Racism and Rational Calculation: The Role of “Utilitarian” Strategies of Legitimization in the National Socialist “Weltanschauung”
This article too takes a stand against Susanne Heim and Goetz Aly’s thesis. Herbert contends that the Nazi genocide of the Jews was motivated not by economic considerations, but by a “consistent” racial theory based on “modern science,” according to which the Jews constituted the genetically coded nucleus of all dysfunction and false developments in modern society, especially in Germany. The Jews in prewar Poland and elsewhere, it is stated, were neither deadweights on the economy, nor the source of criminality or of contagious diseases, nor the perpetrators of illegal trading. It was the Nazis who artificially created life-altering conditions during the occupation period, driven by the imperative to destroy Jews one way or another. The economic, political, and social reasons for liquidating the Jews were secondary, whereas the primary reason was racial.