Self-Sacrifice Not Selfishness Caused the Holocaust

by | Jun 1, 2000

A genocide like the Holocaust will happen again unless the world learns the root cause of the Nazis' evil -- self-sacrifice.

A genocide like the Holocaust will happen again unless the world learns the root cause of the Nazis’ evil — self-sacrifice, said a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute. “‘Never again’ is a phrase we hear repeatedly on May 2, Holocaust Remembrance Day, but it is a promise that has yet to be kept,” said Robert W. Tracinski.

“From Cambodia in the 1970s to Rwanda and Kosovo in the 1990s, genocide has gone unabated and unchecked. This is because the usual analysis of these bloodbaths has focused on the effects and not the fundamental causes — the ethics of self-abnegation and self-sacrifice.”

Tracinski noted that the goal of National Socialism was the relentless sacrifice of the individual: the sacrifice of his mind, his independence, and ultimately his person. Tracinski added that it was the Germans’ acceptance of the philosophy of collectivism and the morality of sacrificing the individual to the nation that allowed the Nazis to subject the Jews to the horror of the concentration camps.

“Under such a philosophy, no one can complain when the Nazis freeze workers’ wages — the nation needs less costly tanks,” observed Tracinski. “No one can speak out when Hitler arrests his political opponents — the nation needs greater unity. And no one can resist when the Jews are tortured and murdered — the nation needs Aryan purity.”

“Today self-sacrifice is regarded as a self-evident virtue. True, most people do not want a pure, consistent system of sacrifice, as practiced by the Nazis and other modern totalitarian regimes. But once there is the wholesale acceptance of self-sacrifice, no amount of this ‘virtue’ can ever be condemned as ‘too much.'”

Copyright Ayn Rand Institute. All rights reserved. That the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) has granted permission to Capitalism Magazine to republish this article, does not mean ARI necessarily endorses or agrees with the other content on this website.

The author is a contributing writer to Capitalism Magazine.

Related articles

Was Hitler Really “Right Wing”?

Was Hitler Really “Right Wing”?

Hitler did not regard himself as being either on the left or on the right, but wanted to overcome both extremes – not in the ‘middle’, however, but by a new extreme in which both were abolished.

Voice of Capitalism

Our weekly email newsletter.