Darwinian Racism

How Darwinism Influenced Hitler, Nazism, and White NationalismRichard Weikart

To hear some tell it, Adolf Hitler was a Christian creationist who rejected Darwinian evolution. Award-winning historian Richard Weikart shows otherwise. According to Weikart, Darwinian evolution crucially influenced Hitler and the Nazis, and the Nazis zealously propagated evolutionary theory during the Third Reich. Inspired by arguments from both Darwin and early Darwinists, the Nazis viewed the “Nordic race” as superior to other races and set about advancing human evolution by ridding the world of “inferior” races and individuals. As Weikart also shows, these ideas circulate today among white nationalists and neo-Nazis, who routinely use Darwinian theory in their propaganda to advance a racist agenda. Darwinian Racism is careful history. It is also a wake-up call.


With meticulous historical scholarship, Richard Weikart builds a convincing case that the Nazi worldview was influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution. Scrutinizing original documents from Nazi propaganda to school curricula to scientific journals, he amasses evidence that Darwinism played a prominent role in Nazi racial ideology. When Hitler massacred millions of people, in his twisted logic he was lending a helping hand to the evolutionary struggle for existence. In an intriguing final section, Weikart surveys literature from today’s neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and alt-right proponents to show that these groups likewise invoke Darwinian theory to claim that their racism is scientific. As always, Weikart is thoughtful, thorough, and convincing.

Nancy Pearcey, professor and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University, author of Total Truth and Love Thy Body, co-author of The Soul of Science.

This is an excellent book which is long overdue. In it Professor Weikart documents the close relationship between Nazism and social Darwinism. In doing so he uncovers important roots of contemporary racism while documenting the growth of “scientific racism,” which for almost one hundred years dominated Western education, policy making, and society. Drawing on well-documented evidence he shows how Darwinism fueled the eugenics movement, racist attitudes, and a disregard for human dignity. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in today’s world and the history of modern oppression as well as the terrifying history of the twentieth century and a driving force behind Nazism.

Irving Hexham, professor of religion, University of Calgary, author of Understanding World Religions

Richard Weikart brilliantly exposes some of the bad ideas that led to the Holocaust. He convincingly answers his critics who deny the deep influence of Darwin on Hitler. He also unveils the Darwinian influence on today’s alt-right racism. Weikart compels us to learn from the dark past to avoid repeating it.

Michael Newton Keas, lecturer in history and philosophy of science, Biola University; author of Unbelievable: 7 Myths about the History and Future of Science and Religion

Richard Weikart displays extensive knowledge of the relevant sources and the scholarly debates on Darwinism in Nazi Germany. He convincingly argues that Darwinian evolutionary theory was a core component of the Nazi worldview, and one that directly influenced Nazi policy. It’s sure to become the standard work on the subject.

William Skiles, assistant professor of history, Regent University

In this well-researched and powerfully written book, Richard Weikart shows how Hitler and his National Socialists operationalized nature red in tooth and claw. Here was social Darwinism on steroids. The historiography of this era will be significantly shaped by this persuasive account. A must-read!

Michael A. Flannery, professor emeritus of UAB Libraries, University of Alabama at Birmingham, author of Nature’s Prophet: Alfred Russel Wallace’s Evolution from Natural Selection to Natural Theology

Richard Weikart

Senior Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Richard Weikart is Emeritus Professor of History, California State University, Stanislaus, and author of seven books, including From Darwin to Hitler, Hitler’s Ethic, The Death of Humanity, and Hitler’s Religion. His most recent book is Darwinian Racism: How Darwinism Influenced Hitler, Nazism, and White Nationalism (2022). His PhD dissertation, Socialist Darwinism, earned the biennial prize of the Forum for History of Human Sciences as best dissertation in that field. He has lectured at many universities and other venues in the US and Europe. He also has been interviewed on dozens of radio shows, podcasts, and TV, and appeared in seven documentaries, including Expelled. Some of his lectures and interviews are available on YouTube.