How the Nazis invented the anti-racism and what Islam has to do with it

According to the anti-racist historiography, which is spread in small leftist groups and in university campuses, the racism of the National Socialists was exclusively biological and originated directly from the natural sciences. What Landsberg writes is consequently a scandal for them, even though he has historical reality partly on his side. For influential and widely read race ideologists in the Third Reich such as Hans F. K. Günther or Ludwig Ferdinand Clauß did not come from the natural sciences but from the humanities. In their “research” they focused more on art-historical methods than on biology, which is not only deliberately ignored in anti-racism, but instead continued without interruption. Clauß, whose works were, strangely enough, still positively discussed by Landsberg in 1933, characterized the faces depicted in his books as if they were paintings. From the supposed lines of the head he derived a style and a race.

Ludwig Ferdinand Clauß (1892-1974) is relevant not least because, unlike Landsberg, his teachings make him, in contrast to Landsberg, quite capable of connecting to modern anti-racist ideology. Clauß came from a middle-class family and studied German, Scandinavian Studies, Psychology and Philosophy. He was a member of the Deutschbund, the Schutz- und Trutzbund, and wrote for Adler und Falken, the magazine of the völkischer Jugendbund. His racial research interest led Clauß in the end of the 1920s purposefully to the British Mandate of Palestine, where he studied the life of the Bedouins. For this purpose, he devised the mimic method, which demanded, beyond the participating observation, that one must become a Bedouin in order to learn about them. Clauß therefore settled among them, perfected his Arabic, got rid of his German clothes, learned their daily routine, their gait and their customs. Here, in contrast to the cities he saw as spoiled by the West, Clauß hoped to be able to fathom the true identity of the Arabs.

In the Arab desert he also found his way to Islam. This is probably one of the reasons why Yavuz Özoguz’s Internet encyclopedia still describes him as an anti-racist: “Ludwig Ferdinand Clauß was a German psychologist who studied racial studies, contradicted the National Socialists’ understanding of race and opposed it with an intellectual understanding. His concept of ‘race’ was not compatible with that of the National Socialists: for him, ‘race’ represented a socially constructed non-verbal pattern that was based more on spirituality than on blood. He also spoke of ‘race’ as a law of Gestalt. …] He also considered it impossible to prove the heredity of psychological characteristics in the comparison of cultures, thus contradicting the racial opinion valid at that time just as much as it does today’s racists”.

On May 1, 1933, this critic of the National Socialist conception of race was admitted to the NSDAP, founded and ran the journal Rasse together with Hans F. K. Günther. Clauß was also supported by the SS-Stiftung Forschungsgemeinschaft Deutsches Ahnenerbe (Research Foundation for German Ancestral Heritage) and was able to habilitate afterwards with his book Race and Soul from 1926. With the support of the Nazi Students’ Union, he attained civil servant status and was to hold the chair of Race Studies and Race Policy in Poznan. But it was not to come to that: His second wife had denounced him to the Race Policy Office for an alleged relationship with his long-time Jewish assistant, Margarete Landé, whom he kept hidden until the end of National Socialism, thus saving her from death. Competitors took advantage of the opportunity and had him expelled from the NSDAP in 1943 and dismissed as a lecturer, which did not end his commitment to National Socialism. In the final years of the war, he was involved in the SS Islam Project, which was intended to realize a Muslim-National Socialist alliance. After the defeat of Germany, Clauß wrote several books in the Federal Republic with titles such as Veiled Heads, The Desert Makes Free and The World Hour of Islam.[…]

Clauß also had no problems with the difference between cultures and races. Each race could only be judged by its own values, was his credo. To judge them by the same values was universalism that had to be rejected. He saw this difference between races and cultures threatened by capitalists as early as the 1930s, as he made clear with an example: He had met a Danish fisherman on the high seas. The fish he sold seemed too expensive to him, however, and he concluded: the Dane must have been a capitalist. For Clauß it is not important whether the fisherman really has capital, because only the attitude decides whether someone is a capitalist. For the latter, higher values are nothing and prices are everything. Although this attitude occurs with all races, it is lived out in a racially specific way. The Nordic capitalist, for example, makes the world an object of exploitation and conquers sales areas instead of living spaces. “To the perfect capitalist men are not creatures of God or fellow countrymen, but buyers and laborers; peoples and cultures are not ideas of God with an unique, inviolable nature of their own, but owners of needs, the satisfaction of which creates markets and raises prices; if the needs are not there, the peoples are ‘primitive’ and must be ‘civilized’ with machines of destruction of every kind of weapon until they have become worthwhile markets. The purest capitalist sentiment, however, is to be found in the Near Eastern race, and especially among the Jews, who lived as almost raceless people according to the Near Eastern lifestyle.

With his anti-imperialist anti-Semitism and his anti-universalist racial psychology, Clauß was by no means an outsider under National Socialism. For him, race was not defined in purely biological terms, and he criticized race ideologists who derived from features of appearance the mental qualities, such as intelligence, diligence, or the ability to judge, that were found in all human beings. “For race is not, as is still widely believed in amateur circles today, a lump of inherited traits […], but an inheritable law of Gestalt, which has an effect on all traits, whatever they may be, and gives them style. It is not by having certain qualities that one recognizes the race of a man, but by the manner in which he uses these qualities. For Clauß, on the other hand, not much results from the purely biological race: “To be Nordic, for example, does not in itself mean to be good or to be noble. Not every human being finally lives “species-appropriate”. On the other hand, Clauß believes that he can draw conclusions about the race from the behavior and the values he represents, which made him gain tremendously in popularity with the SS. It was precisely this ideological armamentarium that should make it possible to locate even the remaining Jews and also to fight the “Jew in us” even more resolutely.

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