DR. PEIKOFF’S ANSWER TO “HOW COULD IT HAVE HAPPENED?” IS: “THE LAND OF POETS AND PHILOSOPHERS WAS BROUGHT DOWN BY ITS POETS AND PHILOSOPHERS.”

This book answers the plaguing question: How could it happen? How could ordinary people, seemingly decent Germans, turn into goose-stepping, Sieg-Heil-ing robots, eager to obey any orders, even to administer the “final solution”–the Holocaust?

This book answers those questions, and makes the rise of the Nazis finally intelligible. The cause, Dr. Peikoff demonstrates, lies in certain philosophic ideas–the anti-reason, anti-self, anti-freedom ideas that were already deeply imbued in German culture long before Hitler’s rise.

If one were to compile a list of the most fanatically anti-reason philosophers since the Renaissance, almost every top figure–Kant, Hegel, Marx, Schopenhauer, Heidegger–would turn out to be German.

This is not to say that German culture produced evil philosophers. Just the reverse: Germany’s evil philosophers produced an evil culture. Men act on their ideas, and ideas originate somewhere. Fundamental ideas, ideas about morality, knowledge, reality, are originated by philosophers. The vast majority of people simply absorb gradually the ideas available to them in their culture. Thus, most people get their life-shaping ideas, indirectly, from the philosophers of their culture (with a time-lag for these ideas to seep down into the educational establishment, the media, the arts, etc.).

Dr. Peikoff’s answer to “How could it have happened?” is: “The land of poets and philosophers was brought down by its poets and philosophers.”

[…]

This is a fascinating, gripping book, exhaustively researched, but presented with a masterful prose style, not pedantic “scholarship.” It will change forever the way you think about ideas and history.

Harry Binswanger,
New York City