The Biology of the Second Reich

New Film Explores Social Darwinist Roots of World War I

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New Film Explores Social Darwinist Roots of World War I
The Biology of the 2nd Reich debuts August, 18th 2014

SEATTLE The Biology of the 2nd Reich, a new 14-minute documentary, tells the little-known story of the influence of Social Darwinism on German militarism leading up to World War I, including an exploration of the German military’s genocidal policies in Southwest Africa.

This August marks the centennial of the outbreak of World War I, one of the most horrific episodes in human history. Leaving more than 16 million people dead and another 20 million wounded, the First World War’s carnage is still hard to fully comprehend. To commemorate the anniversary, the Center will be releasing a new documentary, The Biology of the Second Reich: Social Darwinism and the Origins of World War I.

“Historians continue to debate the causes of World War I, which were complex,” notes Discovery Institute senior fellow, Dr. John West, who directed the film. “But Social Darwinism was certainly one of the key ideas that exerted a profound influence on German militarism before, during, and after the conflict.”

The new documentary features historian Richard Weikart, especially his classic book From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany. A Professor of History at California State University, Stanislaus as well as a Senior Fellow of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, Dr. Weikart has spent his career documenting the impact of Social Darwinism on Germany from the late 1800s through the Nazi period.

“Our hope for this documentary is that it will open people’s eyes to the tragic social costs of ideological Darwinism,” added West. “Ideas really do have consequences, not just in the past, but today as well.”

As part of the release of the film, Discovery Institute will expand the website at to feature information about the film as well as Weikart’s articles and books on the history of Social Darwinism.


News Release
Discovery Institute
Andrew McDiarmid
(206) 292-0401 x107