The new man in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany

Peter Fritzsche, Jochen Hellbeck

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This essay explores anthropological ideals and practices in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany. Both regimes shared a fundamental commitment to producing a higher human type, and they both sponsored ambitious initiatives to transform, remake, and perfect their populations. But the ideologies that underwrote the “New Man” differed substantially. Whereas the Soviet system conceived of nothing less than the liberation of all humanity, the Nazis sought to create a master race in order to organize a new racial hierarchy in Europe. Yet both regimes cast their policies as answers and solutions to a perceived crisis of the contemporary world. Both identified the “bourgeois” world as an “old,” obsolescent order against which they deployed their visions of a New Man. As a result, both regimes stood in dialogue – sometimes implicitly, sometimes explicitly – with each other. Taken together, the visions and policies of these regimes represented a radical and total rejection of liberalism and its pursuit of the freedoms and rights of the individual. The New Man emerged as a constituent of an insistently collective subject, in the case of the Soviet Union, a classless, Communist society; in the case of the Third Reich, the racial union of Aryans. Although they were illiberal, both regimes were profoundly modern precisely because of their dedication to remaking and redefining the human species. Their project encompassed an alternative, illiberal modernity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBeyond Totalitarianism
Subtitle of host publicationStalinism and Nazism Compared
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages41
ISBN (Electronic)9780511802652
ISBN (Print)9780521897969
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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