Title Page, Endowment Info, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-14

This book was born of a surprising discovery: some preliminary research on youth movements and the idea of Europe led me to the speeches of Alfred Rosenberg, in which he claimed that the Greeks were a Northern people. As it turns out, this curious textual artifact merely repeated the canonical work of National Socialist doctrine: ...

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Part One. Annexing Antiquity

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pp. 15-16

“In the beginning was the Fable”: Paul Valéry’s sober observation, somewhere halfway between amazement and disillusionment, the basis for his healthy sense of skepticism regarding all discourses on origins, might as well have been a Nazi motto. National Socialism taught the Germans that all of known civilization, ...

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1. Origin Myths: Ex septentrione lux

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pp. 17-50

Questions of identity are often linked to those of origins. The conceptual bond between the two is such that the celebration of the former frequently involves the embellishment of the latter.
The Nazis developed a coherent origin myth and provided the German people with a distinguished ancestry precisely ...

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2. A Nordic Mediterranean: Greece, Rome, and the North, between German Cousins

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pp. 51-97

The primary effect of this new rhetoric on racial origins, a reimagining of the old Aryan myth, was to draw Greece and Rome into the orbit of the Nordic race and its civilization. The Nordicism of the Greeks and Romans was confirmed by historians and racial scientists and publicized in a number of ways, not all of them scholarly. ...

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3. Mens sana: Antiquity, the Humanities, and German Youth

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pp. 98-152

The National Socialist movement that came to power in 1933 was full of new ideas regarding education, so much so that we might even talk of a pedagogical revolution. Nazi anti-intellectualism, which rejected the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, disdained abstract thought in favor of decisive action. ...

Part Two. Imitating Antiquity

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pp. 153-154

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4. From Stone to Flesh: The Body of the New Aryan Man between Aesthetics and Eugenics

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pp. 155-192

Even the marble of ancient statues could be read as proof that their sculptors and subjects were of Nordic descent. Greek and Roman sculpture formed a sort of conservatory of ideal racial traits and Nordic beauty; as such, party members were instructed to study them carefully, as in the pamphlet cited above. ...

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5. The Racial State and Totalitarian Society: Plato as Philosopher-King, or The Third Reich as Second Sparta

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pp. 193-228

To believe the Viennese philosopher Karl Popper, “Plato’s political programme [was] purely totalitarian.”1 One might well be surprised by the questionable anachronism inherent in the application of this contemporary political category to a body of work that is 2,500 years old. ...

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6. From Empire to Reich: The Lessons of Roman Rule and Classical Colonialism

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pp. 229-284

It was in Latin that Charlie Chaplin chose to parody National Socialist megalomania in his famous scene from The Great Dictator (1940): anxieties over the ultimate ends of Nazi expansionism are laced throughout the fi lm—which was well received in the United States in the wake of Pearl Harbor— ...

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Part Three. Reliving Antiquity

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pp. 285-286

This passage from Mein Kampf perfectly encapsulates the biography of those culturally creative peoples, the Indo-Germanics: Born in their womb in the far north, they emigrated in search of land and adventure, subjugating native populations to build great civilizations. ...

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7. History as Racial Struggle: The Clash of Civilizations between East and West in Antiquity

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pp. 287-323

Hitler argued in Mein Kampf that the discipline of history and its teaching had to follow a “broad, clear line”1 amid the sound and the fury of human deeds and activities. For Hitler, the basic, most fundamental lesson of history that overruled all others was rooted in an unshakable law: the history of mankind ...

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8. Volkstod or Rassenselbstmord: How Civilizations Die

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pp. 324-356

Eight days after the Wannsee Conference, en route to Berlin on the evening of 28  January 1942, Hitler queried his entourage: “Do you know what caused the downfall of the ancient world?”1 Ancient history easily lent itself to idle reflections on grandeur and decadence, rise and fall. ...

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9. The Choreography of the End: Aestheticism, Nihilism, and the Staging of the Final Catastrophe

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pp. 357-392

The absolute intransigence of German soldiers up until the almost complete destruction of the Reich’s capital deeply troubled contemporaries and continues to mystify in the present day: what could possibly lead an army of conscripts to continue to fight until the very last man? ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 393-400

The profusion and wealth of references to Greco-Roman antiquity in Nazi discourse amply demonstrate its importance to the construction of the totalitarian subject.
The Nazi Party, engaged in the project of creating a new man, sought when it seized the reins of state power to endow this man not only with ...

Notes

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pp. 401-474

Index

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pp. 475-506