Spring 2018

German Conservative Revolution and the Roots of the Third Reich

Listed in: European Studies, as EUST-330  |  History, as HIST-330


Adi Gordon (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 330 [EU] and EUST 330)  This course will explore the thought and historical context of Germany’s radical rightwing intellectuals, who played a fateful role in the ideological formation of National Socialism in the wake of the Great War. These thinkers identified themselves with the oxymoronic and elusive title of a German “Conservative Revolution.” Defying traditional divisions between Left and Right, they opposed parliamentary democracy and royalist reactionary Wilhelminian conservatism, as well as Liberalism and Marxism. Beyond offering an important case study into the role, responsibility, and accountability of public intellectuals, this course will focus on the content and context of this group's radical conservative thought. Our discussion will highlight five fields of knowledge that they attempted to reshape: theology, legal thought, race biology, geography, and political philosophy. Once the National Socialist party took power, its relations with Conservative Revolutionaries was anything but simple: some Conservative Revolutionaries joined the Nazi party or collaborated with the Nazi state. Many others, however, dissented, and claimed that Nazism distorted their ideas. The posthumous legacy of these thinkers was equally ambivalent and unpredictable, while many sank into oblivion, some inspire and challenge not only contemporary rightwing movements and intellectuals, but also contemporary left. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor A. Gordon.

If Overenrolled: Preference given first to HIST/EUST/GERM majors and then by seniority.


Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Research, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018