Author: Rainer C. Baum
Category: Elite (Social sciences)
Reflects on the factors that determined both Germany's suicidal drive toward "empire building", i.e. toward the world war, and the Nazi policy of genocide. Argues that antisemitism by itself, or the psychopathologies of the perpetrators, as well as Hitler's dubious charisma and the German elites' doubtful ideological fervor, cannot explain the Holocaust. It was the moral indifference of the German elites that made the genocide possible. Reflects on the cultural and social sources of this national amorality. Its roots lie in the specific character of Germany's unification and industrialization in the late 19th century. The Wilhelmine Empire brought together dissimilar value communities, differing both from region to region and along class and status lines. The institutionalization of value dissensus, as well as the emergence of elite groups characterized by status insecurity (a result of rapid industrialization), brought about competition between elite groups, uncritical acceptance of work ethics, and the dehumanization of human beings in the perception of German bureaucracies.