Ideological Incorrectness beyond ‘Political Religion’: Discourse on Nazi Ideology among Scandinavian National Socialist Intellectuals 1933-1945

Rebecca Wennberg

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The concept ‘political religion’ has become the epitome of the ‘ideological turn’ in Holocaust research: the idea of the Nazi regime’s aim to replace Christianity and let its ideology function as a ‘political religion’. But the heretical nature of National Socialism that has increasingly found its way into contemporary research remains untheorised in this context. This study seeks to address this gap by introducing the concept of ‘ideological incorrectness’ – a first step towards a re-theorisation of ‘political religion’ that acknowledges the ideological divergence and the transgressive mindset so characteristic of the Nazis.

With ideological divergence in mind, this thesis approaches Nazi ideology not from its ‘generic’ centre in Nazi Germany, but from its political peripheries. Combining analyses from archival material with text based research it examines a selected group of Danish and Norwegian National Socialists who went from being leaders of small, sectarian and pan-Germanic movements in their respective home countries throughout the 1930s, to becoming high-ranked SS men following the Nazi occupation of Denmark and Norway on 9 April 1940. The study reveals that contrary to the notion that National Socialism functioned as a substitute religion for Christianity, their hostility towards Christian confessionalism made them reject the idea of a ‘political religion’. The study further demonstrates how these individuals even used this religious critique in attacks against aspects of the Nazi regime that they deemed dogmatic.

The contributions of this study revolve around conceptualising an alternative angle to ‘political religion’ that assumes that contrary to ‘correctness’, individuals were often incorrect towards official ideological doctrines. This incorrectness, in turn, does not equate with a lack of Nazi conviction. Far from it, the Scandinavian Nazis in this study regarded their ‘ideological incorrectness’ as a core value of National Socialism. The study thus contributes to the understanding of National Socialism in Scandinavia 1933-1945, while at the same time suggesting broader patterns that will advance research on National Socialism more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Stone, Dan, Supervisor
  • Graham, Helen, Advisor
Award date19 Apr 2016
Publication statusUnpublished - 2016

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