Understanding Nazi Animal Protection and the Holocaust
Authors: Arluke, Arnold; Sax, Boria
Source: Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 1 March 1992, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 6-31(26)
Abstract:It is well known that the Nazis treated human beings with extreme cruelty but it less widely recognized that the Nazis also took some pains to develop and pass extensive animal protection laws. How could the Nazis have professed such concern for animals while treating humans so badly? It would be easy to dismiss Nazi proclamations on animals as mere hypocrisy but there may be other explanations for the contradiction. For example, anecdotal reports and psychological evaluations of many prominent Nazis suggest they felt affection for animals but dislike of humans. Second, animal protection measures, whether sincere or not, may have been a legal veil to attack Jews and others considered undesirable. Third, the Nazis blurred moral distinctions between animals and people and tended to treat members of even the Master Race as animals at times. This article argues that at the core of the Nazi treatment of humans and animals was a reconstitution of society's boundaries and margins. All human cultures seek to protect what is perceived to be pure from that which is seen to be dangerous and polluting and most societies establish fairly clear boundaries between people and animals. In Nazi Germany, however, human identity was not contaminated by including certain animal traits but certain peoples were considered to be a very real danger to Aryan purity.
Document Type: Commentary
Publication date: 1992-03-01T00:00:00