The Nazi (Green) Party
While World War Two is arguably the most famous and well-known war in the world, there is a hidden aspect that is left out of history classes and book such as our own book, World War II: A Short Introduction. The war forgets about the green aspects that affected the environment, animals, and the health of people back then and still affects them now. The green aspects of the Nazi Party are often left out of the dominate narrative until it is needed to attack a position. When adding their significance and involvement of the environment and health of people during the war, it not only dramatically changes the dominant narrative that we know of today, but also still has effects in the world today.
To begin, there is a key term and definition that is needed to be known for the paper: Blood and Soil. The meaning behind Blood and Soil was that ethnicity is based on blood descent alone and the territory that belongs to the blood descents is maintained by them (Epstein 2017). The idea of Blood and Soil was around even before World War One commenced but became mainstream in the Nazi Party and agenda when Richard Darré wrote ‘A New Nobility Based on Blood and Soil' which connected the Nazi idea of a master race along with the idea of Blood and Soil (2015). The Nazi Party, particularly Adolf Hitler himself, believed that the German people that best represented this idea were those who lived in the rural countryside and that the enemy was Jews for forcing them from the country to urban settings (2015). The idea of Blood and Soil with the forestry regulations that Nazi's had put out is just one example of the interconnection of the idea with being green.
While the Nazi Party took pride in a variety of their ideas, what they worked heavily on and took extreme pride for was their forestry. Before Nazi Germany came to be, the Germans were using scientific forestry with Norway spruce and Scots pine trees that would be planted, thinned, and then cut in even-aged management blocks of equal area (Brüggermeier, Cioc, & Zeller 2005). In the short-term thought, this was an amazing feature that lead to double the production of lumbar in Germany, but in long-term scale, this method exhausted the soil, made the trees more vulnerable to disease and pests, and more likely to die in the snow or wind (Brüggermeier, Cioc, & Zeller 2005). Following the scientific forestry failure, Alfred Möller, a forestry scientist, popularized the idea of Dauerwald which had the idea of permanently stocked trees, superior forests compare to others, and lead to extreme productivity (Schabel 2001). There were 5 main points of Dauerwald that were made: continual selective cutting rather than clear-cutting, natural regeneration, multilayered trees, variety of trees instead of monoculture, and maximization of sustainable yield (Brüggermeier, Cioc, & Zeller 2005). The major success and metaphorical meaning behind the idea of Dauerwald was loved by the Nazi Party, specifically by Göering, who later adopted the idea into the Party and then reinforced it in Germany and Prussia (Brüggermeier, Cioc, & Zeller 2005). There were some additional regulations that Göering added to Dauerwald which included: refrain from cutting trees 50 years or less, cut the worst trees first, and revisit stands and perform improvements every 3 years (Brüggermeier, Cioc, & Zeller 2005). When taken over Poland, the Nazis did an ethnic cleaning of the landscape to “Germanize” their landscape and by doing so, also incorporated ideas like Dauerwald into it (Brüggermeier, Cioc, & Zeller 2005). During the war, Dauerwald was not as strictly enforced and at one point, refugees and soldiers set forest fires to Germany's forestry but failed to make a huge lasting impression due to the healthy soil that Dauerwald brought to the table (Tucker & Russell 2004). After the war, the idea of Dauerwald was forgotten and not used until the 1950's where they rejuvenated it under a new name to segregate it from the previous Nazi connections (Schabel 2001). While it was called the “Working Group for Nature-Friendly Forest Management” in the 1950's, we now know it today as ecoforestry (Schabel 2001), (Brüggermeier, Cioc, & Zeller 2005).
While the success of lumber production due to Dauerwald was appreciated by the Nazi Party, the metaphor behind the idea was also a strong indication on why they enforced it. The previously noted “Blood and Soil” ideology becomes a huge aspect into this ideology. Germany was known to connect themselves (blood) with the nature around them and when scientific forestry failed and ruined the soil, it can be assumed that it affected Germans in a metaphorical way. The fact that their own soil would betray them and fail does not fit along with their ideology. When switching to Dauerwald, it helped reconnect the idea of not only Blood and Soil but also more of Nazi rhetoric with it. When picking the trees that they thought were best for Dauerwald, they used ones that were native to Germany while in the German Blood and Soil idea, they believed that the true Germans were those native to Germany with no mixed, non-Germanic blood in them (Brüggermeier, Cioc, & Zeller 2005). In Nazi rhetoric, they believed that those who were above others deserved benefits and rewards for serving the nation. In Dauerwald, the trees that grew strongest and were the oldest were not to be cut down, but instead to be given more care (Brüggermeier, Cioc, & Zeller 2005). In a film shown during World War Two about forestry, there is an exact quote from it saying, “Excise what is of foreign race and sick”, while talking about tress (Brüggermeier, Cioc, & Zeller 2005). When looking upon the Holocaust and those in it, Hitler sent those who were foreign and sick to concentration camps to be killed.
With the amount of brutality and cruelty that Nazi Germany has done to others is mortifying, it seems unusual how much they protected and cared for the animals in Germany. Their pro-animal stance is unusual compared to the forestry because they were not using it as a metaphor for their rhetoric, or as a key for their economic comeback, but because they were actual animal lovers. In April of 1933, when the Nazi Party took control of Germany, the parliament began to pass laws that the Nazi Party were advocating for 2 years prior that heavily restricted animal testing and made it illegal to kill an animal without proper anesthesia (Arluke & Sanders 1996), (Sax 2009). The 1933 Law on Animal Protection contained sections like the following, “It is forbidden to operate on or handle living animals in ways that may cause appreciable pain or damage for the purpose of experiments, to the extent the provisions of #6 through #8 do not mandate”, “to use an animal for demonstrations, film-making, spectacles, or other public events to the extent that these events cause the animal appreciable pain or damage to health”, and “An animal subject to appreciable negligence in provision care, or shelter may take away from the owner… the cost of this accommodation shall be paid by the guilty party” (Nazi Germany and Animal Rights). After these laws were passed, they further passed laws that banned any type of hunting that used animals to kill game or hunting with packs and horses, and one is not allowed to use poison to kill as well (Paterson 2002). In 1934, Germany was the first country to host any sort of international conference about the subject of animal protection and had the toughest animal rights laws on books at that time (Arluke & Sanders 1996), (Paterson 2002). When the Nazi Party annexed Austria and invaded France, they brought over their animal protection laws with them and enforced them into those areas as well (Blazeski 2016).
While most of the Nazi's animal protection laws were overturned when World War Two ended, there is still a severe connection between animal rights/veganism to Hitler and the Nazi party. When taught what ad hominem are in communication and English classes, a common example that is used is when two people are arguing about vegetarian/veganism and one brings up the point that Hitler was a vegetarian hence being a vegetarian is bad/evil. Another way that the Nazi's standpoint on animal welfare still affects us till this day is that the US government, and many others, do follow some sort of humane slaughter act that is designed to have the animal to be completely sedated when being killed just like how the Nazi's had that in 1933 (“Humane Methods”). In fact, the United States enacted that law in 1958, over 20 years after the Nazi's had done the same (“Humane Methods”).
It's known that Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill were all avid smokers, there's plenty of photographs of the trio smoking cigarettes or cigars while there are none of Hitler or his men doing so. This was due to that the Nazi Party was anti-smoking and would even ban it in certain situations. In 1939, the first ever case study of smoking tobacco and the connection of lung cancer, was done in Nazi Germany which lead to the creation of the Bureau against the Dangers of Alcohol and Tobacco the same year (Smith 2004). The next case study to be done was funded by Hitler's own personal finances with 100,000 reichsmark and discovered the same findings as before with a connection of infertility and heart disease (Smith 2004), (Schneider & Glantz 2008). After these discoveries, antismoking and antidrinking propaganda and laws became to be in Nazi Germany with the thought that they were genetic poisons to the “superior” race. Beginning in 1943, tobacco was outlawed for anyone under the age of 18 to use, it was considered criminal negligence if one was smoking in a car when getting into an accident, and finally in 1944, smoking was banned on trains and buses (Smith 2004). Following this, smoking advertisements was strictly controlled and it was highly noted in medical manuals that mothers should avoid tobacco and alcohol while pregnant and nursing (Smith 2004). Comparing to the United States, it wasn't until 1964 that the US Surgeon General's report announced that smoking is linked to cancer and there are still some states that exempt smoking bans in restaurants and bars (Schneider & Glantz 2008).
When the US Surgeon General announced the link of smoking and cancer, FOREST (Freedom Organization for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) started a campaign against the findings saying that any restrictions of smoking tobacco are health fascism (Proctor 2008). Pro-smokers started using analogies with Nazi symbols to connect anti-smoking with Nazism and Fascism. In 2007, a German company released a marketing picture of a person with a Star of David, the same look as the one used on Jews during World War Two, but said “Smoker” implying that they are in the same persecution as Jews (Schneider & Glantz 2008). In 1992, a group FOREST supporters dressed as Nazi SS soldiers to see the English Secretary of State for Health and to say that he was continuing the good work of his predecessors in Nazi Germany (Schneider & Glantz 2008).
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