English language historiographical study of the Third Reich and National Socialism has concentrated overwhelmingly on the political, economic, and military aspects of this enormously rich topic. Yet, comparatively little scholarly attention has been given to the ideological aspects of National Socialism which maintained a belief-structure underpinning the thoughts and actions of all major and minor players.
It’s time to have a fresh view on Nazi ideology. Recent debates and new research have deepened our understanding of the goals of and the inconsistencies within Nazi ideology, but the picture remains confusing in both detail and overall structure.
We therefore believe the time is ripe for a major scholarly reference publication devoted to this important yet complex historical topic which will provide a unique repository for the very best scholarship, as well as preparing the ground for future paths of research and collaboration.
The publication will comprise a series of volumes which will cover all aspects of National Socialist ideology, embracing the complete spectrum of social activity: from the military to the family household, scholarship in the humanities, sciences and medicine, as well as covering ecology, racial science, religion and theology, myth and pagan history, symbolism, language, law, and aspects of popular and elite culture.
In addition, the volumes will be supported by a planned series of conferences and workshops designed to feed into the published text as a unique example of collaborative research and dialogue amongst many of the world’s most distinguished experts in this field.
In this project, we see ideology as a referential framework guiding considered rational thought. We here intend the term ‘Ideology’ to refer to a systematically interconnected structure of ideas that has specific political, social and epistemic relevance and implementation and which effectively constitutes both the practical and theoretical denkwelt which determines or overwhelmingly influences both the general cognitive and psychological orientation of individuals and groups within society and of the society in which those groups exist. Ideology is, in other words, the lens through which individuals, groups and the political state see the world and endow it with experiential meaning and relevance.
Our project is predicated upon the conviction that if we fail to understand the ideological worldview which sustained National Socialism, we will not adequately come to hermeneutic grips with the relationship between ideological belief and the perpetration of extreme and inhuman atrocities such as those which occurred during this period.
Publication Structure of “Ideologies in National Socialism”
The first volume: Persons introduces persons and the ideologies that underpin them, and also aims to show how these protagonists influenced the ideologies underlying National Socialism and how they developed them further. From the well-known protagonists to second-tier functionaries, exponents of the economy, the military or artists, the coverage will be detailed and wide-ranging.
The second volume: Institutions presents institutions and the ideologies that determine and/or influenced them.
The third volume: History of ideas is dedicated to the history, content and practical implementation of the major structural concepts that together unified national Socialist ideology and allowed it to become so pervasive throughout society.
The fourth volume: Terms, Research and Perspectives contains questions of principle and research, as well as smaller thematic areas that are not covered by the volumes 1-3
The contributions in any topic category (for example "The NSDAP and its divisions" or "The trade associations", etc.) are each historically contextualised in an introduction. Their authors, leaders in their respective field, provide an overview of the past and current state of research in addition to a definitive account of each topic. Each contributor is asked to discuss their allotted topic, whether it be a person, an object, an institution or an idea and to situate their account in relation to the larger framework of Nazi ideology. Thus, authors of biographical entries will be asked to focus less on minute biographical details, but rather to focus their discussion on how that person was situated within various strands of Nazi ideology.