The intellectual unmasked : Sven Hedin's political life from pan-Germanism to national socialism / by Sarah Kristina Danielsson.
A renowned geographer and explorer of Central Asia and the Far East, Sven Hedin (1865–1952) traveled at the crossroads of European science and imperialism. This study argues that the intellectual and scientist played an important role in key political developments during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As the boundaries between scientific aims and political goals merged in the work of Sven Hedin, it becomes clear that the scientific roles of his work cannot be separated from the political ones. Not only did the scientific work play a crucial role for empires, but the accompanying ethnographic work helped shape the European views of the colonized peoples and areas. Hedin inherited and expounded a strong pan-German political position as justification for both his scientific travels and his political pursuits. On this basis, he became an important participant in the pan-German debate in Sweden and Germany leading up to World War I. This study argues that pan-nationalist sentiments permeated especially the “Germanic” intellectual community during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Pan-nationalism, based in racial concepts and a belief that the boundaries of the state needed to expand, powerfully influenced intellectual support of Germany's war-aims in World War I and World War II. Hedin completely embraced German war aims during the Great War; Germany's defeat in that war caused him to call for another war. The emerging picture is that of an intellectual who had by 1920 laid a solid political and intellectual groundwork for his subsequent full embrace of National Socialism. Hedin's support of National Socialism in Germany was based on his unshakable belief in pan-German political goals, including the need for demographic restructuring. This study uses archival evidence to argue that Hedin not only embraced National Socialism; he also participated in the discourse of National Socialism. Through a detailed examination of Hedin's political activities from 1933–1945, this study shows the political uses by the Nazi elites of a renowned scientist and intellectual; as well as Hedin's role in both attempting to legitimize and support the racial, demographic, and political aims of the Nazi regime.
Record last modified: 2018-05-29 16:28:00
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