continent that is permeated with Jewish odor.”
“…according to [the Bible] the Creator hands over to man all the animals, just as if they were mere things and without any recommendations to their being properly treated.”
“In Europe a sense of the rights of animals is gradually awakening, in proportion to the slow dying and disappearing of the strange notions that the animal world came into existence simply for the benefit and pleasure of man.”
“A man must be bereft of all his senses or completely chloroformed by the odor of the Jews not to see that, in all essential respects, the animal is absolutely identical with us and that the difference lies merely in the accident, the intellect, not in the substance which is the will.”
The composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was a Schopenhauer fan. Wagner embraced the animal rights crusade and blamed Judaism for animal abuse. He believed modernizing Christianity required uprooting its Judaic foundation.
University of Jena fixture Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) coined the term “ecology” in 1866. His Riddle of the Universe (1899) outsold the Bible for two decades.
Haeckel insisted on the literal transfer of biological laws into the social realm. He advocated mass mercy killings to solve the health care crisis. He called for extensive use of capital punishment. He believed human races, of which the Germans were the most advanced, were evolving into separate species; thus, race-mixing was regressive. He claimed Jews were improperly aligned with Nature.
Haeckel used a romanticised Darwinian veneer to push occultist-volkisch myths. The German Social Darwinism he did much to create was a pseudo-scientific Nature religion. Pantheism infuses his writings. According to Haeckel, “sun worship seems to the modern scientist to be the best of all forms of theism.”
Haeckel attended church while claiming “the goddess of truth dwells in the temple of nature.” His Monist philosophy was part of a covert Europe-wide anti-Christian campaign. He contended:
“The false anthropism of Christianity contributed not only to an extremely injurious isolation for glorious mother nature but also to a regrettable contempt for all other organisms.”
Haeckel fought for the abandonment of Christian holidays and for the gradual replacing of Christianity with forms of nature worship embedded in national landscapes. Beneath his progressive-sounding demands for secular education lurked a program for undermining the humanistic/liberal tradition. The glorification of humanity and liberty needed to be combatted. In his vision:
“…the school of the future, nature will be the chief object of study; man shall learn a correct view of the world he lives in; he will not be made to stand outside of and opposed to nature.”
Haeckel’s disciples hailed him as: “the greatest theologian,” “an advanced Christ,” “a Nordic god,” etc.
Leading Nazi ideologues, notably Alfred Rosenberg, loved Haeckel. On the other hand, Haeckel’s books were banned in Nazi Germany allegedly due to their pacifism, which is ironic given Haeckel’s frothing support for German militarism during WWI and his founding role in the ultra-nationalist, anti-Semitic Pan-German League.
Elite Nazis carried on the covert war on Christianity. Rosenberg’s classic The Myth of the 20th Century lists Christianity as the most nefarious of Semitic influences. Martin Bormann (Hitler’s secretary after 1941) was frank about his desire to see Christianity replaced. Reich Agriculture Minister Walter Darre was equally outspoken about the need to dump Christianity for neo-paganism. SS Commander Heinrich Himmler called Christianity: “a perverse worldview estranged from [nature]” and “the greatest pestilence in history which has befallen us.”
The Nazi vanguard became politicized in pagan/Pantheist milieus like the Wandervogel youth movement (est. 1894). One Wandervogel sub-group, the Artamamen, propagandized for a racially pure peasantry fashioned after the nobility. (Artam was an Aryan nature god.) Charter Artamamen members included: Himmler, Darre, and future Auschwitz Commander Rudolf Hoess.
Hitler’s mentor, Dietrich Eckhart (1868-1923), was a disciple of Guido von List (1848-1919), the prophet of Ariosophy (Aryan wisdom). Ariosophy mixed occultism, paganism, and ecology. (The stylized “SS” letters worn by Himmler’s men came from List.) A roommate of Hitler’s recalled young Adolf staying up all night sketching a German-pagan human sacrifice scene.
Eckhart feuded with Anthroposophy founder, Rudolph Steiner, because Steiner called List a false prophet. As Steiner remained semi-Christian, his Anthroposophy was more universal than List’s Germanic paganism. In 1922 Steiner narrowly escaped when Brownshirts attacked one of his seminars. The Nazis co-opted Steiner’s “bio-dynamic” agricultural, renaming it “organic” agriculture.
Eckhart’s Bolshevism from Moses to Lenin uses Old Testament passages regarding Hebrew victories over their enemies to show how prejudiced and bloodthirsty Jews really were. He derided the Old Testament as “a book of hate.”
The Nazi Party line denied Darwinism, but privately Hitler accepted the doctrine. Hitler spouted Christian rhetoric in public but privately bashed Christianity as: “the systematic cultivation of human failure.”
In Table Talk (1942), Hitler disparages Christianity and offers Germans an alternative faith rooted in Nature. Here is a passage from this book:
“Our epoch will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity. It will last another hundred years, two hundred perhaps. My regret will have been that I couldn’t, like whoever the prophet was, behold the promised land from afar.”
Nazism was a Religion of Nature. Nazis were infatuated with all things natural. Their all-important racial doctrine consisted of paganism entangled with biological pseudo-science.
By the time the Nazi’s rose to power, Lutheranism had been run into the ground by its dependence on government hand-outs. Churches sustained by public subsidy preach a morbid, unappealing orthodoxy. Hitler was aware of the church’s prostrate position:
“…it’s a real scandal that we give the German churches such extraordinary high subsidies… unless I am mistaken, our churches are still at present receiving 900 million marks a year.”
Many church leaders collaborated with the Nazis. Some preached Fuhrer-worship from the pulpit. Such clergy never accepted the fall of the Kaiser or that liberal abomination, the Weimar Republic.
Anti-Semitism cannot be entirely blamed upon Nazi Social Darwinism. Lutheranism’s founder, Martin Luther (1483-1546), was an extremely harsh anti-Semite. Roman Catholic anti-Semitism dates at least to St. Augustine (354-430).
Nevertheless, there was an anti-fascist resistance within the German clergy. In 1934, a ‘Confession Church’ faction disseminated a declaration which, while not a call to arms against Nazism, asserted religious freedom and affirmed their paramount loyalty to Christ, not the Fuhrer. In 1935, several hundred pastors were placed under house arrest for preaching from an anti-pagan manifesto, clearly aimed at the Nazis, warning that paganism was sweeping over Germany.
Some may say comparing our green movement with Nazism, given the latter’s genocidal propensities, is a howling hyperbole. Not so.
Jonathan Porritt (former British Prime Minister Brown’s environmental advisor) warns: “Britain must drastically reduce its population if it is to build a sustainable society.” Porritt is a patron of Optimum Population Trust which seeks to halve Britain’s population from 60 million to 30 million by 2031.
Arguably environmentalism’s most influential think tank, the Club of Rome, advocates reducing global population to fewer than 1 billion persons. According to the Club of Rome:
“The earth has cancer and the cancer is Man.”
Comparing humanity to cancer is an environmentalist cliché reminiscent of Nazi comparisons of targeted races to viruses, bacteria, etc. Here are some quotes from contemporary movement leaders:
PETA founder-president Ingrid Newkirk:
“Mankind is a cancer; we’re the biggest blight on the face of the earth… Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental.”
Animal rights guru and Princeton Bioethics prof, Peter Singer:
“Christianity is our foe. If animal rights is to succeed, we must destroy the Judeo-Christian religious tradition.”
Audubon Society’s Richard Conniff:
“Among environmentalists sharing two or three beers, the notion is quite common that if only some calamity could wipe out the entire human race, other species might once again have a chance.”
“…if radical environmentalists were to invent a disease to bring human populations back to sanity, it would probably be something like AIDS.”
National Park Service biologist, David Gruber:
“Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, is not as important as a wild and healthy planet. Some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.”
Prince Philip (co-founder and former head of World Wide Fund for Nature):
“If I could be reincarnated, I would return as a killer virus to lower human population levels.”
This is not mere wishful thinking. Environmentalist bans on life-saving insecticides and their suppression of modern agricultural technology cause millions of needless deaths every year.
Musser Dispatches Some Ecofascist Revisionism
While the Nazis were undoubtedly an environmentalist regime, prior to 2002 public discussion of the Nazi-environmentalist connection was almost non-existent in Germany – but awareness was rising. After a 2002 symposium on this topic (sponsored by Germany’s environment ministry) Germany endured a publishing spree aimed at damage control. Several contentions, underlined below, were proffered to question or downplay the Nazi-environmentalist connection.
During nature-conservation disputes Nazis rarely expropriated private property without compensation.
The fact that the Third Reich gave Nature-protection authorities the power to expropriate without compensation speaks volumes. While this ultimate negotiating weapon was rarely resorted to, by all accounts, the Third Reich visited unusually harsh scrutiny upon property owners.
The Reich Nature Protection Law (1935) created a Nature Protection Office to ensure enviro-impact studies were undertaken, in consultation with local Nature-protection groups, before any major project could proceed. This legislation was a world first.
In the first six years of the Nazis reign, 800 parks were created; never before had so many parks been designated in such a brief period.
Hitler promoted German population growth. Real environmentalists oppose population growth.
Germany’s dearth of natural resources coupled with its craving of continental supremacy spawned the lebensraum (living room) doctrine best articulated by the celebrated geographer Karl Haushofer (1869-1946). Haushofer was mentor to Hitler’s secretary, Rudolf Hess. Haushofer and Hess helped write Mein Kampf (1925).
Mein Kampf seethes with Malthusian math. Hitler saw too many Germans eking out a living in too narrow a lebensraum. This message did not change after his rise to power:
“Our country today is overpopulated… once we are in a position to start colonizing in the East, most of our difficulties will disappear.” (1942)
The Nazis deployed the largest, most violent population reduction strategy in history, targeting adjacent non-Germans. Hitler was a real environmentalist.
The Nazis undertook large Earth-disturbing public works projects like the Autobahn.
Public works projects were vital for Germany’s economic recovery. The Autobahn alone put 100,000 Germans to work. The Autobahn also had a national security dimension as it permitted rapid deployment of troops across the country.
The Autobahn was constructed in the most enviro-friendly ways. Fritz Todt (chief engineer) and Alwin Siefert (a.k.a. Mr. Mother Nature, chief consultant) ensured highways were embedded naturally into the countryside. To the chagrin of efficiency minded engineers, straight lines were eschewed in favour of winding contours gracing the landscape. Bridges were built from local stone. Maintenance buildings were of a rough timber style. Trees were spared, topsoil recycled.
Hitler was an urbanite who destroyed his Alpine retreat with massive building projects.
Whenever he could, Hitler disappeared into the Alps. True, by 1945 the sleepy village near his mountain chalet was transformed by the addition of 16 buildings (barracks, bunkers, etc.). However, only about 40 acres was developed and the building binge was necessitated by administrative and security concerns.
The Nazis paid little attention to environmental issues in the 1920s.
There were many issues in the 1920s. From 1930 on, land-use and nature issues were regularly discussed in the Nazi’s main newspaper whose editors always sided with the conservationists.
A more important consideration flows from the fact that “environmentalism” went by many names in Germany such as “Homeland Protection” and “Nature-protection.” After WWI, racist, volkisch, and anti-Semitic voices took centre stage in this movement.
Paul Schultze-Naumburg was Chairman of the German Federation for Homeland Protection between 1904 and 1914. He was also a core member of the occultist-anthropological Thule Society along with Rosenberg, Siefert, and Haushofer. The Thule Society disbanded in 1919 only to re-group in 1920 as the National Socialist Working People’s Party (i.e. the Nazi Party), which Schultze-Naumburg quickly joined.
For years Walter Schoenichen presided over the largest federation of German Nature-protection societies. He joined the Nazis in 1933 and channelled many Nature-protectors into the Party. To Schoenichen, Nature-protection had always concerned more than endangered species and forests – “It concerns men, and here with us, German men.”
Schoenichen bemoaned how capitalism’s unscrupulous thirst for profit had polluted air and water, annihilated soil and forest, and destroyed habitats and native peoples. Roadside advertising was: “Jewish poison.”
Schultze-Naumburg and Schoenichen were arguably Germany’s top two “environmentalists” in the pre-Nazi era. Both were hard-core fascists.
In their later years of power the Nazis backed down on their environmental commitments, especially regarding forestry.
Amongst other titles, Hermann Goering was Reich Forest Minister. He spoke of forests as “God’s cathedrals” and saw to it that every German schoolchild studied forest ecology. He rammed through “Eternal Forest” laws which: a) made it an incarcerable crime to cut down a conifer younger than 50 years old; b) banned the economical and benign practise of clear-cutting; and c) committed Germany to weeding out invasive species from forest lands.
As the economy recovered, and war preparations began, demand for wood grew so rapidly Goering had to bow to industry demands and compromise some Eternal Forest principles. This does not betray a lack of green commitment. Germany still had an unprecedentedly stringent forest code.
More generally, the war economy placed overwhelming strains on German resources and required accelerated industrialization. This ‘do or die’ situation required some sacrifice of enviro-principles.
What is amazing is the extent to which Nazis undermined their war effort to “save Nature.”
Even after the Battle of Stalingrad (March 1943), Nazi environmentalists opposed hydroelectric dam construction (most famously the proposed dam on the scenic Wutach Gorge) despite the German war machine’s desperate need for power. Seifert blocked another hydro-dam in the Austrian Alps. Likewise, Himmler stopped a mine on his sacred Hohenstoffeln Mountain. Nature-protectors’ stalling of a crucial weapons facility led to protracted arguments in the Fuhrer’s office.
Goering and Schoenichen drooled over Poland’s Bialowieza Forest. After this forest became a haven for enemy partisans, German generals, as was their practice, proposed burning it down. Nature-protection trumped military expediency.
Oblivious to the military disaster engulfing them in 1944, Nazis officials wasted valuable time obsessing over detailed plans to establish nature parks across Russia.
Hitler held off developing V-2 rockets until 1945 because he feared these missiles would create ozone holes through which poison gases from outer space might leak into the atmosphere.
Finally, the Third Reich was an unabashed dictatorship wherein the Fuhrer’s opinions were gospel; and this Fuhrer was a raving eco. Like Himmler and Hess, Hitler was a vegetarian, animal rights nut who detested hunting. From 1933 to 1936 he signed one animal protection law after another. As well, Hitler wanted power generated from old-style mills and he made sure there was a wind energy department throughout the Third Reich. Methane plants were seen as the energy source of the future.
The Fuhrer speaks:
“Nature has made the regions of the earth in such a way as to ensure a sort of autarky for each, and man must respect this modified kind of order. We shall therefore let the marshlands continue to exist, not only because they will be useful to us as fields for maneuvers, but also in order to respect the local climatological conditions, and to prevent the desert from gradually encroaching on the fertile regions.”
“…when a people begin to cut down their trees without making provision for reafforestation – and thus rob nature’s wise irrigation system of its most essential prerequisite – you may be sure that it is a sign of the beginning of their cultural degeneration.”
“As far as possible, one must avoid ruining landscapes with networks of high tension wires, telpher railways and machines of that sort.”
“The German countryside must be preserved under all circumstances, for it is and has forever been the source of the strength and greatness of the German people.”
“Man’s role is to overcome Nature! Millions thoughtlessly parrot this Jewish nonsense and end up by really imagining that they themselves represent a kind of conqueror of Nature.”
“Assuredly, however, by far the harder fate is that which strikes the man who thinks he can overcome Nature, but in the last analysis only mocks her. Distress, misfortune and disease are her answer.”
“When man attempts to rebel against the iron logic of Nature, he comes into struggle with the principles to which he himself owes his existence as a man. And this attack must lead to his doom.”
“Man should never fall into misconception that he has really risen to be lord and master of nature… rather he must understand the fundamental necessity of the rule of Nature and comprehend how even his own existence is subordinated to these laws of eternal struggle.”
Eco-Nazis Who Kept up the Kampf
Among the many Nazi-environmentalists who hurdled 1945 without barking a shin were the landscape planners – a profession that enjoyed an unusually high status in the Third Reich.
The Reich Office of Spatial Planning (est. 1935) was a hub for landscape planners. The July 1938 issue of their Space Science and Space Ordering celebrates their achievements with a list of glowing endorsements from elite Nazis – each stressing how Nature must be respected.
After 1939 the Nazis implemented landscape planning on a massive scale in the newly conquered areas, starting with Poland. No longer content with planning garden parks, they redesigned entire countries. In Poland they planned as much empty space as possible.
A foreshadow of what awaited the Polish came in a 1937 report from German spies in Poland outraged that mite infestations were destroying formerly German-owned forests. This was a de facto act of war; not only did the Poles take their trees, they neglected and ruined them.
In Poland, Nazi landscape planners participated in ethnic cleansing and were aware of the death camps. They were supported by Hans Frank, Hitler’s personal attorney, who became Poland’s Governor General. (At an animal rights conference in 1930, Frank, after detailing the horrors of kosher butchering procedures, concluded: “The time will come for the salvation of animals from the perverse persecution of retarded sub-humans.”)
Organic farms sprang up across occupied Poland even in death camps. Auschwitz also contained a botanical station for breeding rare flora. Treblinka had a facility for recovering wild foxes.
As the front moved eastward, landscape planners took up Himmler’s utopian vision: compact German-dominated industrial centres were to be surrounded by scattered idyllic frontier farming villages, which in turn would be engulfed by vast wilderness areas. The Ukrainian and Russian Steppes would be largely forested over. Himmler calmly acknowledged:
“The destruction of 30 million Slavs was a pre-requisite for German planning in the East.”
Nazi landscape planners did not suddenly disappear after 1945, although their office files did. The planners carried on as professors and consultants. A de-Nazification of landscape planning never took place. Much Nazi land-use legislation survived in West Germany, thanks to the efforts of Himmler’s planners like Heinrich Wiekpking-Jurgensmann, Konrad Meyer, Emil Meynen et al. Of course, these men had plenty of comrades in West Germany such as: Alfred Toepfer, Albert Speer, Gunther Schwab, Werner Haverbeck, Werner Vogel, Pascal Jordan and Martin Heidegger – to name a few.
While not a card-carrying Nazi, agribusiness tycoon Alfred Toepfer (1894-1993) was exceptionally loyal to the Cause. His Wandervogel activism dates to 1913. His brother, Ernst, was the secretary of Werewolf, a pro-Nazi organization in New York in the 1920s.
Toepfer had a personal relationship with Himmler, and he enthusiastically endorsed Himmler’s brand of “Blood and Soil.” In 1938 Goering rescued Toepfer after Toepfer was arrested for illegal currency trading. During the Nazi era Toepfer funded a scholarship program for foreign students in close cooperation with Foreign Secretary Von Ribbentrop. After WWII Toepfer employed SS Generals.
Toepfer became an avid environmentalist and influential booster of the European Union. He chaired the Nature Park Society (NPS) from 1953 to 1985. During this period NPS morphed into ‘Europarc Federation,’ which Toepfer’s foundation still supports. In 1981 Toepfer launched the Alfred Toepfer Academy for Nature Conservation with offices in Luneburg Heath – sacred ground for German enviros.
After spending 20 years in Spandau Prison, Nazi war criminal Albert Speer launched a spectacular literary career. Throughout his life Speer held environmentalist views similar to those of his hero, Fritz Todt. According to Speer, such views pervaded the Third Reich’s upper echelon:
“…the ruthlessness and inhumanity of the regime went hand in hand with a remarkable feeling for beauty, for the virginal and unspoiled… I sometimes read statements to the effect that all this was merely camouflage, a calculated maneuver to distract the attention of the suppressed masses. But that was not so.”
An original populariser of the global warming scare, Gunther Schwab (1904-2006) was a Nazi. Schwab’s Faustian novel, Dance with the Devil (1958), outlines many looming environmental emergencies including anthropogenic global warming. Appearing four years before Carson’s Silent Spring, Schwab’s novel warns:
“Every human being today is practically chronically poisoned with DDT.”
The novel also speaks of a “population bomb.” Regarding global warming, the novel’s villain postulates that rising human-induced atmospheric carbon dioxide levels:
“…will absorb and hold fast the warmth given out by the earth. This will cause the climate to become milder and the Polar ice will begin to thaw. As a result, there will be a rise in the level of the ocean and whole continents will be flooded.”
Unusual for a work of fiction, Dance with the Devil concludes with a 14-page bibliography of non-fiction sources. Over one million copies of this novel were sold.
A nature-lover since boyhood, Schwab became active in Austria’s nascent enviro-movement in the 1920s and from there joined the Nazi Party. In the 1950s Schwab, as spokesperson for Europe’s anti-nuclear/peace movement, vented his hatred toward global capitalism. He was a senior advisor to the Society of Biological, Anthropological, Eugenics and Behavioural Research – a group obsessed with Third World overpopulation. More importantly, Schwab founded the influential World League for the Defense of Life.
Werner Haverbeck, a long-serving and well-rewarded Nazi youth activist and former head of the Reich League for Folk National Character and Landscape, chaired Schwab’s World League. Haverbeck blamed Germany’s environmental crisis on American capitalism. (In 2010 Haverbeck’s wife, Ursula, was charged with disseminating Holocaust denial propaganda.)
Schwab, Haverbeck, and other fascists, like ecologist Herbert Gruhl, were instrumental in establishing the German Green Party. In 1983 the Greens dismissed their most august parliamentarian, Werner Vogel, after he was exposed as a former SA storm trooper and Third Reich Interior Ministry officer.
An early push to elevate Schwab’s global warming myth into a political campaign came in January 1986 when the German Physical Society published its doomsday report: Warning of an Impending Climate Catastrophe. The report formed the basis of a Der Spiegel cover story in August 1986 .
(German physics has long been politicized. Elite physicist Pascaul Jordan (1902-1980) was an enthusiastic Nazi who larded his papers with fascist rhetoric. Certain molecules were endowed with dictatorial properties over others. The “fuhrer principle” and “will to power” ruled the atomic realm. Jordan boasted his new physics would have political repercussions in the New World Order, after Enlightenment values were liquidated.)
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) joined the Nazi Party in 1933 but supported the movement from its inception. He admitted his involvement in proto-Nazi naturist youth groups was key to his success. His wife, Elfride, had been a Nazi evangelist since the early 1920s. (Her inheritance money bought Heidegger his beloved Black Forest chalet.) In 1930, from his University of Freiberg lectern, Heidegger preached about truth being volkischly rooted in the homeland soil.
The May 1933 issue of the Nazi journal Der Almanne describes Heidegger as a man who:
“…never made any mystery about his German convictions and that for many years he has supported in the most effective way the party of Adolf Hitler in his struggle for being and power.”
Heidegger fully embraced: Fuhrer-principle, pro-Aryan racism, Nazi-style collectivism, lebensraum, and eugenics. He became Rector of Freiburg U just as Jewish professors were being forcibly removed from their posts. He complained about the Jewification of Germany and referred to Jews as “nomads” adding:
“History teaches us that nomads did not become what they are because of the bleakness of the desert and the steppes, but that they have left numerous wastelands behind them that had been fertile and cultivated when they arrived…”
In June 1933, during a mass book-burning at Freiburg U stadium, Heidegger cried out:
“…Flame announce to us, light for us, show the path from which there is no turning back.”
In November 1933, as the Nazis consolidated power, Heidegger exclaimed:
“…we are witnessing the end of philosophy that had idolized a thought deprived of soil and power.”
In 1934 he signed the ‘German Landscape in Peril’ petition (along with Schultze-Naumburg, Todt, Schoenichen, Haverbeck, et al.)
Heidegger resigned from Freiberg U in 1934 because his attempts to completely Nazify the university met with opposition. He then threw himself into scouring and marketing Nietzsche’s papers; spending most of 1935 to 1942 at the Nietzsche Archives at Weimar (a Nazi shrine).
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) called Christianity: “the greatest of all conceivable corruptions” and “the one immortal blemish of mankind.”
He also preached: “To sin against the earth is now the most dreadful thing.”
The young Hitler always carried a Nietzsche tome. He later befriended Nietzsche’s sister and lead promoter, Elizabeth. Heidegger claimed Nietzsche was Hitler’s inspiration. Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra was a Hitler Youth bible.
Heidegger may have been Hitler’s speech writer. There is a stark similarity of style and substance between the two men’s rhetoric.
Many of Heidegger’s students immersed themselves in the Nazi war machine. German soldiers often carried Heidegger’s books in their rucksacks.
Heidegger’s alleged recanting of Nazism is a myth built on outright lies and redactions of his earlier materials. His personal writings remain strictly controlled by his family. Heidegger was an unrepentant fascist who lauded “the truth and greatness of National Socialism” long after WWII.
While Heidegger became famous as a technology sceptic after WWII, he had in fact opposed global technology and agricultural mechanization during his overt fascist years. In 1934 he stated:
Nature, as the power and law of that hidden transmission of the inheritance of essential instinctive predispositions and tendencies, is set free. Nature becomes a normative rule in the form of health. The more freely nature reigns, the more it is possible to put at her service, in the most excellent and controlled way, the formative power of authentic technology.
Buried within the later Heidegger’s dense, opaque “existentialist” prose lays the spade-work for Deep Ecology. Heidegger also smuggled sophisticated re-constructions of Nazi theory into what became the “post-modernist” academic fad. A central tenet of his legacy is the belief that saving Mother Earth requires extinguishing Judeo-Christianity, especially this religion’s promotion of humanity’s rightful dominion over Nature.
Back in the USA
Comparing German and American proto-environmentalisms is complicated by semantics. Europeans called the pro-market political philosophy: “liberalism.” The European Right (i.e. the reactionaries or arch-conservatives) were anti-capitalists desiring greater state control over the economy. Conversely, in contemporary America the “right-wing” or “conservatives” support free market capitalism.
Nevertheless, views similar to those of the German Romantics were espoused simultaneously in the USA. In the 1850s Henry Thoreau preached: “In the wildness is the preservation of the world.” He counselled Americans “to tread gently through nature” and to:
“…religiously burn stumps and worship in groves, while Christian vandals lay waste the forest temples to build miles of meeting houses and horse sheds and feed their box stoves.”
Thoreau’s rebellion was not libertarian. Government in the 1840s was very limited. Thoreau rebelled against what “Puritans” did with their liberty. He was at odds with the ideals of the American Revolution; effectively siding with the Royalists. His singling out of Puritans as the embodiments of unbridled capitalism was comparable to the Romantics’ scapegoating of Jews.
Later in the century Thoreau’s pantheistic anti-libertarian views were further developed by Sierra Club founder, John Muir, whose ideology is encapsulated in this quote:
“Those temple destroyers of ravaging commercialism seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar.”
Renowned American conservationist, Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) took an all-expenses-paid, three-month trip to Nazi Germany in 1935 to observe their promising naturalist initiatives. He was favourably impressed with Nazi landscape restoration programs and strongly admired their efforts to re-introduce predators. While in Berlin, Leopold experienced his epiphany about the need for an inter-disciplinary ecology. Upon returning home, he pressed for nature-first land-use laws and redoubled his exertions as a tree planter and wilderness restorer.
Leopold regurgitated the Nazi’s hostility to Judeo-Christianity:
“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of the land. We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see the land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” (emphasis added)
A more punishing volley from an American ecologist onto the Christian camp came in 1967 when Science magazine published Lynn White’s essay, The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis. White argued Christianity, unlike ancient pagan and Asian religions, separated Man from Nature and gave Man divine sanction to exploit Nature. Thus Christianity bore responsibility for the “out of control” ecological crisis wrought by industrialization. The following passages are from White’s famous paper:
“Christianity is the most anthropocentric religion the world has seen.”
“Both our present science and our present technology are so tinctured with orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature that no solution for our ecological crisis can be expected from them alone.”
“Before one cut a tree, mined a mountain, or dammed a brook, it was important to placate the spirit in charge of that particular situation, and keep it placated. By destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.”
Coterminous with White’s paper, elite academic ecologist Paul Sears wrote Ecology – A Subversive Subject to bask in the fact that ecology had recently become the favoured child of the academic sciences. Sears’ title begs the question – What is ecology subverting?
Answer: Ecology is subverting: a) accepted notions of what science does; b) the values and institutions of expansionary capitalism; and; c) the Judeo-Christian tradition.
American ecologists are politicized biologists who depict Nature as a holistic phenom that Homo sapiens can neither understand nor transcend. Nature’s commandments, as divined by the ecological priesthood, must be obeyed because minute transgressions may yield apocalyptic consequences.
Musser goes to the Movies
The Nazis so loved cinema they turned it into their premier propaganda tool.
Their classic, The Eternal Jew, intersperses footage of scurrying rats with footage of Jews before climaxing into long, gory scenes of Jews slaughtering animals.
Another classic, Eternal Forest, strings together vignettes spanning the 2,000-year history of the forest-dwelling Volk. The film fades back and forth from Germans to trees as the narrator explains how forestry is a life or death issue and how important it is to cull foreign and sickly trees. The chorus chimes:
“From the multitude of species, create the new community of the eternal forest; create the eternal forest of the new community.”
Hitler hated America, especially the American-style capitalism that ran roughshod over the Indians. Like many Germans, Hitler loved Karl May’s western novels wherein cowboys were evil and the Indians good. May’s books were knock-offs of James Fenimore Cooper’s Romantic novel Last of the Mohicans.
Hitler fondly reminisced:
“…the first book of his [May] I read was The Ride through the Desert. I was carried away by it. And I went on to devour at once the other books by the same author.”
Hitler attended a lecture of May’s in Vienna in 1912 and thereafter kept May’s novels by his bedside to return to in times of trouble. He gave May’s westerns to military commanders. According to Speer:
“Any account of Hitler as commander of troops should not omit reference to Karl May. Hitler was wont to say that he had always been deeply impressed by the tactical finesse and circumspection that Karl May conferred upon his character Winnetou. Such a man was the very model of a company commander, Hitler would say.”
Hitler’s desire to duplicate Winnetou’s tactics often left the Wehrmacht unprepared.
After WWII, East German officials banned May’s novels as fascist propaganda.
Storied German-American pilot Charles Lindbergh spent much of the 1930s in Nazi Germany inspecting the Luftwaffe with Goering and receiving awards from Third Reich officials. He openly avowed Nazi racial theory. After WWII he opposed the Nuremburg trials.
Lindbergh morphed into an extreme environmentalist arguing machines were destroying Nature. (His overpopulation phobia did not prevent him from fathering four separate families, three in Germany.) After his 1974 death, according to his wishes, he was buried naked so as to minimize pollution.
Lindbergh’s main enviro-cause was preserving life-ways of indigenous tribes. To Lindberg, indigenous racial purity and environmental purity went hand in hand. Preserving indigenous racial groupings meant protecting their homelands from industrialization. This was standard Nazi fare. Schoenichen opined: “The enslavement of primitive peoples in the cultural history of the white race constitutes one of its most shameful chapters.”
Such pathos for aboriginals appears regularly in National Geographic magazine. As well, Deep Ecologists eulogize primitive tribes, especially American Indians, whose romanticized traditional economies jive with Deep Ecology’s utopian bioregional fantasies.
Hitler’s favourite cinematographer, Leni Riefenstahl (1902-2003), never became a card-carrying Nazi but was enthralled with the Party. (She boasted of having slept with Hitler until being told to shut up.)
She began her career in the 1920s playing tomboy characters in folksy “Green Mountain” silent films. Her first production, Blue Light (1932), was a ruralist screed sermonizing on the evils of modern capitalism. Hitler observed: “[Leni] scours the villages in search of the peasant types she requires.”
Her infamous Triumph of the Will (1935) advertised Agricultural Minister Darre’s “back to the land” program. (By 1935 this counter-urbanization initiative oversaw 1,300 labour camps containing 200,000 unpaid workers.) Triumph consists mainly of scenes from a colossal Nuremberg rally where uniformed workers brandish shovels and chant “we plant trees.” She made a similar propaganda flick commemorating the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
After WWII Riefenstahl became a radical environmentalist with a passion for preserving primitive indigenous tribes. She was active in Greenpeace.
Although the project was never completed, Riefenstahl did much filming of the Nuba – an indigenous tribe in Sudan. Riefenstahl planned a documentary that would raise awareness and funds to help shield the Nuba from the corruptions of international capitalism.
James Cameron’s Titanic seems derived from the Green Mountain genre. Some argue Titanic’s heroine is a rendition of Riefenstahl herself. Cameron clearly borrowed from the Nazi film Titanic (1943) wherein a heroic German officer blames profit-crazed capitalists for the disaster. Nature (the iceberg) triumphs over capitalism.
Cameron’s Avatar is fashioned after Riefenstahl’s Nuba documentary with the endangered tribe being renamed, the “Navi.” Avatar also borrows from Savitri Devi – the woman who pioneered the translation of Nazi mythology into contemporary New Age dogma. In Devi’s 1958 Neo-Nazi gospel, The Lightning and the Sun, Hitler is “Avatar.”
The heroes in Titanic and Avatar (Jack and Jake) are re-incarnations of Jack London, the author of the romantic-naturalist must-read, Call of the Wild. London was a far-right ideologue, an outspoken racist, and a Nazi fave.
Avatar is about an indigenous tribe resisting the machinations of a planet-smashing corporation.
Being a religious man, Musser is at once a philosophical and sociological idealist; i.e. he thinks ideology drives history. He finds it implausible that his magnificent “environmentalist-Baalist-fascist” beast could be a mere figment of Big Land’s mundane economic interests.
“Land” is not some peripheral cottage industry like, say, automobile manufacturing. Land is a factor of production upon which all industry depends. The agricultural and construction industries are obviously grounded in land, but more broadly: “shelter” is the main expense for most households; rent is the main cost for most businesses; real estate is the principal asset group for most pension funds; and real estate-based mortgages are the main “accounts receivable” for most banks. There is a lot at stake with “land,” which explains why so many wealthy, powerful people disdain capitalism.
A wide-open auctioning off of public lands, coupled with libertarian land-use policies, would render land cheap as borsch and would sweep landlordism into the dust-heap. Throwing open the vast hinterlands to unbridled capitalism would, within a decade or two, turn many venerable metropolitan centres into boarded-up, passed-over tourist traps. Metropolitan area farmers rightfully dread free markets in land and food. Hence the metropolitan-landowner faction resists expansionary capitalism. They prefer their capitalism safely trapped in the bell-jar of old urban commercial zones; certainly not loosed upon the wilds. Alas, the price of high rents is eternal vigilance.
This land-capital conflict pre-dates the labour-capital conflict. As the labour movement and socialism wither, the land-capital conflict swings back to centre stage, with environmentalism playing the antagonist. Green policies invariably translate into greater shares of gross domestic product accruing to landowners. As regards religion – preacher and landlord, hand in hand always do they stroll.
Although Musser does not deny the extensive historical connection between fascism and the mainline churches; he spares only a few polite paragraphs upon this parlour pachyderm. Catholic, Orthodox, and Lutheran Churches were founding partners of fascism. True, the fascist intellectual vanguard found Christianity to be antiquated and an impediment to their agenda. As this vanguard was never in a position to purge Christianity, they deployed a twin-track strategy of cooperating with existing churches while plotting their demise. The new religion favoured by fascists was always some pagan, occultist, Pantheist concoction.
Nazi Oaks ignores the extent to which today’s mainline churches embrace environmentalism. Musserites (those clergy ringing the bells about environmentalism) are a tiny minority within Christendom. The Church of England and its Episcopalian sibling have been de facto environmentalist NGOs for 40 years. Similar claims could be made of the Lutheran and Greek Orthodox churches, to say nothing of the quasi-Pantheistic Unitarians, etc. Eco-fascists are again pursuing a twin-track strategy of co-opting churches while undermining them with pagan, occultist, and Pantheist (New Age) alternatives.
The Roman Catholic Church, being the world’s largest private landowner with intimate ties to fascism and the aristocracy, is naturally environmentalist. However, a schism has arisen over environmentalism’s strong population control commitment. The Catholic Church is not a proselytizing entity; it is a livestock operation growing by birth, not recruitment. Hence, environmentalism’s multi-faceted Malthusian agenda (abortion on demand, gay marriage, liberal distribution of contraceptives, etc.) conflicts with the Catholic Church’s basic survival strategy.
Nevertheless, while they are the least green and the last to go green of the big churches, the Catholics are greening in an accelerating fashion. In 1979, a few months after his election, Pope John Paul II re-anointed St. Francis of Assisi (he who talked with birds) as the “heavenly protector of environmentalists.” John Paul II followed this up with several enviro-pronouncements, most notably his The Ecological Crisis encyclical of 1990. Every pontiff since has out-greened his predecessor. Case in point is Jorge Bergoglio (a man with impeccable Argentine-fascist credentials) who chose the papal name “Francis” to honour the enviro-saint, and who has issued weekly enviro sound bites since his March 13, 2013 election.
Except for the Conclusion all pertinent facts and poignant phrases within this document are from:
Musser, R. Mark. Nazi Oaks: The Green Sacrifice of the Judeo-Christian in the Holocaust, 2nd edition, 2012, Advantage Books.