Hitler and Huxley

How to get a whole nation of perfect Aryans – that was the challenge.  If only the baby-making technology imagined in Aldous Huxley’s 1932  utopian sci fi book, Brave New World had been available to Hitler!

Last week, I read Aldous Huxley’s book, Brave New World, for the first time.  The similarities between Hitler’s imagined society and Huxley imagined civilization, are all too scary.  I googled “Brave New World and Hitler” and found out that I am not the only one to think this.  With this blog post, I add my thoughts to the conversation.

Huxley describes the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Center where thousands of engineered babies are created. Up to 96 can be “born” in one batch of identical “twins,” creating the perfect “civilization.”  Without Huxley’s technology, the Nazi regime resorted to sterilizing Germans who have hereditary diseases and providing financial incentives to German couples willing to marry and produce babies.  But only to those with “certificates of racial fitness.”

Oh, but it gets worse.  In Hitler’s Lebensborn project, thousands of “racially superior” young girls were mated with SS men.  Their babies became the property of the German State.  Perfect children with no parents – as close as Hitler could get to Huxley’s world.  This was of course, all very scientific – conducted at the “Nazi Breeding Institute for Racial Improvement.”

In Life and Death In the Third Reich, Peter Fritzsche describes three tasks that “awaited Germany’s racial warriors.”  (Fritzsche at 85)  The first task was to increase the birthrate by racially fit Aryans.  The second task was “racial reclamation” – to “weed out the unhealthy section of the population, primarily through sterilization” of “genetically unfit citizens.” (Id.)  The third task was “to eliminate foreign matter [read Jews] from the racial stock of the German people.” (Id. at 86)

Hitler promised that “if today there are still people in Germany who say: ‘We are not going to join your community, but stay just as we always have been,’ then I say: ‘You will die off, but after you there will [sic] a young generation that doesn’t know anything else!”  (Id. At 90).  This “promise” was made in November of 1933, one year after Brave New World was published.

I was rescued from this repulsive image of “civilization” by Rabbi Irving (“Yitz”) Greenberg.  I listened to a recording of a lecture he gave in 2000.  Rabbi Greenberg articulates three qualities that follow from the fact that humans were “created in the Image of G-d” (Genesis 1:27).   These qualities are:  (1) each human is of infinite value; (2) all humans are equal; and (3) each human is unique – there are no two humans who are absolutely identical, even identical twins.

Ultimately, Huxley’s hero – John (the “Savage”) – the accidental son of an engineered woman, raised outside of utopian London – kills himself.  He cannot endure the Hitlerian vision of “civilization.”

In the brave new world in which we live, we must value each human –  each created in the image of G-d.

Sources:

  • Dawidowicz, Lucy S. The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945. New York, NY. Bantam Books. 1975.
  • Fritzsche, Peter. Life and Death In The Third Reich. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press. 2008.
  • Greenberg, Yitz. Lecture – The Triumph of Life: A Feminist Orthodox Reading of the Tradition. Delivered at the International Conference on Feminism and Orthodoxy on February 20-21, 2000.
  • Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. London, England. Chatto & Windus. 1932.
  • Sereny, Gitta. Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience. New York, NY. Random House. 1974.
  • Genesis, the Hebrew Bible.
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