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 on the stage in Hitler’s Germany.
We see ideology not as opposed to rationality, but rather a precondition 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 this sense, the cognitive substrate of cognitive values which underlies both the individual and group-level crystallization and expression of all normative, political, juridical and cultural opinion that are given expression at the level of the state and people interacting with the state (like scientists). Ideology is, in other words, the optic through which individuals, groups and the political state see the world and endow it with experiential meaning and relevance.
Our research 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.
We believe the time is ripe for such a series of international scholarly conferences on this important yet complex historical topic which will provide the ideal forum for the very best scholarship, as well as preparing the ground for future paths of research and collaboration. The series of conferences will aim to 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, covering ecology, racial science, religion and theology, myth and pagan history, symbolism, language, law, and aspects of popular and elite culture.
Conference lectures (as well as additional articles by international scholars) will be published together in an international scholarly resource entitled “Ideologies in National Socialism”. This will consist of four volumes:
- People, II. Institutions, III. History of Ideas, IV. Keywords and Encyclopaedia.
The series of conferences will form the basis for Volumes I.-III. Each Conference will have one major focus and two or three additional areas.